Did Chicago Fire’s fall finale spend too much time looking back?

"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’s midseason finale usually moves the season forward, but did Chicago Fire season 8 devote too much time to the show’s past?

SPOILER ALERT: This article contains discussion of the Chicago Fire midseason finale.

Midseason finales normally propel TV shows forward, but Chicago Fire‘s fall finale felt like a love letter to characters and relationships from the show’s past.

Wednesday’s episode “Best Friend Magic” featured the return of Gabriela Dawson (Monica Raymund), resulting in Dawson—and Dawsey—becoming the topics that overshadowed all of the other stories.

Dawson was the show’s female lead for six seasons, so her return (for the second time) would of course be important, and she’d deserve a decent amount of screen time. Having her just show up for a cameo would have been short-changing Monica Raymund.

But the midseason finale proved Matthew Casey (Jesse Spencer) isn’t over Dawson, and that the show isn’t either.

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The thrust of the episode wound up being “Will Casey and Dawson get back together?” Fans could tell she’d come back specifically to see him from their first scene—a fact later confirmed by her boss—and abslutely no Chicago Fire fans were shocked when Dawson and Casey had sex.

That would have been fine; they’re grown adults who can have a one-night stand if they want, and Casey’s already had one this season. But then the episode took it a step further with Dawson sending him a long voice mail that continued to flirt with him and essentially left their relationship open-ended.

So in one episode, Chicago Fire undid all the personal growth it had Casey make last season without his now ex-wife. It further muddled the waters when it comes to what the show actually wants—is Casey supposed to get together with Sylvie Brett (Kara Killmer), with whom he’s been kind of flirting since last season, or are we still supposed to be rooting for Dawsey?

And instead of having a big midseason finale that affected all of Firehouse 51, “Best Friend Magic” gave us three separate plotlines (Dawsey, Severide and Cruz) that made fans feel like everybody was in their own lane. That’s if they were really used—Christopher Herrmann’s (David Eigenberg) biggest scene turned out to be in an old video.

All of this made Chicago Fire disappointing on a few different levels. There’s no issue with bringing Dawson back, but only using her in a Dawsey story was so limited. Brett was supposed to be her good friend, but we didn’t get a Dawson and Brett scene, which could have been great—and could also have told us how Dawson would feel about Brett and Casey getting together, instead of just having the show speculate about it.

What about Dawson talking to Cruz (Joe Minoso) about losing Otis? After all, she knows what it’s like to have your best friend die on the job; Brett’s predecessor Leslie Shay (Lauren German) was killed that way too. Or Dawson giving advice to new paramedic Emily Foster (Annie Ilonzeh)? The finale had so many other options and used none of them.

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It also sent mixed messages about what it actually wants for its characters. Dawson and Casey had closure, and now they don’t. Chicago Fire has been playing this “will they, won’t they” with Brett—to be fair, it hasn’t let her and Casey do more than awkwardly talk—so why start that and then just have him get hung up on Dawson again? Especially since, as Dawson points out, she’s not staying.

If the writers wanted Dawsey to still be endgame, they could have kept them in a long-distance marriage like they did for awhile; it wouldn’t have been the most fun thing to write, but it would have been plausible and fans would understand it. But they chose divorce, and should have stuck by that instead of now leading Casey—and the fans—on. Because Dawsey shippers will now be hoping that Dawson comes back again, or that Casey does take her up on that offer to visit, since the door has been re-opened.

But it wasn’t just the Dawsey storyline that felt like it was going backward. Cruz’s story, while it was awesome and emotional, was also about a past incident and Cruz making things right there. That’s great, yet it means when Chicago Fire returns, the only piece of the story moving forward is going to be Kelly Severide (Taylor Kinney) getting out of that basement…which he probably will as he’s not leaving anytime soon.

“Best Friend Magic” wasn’t a bad episode, just one with its focus in the wrong direction. Whereas we normally have midseason finales that get us excited for what’s coming next, the Chicago Fire season 8 midseason finale just had us looking backwards.

dark. Next. What else happened in Chicago Fire's fall finale?

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