‘Chicago Fire’ Boss Won’t Shy Away From Killing Off More Characters

by | December 20, 2012 at 5:31 PM | Chicago Fire, Interviews

Taylor Kinney as Kelly Severide, Jesse Spencer as Matthew Casey, Eamonn Walker as Battalion Chief Walter Boden in "Chicago Fire" (Photo by: Sandro/NBC)

Chicago Fire” turned up the heat for its Season 1 mid-season finale with the crew of Chicago Firehouse 51 being accused of stealing a $50,000 diamond necklace — and two of them looking guilty; Casey having a confrontation with his sister (Nicole Forester) about their mother (guest star Kathleen Quinlan), who he then goes to visit in jail; and Casey realizing he isn’t over his ex-fiancé Hailey (Teri Reeves) when he is about to kiss Gabriela Dawson (Monica Raymund).

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But that wasn’t all! Leslie Shay (Laura German) commits perjury for Kelly Severide (Taylor Kinney), lying about pain killers she gave him that are missing from the ambulance; Christopher Herrmann (David Eigenberg) has come up with another scheme to make more money — and it looks as doomed as his bottled water sales; and then Dawson and Shay’s lives are put in jeopardy when a truck crashes into their parked ambulance.

“There’s a lot of fallout from the crash,” executive producer Michael Brandt tells XfinityTV.com in an exclusive interview. “And our two main guys have a lot of stuff falling upon them at the same time in the next two weeks.”

Whether or not Dawson and Shay survive will require viewers to tune in, but read on for what Brandt reveals about the upcoming drama on NBC’s “Chicago Fire.”

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Can you give us a general idea of what lies ahead?
Severide is going to have to make a really hard decision and that is the drama that pushes the next two or three episodes, along with what happened to Shay and Monica in the ambulance. Those two things are really interconnected and are going to affect Severide deeply. Also, a person from his past is going to come into his life. All those things are going to come to a head — his injury, his drug use, his surgery, where does he go from here? Is he on the show? That is probably the No. 1 piece of drama. Then, in the Casey world, it is juggling his feelings about Gaby’s and Peter Mills’ (Charlie Barnett) budding friendship/relationship and also what happens with his mom and his sister.

We found out the week before that Casey has been estranged from his sister, but now we know it has something to do with the death of their father and their mother being in jail. Can you talk about how that will play out?
Wow, that is a tough one. There is a big answer to it all and it is all very interconnected, but to talk about it without revealing it is pretty hard. I will say that he is a estranged from his sister because of what happened with mom and dad. The idea for us as storytellers and writers is that we will work on their relationship using the situation.

It seems that it can’t have happened too long ago because Casey’s niece knows who he is, so it had to have happened in her lifetime.
I will tell you that that is not true. The event happened a long time ago. It doesn’t mean they have been estranged since that happened. They have basically grown apart because they have a difference of opinion of what should be going on with mom.

My mind went to mom was drunk driving and dad was in the car and died.
It is not that. It is bigger than that.

Also, Casey was insistent that going to her cousin’s party with Dawson was a date, not friends, but when the time came for a kiss, he pulled back. So will we see more of his Hailey, his ex? I am sure, Dawson doesn’t want to be his rebound girl.
We will see more of the ex — just not right away. Dawson is certainly smart enough to not be the rebound girl. But there was also an inherent mutual like between them before that, so any of us — if the person we are really attracted to became available and showed some attraction back toward us — would act upon it. I don’t think she is a rebound girl as much as thinking the time is right for us finally now.

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Yet when he rejected the kiss, she didn’t react to it well.
It was a real slap to her ego and all the things she was hoping was going to come out of it. It didn’t work out the way she wanted. The real tell-tale sign in terms of her and Casey’s relationship is earlier in the episode when she was walking to ask Peter Mills to go with her and then there is Casey sitting alone, she literally couldn’t stop herself from sitting down and asking him to go.

Severide lost a friend and roommate over his drug issue, when Shay moved out, but he seems to be in denial. Vargas almost outed Severide in front of Casey when he asked him if he would take the three-quarter pay deal. What can you tease about what happens when we return?
Severide is at a real crossroads. That is what we wanted to do just before the holiday break. He is self-destructive. How do you pull somebody out of that spiral? You have to give them the kind of choice that is almost impossible to make. Can you pull yourself out for the person you are closest to in the whole world? Shay is the grownup in the relationship. She is the one giving him the choice of: It’s me or what you are doing to yourself. So she walks out to make him make that choice.

