Kelly Severide (Taylor Kinney) may not be onscreen for the episode "The Little Things", but the character is still very much at the forefront of Chicago Fire. He decided to leave his position at the 51 once again, to investigate a case with the ATF, and is expected to be gone for several weeks. At least, he was. (SPOILERS AHEAD!)
The opening minutes of "The Little Things" provide a lot of insight into Severide's future, and the big decision he will eventually have to make. The information is communicated by Stella Kidd (Miranda Rae Mayo), who is still saddened by the fact that her husband has left for Arizona and is hoping that he will come back.
Severide is considering a move to OFI
According to Kidd, Severide is enjoying his time with the ATF, but he's thought about making a career change when he gets back to Chicago. Instead of leaving for long periods of time and traveling with the ATF when he's needed, the character is considering a job with the OFI in Chicago.
The OFI, or Office of Fire Investigation, has been after Severide for years, and Kidd makes it sound as though the talented investigator is finally coming around. This would mean, of course, that Severide would no longer work as a firefighter, and would no longer be a part of the 51 team.
It would be a huge change, not only for the show but Kidd and Severide's marriage. The thing is-- it would be the better decision given the latter's current options. Severide is obviously tired of putting fires out, and is far more passionate about investigating them, so he's going to continue to do so one way or another.
Since that decision already seems to be made, the remaining decision is whether or not to pursue his new passion with the ATF, causing him to be gone for weeks or potentially even months at a time, or with OFI, which would allow him to stay in Chicago and be close to Kidd.
Severide is currently traveling with ATF
We'd say the second is far and away the better option. Severide working for ATF would effectively keep him out of the show for multiple episodes, whereas the OFI would allow him to have his own subplots within the framework of each week's episode.
Chicago Fire showrunner Andrea Newman admitted that there were talks of a Chicago Fire spin-off in which Severide would lead an OFI team, but she determined that the character's absence from Fire would be damaging to the franchise.
Based on the options that the show is laying out, it sounds like the plans for the spin-off may instead be folded into Chicago Fire, so that Severide can continue to change and evolve while maintaining his marriage and his starring role within the show.
Not a bad trade-off, if you ask us.