Post Mortems

Chicago Fire EP on Fall Finale's Lack of 'Dawsey' Closure, Severide Cliffhanger

Chicago Fire Recap

Warning: The following contains spoilers for Wednesday’s Chicago Fire. Proceed at your own risk!

It seems you can go home again… and hook up with your ex-husband!

On Wednesday’s Chicago Fire fall finale, Gabby Dawson returned to the Windy City and invited her former hubby to a charity gala. Casey was initially hesitant to attend, but Brett convinced him that he’d regret it if he didn’t go. So Casey went, and the old “Dawsey” sparks were reignited, with the ex-couple taking things to the bedroom. Dawson wondered if it was a mistake, given that she was leaving, but Casey reassured her that it wasn’t. The following day, she left him a voicemail, letting him know that there’s always room in her tent, if he ever wants to visit her.

Elsewhere, Severide found himself questioning whether his colleague Wendy has feelings for him… and then found himself in a basement with an arsonist!

Below, showrunner Derek Haas explains why Dawson’s visit isn’t the end of her and Casey’s love story, and why the episode didn’t address the Brett-shaped elephant in the room. The EP also previews what’s to come after that dangerous Severide cliffhanger.

TVLINE | Storytelling-wise, why was now the right time to bring Dawson back into Casey’s life?
I had thought about doing it before the season started. One of the first things I pitched was: What if we brought Dawson back for the [fall] finale? The last image of the [Season 8 premiere] was Boden standing out on the apron, he’s looking at the memorial, and he says, “If you see anyone standing down here, whether it’s a fellow firefighter or a friend or a neighbor or just a citizen of Chicago, walk down this apron and bring the memorial to life.” And so from that moment, I thought of this image of Dawson standing down at the end of the apron, and Casey walking out on the apparatus floor and looking out and seeing someone from the back, and then just that moment of realization on his face of, “Is that Dawson?” and the growing realization as he walks toward her. I just thought that could make for a really powerful opening scene of the [fall] finale.

TVLINE | What did you feel like you got to explore with Casey by bringing Dawson back?
Well, I was never truly satisfied with the way she left the show, even though I got Monica [Raymund] to come back for Season 7, Episode 1. It was hastily put together. Even then, I said, “This isn’t the end of Dawson and Casey. This is just an end to this chapter.” So I always wanted to bring her back, and [you] get to see in this episode some… closure is not the right word, but an additional chapter to their romance. I love that little smile that Casey has on his face as he’s walking down the hallway, and then this voicemail that she leaves for him shows that they’re two people who, obviously, loved each other very much. We saw six seasons’ worth of their relationship, and that’s not something that just turns off on a dime. It’s easy to say, “Oh, he should move on,” but this was the love of his life for a long time. As long as, as Brett said, they’re clear-eyed about her only being there a couple of days. Then he decides this isn’t a mistake, and they’re good together.

Chicago Fire Gabby ReturnsTVLINE | At the end of the episode, what do they take away from this experience moving forward?
I think they take away that when two people are apart, it’s hard to have a relationship, but when they’re together and sparks are as obvious as [they are] between the two of them, that maybe just the fact that they’re divorced and she moved away doesn’t mean that’s the end of their caring for each other and seeing each other and making time for each other. Somebody asked me, “Does this episode give closure to Dawson and Casey?” and I’m like, “It’s kind of the opposite. It gives an opening to Dawson and Casey.”

TVLINE | Yeah. It feels like every time you guys try to close the chapter on them, you just open the door slightly again.
[Laughs] Which to me is real life. I’ve seen it even amongst friends and family members, where you think something is over, and then a couple years later, the sparks reignite. So it’s actually realistic if you’ve watched the relationship of these two for a long time.

TVLINE | We’ve seen Casey date around this season, but he hasn’t gotten serious about anybody since he and Gabby split up. Does this episode change his mindset at all about his love life moving forward?
It’s definitely gonna be a factor that’ll play into more episodes as the season goes on. We’ve not really progressed anything between him and Brett, but Brett and Casey have, certainly, in scenes that the other didn’t see, we’ve seen that they’ve speculated about the two of them. They’re good characters and kind of cut from the same mold and good people. And so if sparks… should ignite this season, this chapter with Dawson is certainly going to play a part in that.

