“Chicago Fire” recap (1.4): “Hello, Clarice”

Kelly Severide, I have been hard on you, but this week you traded in your Goofus for Gallant, we all knew that subscription to Highlights would pay off, and stood up for a cute, grandmother type.

Severide notes that this lady has been the victim of two fires in two weeks but she’s not telling him why. But when she gets a Molotov cocktail through her window Severide convinces her to tell him what’s going on. Severide intimidates a couple of gang bangers by telling them if they ever go near nice grandmotherly lady again he’ll break their kneecaps and plant drugs on them.

As if that wasn’t enough to win me over, when the overly friendly office chick shows up channeling Spencer Carlin in a trench coat and nothing else, he tells her he was engaged once too and sends her packing. Bon voyage Nikki! Drunk Shay approves.

Now finally, the part we actually care about. So we start the episode with that line about Shay the commitment-phobe and then we learn why. Shawson is called out to a check on a chef who has cut his hand badly in the middle of preparing food for a baby shower. Apparently at the sight of the blood the mom-to-be got a little dizzy. When they go check on the mom, she looks familiar.

“Hello, Clarice.” It’s Shays ex-girlfriend who is pregnant, married, and weirdly not unenthusiastic about seeing Shay.

Yeah dude, Shay is way hotter than you are.

Apparently, when she turned in her lesbian card she kept the need to be friends with her exes as a free gift with purchase. She gave Shay her card in the ambulance under the guise of returning some records she still had. When Shay and Dawson returned to the firehouse Dawson announced who they treated and all the guys in the house whooped. It seems none of them thought that Clarice was the type to stick around but none of them had the guts to tell Shay.

It’s obvious that Shay is shaken by the sight of her ex-girlfriend seven months pregnant and we get all the backstory as she sloshes tequila all over the counter at her apartment. Clarice appears to have won the break-up. She’s moved up from a crappy apartment she shared with Shay to an apartment out of The Real Housewives and has moved on from cheap beer to fancy wine. Severide, who is also growing on me as a hell of a lesbro, listens as Shay recounts her three years spent with Clarice. Shay, generally the voice of reason or humor in the episodes to this point, is sad to see so vulnerable.

Dawson catches Shay about to call Clarice and stops her with a “Leslie Elizabeth Shay” that would make any mom proud. She reminds Shay what it was like to be the one to scrape her off the floor with a spatula when Clarice broke Shay’s heart the first time around.

Friends don’t let you call your pregnant, married ex-girlfriend

The episode ends with Severide offering to take Shay out drinking, dancing, or to a strip club. When a tearful Shay tells him that she thought Clarice was “the one” he decides that the strip club will have to be the medicine for this particular ailment.

I am impressed with the show’s handling of Shay’s storyline. She’s not Casey or Severide, who are clearly going to dominate the plot most weeks, but her character is far from an afterthought. We’ve seen her be funny, flirty, sexy, tough, capable, and this week we saw her be vulnerable. We learned the why of the commitment issues that started as a punch line at the top of the episode and got to see that her friends care for her in the way that real friends do. They tell her when she’s about to screw up, they remind her that married, pregnant, exes are off limits, and know when tough love needs to give way to a hug and trip to a strip club. There are more than few things that seem unbelievable on this show (I may never get over the absurdity of Hallie’s work hours) but the Shay-Dawson and Shay-Severide relationships ring true to me.

What did you think of this episode? Are you still pulling for Shawson or have you jumped that ship with me?

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