From what the doctor said, Kelly has to have the surgery, but that could require him to be out for a long time. We lost Vargas a couple weeks ago. Will you continue to lose cast members?
For sure. Absolutely. They are firefighters and things are really dangerous. We have a big cast and servicing everybody all the time is a challenge for the writers. But the job itself — men and women get killed. That is something we have to deal with on our show because, while we love all of our cast members, it is a reality of making this kind of show.

Severide isn’t the only one who may be in jeopardy of losing his job. Cruz (Joe Minoso) seems to want to come clean about letting the gang leader die. He called Casey and left a message — which we didn’t hear, so it is not clear if he confessed. Cruz is so much about family and trying to get his brother out of the gang life, which is why he did it, it would be so sad.
It would be sad, but it is drama. I think to be a good writer and tell good stories, you have to be willing to kill your children.

I think most of the audience would be with Cruz and would say, “I would have made the same choice.”
It was an interesting debate when we first talked about it a while ago: How would you react in this situation? It goes against everything in the world in terms of what he has learned or been trained for. I am sure the firefighters around American right now are a little pissed at us for even considering, much less dramatizing, the fact that a firefighter might leave someone in a burning room on purpose, knowing he would die.

But Cruz is about family, which is why this show is so fun to do. It is a wildly complicated situation in which a character has to make a decision. Severide is in that same position right now. What decision is he going to make and where does that send him down the road? That is why I think the show is so fun to write. The reason why Cruz’s choice last night was palatable to any of us is we got to know him as a character. We know that he is loving, so it gives him a path on making that kind of choice, whereas in a typical procedural show, you probably wouldn’t give the character that big of a path.

Also Chief Wallace Boden (Eamonn Walker) seems to know that Dawson and Shay weren’t telling the truth about the lost drugs, but he let it go. Will he pursue it? Everyone — including Kelly — tested drug free, so he doesn’t suspect anyone in the firehouse of using.
There is really nothing that gets past the Chief in the house. Even us as writers, we all consider that the Chief’s gut instinct is so good that he knows there is something going on. The Chief knows that something is going on with Severide. The Chief knows that Shay is connected to that but the ramifications of the Toradol come down on Dawson. The Chief is not going to let this go and it is going to play out.

Also, will Sarah Shahi be returning as Kelly’s love interest? And does she has the same name as as his ex-fiancé and will we find out what happened to the ex?
They are both named Renee. There was an earlier episode when Nicki (Meghann Fahy), the girl who was the Chief’s assistant and was engaged, was with Severide. Nicki disappeared into his room and Shay said, “This is the lowest you have ever sunk.” He goes up there and he says to Nicki, “I was engaged once, too.” Cut to Nicki leaving his place and nothing has gone on. So we did tease that in Episode 3.

Sarah Shahi is definitely going to be around for a while. What is so great about her as an actress is she has the charisma to hang with Taylor Kinney. The challenge in casting a girl across from Taylor is he is so quiet and he is so internally strong and everybody knows his real girlfriend in life is the most charismatic woman in the world (Lady Gaga), so how do you find a woman who can hang with him on screen from a charisma standpoint? Sarah is one of those people, so we are going to play that out. Plus, they are great together. It will be fun to see that relationship grow.

Herrmann seems to be the comic relief with all his schemes to make money, but you are addressing a real issue that these first responders aren’t paid enough and need to have second jobs. Will that become a serious story at some point?
Hermann is comic relief on that side, but he is also the moral center of the show. Hermann really represents for us the typical American. He is struggling and he needs more money. He has a good marriage, he has great kids, but he needs more to make it all work and he wants more to make it all work. So while he will always remain a funny character because Dave is a funny actor and he does that stuff well, he is also one of the more serious characters in terms of what he represents to us on the show.

What is your favorite episode of the season?
It is hard not to name the ones you write … I really liked the second episode because I really liked the Taylor Kinney moments with the woman at the end showing her the video [of her dying husband saying goodbye to her]. I thought last night’s because we pushed a lot of buttons last night going into the holiday break. I think that is one of the episodes you will look back on Season 1 and think that that episode really sent a lot of things into a tailspin and sent people off into a different direction, so I like that episode for that reason.

“Chicago Fire” returns with new episodes on Wednesday, January 2 at 10/9c on NBC.