Chicago Fire Brett/CaseyTVLINE | When it was announced that Gabby was coming back, there was all sorts of speculation about how she would react to Casey and Brett, whether she would give them her blessing. But in the episode, it’s not actually something that she registers, that there’s maybe a vibe between them. Can you talk about the decision not to address that in this particular episode?
Brett’s no dummy. When she says to Casey, “I think you should go. You’re clear-eyed about how long she’s gonna be here. I think you’d regret it if you didn’t see her,” and then when she talks to him again, and he says he had a great time, and even Foster picks up on the fact that she’s a little overcompensating — “That’s so, so good to hear” — Brett is the kind of person who will subdue her own happiness if she thinks that it’ll help the happiness of somebody else. And she’s always been like that. She’s unselfish in regards to her own feelings, and there’s a little bit of that at play here, because she had a front row seat, more than anyone, to the Dawson and Casey relationship. So I think she would suppress her own feelings if she thought that they had a chance at happiness.

TVLINE | Was it just too much to unpack to have Gabby react to a potential Casey/Brett romance in this episode?
I don’t think Gabby thinks there’s anything there. Certainly, nothing has happened in front of her to make her think that. We, the audience, got to see this season and a half that Gabby was not witness to. So it’s true to her character that she wouldn’t know or recognize what was going on there.

Chicago Fire RecapTVLINE | Let’s talk about Severide’s colleague Wendy. Is she interested in Casey, Severide or both? 
Oh, I think she’s into Severide. I think talking about Casey was sort of [about] seeing what Severide’s reaction would be to that. But she’s not manipulative. I’ve said this about her before: Who wouldn’t be attracted to Severide if you’re working next to him for weeks on end? [Laughs] But she’s not like a Hope situation, where she’s gonna sabotage anything. She can wait.

TVLINE | I feel like it speaks to the strength of Severide and Stella’s relationship this season that I don’t feel too worried about her getting in between them.
I think you’re right. Severide, at the end of last season, said, “I want to be the boyfriend you deserve. I want to be the man you deserve,” and he’s lived up to that. It’s been a real change in his M.O. for the last nine episodes. I don’t see that changing anytime soon. It’d take some serious external factor and not Wendy Seager to change the way Severide’s been.

TVLINE | Coming off this episode, what’s in store for Severide and Stella, professionally and personally, when you pick back up in the new year?
Severide’s still detailed to OFI, so that hasn’t changed. We left Severide in this crazy cliffhanger with an arsonist for hire, which is a little different take on arsonists than we’ve had before. We’ve had arsonists with mental problems, but we’ve never done an arsonist who was just a greedy, dangerous criminal, which I find more scary than somebody who might not have all their mental faculties. That’s who he’s down in the basement with. Somehow, basements and Chicago Fire characters, things don’t go well, so we’ll see what happens.

Chicago Fire RecapTVLINE | You definitely kept your promise to thread Otis’ death throughout this whole season. Was that new footage that Yuri Sardarov came back to shoot with Cruz?
Yes, that was new footage. I told Yuri back in June that I had this storyline. It’s based on a true story of mine. When I was between undergrad and graduate school, a really close friend of mine named Tommy Michaels died in a single-car accident. When I was finished with graduate school, I was cleaning out my apartment. So it was like two and a half years later. You’re on the other side of your grief at that point. But I found this video camera that I kept all through college, and I didn’t know what was on the tape that was inside the camera, so I plugged it into the TV, and it’s a poker night and the camera is me, basically, as people are talking to me, and then the camera swings over and my friend Tommy’s face was right there, talking to me as if it were yesterday, and I, of course, burst into tears. I thought about that story for 25 years, thinking someday I’ll use this. When I was talking to Yuri back in June, I told him that story and said I wanted to do this for the fall finale, and he agreed to do it.

Chicago Fire fans, what did you think of the episode? Grade it below, then hit the comments!