Chicago Fire: Derek Haas talks Casey’s romance, Benny’s death

CHICAGO FIRE -- "The Beginning is the End is the Beginning" Episode 709 -- Pictured: (l-r) Christian Stolte as Randall "Mouch" McHolland, Joe Minoso as Joe Cruz, Randy Flagler as Capp, Miranda Rae Mayo as Stella Kidd, Taylor Kinney as Kelly Severide, Kara Killmer as Sylvie Brett, David Eigenberg as Christopher Herrmann -- (Photo by: Elizabeth Morris/NBC)
CHICAGO FIRE -- "The Beginning is the End is the Beginning" Episode 709 -- Pictured: (l-r) Christian Stolte as Randall "Mouch" McHolland, Joe Minoso as Joe Cruz, Randy Flagler as Capp, Miranda Rae Mayo as Stella Kidd, Taylor Kinney as Kelly Severide, Kara Killmer as Sylvie Brett, David Eigenberg as Christopher Herrmann -- (Photo by: Elizabeth Morris/NBC) /

Chicago Fire showrunner Derek Haas dishes on Chicago Fire season 7’s biggest twists, like Casey and Naomi, Benny, and what’s coming up next.

This season of Chicago Fire has already included several major plot twists, and there are more coming in this week’s midseason finale.

What surprises are possible on Wednesday? And what are the stories behind the ones that have already happened? To learn more about Chicago Fire season 7 ahead of the midseason finale, we went directly to the source.

Executive producer and co-creator Derek Haas spoke to us about the decision to give Casey a new love interest so soon after Dawson, why the series killed off Benny Severide, and what you should watch for in the next episode.

Find out what he had to tell us below, and don’t miss the Chicago Fire midseason finale airing on Wednesday at 9 p.m. on NBC.

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OCC: The last episode ended with Casey (Jesse Spencer) and Naomi Graham (Kate Villanova) being watched. How much trouble are they in?

Derek Haas: They’re going to get in trouble. It’s going to get dire, because they are obviously investigating people who are pretty ruthless.

If they’re going to move basically fire-trap trailers from one state to another and just repackage them and send them, knowing what they can do, they’re pretty heartless people and they’ll stop at nothing to keep from being exposed further. They’re in for it.

OCC: It was surprising that Chicago Fire made Naomi a love interest for Casey, considering he said goodbye to Dawson just four episodes before she first appeared. Why did you decide to have Casey move on so quickly?

Derek Haas: What we were looking to do was not one of those slow builds into a big, beautiful, long relationship. We were exploring the idea of Casey being hurt, basically. He was lost, and he kept up a smile on his face for Dawson and chin-up kind of attitude, but he was reeling a bit from that.

And I think when you’ve been hurt in that way, sometimes you’re looking to reaffirm who you are, and what your appeal is, and those kind of things. Here comes a woman who reminded him of Dawson, who is very competent at her job. I don’t think it should be seen as the next big Casey relationship. I think it’s more of [being] swept up in the emotion of it all.

OCC: The other half of Chicago Fire season 7 so far has been the politics of it all. It was odd not to see Carl Grissom now that he’s commissioner; is that because Gary Cole wasn’t available?

Derek Haas: (laughs) That’s what happens when you finish a season with him making commissioner—and then you find out that he’s doing a movie and doing Veep. We couldn’t get him until January.

We do have him. He’s coming back and we will see him, I think it’s around episode 15 or 16 that we’ve already signed him for. I just took the first date he was available. When you hire great actors, they’re in different [projects]; you don’t always get to write your stories the way you want to.

OCC: But Grissom was still felt this season through Jerry Gorsch (Steven Boyer), until Benny Severide (Treat Williams) dealt with the Gorsch situation. Why did Benny have to die?

Derek Haas: When you lay out a season, or even half-season, we’re always looking for something that is going to spark story and give us a boost, in terms of emotional storytelling that we can do. A lot of times those bigger stories are left for premieres or midseason finales season finales. So as we were laying out the season, we were like, let’s do something big and daring in the middle of the first half of episodes.

We were thinking about all sorts of different scenarios, and then we struck the idea of Benny coming back into [Severide’s] life, or needing to go to Benny to try and help with the Grissom/Gorsch of it all. And then what if his dad died in the middle of helping him? What would that do to Kelly? We know Kelly doesn’t handle tragedy the best way; he starts wrecking things in his life. So we thought, this is interesting.

OCC: The Chicago Fire midseason finale is also important for the paramedics. What’s going on for Emily Foster (Annie Ilonzeh)?

Derek Haas: Foster is going to be faced with a decision in this winter finale. An opportunity is going to open up for her, and the audience is going to be questioning what her long-term choice is going to be, as far as 51 goes.

We have three gigantic set pieces, I guess is what we’d call them. Foster and Brett [are] involved in one of the big ones. We really threw the kitchen sink at it.

OCC: How seriously should we read into the recent flirtation between Foster’s partner Sylvie Brett (Kara Killmer) and Kyle Sheffield (Teddy Sears)? Is Brett moving on from Antonio?

Derek Haas: I think you should read into that. I think they’re a good fit, Brett and Kyle. As Emily said, she’s like I’m not doing this for you, I’m doing it for him. He’s a nice guy and had some tragedy in his own life and I think you’d be good for him. And Brett starts thinking more and more about that.

OCC: Anyone else that we should particularly keep an eye on in this upcoming episode?

Derek Haas: Keep an eye on all of them. We’re going to see Cruz and Otis’s girlfriends [Chloe and Lily] make appearances in this episode. Always great to have them on the show. There’s going to be some serious jeopardy for a lot of our favorites.

OCC: One of our favorite things about Chicago Fire season 7 is Christopher Herrmann (David Eigenberg) finally getting his promotion. How has it been to write Lieutenant Herrmann?

Derek Haas: When you’re writing these shows and you’re set up for long-term storytelling, you’re [sometimes] afraid as writers to mess with the status quo. All along the run of Chicago Fire, we’ve had this engine that works out of the firehouse, so finally we said why not?

We’re seven seasons in. He took the test five seasons ago to be a lieutenant; we kept shying away from it and giving excuses of why he didn’t do it. [We thought] let’s do it this year, and it’ll be a great foil to Gorsch’s authority and then we can tell some of those stories too. It’s been awesome from a storytelling standpoint, because we have a whole new facet of firefighting to explore.

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OCC: Last but not least, your novel The Silver Bear is being made into a movie. What’s that like for you?

Derek Haas: It’s very exciting. The director hasn’t been hired yet, and these things don’t get super-real until the director’s hired, but Lionsgate and Nickel City Pictures—who are the ones that got the book rights—put the whole thing together. They hired this really great screenwriter named Frank Baldwin. I might have been too precious, and sometimes it takes somebody not as close to the material to break it into a two-hour movie.

Then we got Michael B. Jordan, who I met with, who loved The Silver Bear. I spent an hour with him. He was telling me things in the book that I didn’t remember. (laughs) He has such an incredible personality and he’s just got this winning enthusiasm. He got me excited. Fingers crossed—I always say the movie gods have to smile on you to get the movie made—but I’m cautiously optimistic.

Next. Who plays Chicago Fire's Naomi Graham?. dark

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