Will an old love burn hot when Gabby Dawson returns to Chicago Fire in Wednesday’s fall finale (NBC, 9/8c)?
The paramedic comes back to the Windy City to raise money for her aid organization, but she also has something else on her mind: her ex-husband Matt Casey, her portrayer and former series regular Monica Raymund reveals in the following Q&A.
Read on as the actress previews the couple’s “awkward” reunion and contemplates Gabby’s reaction to a potential Casey/Brett romance.
TVLINE | For you, personally, what made now the right time to revisit the show and come back?
I feel like having about a year and a half or so away from the show, and then the storyline that they presented to me, it felt like a really good way back in to reconnect with the world of One Chicago, of Chicago Fire. And there was something, instinctively, that felt like it was the right time.
TVLINE | I imagine [showrunner] Derek [Haas] must have been pitching you hard for a while.
[Laughs] My phone was ringing sometimes, yes. It has rung a few times, and this was the call that changed everything, really, in terms of coming back. I’m really happy I did it. It felt organic. It was so positive, going back and reconnecting with my cast and the crew. It was like I’d never left. They’re family. They’ll always be family.
TVLINE | Was it easy to step back into Gabby’s shoes after being away for more than a year and to pick up the dynamic with Jesse [Spencer]?
Yeah. That’s the easiest part is sliding back into that dynamic with Jesse. Dawson and Casey have created this family together on the show for six years, so there’s a part of that that’s kind of embedded in my DNA in a way now. It’s a long time to build a relationship with someone. So it felt really organic and natural.
TVLINE | In every family, things evolve, things change. Did anything surprise you when you got back to set?
Well, there are a few new cast members. So it was really fun to meet them and see how they incorporated themselves into the family. They’ve woven themselves [in] really naturally. It was the same vibe, but to have some fresh faces and some new blood, it was really fun to meet the new cast members.
TVLINE | That’s not the only thing that has changed at the firehouse since we last saw Gabby. Sadly, we lost Otis, and there’s kind of a vibe between Brett and Casey. I don’t know how aware of that you were, going into filming this episode.
I can say, definitively, we left that out of my storyline when I came back. I was sort of aware of it for the past year or so, but Gabby wasn’t in this guest episode. But when I came back to the firehouse, the first thing I see is Otis’ memorial at the firehouse. It was sad and touching to see how the show kept his memory alive.
TVLINE | We know that Gabby comes back for a fundraiser. Does she have any other intentions or reasons for returning to Chicago?
We will learn…she was kind of scheduled to come to Chicago, but she wanted to come there first because she has somebody important that she wanted to see. So we will learn that Dawson’s main motivation of getting to Chicago was, of course, Casey.
TVLINE | What is that first scene with Casey like? How would you describe the dynamic between them after having some time and distance from each other?
Awkward. Definitely awkward. There’s no other way to describe it. It’s two people who haven’t seen each other in over year, who [were] left with no closure, essentially. [It was] very open-ended. And remember, still, technically, in a marriage [in their last scene together]. So coming back together…especially in the wake of Otis’ death, it’s emotional and awkward. And when I was doing the scene, I felt like there was a little bit of, I don’t want to say regret, but definitely a sadness there, of love past. Not that the love has ever died, but the love is shifting.
TVLINE | It’s almost like a “What if…?” scenario now.
Yeah, like a “What if…?” scenario, but at the same time, I don’t want to make it terribly romantic, because this woman is ambitious, and she believes in her duty as a first responder, and she felt called. It was a calling to go to Puerto Rico to help be a part of the recovery team there, and that’s as valid as wanting to go to Chicago to see the love of her life. Both of those things are true.
TVLINE | So would you say that old feelings are still there between her and Casey?
Absolutely. I don’t think that fire’s ever gonna die. Ha! I just made a fire joke! I wasn’t even intending to! [Laughs] It’ll always be burning between them, and what’s cool about that is I think that there’s never necessarily closure, per se. I think that this is always an open-ended relationship. Who knows when Gabby will pop in and out of Chicago? That’s what’s great about the storyline that we set up is we never know.
TVLINE | Is she thinking when she comes to Chicago that this is a chance for them to reconcile and pick things back up where they left off, romantically?
I think this is an opportunity for her to reconnect. I don’t know about picking things up, necessarily. That’s probably a little too specific or calculated. I think she’s kind of just following her instincts, following her heart, and knowing that there are some deep, meaningful discussions to be had because of the way that things ended in Season 6.
TVLINE | We’ve talked about how things have changed at the firehouse. How do you think Gabby has changed since we last saw her?
I think she has a more intimate relationship with her purpose. The audience will see in the episode, she does mention her brother, Antonio Dawson, who is also part of the Puerto Rican recovery team, and he’s currently, if my memory serves, in the Bahamas. So it’s a sibling mission. And I think that that probably speaks to her resolve in following the passion of helping other people.
TVLINE | You said that Dawson isn’t really aware of this vibe that’s been going on between Casey and Brett this season. But how do you think she would feel about it if she found out, considering she’s Casey’s ex and she’s Brett’s friend?
I don’t know. On one hand, who is she to tell them who to love or who they can be with? On the other hand, you’re only human, [and] I’m sure it would probably feel like betrayal. It’s a little shady. [Laughs] But maybe that’s just Monica talking. Maybe Dawson is more evolved than Monica, and she would take it in stride. I don’t know. It’s a complicated question. I’m sure it’s probably very complicated for Dawson, too.