Chicago Fire 5×18 Review: ‘Take A Knee’

Chicago Fire always manages to touch on so many different topics within a single episode. It’s one of the great things about being an ensemble show with a significant ensemble that really drives the emotional toll of the story.

In “Take a Knee,” Casey discovers a crack house that’s home to a young female junkie, which drives Casey to extremes to remedy the situation. Dawson and Brett get a trainee for the day, which ends up being a lesson in the making. Hermann’s son gets into trouble at school, which prompts a passionate response from Hermann. Also, Severide’s father returns and rehashes old internal wounds. Not to mention there’s a breakup that broke our hearts.

Let’s break it down:

The Prodigal Father Returns

Kelly Severide has made it damn clear that he doesn’t want his life to turn out like his father’s – getting lost in his work and being alone. Somewhat subjecting himself to a lonely, dangerous lifestyle. So what perfect timing for Benny to return to wreak havoc on Severide’s well-being and mental state.

Benny did his usual thing: greeted his son, hung around the firehouse, and managed to hurt Kelly in some way. That some way came in the form of dinner with Kelly’s girlfriend, Anna. As I’ll get into more detail below, there was something off about Benny that Anna sensed, recognized, or did not like that made her squirm in awkwardness. It was enough to drive her out of the restaurant and away from Kelly. Or perhaps it was merely an excuse for her to push Severide away. Maybe Kelly will find himself blaming his father for some part in this? Maybe this will end up completely different than I believe.

Either way, Benny hasn’t really been a healthy example in Kelly’s life. You can see just how vastly different this father and son are just by watching them react and listening to them speak. One of the conversations the two of them had centered around Benny’s failed marriage, which he chalked up to “trying, but it not working out.” You could see some disbelief in Kelly, whether it was because he was like, “Not again” or “Am I destined to follow the same route?”

Kelly has spent his life worried that he’s going to fall into his father’s footsteps – and not in a good way. He watches his father’s actions, he observes his own, and he can’t help but make comparisons. It was the wakeup call that really forced him to step back and take a look at what’s important in life. It was then that Severide realized that he wanted to settle down with someone. He wanted what his father was never able to maintain. But there was always that doubt.

But hearing his father talk about “trying” in his marriage and it just “not working out” perhaps served as another wakeup call of sorts for Kelly. Maybe Kelly realized that relationships take time. Just because something isn’t working doesn’t mean the entire relationship is over. If you don’t try, the relationship is never going to go anywhere. You need to work through your issues.

Which brings us to…

The End of Severanna?

I know that couples don’t get to stay happy for long on television, but for crying out loud Kelly and Anna just started really dating. Is there no couple safe on these One Chicago shows? (Don’t you even think about touching Dawson and Casey, they’ve suffered enough this season.)

After an episode that appeared to be driven by Severide’s desire to really find that relationship where he can settle down and have a life, Anna dropped one hell of a bomb on Severide – and us – when she decided to call it quits with Kelly.

Following a shift at Med, Anna met Kelly and his father (and his very young date) for dinner. There was an immediate and obvious discomfort that radiated off Anna. There was something up from the start. Anna tried to ride it out, but it became too much. Anna excused herself from dinner with Kelly hot on her heels. She uttered words that felt false – how they’re not supposed to be together and the such – as she tried to push Kelly away. There was no explanation, no context, no freaking clue as to why this was happening. But it happened. And it sucks.

Honestly, Anna calling things off took me by surprise given how great their relationship has been. There haven’t been any significant struggles that might’ve impacted this decision. I will say that I believe Anna broke up with Kelly because of something having to do with his father. I don’t know if it was something that she saw in Benny – or something she saw in Kelly that reminded her of Benny. I don’t know if (my crazy theory) Anna knows Benny somehow. I don’t know if everything got to be way too much for Anna – moving to a new city, taking a job at a new hospital, sacrificing her personal life to be with this guy. Perhaps she felt the extent of the decisions that she was making.

So is this the end of Severanna? I’m not really convinced it is. They’ve spent too long building up this relationship, addressing Kelly’s desire to be a better version of himself and settling down only for it to be swept under the rug. It doesn’t make sense.

No, this breakup merely feels like an obstacle in their relationship that actually looks to be more emotionally driven than action driven. Basically, Anna is having that moment of anxiety where she begins to question the decision she’s made to uproot her life for this guy. But it’ll take some exploration and time for her to discover – and hopefully decide – that it’s worth it.

The New Recruit

Much like Chicago Med took on a nursing recruit in last week’s episode, Chicago Fire stepped up to the plate in “Take a Knee” when Dawson and Brett welcomed a paramedic trainee to Ambo 61. It goes without saying that trainees and recruits don’t come prepared knowing what to do. It’s a learning experience for them and a teaching experience for the trainers.

Much like Dawson and Brett occupy their space, they stressed the importance of not taking the job too seriously unless required to do so – otherwise you’d lose your damn mind. And after watching five seasons, we can see why. So there was a natural, lighthearted nature to these three amigos. That is, until the job got serious.

When Dawson and Brett responded to a call, our young recruit – who was only supposed to be watching – decided to act in the moment and save a man having a heart attack. But, as Dawson berated him about, he ended up cracking one of the man’s ribs. Dawson had to chew him out for his mistake after he took matters into his own hands, which was a wakeup call for this guy. His parents had said he would never succeed at being a paramedic. So everything he was doing was to prove to himself that he could, as well as prove to his parents that he could be something meaningful.

When the big guy came knocking ready to throw our recruit on his ass for not following orders, Dawson and Brett stuck their necks out for their young trainee to give him an opportunity to forge his path, his very young path. Dawson pointed out the obvious: She would’ve done the same thing. In fact, she has. She reinforced an important lesson when it comes to being a paramedic: Worry about saving lives first, and the consequences after. This isn’t a job that gives you think time. You have to ready and willing to act in the moment. And this recruit showed that he had it in him.

Also, Dawson and Brett are pretty good coaches. Just sayin’.

Five Things…

  1. Casey taught us an important lesson: Always go with your gut. Sometimes your greatest weapon is your intuition, that innate feeling that guides you. Casey had that feeling from the start of this episode when it came to that house. The fact that he stuck with it actually saved a young girl’s life – and possibly saved others.
  2. Matt Casey with children is my Kryptonite. Anytime Matt Casey is near a child I can feel it in my uterus. Sorry, but sometimes you need to exploit certain aspects of your show. This is one of them.
  3. “You are a Hermann before you’re an American.” Hermann is easily one of my favorite characters, and this episode proved why. He has a deep love for his family, but he’s also someone that admires respect and responsibility. He needed to teach his son a lesson. So he did. And it was everything.
  4. The dynamic inside Firehouse 51 really is the best part of this show. It’s something that the other One Chicago shows have. A comradery between a sizeable and diverse group of people that really allows the show time to explore that comradery.
  5. Really, Fire, you’re going to mention Louie? Not only was there a direct reference to Louie, but there were also more subtle references to the source of my pain this season on Chicago Fire. It’s too soon. It’ll always be too soon.

Chicago Fire airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on NBC.

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