Gabriela Dawson’s return is Chicago Fire season 8’s turning point

"Best Friend Magic" Episode 809 -- Pictured: Monica Raymund as Gabriela Dawson -- (Photo by: Adrian Burrows/NBC)
"Best Friend Magic" Episode 809 -- Pictured: Monica Raymund as Gabriela Dawson -- (Photo by: Adrian Burrows/NBC) /

Chicago Fire is bringing back Monica Raymund as Gabriela Dawson, and her return will be Chicago Fire season 8’s most important crossroads.

Gabriela Dawson is returning to Chicago Fire again in next week’s midseason finale, and Monica Raymund‘s second guest spot will be the moment that changes the entire season—possibly even the whole series.

One Chicago fans are abuzz over Dawson’s return, which was announced weeks ago. The promo for Wednesday’s episode is hyping it up, too: How will Gabby’s arrival affect her now ex-husband Matthew Casey (Jesse Spencer)?

What about the “will they or won’t they” Casey has gone on to develop with Sylvie Brett (Kara Killmer), who happens to be Gabby’s best friend and former partner?

There are multiple questions surrounding this latest Dawson sighting, and their answers will say a lot about where Chicago Fire is, and where the show is going.

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It’s easy to see the appeal in bringing the character back. When Dawson was written out at the start of last season, Chicago Fire showrunner Derek Haas was honest about the fact that it wasn’t the ideal departure—as he hadn’t expected that Raymund was actually going to decide to leave the show after six seasons.

Another guest spot a season and a half later is a means to rectify that, similar to how Haas got a do-over with the Renee Royce character by having Sarah Shahi return in 2018. The great thing about writing for TV is that sometimes you have a chance to fix your mistakes.

But now that some time has passed, that original goodbye doesn’t look as much like a mistake.

Gabriela Dawson didn’t get a huge, heroic send-off like, say, the recently departed Otis (Yuri Sardarov). And having her return to Chicago from Puerto Rico simply to tell Casey she was permanently relocating—thus divorcing him—was a bit drastic. But it tied up the loose ends, and laid groundwork for what the show was supposed to do next.

Dawson left to do something that felt in line with her character. She got that final goodbye with Casey, well-deserved after Chicago Fire and its fans had invested six seasons into Dawsey. And it was clear why, even after all of that romance that had been brewing since the pilot episode, why they couldn’t be together anymore.

We know from Casey mentioning it last season that the two eventually divorced. He ended up in a horrible fling with a reporter that led to his apartment burning down, but other than that, Casey is in a good place at the moment. Dawson seemed like she was in a great place when she left. So it would have been fine, really, if that was the last we had seen of her.

And now that it isn’t, we have to ask: What does bringing her back actually mean?

Will sparks fly between Dawson and Casey, proving that the two are still attracted—and undoing all the moving on Chicago Fire put him through last season? Or will they get another final goodbye and this could be the impetus for the writers to finally push him toward Brett?

And hey, could we even get an update on Antonio, since Chicago PD‘s throwaway explanation for Jon Seda‘s departure was that he’d moved to Puerto Rico, too?

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Chicago Fire has an opportunity to tell a great story here, not just giving Dawson and Dawsey fans a fun episode, but giving Casey the kind of closure he didn’t get by having a needless fling and also moving the show past the unresolved tension between Casey and Brett.

Dawson can do so much to help both characters as a friend, and Monica Raymund can definitely deliver those big moments that could help the series move into its next chapter.

Or it could turn Chicago Fire season 8 into a melodrama, using Dawson to further confuse Casey or further muddle things for Brett, and sending our favorite Captain back to the emotionally awkward state he was in last season. It just depends on what the writers decide they’re ready to do.

But whatever happens, One Chicago fans will definitely be talking about Gabriela Dawson again next week—for one reason or another.

Next. Chicago Fire's 5 best Dawsey moments. dark

For the latest Chicago Fire season 8 spoilers and news, plus more on the entire series, follow the Chicago Fire category at One Chicago Center.