“Chicago Fire ” recap (1.8): “I like her very much indeed, sir.”


Previously on Chicago Fire we have baby drama with Shay’s ex who has ditched her baby papa for a vacation Chez Shay. Severide is popping horse pills, Casey wants to be popping out babies, and Hallie thinks she’d rather stay skinny, get sleep, and not change diapers.

This episode starts out with the crew called out to the train tracks where the conductor thinks he may have hit someone. This is especially creepy given the disturbing coverage of the man in NYC who was pushed onto the tracks and killed when he was hit by a train. Once we move past that horrific coincidence we can take on the accident in the show. They find one kid, who climbed into the tunnel with his sister, trapped under the train. They get him out and he seems likely to be all right after a trip to the hospital with team Shawson.

This is all I can bring myself to screencap from this bleak mess

Casey sends Candidate Peter Mills into the tunnel to look for the sister and when Mills doesn’t come back Casey ventures after him. He finds Mills crouching on the track taking in the scene of a child’s body parts strewn about the track. Casey calls for body bags and instructs the other firefighters to look for the remainder of the pieces. It’s a terrible, bleak moment. Mills is overcome, motionless, staring into the blackness of the tunnel with tears filling his eyes. It’s a hard scene to watch, particularly as I try not to think of my own kids.

There have been some gruesome moments on the show but none has felt this heavy before, at least to me. It’s well done in that respect because it is the major thread that runs through the episode as Peter Mills tries to come to terms with what he saw, the demands of his job, and his mother’s attempt to get him to give up and return to their restaurant. I just want to give the show a shout out for at least mentioning that mental health counseling is available to the firefighters if they need it and making the point that there’s no shame in asking for help. It’s a hell of a lot more than some shows do *cough* Grey’s Anatomy *cough*.

In lighter news, who shows up bearing lunch and trying to weasel back into Shay’s pants? Oh hi, Clarice.

Come on, save your smiles for Dawson

Shay’s confused because she thought Clarice was going home to her husband but no, hubby’s still away on business. Clarice is undeterred by Shay’s attempts to blow her off, she’s got the fancy turkey sandwich with cranberry sauce that Shay loved so much when they were picking out home décor at Ikea. Who cares that the restaurant closed, apparently there’s a location in Iowa that still makes it and Clarice drove all that way just for Shay. Now Clarice is going to make sure Shay eats her very special sandwich (not a euphemism, yet).

Shay can’t resist a pregnant lady with a sandwich so they sit in the sun and eat and chat about the good old days. Clarice hold Shay’s hand to her belly so Shay can feel the baby move.

Let’s just use this baby as cover for you to touch me inappropriately

When Shay asks if Clarice and her HUSBAND have picked out names Clarice deflects the conversation back to the good old days when they would sit on the couch in their jammies and talk about what they would name their future babies (Martina for a girl and Harvey for a boy, natch). Poor Shay goes quiet and Clarice says “oh, maybe I shouldn’t have said that” and she rubs Shay’s thigh and we all yell at the screen and hug our tv’s in hopes it will make Shay not so sad.

In the midst of this uncomfortable trip down memory lane Shay gets called out and Dawson gets a chance to give Clarice a nasty look.

What I’m thinking rhymes with “bucking fitch”

I’m with Dawson on this one. Preggers, married to a dude, and coming around talking about what you were going to name your hypothetical babies with your ex-girlfriend is territory for only the crappiest of crappy girls.

The call is for a girl who had a seizure, according to her mother who also claims the girl has celiac disease and that she can’t go to one hospital because the mother’s dad died there. Something is not right here. The mom seems shady and Dawson decides to try to look into it. She asks Casey to have Hallie pull the girl’s medical record because patient privacy laws are for suckers. Dawson tries not to dance a jig when Casey says that he and Hallie are taking a break due to his jones to have a baby and her jones to get regular sleep.

A break? That means we can do it, right?

So, it’s on to Shay to try to illegally obtain confidential patient information on Dawson’s hunch. She gets Kendra, the orthopod who checked Severide out, to help her and then complains that it means she’s going to be on the hook for dinner with Kendra.

