Chicago Fire Episode 2: We're Already Burned Out

Chicago Fire S01E02: "Mon Amour"

"How long have you been a firefighter?"
"Since the day I was born."

There was an episode of House—the Season 6 finale—where House had to crawl under a collapsed crane to help a woman named Hanna. Her leg was crushed under rubble and, after hesitating for much of the episode, the team determined that the only way to get her out was to amputate her leg. But during the hesitation, House and Hanna talked about life while waiting for the equipment that could pull her out without severing any limbs, and each person's situation shined light on the other's character.

Chicago Fire isn't House, no matter how hard we want for it to be some sort of alternate universe where Chase decided to be a firefighter instead of desensitized, slutty diagnostician. Chicago Fire isn't trying to be House, and I'm totally okay with that. The biggest issue I have with the show right now is the lack of connection I have with the main characters and their melodramatic storylines.

Casey and Hallie's relationship ups and downs are non-issues. Heather being upset with Kelly for her husband being a firefighter when he died is absurd. Gabriela pining for Casey is getting tolerable, but Kelly's attempted rescue that ended up feeling like a sappy gimmick was kind of pathetic. You need a connection to make that kind of storyline work and from the few minutes he spent with the old man, I didn't get it.

Now, I'm not saying Kelly should've spent all of "Mon Amour" gabbing with the poor fella in the hole—but if the scenario was going to be the centerpiece of Kelly identifying love throughout the episode, it couldn't have hurt to maybe let the two commune a little more outside of the straightforward rescue mission. Maybe he saw a little bit of himself, maybe the guy was going through what Kelly was going through. No. He was the opposite—which also could've also worked in telling the story, but it didn't happen.

The episode was otherwise filled with different demonstrations of Kelly's crushing loneliness. He saw other people either in love or reacting to love: Shay and her girlfriend, Heather's nonsensical grief, Nicky representing a vacuum of tenderness in favor of raw doing-it. And then, of course, there was the time he spent alone, in a bathroom stall, trying to make the pain go away.

It was a heavy-handed metaphor (a device which Chicago Fire has yet to master—did you catch Gabriela's spoon thing?), passing on the last moments of a man's life to his widow, and the lack of a real, honest connection between Kelly and the man in the hole made the whole thing feel cheap. Compound that with how over-the-top the video was (Kelly looks like the son they never had?) and none of it felt earned. It was forced.

The only real affinity I have for any of the characters on this show is for the less pretty ones who haven't been ruined with petty drama. Otis, Mills, Mouch, and Herrmann deliver comedic relief that, comparatively, feels like they're chasing the mechanicals from A Midsummer Night's Dream.  I liked the goat gag (where Otis was totally wrong—the goat ruled) and how everyone got involved. Otis striking out with Shay's girlfriend before he even took a shot. The uniform. The general banter. Interactions between the lesser gang were the reprieve from the rest of the episode's attempt at being compelling.

Watching Chicago Fire is like watching a baby horse stand up: It's wobbly and awkward. But the show seems to be taking its sweet time to run, and for now it's still a mess. What it needs is to help us connect with its characters a little better. The show may never be a case-of-the-week procedural, but it needs to decide who it wants to be: Law & Order with hunkier dudes and more action, or a character piece that happens to be about people who professionally walk into fires. And sometimes put make-up on their drunken, handsy patients.

Chicago Fire "Mon Amour" Photos

NOTES:

– So they introduced a couple new female characters to help balance out the sausage party, even though they're not firefighters and might not be around episode to episode. Heather made another appearance, as did Hallie, to maybe establish they're going to be around for a bit. Nikki actually works at the station but apparently just to be Kelly's sexually-liberated work fantasy. Thus far, none of them, beyond Shay and Gabriela, have indicated any amount of nuance. Unless you count being slutacious as nuance.

– I don't mind the show occasionally using some lesser-known firefighter techniques in the plot, but charging the hose so they could slide down it like a pole seemed like they were showing off. They had ladders in place when Kelly climbed out at the end. Where were those before?

– I think I liked it better when I thought Kelly was injecting HGH instead of painkillers. What am I going to do with all these man-boob jokes?

