Chicago Fire season 6, episode 20 recap: The Strongest Among Us

CHICAGO FIRE -- "The Strongest Among Us" Episode 620 -- Pictured: (l-r) Jesse Spencer as Matthew Casey, Yuri Sardarov as Otis -- (Photo by: Elizabeth Morris/NBC)
CHICAGO FIRE -- "The Strongest Among Us" Episode 620 -- Pictured: (l-r) Jesse Spencer as Matthew Casey, Yuri Sardarov as Otis -- (Photo by: Elizabeth Morris/NBC) /

How did Chicago Fire deal with someone else’s ulterior motives toward Firehouse 51? Here’s what happened in Chicago Fire season 6, episode 20.

This week’s Chicago Fire had more outside influences putting pressure on Firehouse 51, so how did our heroes handle it this time?

Thursday’s episode is called “The Strongest Among Us” and starts where last week’s episode left off, with Otis (Yuri Sardarov) waiting for his results. He’s officially cleared for active duty!

Everyone congratulates him on making his way back to Truck 81, but then bad news: Chief Boden (Eamonn Walker) finds out he won’t have a chance at promotion since Grissom (guest star Gary Cole) has decided not to retire after getting his hands dirty.

Luckily, there’s a fire call to distract Boden from the letdown. There’s an overturned cement truck in the street, and there’s a pedestrian trapped in the cement.

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Boden and Kelly Severide (Taylor Kinney) are able to extricate the woman, who coughs up concrete but is alive. Afterward, Severide asks his boss why he was so determined:

"Severide: What got into you?Boden: Had a wake-up call this morning."

Once the crew returns to Firehouse 51, Stella Kidd (Miranda Rae Mayo) tells them that she wants to keep driving Truck 81. The statement gets a lukewarm reception, particularly from Otis. Matthew Casey (Jesse Spencer) decides the two can compete for the job.

But Casey has a bigger issue to deal with: Gabriela Dawson (Monica Raymund) is freaked out after she gets a message from Bria (guest star Quinn Cooke).

And speaking of messages, Otis’s BFF Joe Cruz (Joe Minoso) gets a Facebook note from his high school ex-girlfriend. His married ex-girlfriend, which crushes him a little bit, but he still decides to respond anyway.

Before Dawson can worry about Bria too much, her father shows up at Firehouse 51 saying that he has no idea what to do. Well, that’s only going to make us all more worried! But it turns out it’s just because Bria needs a woman’s input, not her dad’s.

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Speaking of parents, the father of the pedestrian turns up at Firehouse 51 to thank Severide and Boden for saving his daughter. It seems like an innocuous moment, but there’s something off we can’t put our finger on.

Cruz makes a dinner date with his ex, while an oddly grim-looking Sylvie Brett (Kara Killmer) goes with Dawson to check out a bloody accident at a barbershop. A man is now missing an ear. They put it on ice and take him to the hospital.

While Boden asks Severide to run an errand with him, we laugh immensely at the Australian Jesse Spencer doing a faux-Australian accent to ask Dawson if she wants to spend time with some of their neighbors. First, Dawson goes by Bria’s apartment to help her—with her preparation for her prom.

Meanwhile, Christopher Herrmann (David Eigenberg) takes advantage of the Stella-Otis rivalry by offering them his “endorsement” if they do extra work at Molly’s. Chicago Fire reveals that Boden was going to buy a boat if he got promoted, and even though he isn’t, he’s still going to get one.

"Boden: I spent a lot of time waiting for good things and not enough time pursuing them."

Between boats and bar glasses, Cruz has dinner with his ex Delia. She wastes no time with the physical contact, which immediately makes us wonder if this married woman has more than a friendly dinner on her mind. She confirms this a moment later when she tells Cruz she’s been thinking about him, and considering how vulnerable he is in the romantic department, this is not good news.

Chicago Fire cuts to the next day as Connie (DuShon Monique Brown) hands Boden an envelope with no return address and a ton of money in it. Boden immediately tells her to call the CFD legal team, especially since Severide has an envelope as well. But instead of help from the lawyer, the duo are called right to the commissioner’s office. Do not pass go and definitely do not collect $200.

While Otis’s driving test goes badly, Cruz asks Brett for advice on Delia. Yes, ask your ex what to do about another ex. Brett tells him that he cannot, in any way, show up at a hotel room to be Delia’s new fling.

But she’s not as emphatic as Grissom when he meets Severide and Boden at the commissioner’s office; he’s not concerned for either of them, but if this will cause him trouble. Apparently he did not stop being a jerk after the last time we saw him. But all three of them find out that the money was just a gift from the man who came by earlier.

He didn’t realize handing off money is not how things are done in Chicago; they suggest he use it as an anonymous gift to the charitable foundation and breathe a sigh of relief. But Boden is still convinced Grissom’s appearance was no coincidence.

There’s another plot going on at Firehouse 51 as Stella extorts some extra work from Otis if she backs out of the driving competition. Afterward she tells Casey that she was just trying to get it all “back to normal” around the house, and he lets her drive one last time.

Boden makes sure the money goes back to where it came from, Cruz contemplates showing up at Delia’s hotel, and Dawson introduces a now completely made-up Bria to her prom date before she reveals they’ve borrowed Truck 81 to take the kids out. It’s not a limo, sure, but it’s even cooler.

As the truck pulls away with Stella at the wheel, Dawson tells Casey she wants to start trying for a baby again. Because totally.

“The Strongest Among Us” has highs and lows, but will be memorable for any Chicago Fire fan if for no other reason than the big step forward for Dawson and Casey. We’ve talked about this well before this season started, but with as long as family has been a through-line for them, it was time for something like this to happen. Now we only hope it ends well and this doesn’t become a letdown like Dawson’s previous miscarriage or the Louie situation.

The rest of the episode isn’t quite so great. It’s always good when Boden gets more screen time, because Eamonn Walker is fantastic and because it’s great that Boden is not written as the usual boss sitting behind a desk in and office.

But Grissom continues to be grating on the nerves, and the whole Stella vs. Otis subplot feels a bit awkward. It wouldn’t be weird to see them competing, except for that Stella was the one with Otis when he was shot. She, of all people, should understand him wanting to come back to his former role on Truck.

No matter how much she loves driving the truck, his role means something to him on an emotional level, and you’d think she’d understand that instead of trying to get him to bribe her to back out. The whole idea of messing with Otis to get the firehouse dynamic “back to normal” doesn’t quite ring true; maybe it will in the next episode or so but right now it feels like Chicago Fire giving us a justification after the fact.

All in all, though, this is an episode that has one heck of an opening fire call, and while not much else huge happens, it has a lot of little moments that remind audiences why we watch Chicago Fire. Let’s see if any of this builds to something next week.

Next: Did Chicago Fire have a firehouse thief?

What did you think of this week’s Chicago Fire episode? Give us your reaction to “The Strongest Among Us” in the comments.

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