‘Chicago Fire’ 8×03 Review: “Badlands”

I know I’ve said before that Chicago Fire lost my attention for a little while, but I’m definitely eating my words now after watching “Badlands.” These first three eps are everything I could hope for at the beginning of a season, which lay all the groundwork for a compelling year to come. Not to mention the first One Chicago crossover next week, which shuffles the regular lineup: Fire is first, followed by Med then PD. According to news out of One Chicago Day, it’ll feel like a three hour movie. 

All Hail The Return of Sylvie Brett: Paramedic in Charge and Total Badass 

SHE’S BACK Y’ALL. Firehouse 51 surprising Brett with Donuts and Tuesday was exactly what she deserved. Sylvie and Emily fell beautifully back into sync as a duo without a hitch, but Brett is warned that things are not quite as she left them. There’s a new Candidate, a weird new high tech call sensor system, and Casey’s…dating? Hooking up with random women? I dunno. In a show where the majority of the attention is on massive rescues by Truck and Squad, it was very refreshing to have Brett and Foster at the centre of “Badlands’” major storyline.

Her utter refusal to give up on Isaac and leave him to the mercy of the correctional facility was peak Brett; it’s tenacity and spark that I’ve missed for two weeks while she floundered in Fowlerton. She also confides in Emily that the transition back to Chicago (and the separation from Kyle) has been hard, so I’m glad she at least has work and support at the firehouse. I likewise enjoyed the very nice social worker who stepped up to support our girls in the fight against the particular guard whose name I’ve purposefully forgotten. 

Stand Out Scene

Brett and Foster taking on that corrections facility and all the kids having the courage to corroborate Isaac’s story was amazing. Both women got in the warden and the officer’s faces with absolutely no fear had me cheering out loud. 

On a last note, social workers are deeply under-appreciated; I was thrilled to meet Ryan and have the show shine a spotlight on everything SWs do and how much they care. That little moment at Molly’s where he asked her to check on Isaac with him was very sweet. I highly doubt she’s going to immediately jump into anything romantic, but a new friendship and ally on the show is always welcome.

Stella Kidd: The Leader We Deserve

I loved that Stella immediately took Blake under her wing. She’s clearly suited to leadership and mentoring, which is obviously why Boden asked her to represent their district at a massive firefighter event. Her panic about everything from manuals to scuba diving was endearing but also very understandable. She clearly lays it out for Severide; as a woman, Kidd had to work twice as hard just to prove she deserved to have a spot at the academy, let alone be a woman in a leadership role still dominated by men. 

Severide trying to support her as best he could also really goes to show how far their relationship has come and how determined he is to “be the man she deserves.” From affirming her skills and capabilities to bring Stella up to a rooftop pool in order to teach her scuba diving, I loved Severide so much. It’s so lovely to see him in storylines that are solely positive and uplifting. They both deserve it. They likewise both have a lot to teach the new kid, which I cannot wait to see. 

A Lesson in Quick Judgement: Boden and Gallo

Let me just say: I love Chief Boden. He’s an amazing man and an incredible leader and anyone who thinks he doesn’t love Firehouse 51 and everyone in it with his whole heart and soul is just plain wrong. But this ongoing thread of distrust in Casey’s new Candidate, Blake Gallo, was deeply frustrating to watch. Yes, the rescue at the carnival was dicey, but Casey wouldn’t have agreed if it wasn’t a sound plan. But I don’t quite understand how being rescued as a child from a fire by what seemed like The Hulk and being inspired to become a firefighter equates to believing one is “bulletproof.” 

It was too quick of a judgement, in my opinion. They’ve worked exactly one call, in which Gallo not only did everything expected of him, his plan saved that girl. Perhaps Blake’s a little too eager and bright-eyed in a house that recently lost a beloved family member; Cruz’s rebuke about Otis’ locker stung both the new Candidate and us. But it doesn’t mean that Gallo is incapable, or that he rejects authority in order to be a daredevil. In the final scene of the episode, Boden learns more about Gallo from his previous chief: he didn’t just survive a fire at 12 years old; he was the fire’s only survivor, losing both his parents and a younger sister. 

Only now does Boden regard Blake in a new light. 

Just because it didn’t seem like Gallo had suffered loss, doesn’t mean it wasn’t there. I know this was probably a choice to give Boden a chance to empathize and understand his new recruit, but tragedy should not have been the first place he found that opportunity. I hope the Chief eases up, but who knows what’ll happen next week. 


Stray Observations

I actually have a lot of thoughts about this new recruit parallel that’s running this year between Blake Gallo on Fire and Vanessa Rojas on PD. Head over to my review of this week’s PD to read that in more detail! (and agree or disagree, whatever floats your boat.)

  • I couldn’t have asked for more for Brett’s return. Welcome back, Sylvie. We missed you.
  • That hug was lovely. 
  • I can’t believe those involved in the show were surprised at the reaction to something I feel was deliberately teased? It would be a very well earned relationship; Matt and Sylvie clearly deeply respect and care for one another, and Casey’s been officially divorced for a while now. Besides the minor potentiential guilt hurdle of Gabby’s memory, I feel like they’re pretty in the clear if anything romantic happens. 

Best Lines

Brett: You have two paramedics who will testify in front of every alderman in this city about what’s going on here.
Foster: If anything else happens to Issac, we’ll make sure you go to prison for the rest of your life. Try us if you don’t think we’ll make that happen.

Westlawn Battalion Chief: We pulled that kid out of a roaring house fire when he was twelve years old. He lost everyone: mom, dad, little sister. Then he started coming around our station all the time after that. Looking for a new family, I guess. Maybe he finally found one.

The first 3-hour One Chicago Crossover Event of the season starts with Chicago Fire and airs next Wednesday, Oct 16th at 8 7/c on NBC.

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