Chicago Fire 5×11 Review: ‘Who Lives and Who Dies’


Let me preface this by saying that I have just finished an insane binge watching session with Chicago Fire and I am utterly in love with this show. When Alyssa asked me to take over here, I jumped at the chance immediately because it had been such a long time that a show had resonated so much with me and meant so much.

That said, let’s jump right into this week’s episode, titled “Who Lives and Who Dies. Following last week’s heartbreaking events, Casey and Dawson are both still reeling from the difficult decision of letting Louie go back to his father, while Severide deals with his feelings for Anna – the girl he donated his bone marrow to.

While the episode was pretty straight forward, jumping back and forth between Dawson, Casey, Severide and Stella – who seems to still have some lingering feelings for Kelly – what really stood out to me was just how touching and real the entire hour turned out to be.

Severide seems to have had an epiphany of sorts in these past few episodes and this whole thing with Anna put a lot in perspective for him. So as he grew closer and closer to her, those feelings reached a boiling point. I honestly expected him to have a fling with her and do his usual Severide thing, but her decision to leave will probably do wonders for him in terms of character growth.

Stella will probably be another rock for him lean on, because it seems that Severide is slowly but surely learning that people care about him, and that it’s okay to let yourself care about someone that you are in a relationship with and actually envision a future with that person.

And I like Stella, I really do. I think she’s good for him in the sense that she doesn’t take any of his crap and is not afraid to tell him like it is. While I wished this was a little bit more about her and not him, it looks like the entire point of this storyline is to help Severide finally grow up.

What I really love about Chicago Fire, though, is that it’s not really a procedural, even if it’s considered to be one. Sure, they have a few calls every episode, but that’s not really what drives the show. These firefighters and paramedics of Fire House 51 are the driving force that pulls people in and keeps them completely entranced and coming back for more each season. These characters are so fundamentally human and complex and real that you can’t help but care and celebrate and laugh and cry and grieve with them.

When it comes to what happened to Dawson and Casey, watching them having to give up their child – because, yes, Louie was their son for all intents and purposes – really, really hurt. And while I fully expected Dawson to be the one that lashed out at everyone, it came as a huge surprise to see that Casey was the one who went down that route. Both were hurting and grieving, and both reacted the exact same way – by burying those feelings and focusing on something else.

But Casey focused on taking out his anger on everyone and everything, demanding that the entire team of Truck 81 cleaned the House so well that they could see their faces reflected on every surface. The fact that one of the victims he was trying to help during a fire just vanished didn’t help his case, especially when people looked at him like he had hallucinated the whole thing.

Dawson, on the other hand, tried to keep her head cool and not give in to her grief – particularly when Casey started to act so irrationally – but one of her calls really got to her. When she and Brett helped a teenage girl, who didn’t even know she was pregnant, give birth, Gabby took it really hard. She had just lost her baby boy and there she was, helping this beautiful, healthy baby girl come into this world. Even though she knew she shouldn’t, she supported the teenage girl as best as she could – even going as far as standing up to the girl’s father.

But supporting this kid and being there for her was just a way she found to deal with the turmoil of feelings that were killing her inside. In the end, it took Papa Herrmann – bless his heart – to sit them both down and put into words what they were feeling and why they were acting the way they had been and that scene was just so incredibly touching.

When she and Casey decide to take Louie’s things to the newborn baby girl, that simple action showed so much maturity and growth that it was impossible not to tear up a bit. It’s amazing how far both of them have come and how they present themselves as this united front that can take on anything that life throws at them. When Darla tells them that she is naming her daughter Gabby, I admit there were more than a few tears involved.

And that’s what makes this show so great and why it has owned my heart for these past few weeks. Chicago Fire is not just a simple procedural. It’s an excellent drama that is so grounded in reality that you feel like those characters are all your best friends. What is so great about it is that they don’t shy away from showing that they are all just human and that life has its ups and downs, and that is perfectly fine. They give us relationships that are real and complex and that, sometimes, bad stuff happens. But that doesn’t mean that they won’t pick themselves up, dust themselves off and get back on the saddle.

Severide seems to finally be growing up and trying to find meaning to his life other than being a firefighter. As for Dawson and Casey, these two have already been through so much together and their relationship and love for each other is so strong and solid and pure, that this is just another stepping stone in their journey. They are going to be okay.

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