– Casey's revelation of letting their (come on) trivial differences slide is—it's fine. Whatever. I'm glad they didn't try to drag out such a moot issue for a few episodes. But the reason he decided to confront the situation, because life is random and cruel, sounds better on paper than what the episode actually sold us. We got no indication that Casey really felt deeply about the passenger in the car. It wasn't helped by Vargas saying, "At least she didn't say redhead." Flubbed throughline.

– If you had a phone, wouldn't you want to talk to your wife one last time instead of making her a video about how you're going to die first ("I couldn't live without you so you living without me means I loved you more! Kisses!") and how a stranger you met for ten minutes reminds you of the son you never had? The video was sweet (if crass at times), but a phone call feels like the right thing to do. But what do I know? I was born in the '80s. Sometimes I still use my phone as a phone.


QUESTIONS:

– What happened to the "Gabriela is about to get sued" story?

– How would you rather communicate your last thoughts to your spouse: phone call or video?

– Shay mentioned she should flash a guy she knows because she thinks he's awesome. How awesome does one have to be to be "flashed by a hot lesbian" awesome?

– Over/Under on the number of episodes until Kelly and Nikki get down: - 2

Comments (18)
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I guess you can hold on to a video and rewatch even if it sounds strrange doing so....
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What happened to the "Gabriela is about to get sued" story?



It was addressed; Shay asked Dawson what was going on with it and Dawson said she was trying to ignore it. Practical? No, but that's how some people deal with big problems. I'm sure it'll bite her in an episode or two.



How would you rather communicate your last thoughts to your spouse: phone call or video?



Video? It might be nice to hear your spouse's voice one last time, but all you're going to end up doing is listening to each other cry. Instead, Dale (I don't remember what the character's name was... I just know that was Dale from The Walking Dead) got to leave his wife a heartfelt message that she can keep for the rest of her days.
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This is a very bad review for such a nice episode. I am very disappointed! I thought

it was good and I had no problem relating with the characters. When people compare shows, it makes me angry because it's normal to have similar situations people and stories are not that different. Of course someone, somewhere in some other show / life had the same experience, so what?

This episode I liked more than the pilot...So, for me the story is developing. Everyone is new to me and it'll take time to form an opinion and to side with someone in particular. For now I like Gabriela and her crush/love for Casey and I want to see how this goes. Kelly is little foggy. I like how he looks of course :) but as for his character I'm not sure yet. I think it has potential to be a complicated and interesting one. Casey and his girlfriend ... I can't wait for this to end. The show is good and fresh because everything on TV now is for lawyers or doctors as if there's no other profession! I'm really enjoying the firefighters point of view. Honestly who wouldn't :) Sign me up for the next episode!
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I think we're saying the same things about the show. I also don't mind the Gabriela crush story. I think it has potential and Monica Raymund is doing a nice job of selling Gabriela as a woman of such quality stock that would still close herself off to opportunities that aren't Casey. In the pilot, this annoyed me but it's getting better and I think it has potential.

Kelly is a character that they featured for most of this week's episode and I still don't have a read on him nor do I, most importantly, feel any connection to him or his problems. The extraction was an opportunity to explore some depth in Kelly but it was poorly handled (which is why I compared it to House, who is a similarly closed-off individual but they were able to develop a connection between the trapped and the last person to see them alive).

Casey and Hallie -- they don't have problems. Their issues are non-existent. Casey can wait to have children (even if he gives up now, the odds of him finding the love of his life and having babies before Hallie is ready are slim to none). Casey's going to continue to run into trouble creating drama in his life since he is always ready to do the right thing.

The point we differ on is the feeling of the show. It doesn't feel fresh to me nor does it seem like they're handling their character development very well. I'm struggling to connect.
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I want to like to show because, honnestly, I like Jesse Spencer ; he's not a bad actor.

Thing is, I find really hard to connect with the characters : I don't care about Casey's love life ; I don't understand Kelly's dilemnas.

There is one thing they're doing good in this show : the humoristic side is entertaining and I quite like that.

I prefered the pilot because they spent more time on each intervention. In this episode, every case seemed rushed, which didn't allow us to connect with the victims or the firefighters...

