Chicago Fire season 6, episode 21 recap: The Unrivaled Standard

CHICAGO FIRE -- "The Unrivaled Standard" Episode 621 -- Pictured: Taylor Kinney as Kelly Severide -- (Photo by: Elizabeth Morris/NBC)
CHICAGO FIRE -- "The Unrivaled Standard" Episode 621 -- Pictured: Taylor Kinney as Kelly Severide -- (Photo by: Elizabeth Morris/NBC) /

Chicago Fire brought back Kelly Severide’s past this week, but what about his future? Here’s what happened in Chicago Fire season 6, episode 21.

This week’s Chicago Fire once again pulled a character’s romantic history into their present, so how did it go for Severide? And what did all this mean for the future?

Thursday’s episode is called “The Unrivaled Standard” and it picks up not long last week left off, as Joe Cruz (Joe Minoso) is leaving the hotel where his ex-girlfriend was staying. This certainly implies he slept with her.

While we shake our heads at that, Christopher Herrmann (David Eigenberg) is trying to catch his kid’s basketball team and he’s not doing well with the backseat coaches in the stands. Like he ever does well with people’s unsolicited opinions.

When everyone meets up at the firehouse later, Cruz lies and says he was at his brother’s house while Kelly Severide (Taylor Kinney) is still getting Stella Kidd’s (Miranda Rae Mayo) junk mail, and agrees to her suggestion that they should go out on a proper date.

More from One Chicago Center

But then the alarm goes off, as usual. The team helps another ambulance that’s stuck, with a patient who’s seizing inside.

This creates a precarious scenario for Gabriela Dawson (Monica Raymund) and Sylvie Brett (Kara Killmer), who’ve got to save the guy themselves. Do they get a thank you? Of course not. They get told that the Chicago Fire Department’s commissioner might be leaving and being replaced by a guy who can’t tell an ambulance from a purchase order.

While we stew on that, Cruz’s ex Delia pops up at the firehouse and somehow doesn’t get slapped by Brett. She does, however, call Cruz out on his lie from earlier.

"Brett: It’s not complicated at all. You lied to me."

You probably thought that was the worst of it, but literally just minutes later, Severide’s ex Renee Royce (Sarah Shahi) strolls up too. What is this, Have Your Ex Show Up To Work Day? Needless to say, Stella does not want.

Renee tells Severide that she and her son have moved back to Chicago, and that she’s handling a case for the CFD about an oil refinery fire. So naturally she wants his help, but she makes sure to compliment his “rugged good looks” and tell him that it’s just her and her son.

He gives her the “are you serious?” look, while Stella runs off to get the scoop on Renee from Dawson, including the fact that she lied about her kid’s paternity. Dawson assures Stella that Kelly has “never looked back” on his breakup with Renee, but will she believe her? Especially with Renee out there throwing gas on the proverbial fire?

But wait. Mouch (Christian Stolte) runs in and tells everyone he just saw the fire commissioner outside. Welcome the third unexpected visitor Chicago Fire has had in ten minutes. He confirms the rumor that he’s leaving the CFD, which makes Matthew Casey (Jesse Spencer) think Boden (Eamonn Walker) should try for the job. He asks Severide to help him get Boden’s name on the short list, and the two start campaigning immediately.

Watch One Chicago on fuboTV: Watch over 67 live sports and entertainment channels with a 7-day FREE trial!

That night, Stella chases down Severide and he calls Renee’s return “nothing” while Herrmann meets Lieutenant Colannino (guest star Andy John Kalkounos) at Molly’s to tell him to relax before any more parents complain about his yelling during the basketball games. And just as Cruz tells Delia it’s over between them, her husband decks him. We’re just gonna leave this here:

The next day, Brett is there to put frozen food on Cruz’s new shiner and accept his apology. Boden also confronts Casey and Severide about their idea that he should run for fire commissioner; he’s not thrilled and calls it “an absolute breach of trust.”

You’d think he’d be happier about this, but Casey makes his sales pitch about it being for the better of everyone, which seems to both placate their boss and strike some kind of chord. Once he leaves the office, we find out that Severide agreed to look at Renee’s case while she continues to grin at him like a teenage girl. Plus, she just happens to have brought the kid that she once tried to tell him was his. Stella still does not want.

But Chicago Fire interrupts all of this to bring us an auto body shop going up in flames. Herrmann’s new friend Colannino is also on the scene, and the two team up as everyone searches for the one man who didn’t make it out. While they find the mechanic, Herrmann is separated from the other firefighter and by the time they’re able to get back into the building, Colannino is dead. That breaks Herrmann’s heart for more than one reason.

"Herrmann: He was facing the wrong way, Mouch. When we found him, he was headed back in, looking for me. I don’t know how we missed each other."

In the final few minutes of “The Unrivaled Standard,” everyone shows up to Colannino’s wake with heavy hearts. Losing another man has convinced Boden to run for fire commissioner. But for some weird reason, Grissom (guest star Gary Cole) thinks this is the appropriate time to say that he also wants that job. Dude, get out of the way already. We’ve got Colannino’s wife and his son to worry about.

“The Unrivaled Standard” proves that sometimes Chicago Fire can lean too heavily on its personal subplots. It’s only the last fire scene that has a ton of tension in it; that’s as good as it gets, but it winds up being just one portion of an episode that is otherwise mostly about people’s exes and a lot of bad choices.

No matter what you thought about Renee Royce before she went to Madrid, her appearance here feels a little over the top. If she were seriously just there looking for Severide’s help, that would be interesting because we’d have to decide whether or not to trust Stella’s instincts (especially since we know Stella overreacted last time).

But instead, even though she says she’s just there for work, she has to talk about Severide’s “good looks” and she can’t keep a serious face for more than 30 seconds. She’s about one notch less obvious than Hope, and it doesn’t do the character any favors when it comes to being accepted by the audience.

Plus, the Cruz and Delia storyline plays out just as everybody expected it would, which puts us all right there with Brett in wondering how he could be that stupid. The only thing that rings true is Herrmann’s unexpected friendship with Colannino as they wind up bonding over fatherhood, and the poor guy dies. It’s a great chance for David Eigenberg to flex his acting muscles, at least.

Stories like that and like Boden’s run for fire commissioner are great because they have meaning and they have heart. We can understand why Casey and Severide would push for him, and why he would make that leap. We care about him, but also what he’s trying to do.

And it also shows what Chicago Fire‘s strengths are. This show is aces at creating these great fire scenes, and showing the emotional toll it takes to be a firefighter or any kind of first responder. It could use to do more of that, and leave people’s exes in the past. Let’s look toward the future and as Mouch would say, just keep moving.

Next: Look back at all of Kelly Severide's love interests

What did you think of this week’s Chicago Fire episode? Leave your reaction to “The Unrivaled Standard” in the comments.

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