Previously on Chicago Fire Casey’s mom shacked up with her old cell mate, Severide helped Renee the First, Cruz found religion in a greeting card aisle, and Dawson, Herrmann, and Otis found Pandora’s box in their bar. Shay continued her string of the worst luck of anyone not living in Rosewood with a needlestick and HIV scare. to top it off Clarice took her place in the pantheon of terrible people by bailing on Shay and taking her baby and her slimy Slytherin heart to the concrete jungle where dreams are made of.
We have seen Leslie Elizabeth Shay do everything on this show. She’s been stuck with a needle, held at gunpoint, used an unauthorized taser, hit by a truck, and now we know she’s lost it because she’s vacuuming in the middle of the night. Her hair is crazy, she’s wearing tiny shorts as if she’s on spring break and not in Chicago in February, and slippers she stole from someone’s grandmother. Her face is beautiful, of course, but her red rimmed eyes, razor sharp cheekbones, and semi-feral gaze make her look like Spike’s little sister madly vacuuming so that it will be clean when Buffy comes over for an illicit shag.
Severide stumbles downstairs in his standard issue manktop, unplugs the vacuum, and asks Shay what in god’s name she’s doing in vacuuming in the middle of the night. He says his dad is an actual hobo and he won’t notice a little dirt on the carpet. She’s too far gone to pretend that she was cleaning for Papa Severide and instead gestures wildly around the room at the black trash bags that line the walls. She says she just had to get rid of the remnants of Clarice before they come to burn sage and cleanse the apartment of her evil energy. Severide says that’s fine, he’s happy to take the garbage out when it’s not the middle of the night and Shay looks a little less like she was raised by wolves. He offers to take the crib he built with his manly hands to Goodwill but Shay pounces on him like Tigger on crack and says “leave the crib, take the cannoli.”
Brace yourself because this is going to hurt. Shay says “No, the crib stays. I liked playing baby mama with that crazy bitch so I think I am ready to have a baby of my own.” She blathers about it being expensive (you have no idea) and about how she never felt such a sense of purpose or connection until she held little devil spawn in her arms. Severide tries to tell her that she shouldn’t be deciding what kind of cereal to have right now let alone about having a kid but she’s adamant, she wants that baby and she’s going to have it.
The sound you most likely heard was me, and every other lesbian in the world, screaming at our televisions. I was going to try to be measured and calm and give the benefit of the doubt on this one, I really was but mostly I feel betrayed by the show. We’re less than three minutes into the episode and we have Leslie Shay, who is the heart of this show every week, declaring that she wants to become another television lesbian cliche.
I want to see lesbians on television. I want to see lesbians being parents on television. I want there to be a world where that is possible. I am a mom. I know what it’s like to pick out sperm donors, I know what it’s like to be inseminated, I know what it’s like to carry a baby for nine months, I know what it is like to give birth. And believe me, I know the feeling Shay is talking about. Holding a kid you created is wonderful, overwhelming, and like nothing else in the world. Being a parent is fantastic and magical. It’s also mind numbing and exhausting. Parenting is an incredible adventure full of Sisyphean struggles and moments when you get the boulder far enough up the hill to cast your eyes about on the glorious view from the top. It’s a story worth telling. I believe that wholeheartedly. But this is not the place to tell it.
Leslie Shay is a fantastic character. She’s smart, sexy, strong, vulnerable, loyal, and funny as hell. To this point, she has been everything we could ask for on television. But this story line, this idea that she would panic in this way after being dumped is absurd. Yes, she’s a caring, nurturing person who seems to have a gigantic heart and unlimited capacity to love. But having her want a baby, because Clarice took her baby with her to New York feels wrong, misguided, and like lazy storytelling. Believe me, I hope I am wrong. I hope the show pulls out of this particular nose dive but for now, I am angry and stunned that the show would go down this cliche-laden path with a character who has been anything but a cliche.