Before they can carry that plot point through they are all called out for a guy who is doing his best Peter Pan impression hanging from a tree. Severide goes up the ladder to try to secure the guy but has some shoulder trouble due to his broken neck and pinched nerve. This time the Chief notices that something’s up with Severide since this is the second guy Severide almost drops. Everyone thinks the guy has had a heart attack until Dawson notices that he’s carrying a chocolate bar in his pocket. Summoning the knowledge gleaned from Steel Magnolias, Dawson deduces that the guy has diabetes (you know you just did your best Wilford Brimley, die-uh-beet-us, in your head). Hooray Team Lifetime television movie of the week, saving lives one tearjerker at a time.

Mills is having a tough time with what he saw that morning and the way the others are dealing with it. The Chief sends him home for the rest of the shift. Later we see Mama Mills telling Peter that his father couldn’t handle the job and that the things he saw at work caused him to shut down emotionally and become a distant, cold figure. She tells Peter she doesn’t want that to happen to him and pushes hard for him to leave firefighting. She’s not done though because she shows up to talk to Chief Boden who obviously knows her, and apparently knew her husband. She tells him that Peter is done firefighting and will not be coming back despite being a grown ass man who can decide things for himself.

Someone tells Shay she’s got another visitor and Dawson is all “Jesus Christ, can’t Clarice just leave us alone so we can go in the back of the rig….” But it’s not Clarice this time but her accountant looking husband, Daniel. He starts having a go at Shay about not having boundaries which is kind of ballsy for a guy screaming at Shay at her work. Anyway, because she’s Shay, she gets all fierce and shuts him down. She forcefully explains that she’s not sniffing around anywhere in his business but that his wife showed up at her door and she let her in because she’s a friend and that’s what you do. Then she tells him to back the hell off before she kicks his ass.

I loved this. This guy comes in ranting like a nutter about the big, bad, lesbian messing up his marriage and she just stands there, looks him square in the eye and calls his bullshit. Shay doesn’t shrink from Daniel’s anger the way some of us who are preternaturally prone to apologizing for everything that has ever happened in the world would have. He gets to her though when he makes a plea about Clarice and their baby being his family and Shay is crestfallen.

Even after all the reminiscing about baby names and her imagined life with Clarice the fact remains that Clarice is married to this joker and having his kid, not hers. Someone give that lady a hug. Dawson? Just saying you’re right there, hug it out. Slow clap for Lauren German in this scene showing the full range of Shay, from righteously fierce to completely vulnerable and heartbroken in the space of seconds. Thank goodness this show is smart enough to showcase her acting talents.

Oh, Severide, what are you doing? He’s on the phone calling pharma-booty for more meds. When she asks to see him he’s all “I don’t have time for all the sexing, I just need the meds.” When she balks he desperately says he can pay for them. Dude, come on. It’s right at the end of the episode when he finds a nice little paper sack full of Santa’s favorite pharmaceuticals. He’s going to owe pharma-booty call big time.

Shawson is back at the hospital sweet talking Kendra into breaking the law for them. Turns out Mommy Dearest brought the kid in after she swallowed turpentine but never mentioned any of the other complaints. Dawson smells Munchausen’s and tells Kendra to call DCFS. While they wait, Dawson tells Shay that a few years before she had a case where DCFS eventually sent a kid back to an abusive dad and the kid ended up dead. She’s not going to let that happen again. Oh, our little crusader, it’s going to catch up with you one day.

The Chief runs into semi-nude Severide in the bathroom and asks Severide about his shoulder. Severide tries to play it off like he tweaked it in his weekly squash match but the Chief sees through him and tells Severide if it happens again he’s going to the doctor. Severide obviously knows this is no good since Kendra already told him that his neck is hanging on by a thread.

Poor Shay is sitting around staring at a strip of pictures she took with Clarice in a photo booth. What is it with lesbians and photo booths? Apparently, the Shays have this in common. Let’s have a moment of silence for poor Maya.

Such a fun time with Emily and Maya, wonder whatever happened to them?

Anyway her pathetic gazing is interrupted by Dawson charging in, as she tends to do, and they are off again to the little girl’s house because DCFS decides it doesn’t have enough to prove Munchausen’s. Dawson takes her righteous indignation to the kid’s front door and yells at the mom. Shay tried to reign Dawson in but it wasn’t much use.

Dawson gets hauled into the Chiefs office and gets warned that she’s on the verge of getting dismissed if she keeps up her coloring outside the lines. Chief asks Shay if she likes her partner and Shay says “I like her very much indeed, Sir.” Oh Leslie Elizabeth Shay, of course you like her very much, indeed. The Chief tells her she needs to keep Dawson out of trouble, easier said than done buddy.

