‘Chicago Fire’ / ‘Chicago PD’ exclusive: Derek Haas and Matt Olmstead on crossover event, Severide, Lindsay’s past

Tuesday night on NBC, the “One Chicago” universe is doing something a little bit different. “Chicago Fire” and “Chicago PD” will be airing back-to-back starting at 9:00 p.m. Eastern time, and over the course of the two hours you’re going to get a chance to see a complicated, at-times devastating story that unfolds for the Kelly Severide character. It begins with him trying to help a woman in need of a bone-marrow transplant, and it somehow ends with him getting arrested and being brought in by Intelligence. How he ends up clearing his name — and if he ends up clearing his name — are likely going to be focal points of the story.

In setting up a little bit of this storyline, to go along with a few other things such as the state of things for Dawson / Casey and also Burgess’ move up to Intelligence, we spoke before the holidays to two of the executive producers in part responsible for the franchise in Derek Haas and Matt Olmstead. Check out a part of the conversation below.

CarterMatt – On a planning level, is the idea of a crossover something that comes up organically in the writers room, or is it something where NBC or Dick Wolf come to you and say that this is something they’d like to see happen?

Derek Haas – The ideas come from all of those things, really. Sometimes Dick will say he wants to do a three-way, four-way, eight-way (laughs) crossover and it’s up to us to figure out how to do it. This time it was just born out of Severide’s character and us wanting to do something with ‘Fire’ and ‘PD’ to give people something exciting to come back to after the winter break. It rose organically out of the two storylines really going on with ‘Fire’ and ‘PD.’

This past episode ended off with Casey and Dawson getting a visit from Louie’s biological father. Why make that move to end the 100th episode?

Haas – We knew we wanted to do a heartwarming, romantic love letter [in the 100th episode] to the Dawson – Casey relationship, which was born back at the beginning. But, because it was the winter finale, we didn’t want to end on all happiness. Going back to the beginning of the season, we knew we were going to have Louie’s biological father, or at least a man claiming to be his biological father, showing up. It just felt like the perfect way to have the bittersweet ending and have viewers want to come back and see what’s going to happen with this kid. Dawson is extremely protective, so a lot of her protective instincts are going to come out.

What is Severide looking for in his decision to become a bone-marrow donor?

Haas – The idea that we always grapple with on a show about firefighters is that these [men and women] rescue people and pull them out of tragic events, and then they drop them off at the hospital. Most often, 99% of the time, they never see what happens to them after they’re dropped off. For Severide, we wanted the story to be ongoing. We’re always looking for someone with Severide who can pull the emotional strings with him, so we cast Charlotte Sullivan in the role of Anna, and we think that it’s going to be something that has some of the classic ‘Chicago Fire’ twists and turns, but something that the audience will be pulling for.

On the ‘PD’ side of things, Burgess is heading up to Intelligence. How is that going to impact her not just in this crossover, but moving forward?

Matt Olmstead – When we moved the Antonio Dawson character over to [‘Chicago Justice’], we did it as an evolution of what that character wants, and to help bolster ‘Justice’ because he’s kind of been a good luck charm for us [since ‘Chicago Fire’]. When we removed him we were left with an opening, and rather than bringing in a new character and keeping uniform as it is, we wanted to move the Burgess character up. We know we have a good thing with what Marina [Squerciati] brings to the role. Moving her up fills that open slot, but it also gives us some nice reverberations from within Intelligence. She was engaged to Ruzek, who is up there, and she’s partnered with Olinsky — who’s not that thrilled about it. There’s a journey with those two going forward.

[Burgess] also has a mentor in the Lindsay character, so it gave us a nice little jump-start in terms of the personal dynamics, which [moving forward this season] are still being developed.

As this investigation into Severide takes place over these two episodes, how will his past relationships impact it? He’s got tentacles everywhere; he’s got his past with Lindsay, and obviously the firehouse is likely to support him.

Haas – The [arrest] will hook us into the second episode, and Severide and Lindsay’s past certainly [adds to that]. You have that relationship impacting [how he behaves], and then you have other people wondering whether or not she’s giving him preferential treatment because they’ve had that relationship. Lindsay is having to say ‘well, I have this relationship that makes me question whether or not he’s guilty of these things, and that’s natural, but I’m still going to do my job.’

What do you want to see in this crossover? Let us know below, and we’ll have the second part of our conversation with the EPs online after the crossover airs.

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