When a big blaze hits this Wednesday’s Christmas episode of Chicago Fire (NBC, 10/9c), it won’t be the only thing steaming up the firefighter drama. Severide’s new romance with the woman he rescued Renée (guest star Sarah Shahi) moves another rung up the ladder, while Casey, who gets an invite to a fancy party from Dawson, experiences “a big change” in his personal life, tease co-creators Derek Haas and Michael Brandt.
Below, the EPs talk about what’s in store for the holiday outing and the difficulties of topping Lady Gaga (seriously!).
TVLINE | What’s in store in the Christmas episode? If NBC’s promo is to be believed, it’s a very dramatic one.
MICHAEL BRANDT | [Laughs] That promo definitely is right in terms of the amount of drama that’s in this episode. We have some of the biggest turns in terms of what happens to characters… That promo gives absolutely nothing away. The last two minutes of the episode are really huge. Some really big changes happen.
DEREK HAAS | And I can promise you the fire scene in the episode is the best fire scene we’ve done and certainly one of the best I’ve seen on film. It’s got a unique angle to it. It looks incredible.
TVLINE | Are those last two minutes an action set piece or character-driven?
HAAS | There’s multiple things happening to multiple characters in both action and character. [Laughs]
BRANDT | Characters are making choices that define the action.
TVLINE | Let’s talk about those characters. How will Severide’s relationship develop with Sarah Shahi’s character?
HAAS | Oh, we’re not going to give anything away.
BRANDT | [Laughs] What’s been great to watch for us is, [with] a character like Severide and an actor like Taylor Kinney, there’s so much inner, quiet strength and charisma. It’s hard to create a character for an actress that can match up with that. We’ve never written a character that we’ve tried to pair up with him before. That’s because when we got to know him and see how he acts around women just in general — my God, the guy’s girlfriend is Lady Gaga! So how do you find a female actress who can hold a candle to [Kinney’s charisma]?… It’s finding somebody like Sarah to be able to keep up with him in terms of acting chops and strength.
TVLINE | What little we’ve seen of her character so far has me wondering: Will she bring out the best or the worst in him?
HAAS | The main idea is, whereas some of the other women in his life have been girls, she’s a woman and is the first one that can go toe-to-toe with him. I won’t tell you which direction that’s going in, but it’s going to be a nice, long arc.
TVLINE | How will Severide’s shoulder and drug problems factor into this episode?
BRANDT | Let’s say that his relationship with [Sarah’s character] and where he’s going with his drug problems is very interconnected.
TVLINE | Is Shay’s job in jeopardy? She did give him her urine sample…
HAAS | Shay is going to have jeopardy because there is some discussion about whether or not drugs have gone missing off of the ambulance, and [Chief] Boden is sniffing around what might have been happening.
TVLINE | Will Shiri Appleby’ character continue to complicate Shay’s life?
HAAS | Yep, she’s going to be back.
BRANDT | The more complicated, the better! [Both laugh]
HAAS | We love her character. We love that [Shay] has an ex-flame who showed up married and pregnant.
TVLINE | What’s the history there between them?
BRANDT | The history is purely professional, but also they have an obvious attraction between the two of them. Nothing’s ever been consummated in the past. Casey’s always been loyal to Hallie. Now that she is out of the picture for now, there are new opportunities for him to explore other relationships, and Dawson is obviously one of them. It’s all going forward. There’s nothing in the past.