Chicago Fire season 6 midseason finale recap: Down Is Better

Where did the Chicago Fire midseason finale leave the heroes of Firehouse 51? Here’s what happened in Chicago Fire season 6, episode 6.

We’ve reached the Chicago Fire midseason finale, and Thursday’s episode was determined to send Chicago Fire season 6 out with a bang. So did it succeed?

“Down Is Better” opens with the usual couple of personal notes, whether it’s Gabriela Dawson (Monica Raymund) trying to figure out what’s going on with her father, or Otis (Yuri Sardarov) noticing that another bar is going out of business and seeing an opportunity.

But there are always rescues to be made regardless of what’s happening in everyone’s personal lives. The second level of a stakehouse is on fire, and somebody’s got to go up there.

Enter Stella Kidd (Miranda Rae Mayo), who runs into the fire when she sees a woman and child who have been trapped by the blaze. As Matthew Casey (Jesse Spencer) gets the mom to safety, Stella frees the baby, which is an incredibly proud moment for the both of them.

But because this is Chicago Fire, you know there’s a but coming. More than one, actually.

Stella’s arch-nemesis Hope Jacquinot (Eloise Mumford) now just happens to find the missing paperwork on Boden’s (Eamonn Walker) desk.

And then Connie (DuShon Brown) delivers Stella an envelope that tells her she’s being transferred out of Firehouse 51 to the Office of Public Relations. Note the awkward look on Kelly Severide’s (Taylor Kinney) face just before the cut to commercial.

So the burning question on every fan’s mind: These two things are related, right?

Stella has a sit-down with Casey, Severide, and Mouch (Christian Stolte) to figure out if she can stop this involuntary move. Boden walks into the meeting and says that he was also blindsided by the news, but was told even worse information: OPR wants to take Stella on the very next shift. It’s all very fast, and very disappointing.

Casey: You should have seen her today. One-woman wrecking crew.

When Stella can’t sleep as she contemplates her future, she has a heart to heart with Mouch, who suggests that she could use the transfer to her advantage—by utilizing it to speak up about those issues that need to be spoken about. Good Guy Mouch, ever the optimist. But Stella is still gone as the rest of the team comes in the next morning.

And Hope’s still here, telling the company that there’s nine hundred dollars that the firehouse still has unused, that might be available for a new barbecue grill. She’s conveniently there to cheer up the troops, plus try to rekindle her fling with Severide. He rebuffs her, though, saying he has plans.

Namely, to try and chaperone Stella, who’s completely drunk. So drunk that she kisses him for the first time since the fifth season, but Severide knows she’s inebriated and walks away.

While Chicago Fire fans are all saying “told you so,” Dawson finds out that Ramon (Daniel Zacapa) has been using Casey’s name to try and get himself a political favor, while Otis tries awkwardly to talk to Lily, the daughter of the man who owns that failing bar. You can see that look in his eyes, just like with the fire robot, that says he’s in love too.

Stella eventually wakes up hungover on Severide’s couch, with no memory of even getting back to the apartment in the first place. Severide chooses not to mention that she kissed him.

Meanwhile, Boden and Casey pay a personal visit to the department brass to try and reverse her transfer. They get a huge shocker: the OPR boss had requested another firefighter, not Stella, for the job. So who screwed up the paperwork? Well, who handles the paperwork? And the dots start to connect themselves ominously.

Otis approaches Christopher Herrmann (David Eigenberg) with the idea to save Lily’s bar by using it as Molly’s North and starting a franchise. Surprisingly, Herrmann does not quash Otis’s idea off the bat, and Otis gets a hug from Lily.

After Dawson’s angry voicemail, Ramon turns up at Firehouse 51 to speak with his daughter. He’s in trouble at work again and still wants Casey to help him, which only further enrages Gabby. This is the time for her to tell him off:

Dawson: It’s all fair game as long as Ramon Dawson gets what he wants.

Stella arrives at OPR and is not thrilled with her new position at all. Nor the fact that her boss has feedback about her hairstyle. Or that she shows up only to be almost immediately walked into a press conference without any preparation. This is idiocy all around, including Stella’s replacement, who’s an absolute dead weight.

But when said replacement lets slip a key fact about how he’s been transferred everywhere, Casey grabs Herrmann and takes him down to the personnel records office. Luckily, the woman there is a big fan of Herrmann’s, and gives them a copy of the transfer order. It’s been signed by Sam Mullins (guest star John Gatins), the Battalion Chief we last saw in “An Even Bigger Surprise.”

Casey bites the bullet and confronts Mullins again, but Mullins doesn’t recognize his signature on Stella’s transfer order. Cut to Boden pulling Hope into a room, where they’re all there to give her an earful. They know she forged the paperwork, and now she needs to pay for what she’s done.

Boden fires Hope on the spot, and Connie already has her desk cleaned out, in another awesome Connie moment.

Connie: I went ahead and sped this up for you.

So what’s Sylvie Brett (Kara Killmer) going to think about Hope’s manipulations? Brett doesn’t listen to Hope’s victim rant, as she tries to blame everyone from Boden to Connie for her firing. Instead, she tears into Hope for attacking her firehouse family, and throwing away what could have been an amazing opportunity. As she should.

With that resolved, Chicago Fire moves on to Lily smiling as Otis, Dawson and Herrmann officially propose keeping her father’s bar open as Molly’s North. And Stella, now thrilled to have her place back at Firehouse 51, is back to bantering with Severide. Let’s see how long it takes before they get back together.

Brett apologizes to the entire crew for bringing Hope to the firehouse in the first place, feeling guilty over what’s unfolded in this first part of the season, even though it’s not her fault. But it’s not over yet. There’s an ambulance call for a man who’s been stabbed in a fight on the subway platform—and it’s Dawson’s father.

“Down Is Better” definitely gives Chicago Fire fans some things to think about until Chicago Fire season 6 resumes in January. Firstly, it finally wraps up the Hope storyline and resolves, at least in part, the Stellaride question. Hopefully, with Hope out of the way and it re-established that Stella and Severide still are interested in each other, the show will move forward.

Fans have been watching Stellaride go back and forth for two seasons now, and both characters also deserve character development that goes beyond their relationship with each other. So this is exactly what they needed.

It’s also nice to see Otis come up with an idea that isn’t just played for humor, and Herrmann to be supportive of that idea instead of just crushing it, too. Otis is so much of the comic relief, and that is important in its own way, but he shouldn’t only be used for that. We’ll have to see how the new Molly’s North does, though, given how so many Fire subplots have involved the team struggling to just keep Molly’s afloat.

Speaking of humor, though, can we give a shoutout to DuShon Brown in this episode? She’s so good all the time, but she’s laugh out loud good in “Down Is Better,” particularly when Connie is there to “help” Hope clean out her desk. It’s a spot-on moment, and we’re always in favor of more Connie.

Likewise, Ramon Dawson has always been a troublemaker, so how many more chances is the show going to give him? Could this be the beginning of his end and how would that affect Dawson (not to mention Antonio and Casey)?

It feels strange to have Chicago Fire season 6 signing off two weeks earlier than the past season, but the fall finale did what it was supposed to do, which is wrap up stories and also leave the fans wanting to come back. We’ll see what new stories start in January.

What did you think of the Chicago Fire season 6 midseason finale? Let us know your reaction to “Down Is Better” in the comments.

Chicago Fire airs Thursdays at 10/9c on NBC.