Chicago Fire showrunner Derek Haas previews Dawson’s return

"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 co-creator Derek Haas explains what you need to know about Gabriela Dawson’s return and the rest of the Chicago Fire season 8 fall finale.

Tonight’s Chicago Fire fall finale is centered on the return of a familiar face to Firehouse 51. This is the first time One Chicago fans will have seen Gabriela Dawson (Monica Raymund) in person since the season 7 premiere.

The show wants fans talking about Dawson’s comeback, so we did some talking with co-creator and showrunner Derek Haas, who explained what to expect—and what not to expect—from that storyline.

He also spoke about the other plots happening during the midseason finale, and how worried the fans should be about yet another shocking Chicago Fire cliffhanger.

Check out Derek’s preview of tonight’s episode below, then tune into NBC at 9 p.m. to see Chicago Fire‘s midseason finale!

More from One Chicago Center

One Chicago Center: How did you land on the idea of bringing Dawson back? What made it the right idea for this episode?

Derek Haas: In June when we were planning out the storylines [for Chicago Fire season 8], the writing staff and I had this idea of Otis’s memorial.

When Boden [Eamonn Walker] says if you see someone down here looking at this memorial, whether it’s a fellow firefighter or friend or neighbor or citizen, I want you to walk down this apron and bring this memorial to life.

I just thought, what if Gabby Dawson was standing at the memorial? Which she would; she would come back and want to check that out. So that would be the impetus for bringing her back.

OCC: How did you pitch the idea to Monica Raymund? How did you convince her to come back for another guest appearance?

DH: I texted her and said, will you come back and do the winter finale? She said you’re nothing if not persistent, or something like that. And I said yes, that’s what I am, so think about it but I want you to do it. And I told her what the story would be, and she agreed.

OCC: Fans would love it if Chicago Fire gave us an update on what Dawson’s brother Antonio is doing, since Chicago PD wrote him out kind of vaguely. Does that happen in this episode?

DH: Yep. You’re going to hear about Antonio, and what Dawson’s been up to.

OCC: The primary question the promo wants us to ask is if Dawson and Casey will rekindle their relationship, and what that means for Casey and Brett’s dynamic. How will Brett be affected by Dawson’s return?

DH: Casey and Dawson had six seasons on the show together which, for a lot of that time, Brett [Kara Killmer] had a front row seat. And Brett is the kind of person who would put her feelings second to what she thinks is right for her friends. So you’re going to see that play out.

That’s just the type of person she is. She’ll subdue her own feelings if she thinks she needs to do that for the growth of other characters. That’s happening.

OCC: Dawson had other relationships besides her romance with Casey, though, so will we see her affect other storylines in the episode?

DH: Dawson and Casey are paramount, but you do get to see her interact with other favorites.

OCC: The Chicago Fire midseason finale also has Stella and Severide on different career tracks. What’s in store for Stellaride and their fans?

DH: We’ve watched [Stella] in the last several weeks be pushing the limits of her physical and mental endurance, because Boden has seen to it to champion her as a future leader. The last thing she’d ever want to do is disappoint her chief, so she’s pushing it and pushing it, and you’re going to see there are ramifications to going beyond [when] your body is trying to tell you to stop.

OCC: Boden is trying to move Stella’s career forward, and we saw Grissom try to do the same with Severide previously. So will this storyline be similar to that previous one at all?

DH: The big difference between Grissom and Boden is intent. I think Grissom, while he was looking out for Kelly, was always looking out for himself. Boden’s intentions are in the right place; he’s not being manipulative and being a martinet. He’s doing this because he thinks she’s a leader. But we’re going to find out maybe sometimes your best intentions can be misguided.

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

OCC: In both this episode and the one before, you’ve had storylines that call back to Otis’s death. Why have you decided to revisit that, and how have these been to write, considering how much killing Otis impacted you?

DH: It’s hard. It’s always hard when you think about your love of the character and actor. We, as a writers’ room, decided early on we didn’t want this to be a cheap stunt that you pulled in the first episode and then you acted like it never happened. That’s not real, and if anything, we try to go back to what’s the real emotion? What would be happening with these characters?

Grieving goes in different speeds for different people and different levels [for] different people, and it can really mess with your head. So that was the idea. We weren’t going to let it slide. We’ve got this memorial out here and we really emphasize what Boden said. That’s why the executive was standing there at the end of the last episode, and that’s why Dawson is standing there at the beginning of this episode.

OCC: Chicago Fire is notorious for cliffhangers, particularly in finales. How concerned should we be that tonight’s episode will end in one?

DH: Twelve. Fifteen. Whatever is the most after ten. (laughs) We try to do it not just on finales and winter finales; there’s a few episodes where we’ll throw some big swings. But yes, when we are driving towards an ending, our whole thing is you can’t miss the last 20 seconds of these shows.

Next. Our Chicago Fire midseason finale predictions. 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.