Hope it gets better in the third episode !
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I really don't know why the reviews of Nick Campell are constantly so negative. If the guys don't run into a burning building without first checking the scene, it's not good. If the guys don't get all emotional with every victim, it's not good. Just give the show a chance to develop and grow. Yes, it's a show about firefighter, and no, I don't need to have every tiny little bit as accurate as possible. I want to be entertained and not watch a documentation.
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No, every detail of the show doesn't need to be exact. Sometimes the actual minutiae of real life anything will drown out the exciting parts and we only have 42 minutes every week. The aspects that I struggle with are that a good part of the show doesn't feel earned.

The best example is the thing at the end of this week with Casey and Hallie. Presumably, it's the scaffolding emergency that changes his mind about letting their troubles slide but I don't feel like they emphasized that watershed moment enough in the show. It's the difference between telling and showing.

We see the pieces of the puzzle: Casey attends the emergency, sees the young girl killed by cruel chance, and watches the mother try to find her daughter. The next time you see him, he's talking to Hallie about how it was a course-altering experience.

What I needed (and what's better storytelling) is making sure we understand from the emergency that this is changing Casey's mind. The connection between what happens on the street and the "life is short" reasoning is broad. There needed to be something else there to assist in the storytelling to let us know that Casey is making these connections and there wasn't enough there in my opinion. It didn't need to be insanely obvious or spoken. It just needed to be there.

Basically, I wanted it to be good enough that, when Casey sees Hallie later, Casey shouldn't have needed to say anything. He should've just shown the ring and we would know what happened and why this is happening. Instead we have Casey muttering through a string of platitudes to "tell" us what's happening instead of the episode "showing" us what happened to him. If that makes sense.
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I love the show, but because it doesn't "suck" it won't get 9 seasons, but The Office and 30 Rock do.
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Maybe that's why we all though The Office and 30 Rock would get cancelled in their first few seasons. Because it didn't "suck" yet.
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You know what "Chicago Fire" reminds me of?

Of how much I miss "Third Watch" and "Rescue Me".

'Nuff said.
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Halfway through the first episode, I told my hubby that it felt just like watching "Third Watch" without the cops. Man, I STILL miss that show! So far, this one isn't too bad - I tend to like Dick Wolf's stuff, so I'll give it a bit (unless NBC decides *they* won't be...)
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Can we talk about why the cops are dimwits on this show and why they're never around? Two fire engines fully staffed, an ambulance with two paramedics, and we only ever have one beat copper around with basically no information and goofy enough to almost get Gabriela shot sometimes? Is Dick Wolf turning on his bread and butter?
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episode was great , loved it. Hate the people who review that bash it and are very negative.
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A review is another persons opinion, not your own. The writer is giving his view on the episode and it might be a lot different to what your views were, no need to hate on him. What's the point of him reviewing something and saying he was loving it when he really wasn't?
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So to sum up, you love some made up entertainment and hate people. You might want to review that.
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Stan, you might be one of my favorite people ever. I just wanted you to know.
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" I don't mind the show occasionally using some lesser-known firefighter techniques in the plot, but charging the hose so they could slide down it like a pole seemed like they were showing off. They had ladders in place when Kelly climbed out at the end. Where were those before?"



Ladders have to sit on stable ground. They didn't know if they had any when they started. Would you want to go down a ladder that was stable at the top end, but might not be stable at the bottom?



" If you had a phone, wouldn't you want to talk to your wife one last time instead of making her a video"

They forgot to show the part where he calls and gets voicemail.



" What happened to the "Gabriela is about to get sued" story?"

Plaintiff has about three years to file suit; the lawyer might not be in that big a rush.
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* @Hose vs Ladder: That's a logical assumption. Maybe I missed the part when they made that clear.

* @Video vs Phone Call: I think the part that upset me the most about this is that the video felt gimmicky. Even if they tried to call first and he got voice mail (though he asks specifically for a smartphone), the last speech doesn't seem natural or earned. A final phone call would've had more urgency and emotional impact.

* @Gabriela is about to get sued: A good chunk of the pilot was dedicated to the urgency of her situation (to call her union rep, showing Gabby wringing her hands, etc) so I thought it would carry over a little bit, even though the girl survived.
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