TV REVIEW: Chicago Fire Season Finale: “Real Never Waits” or Five Things I Miss about Season One (2023)

BY Lisa Casas

Published 9 years ago

TV REVIEW: Chicago Fire Season Finale: “Real Never Waits” or Five Things I Miss about Season One (4)

As I watched the season finale of Chicago Fire, I couldn’t help but brain meander back to my favorite moments of season one. “Real Never Waits” has been teased all week as “epic” and something we’ll talk about all summer. Reality check. This one would’ve fallen in the middle of the pack in Chicago Fire’s first year episodes. Let’s recap, wax nostalgic, and list the top five things I miss from season one.

Number five – It’s all about the story

Storylines I care about, that feel authentic, that aren’t created from some smoke monster to shock the audience (you have your Thrones reference writers, I have my Lost). This episode did feature a few emotional feels, but with that final scene you’d think we’d be calling for a five alarm Kleenex run. We’ll get to the finale of the season finale in a minute, but first up, Dawson passes her firewoman making test in the opening scene. The entire house is beaming with Casey looking like a proud papa.

Boden announces that Dawson’s going to Chicago’s House of Cads – those Neanderthals Shay had a menstruation minute with last week. What a buzz kill, Chief.

Taking a page from Mills, Casey throws a hissy fit saying, “They’re setting her up to fail.” Boden tells him to get over it, but Casey goes for a ride, and we know he’s going to defend his girl. Some heads are gonna roll. Let’s just hope it’s not Matt’s this time.

We care about Gabby and want her to succeed. We want stories developed, not have “stuff” thrown in randomly like this week’s drug deal gone wrong sub plot where a shot up dealer tries to shoot up Dawson. Casey screams a warning, she punches the bad guy, no shot fired. Why even include this? No point, does nothing for episode. Cut it!

In a storyline we care about, Chief asks Hermann to be his best man – the perfect segue into number four.

Number four – Bumbling Hermann to the rescue?

Oh, this is so on for tonight. The Walter Mitty dreamer with the luck of the non-Irish is back from season one with hilarious results. Boden tasks Hermann with being his best man. Christopher promises his church and the kitchen sink. He can’t deliver on the church because it’s booked with an AA meeting, and you know how possessive those addicts are. He won’t tell chief he’s an idiot and instead says nothing. In the end, he pulls off a beautiful wedding at the firehouse, and we’ve got an emotional feel in the finale. Speaking of feels, let’s look at number three.

Number three – Hot sex not awkward, forced sex

Casey does propose to Dawson tonight. He ditches his dreams of riverboat, fancy restaurant, hot air balloon, diving with sharks proposals. Instead he does it at Boden’s firehouse wedding because it’s always a good idea to take the spotlight off a couple on their big day. Gabby’s thrilled, but no one else notices. The guys must be blocking out Dawsey’s “more like siblings” romps that lack a spark, real fire, true hotness, a burning desire (okay, I’m done). These are two beautiful people, so why there’s no chemistry is a mystery of science. Give me Hallie/Casey (remember them in Matt’s office?) or Dawson/Mills/Halstead (those delicious abs) any shift at 51 over these two. It appears the writers see them as end game, so unless someone’s dead (stay tuned), we’re stuck with Dawsey doing it.

We got a little Linseride, but not the “kids, don’t talk to me right now because they’re naked” kind. Kelly breaks our hearts, and Erin Lindsay’s heart with his sad, cry face tonight. In the strongest emotional component of the episode, Severide’s distraught that he missed a kid while clearing out a floor in a fiery boarding school. He’s feeling guilty as hell that the ten year old was burned beyond recognition and not found until the secondary search. Erin comforts him, sharing a similar story from her first week as an officer. It’s a good scene with the two slowly developing some kind of a relationship. But who hasn’t longed for a little Renee Royce in matching bra and panties hopping on the Severide express? Just saying.

Couple named most potential to ratchet up the heat and take the Sev/Royce torch? Plouch, of course. Mouch made a love connection with Sergeant Platt while reaching for some cake. Aw, sex over sweets. Love it! Season three, people.

Number two – Shayveride

Yes, Shay/Kelly trumps all other couples. They had a lezmance that was one of the best things about Chicago Fire. It was so honest and real and unexpected. What would most writers do with Shayveride? Have them in bed within five episodes. But ChiFi decided to keep them as besties and we got to peek into their friendship. This season it seemed like they barely knew each other – a word here or there, Kelly talking to Dawson about helping Shay, Leslie with a few words when Kelly’s sister was missing. The best scene was on Chicago PD, so it’s disqualified. Tonight, before the big cliffhanger, Kelly says, “I’m sorry” to Shay, I guess for letting Devon have it. She says, “I love you” but it seems more a foreshadowing device than anything close to the relationship we got in season one. We know something bad’s going to happen after that exchange of kindness.

On a related note, Casey and Severide act like they’ve never met in “Real Never Waits.” Kelly’s really suffering and Casey’s got nothing to say to him? Their friendship is written so inconsistently, either they’re good friends with Kelly concerned about Casey’s twenty third blow to the head or they are complete strangers.

Pictured: (l-r) Charlie Barnett as Peter Mills, Taylor Kinney as Kelly Severide — (Photo by: Elizabeth Morris/NBC)

Number one – True emotional feels

Season one had us crying, knots in our throats and stomachs. This season? Not so much. Tonight’s episode is a sample of what I mean. Yes, the wedding scene was sugary sweet and emotional. But did I reach for a Kleenex? No. Kelly’s scenes at the hospital and with Erin were heartbreaking, but I didn’t feel the tears I felt last year. Now, to the final scene, the one that reportedly had Dick Wolf proclaiming this was the best finale pitch he’d ever heard. All the guys and gals from 51 are inside a burning building. Boden’s outside looking worried, pacing, calling into his radio for an update. The whole building blows and Chief’s worried screams begging for anyone to report are powerful and do tug at the heart. It just comes so late in the outing that there’s no time for a Chicago Fire classic emotional feel. I’m thinking episode one, season three is going to be a doozy, right?

This season has been a roller coaster, ups and downs, with more dips than anything else. I feel like my show got lost and I’m grieving, looking for it as I post its picture on a milk carton. I’ve gone through all the stages of grief the past twenty two.

Denial – the first five episodes, I still proclaimed, “No, it really is as good as last season. It is!” Next up was Anger – so mad when the characters didn’t act like themselves. See my review of episode four where it seemed they’d been replaced by pod people. Bargaining – making deals with a pretend TV god. Okay, if ChiFi will just get better, I’ll go gluten free or adopt a cat. Depression – do I even want to watch the next episode Acceptance – after tonight’s set up for a future heartstring pulling episode, I can’t help but look to season three for some redemption. I’ll call this season a wash, a fumbling through the dark in search of itself nine months.. But it’s over…and it did end with potential to get back to the things that made season one so strong. So on that note, I’m saying let’s hypothesize for the next three months about who’s dead, who’s alive, and what the hell they’re going to do with that ending?

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