In a world of procedural dramas, “Chicago Fire” promises to be more. It premiered with the death of one of its own, putting the series’ two stars — Lt. Kelly Severide (Taylor Kinney) and Lt. Matthew Casey (Jesse Spencer) — on an emotional collision course as each blames the other for the death of Andy Darden.
On this Wednesday night’s episode (NBC at 10 pm), Severide is hiding a shoulder injury that occurred during the fire that killed Andy. And, as if he doesn’t have enough to grapple with from that — such as hiding it from the brass and his fellow Rescue Squad team members, Andy’s wife (guest star Chaon Cross as Heather) turns on him at the annual firefighters’ barbecue, accusing him of being responsible for her husband’s death.
“Severide got injured during this fire, and it just serves as a scar,” Kinney says. “Every time he’s reminded of what happened, it serves as a catalyst for the tension between Casey and Severide because, these guys are competitive guys [and longtime friends], who had a healthy rivalry until this incident.”
Being called on the carpet by Battalion Chief Wallace Boden (Eamonn Walker) only causes the guys to pretend to sweep the tension under the rug. Instead, the animosity festers and escalates in Episodes 2, 3 and 4, especially as Severide learns that his injury could cost him his career if not dealt with. That said, he doesn’t want to see a doctor to take care of the problem because that could put him out on disability.
Then in Episode 3, things get hinky for Casey following a car crash during which a young boy is paralyzed. The drunk driver responsible for the accident turns out to be the son of a corrupt police officer, who tries to get his son off — any which way he can.
“Casey gets caught in the middle of it and decides to pursue the truth of the matter, which is that the son was drunk and caused this accident,” Spencer says. “Basically, there’s quite a story arc –over three or four episodes, I believe. This [corrupt cop] pursues Casey in a very threatening manner physically — threatens his whole life and his family — to try and get his son off. Casey’s backed into a corner and reacts in the way that any guy would when he’s protecting his loved ones.”
As the season unfolds, “Chicago Fire” promises to tell stories from several angles — medical angles for the EMTs, rescue operations not involving fires and also, of course, the truck stories — since it designed after a similar real-life facility in Chicago. But it also promises that all of the action sequences will be complemented by strong character storytelling that has to do with continuing relationships, emotional ups and downs, and more.
“There’s just a limitless amount of stuff that we can get our teeth into in terms of set ups, which is really exciting, and I like that stuff,” says Spencer. “I think it’s what they do [in real life] and the situations are different every time. You don’t approach every situation the same way, because everything is always different.”
“Chicago Fire” airs Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. on NBC.