Back at Chez Shay, Leslie is telling Clarice to go home. Clarice is saying that she didn’t even know how unhappy she was until that chef chopped his hand at her baby shower and Shay walked in. Usually this is the moment when the woman caves. She’s overcome by the sentiment and relents, but not our Shay. She tells Clarice that she doesn’t get to come back, married and pregnant, and tell Shay she misses her. Shay tells Clarice that she broke her heart and she can’t just waltz back into her life now. Yes! Even sad Shay is awesome.

In the middle of all this Miss Alabama knocks on the door looking for her earrings she left at Shay’s place when they hooked up. Shay gets rid of her but the interruption rocks Shay’s reserve and tears start welling up in her eyes. Clarice asks who was at the door and tells Shay she didn’t mean to bring up any bad memories. A big, fat, tear rolls down Shay’s cheek and she shakes her head and says “I don’t have any” but that she just can’t go back. Sob!

Then to prove that she’s the actual worst ever, Clarice rubs her pregger belly and tells Shay that the baby should have been theirs. Get out! Not our Shay, you bitch!

Shawson gets called out to the kid’s house again but this time it’s mom who has taken a crap ton of pills. At the hospital dad shows up and yells at Dawson about it being all her fault that his wife tried to off herself. Chief Boden suggests Dawson call her union rep, otherwise known as number two on her speed dial (Shay is obviously number one) because, you know, just in cases.

As they sit in the waiting room, Shay tells Dawson they’ll get through this and they hold hands for a nanosecond and gaze into each other’s eyes.

So put your little hand in mine…

We’re really walking a line with these two crazy kids. At times it seems like they are just affectionate friends who look out for each other and then is squishes over to the uncomfortable realm of lingering glances and possibly meaningful touches. I can’t tell what’s really happening here. Sure, it’s shipper heaven every episode, but what the writers have planned is totally unclear to me. For every minute that I think Shay’s totally smitten with Dawson, there is a moment that feels totally platonic. Maybe that’s the genius of it because who hasn’t been there with a friend? Every second wondering if you’ve crossed a line with something you said, or if this pat on the arm means something more than “I’m here for you.” If this is what the writers are channeling they have got it nailed.

Happily, Dawson’s string of getting little girls to save her bacon isn’t up because the kid has told her dad that mom made her drink turpentine and Dawson is vindicated. Between the dismembered and poisoned kids this is not a good episode for parents.

Severide is hanging out at home when who knocks on the door but Miss Alabama. She’s looking to have a grand old time with Shay or, it appears, with Severide. Severide retreats to the bathroom and gives Shay a call, as any real bro would, to check and see if she’s fine with having a go with her sloppy seconds. She’s fine with it but still looks pretty sad as she sits alone in a bar drinking her beer. Severide and Miss Alabama get busy and I have to say I was little annoyed with the fact that Shay and the lady hook up and we see just one far off kiss or two and Severide and the same chick hook up and it’s all bras and panties as far as the eye can see.

The episode ends with Casey taking Mills to meet a girl who he saved a few years before. She’s burned badly on her neck and shoulder but announces that it’s OK because Casey saved her life. It looks like Mills will be sticking around after all.

Feel free to let me know if you think I am wrong but I want to take a second and make a case for this show. I know that there is a lot of rage about Glee and other shows that we feel fall short when it comes to lesbian representation. Go ahead with your rage. But don’t forget that you can vote with your remote. You don’t have to watch Glee for the les/bi story lines (such as they are). You can watch any number of shows where lesbians are treated with equal respect by the writers.

Take this show, this is not the first episode in which Shay’s relationship drama has been at or near the center of the entire episode. She’s not a secondary character, she’s the one with trouble with her ex and big feelings about what it means when someone you thought you would spend your life with, and around whom you built a life, decides to that she doesn’t want you. Shay’s at the center of this show and each week the only signs we get are that she’s going to stay there for the long haul.

So if you want to rage about Glee or whatever other show is twisting your knickers this week, feel free, you have earned that right. But you are also free to take your viewership elsewhere. This isn’t the dark ages of lesbians on television anymore. You have choices of what to watch if you want to see lady loving ladies. You can keep pressing Ryan Murphy to get the lesbian thing right, I’m not saying you should give up the cause. I’m just reminding you that you can make other choices, to support shows like this one so that the shows that get it right are rewarded. Let them know we notice when they do right by all of us so that they stick around.

Next week Sarah Shahi brings her fine self and gorgeous face to Chicago. Will you be watching?

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