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Chicago Fire “Viral” 

Photo Credit:NBC
Photo Credit:NBC

Have you ever watched an episode of a television show that, while still gripping in some ways, appeared too melodramatic, too clichéd, and just didn’t have that “umph!” like prior episodes?  That was my general feeling about last night’s Chicago Fire.  It had some surprisingly stellar actor performances, stunning special effects, but the story lines simply didn’t grab me.

 The Bad

 The storylines were way too melodramatic and in some ways anti-climatic.  It wasn’t just one storyline either; it was most of them in the entire episode.

1.  Severide’s (Taylor Kinney) drama with his former fiancée, Renee Whaley

How many years has it been since Severide and Renee split?  It was definitely several years ago, and after last week’s meeting with her at her new career as a stripper, if those bridges had any chance of mending, it was going to take a lot of time.  Even after Severide makes a last ditch effort in visiting her in the mental hospital, Renee is still very bitter, wants nothing to do with Severide, and makes that very clear to him.

But after being released from the hospital, she is magically better, and all is well again.  How?  Severide takes her to a spot that they had often visited together.  Renee dwells on the past and says that the only things she can see now are the things she lost.  Severide explains, “A view is just a view” and that anything is possible.

Then, out of the clear blue sky, Renee begins crying and decides to make amends with both Severide and her brother, Eric.  WTF?!  I’ve been in a dark place a couple of times in my life, and I can guarantee you that you can’t turn your feelings on and off like a faucet.  While it made for a nice, cheery ending, it just seemed unrealistic.

2. Shay’s (Lauren German) split with her lesbian lover, Clarice (Shiri Appleby)

How many viewers saw this one coming from a mile away! Clarice had already broken Shay’s heart once, and Dawson (Monica Raymund) warned her that it would happen again.  The big difference now is that Clarice has a new baby boy, and her husband, Daniel, is holding all the cards.  He’s suing for full custody of the baby and uses his position of power to pull Charice away from Shay – and, it works.  Clarice is forced to move to NYC with the baby just to get 50/50 custody and doesn’t blink in taking the deal, pretty much leaving Shay high and dry even after Shay’s close call with HIV.

I’m so sorry, Shay, but you got played once again.  But, at least you hadn’t moved out yet and still have Severide.  He’s the one rock that you can certainly count on.

3.  The anti-climatic end with the bomb

The ending scene is set up with a huge fertilizer bomb that could easily level half of the neighborhood, and so, we expect a bang, even if it’s a little one.  But, the entire bomb is disarmed, and the only thing we really got out of it is Eric Whaley being labeled a hero.

 The Good

 1. The fabulous special effects in the opening scene

That opening fire scene where Cruz (Joe Minoso) tried to be Superman again was breathtaking.  Flames were everywhere, the building was collapsing, and I swear I really thought Mouch (Christian Stolte) was a goner (and, I would have cried my eyes out if that had happened!).  Every last detail appeared to be real, and so, kudos to the folks who are responsible for constructing scenes like this.  You do an amazing job.

 2.  Cruz’s inner struggle

To be honest, I had almost forgotten about Cruz’s issues, which made it even more surprising when they resurfaced and nearly got Mouch killed in the process.  Casey finally steps up and did what he should have done a long time ago – Cruz had to turn in his badge, or he was going to report the incident with Flaco to the police.  Wow, that’s rough.

Cruz finally ends up in a Catholic Church, trying to resolve his feelings of guilt and grief, but it doesn’t seem to work.  Here, I want to commend Joe Minoso for his extraordinary performance in these scenes.  With the tears running down his face and the anguish on his face, you can tell this guy is in unbearable pain.  And, when you, as a viewer, can feel that pain and empathize with the character, you know the actor is doing a great job.

After finally confessing to Mouch what had happened and Mouch saying that it was OK what he had done, Cruz is allowed to stay on the squad, but something tells me this situation is not over.  He takes back his badge, but that look of guilt is still on his face.  I only hope that the next time it shows its ugly face, no one will get killed as a result of Cruz’s actions (and Casey’s decision to allow him to remain on the squad).

In general, while the episode had some very good moments, I think it could have been better.  The scenes with Cruz and Mouch were fantastic, the action was much better from last week, but the storylines lacked substance and just felt forced or fake.

On the upside, next week’s episode looks like a real winner, with the return of Severide’s father (Treat Williams) and the possible revealing of what really happened to Peter Mills’s (Charlie Barnett) father when he was killed.  You certainly don’t want to miss this one!

Chicago Fire airs on Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. EST on NBC.



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