Back to the episode. Benny Severide is wandering the firehouse garage looking like a guy who was a big shot in high school who comes back to relive the glory days. He’s Buddy Garrity in a Carhart jacket. Severide walks out and gives his dad a hug and his face says “nice ensemble, what a homeless.” Benny says that he’s proud and humbled to see his son in the same house that was his.
The bar consortium has opened the box and Herrmann is freaking out because inside it they found a piece of paper that may give another person a half stake in the bar they bought. Mouch sits on the couch giving helpful advice about how they never should have opened the safe in the first place. Dawson finds another pretty box and wants to open it too. Please go talk to Shay about all the pretty boxes she too could be exploring. All the single ladies are asking you to do this service to the lesbian community. Before she gets a chance to open it, a call goes out that there’s a “smoke eater” in the house and they rush out to say hello to Papa Severide.
Mills carries Papa’s bag and Benny and Boden sniff each others butts and insult each other in that awkward way that makes everyone around them unsure if they are being friendly or warming up to rip each other’s throats out. They are called out and Severide invites Buddy Garrity to ride along for old time’s sake.
The call is to a warehouse where there was a rave and someone caused a panic by throwing smoke canisters at the DJ booth. There’s a horrible scene of people smashed in the doorway, unable to get out because they all stampeded for the exit. While the rest of the crew gets the people out from behind the exit, Severide climbs a pipe on the side of the building like a squirrel to rescue a woman who climbed out the window. She slips and he hangs onto her with his miracle arm until the ladder arrives.
When they get back to the station Severide’s dad waxes poetic about the unpredictable nature of firefighting and all the brothers he lost to fires over his career. Severide offers that maybe he should take the Debbie Downer routine back to the apartment and stop bumming everyone out. Benny says he’s fine before staring a hole in Peter Mills. Methinks this is an ultra subtle hint that he knows something about how Daddy Mills died.
Casey gets a call that he has a visitor at the front of the house and it’s Heather Darden, the widow of the firefighter they blew up in the first episode. Remember him? It feels like we’ve had seven seasons of episodes since then. She says she’s invited to go to the Academy dinner but hates going alone because she hates all the attention and free drinks she gets for being a widow. Instead she asks if she can be a third wheel for Casey and Hallie. He informs her that they broke up ages ago and she tries to look surprised and not like she didn’t want Casey to herself all along. He invites her to go to the dinner with him because he’s such a good guy and escorting widows is sort of his wheelhouse.
Shay and Dawson are hanging out in the back of the ambulance talking about sperm donors and it would be really cute if they were a couple and if Shay wasn’t 50 shades of crazy. Shay has color coded the donors by college degree and by major. Those who majored in rocks for jocks have their own category. Dawson tries to arrange her face in a way that doesn’t say “Leslie Elizabeth Shay you have lost your damn mind” but instead she says “I just need a moment to digest this all.” Shay, who has not lost her powers of perception, responds with “well you look like you’re going to hork it back up.” Dawson gently asks if this is the right time to be having a baby and Shay tells her she’s not asking for her permission to reproduce, she just wants a little help picking out her baby making ingredients. Most of the time I would applaud Shay for telling Dawson she doesn’t need her blessing to make glorious little Shaybies but in this case, honey, Dawson just thinks you are off your head. She’s not questioning your skills as a mother, just the fact that maybe this isn’t the rebound any of us hoped to see. Dawson is thrilled to see Otis at the back of the rig asking if they can open the box yet.
The second secret of the box is that it holds Clifford Baylor’s Silver Star. Looks like it’s time to play find that war hero. Poor Herrmann looks like he might hork everything back up too.
Dawson finds Mills chopping carrots and looking forlorn in the kitchen. He says he knows he’s acting like a five-year-old but he’s jealous that Severide’s dad can come hang out at the firehouse and his dad isn’t around anymore. Dawson telling him that his dad would be really proud. It’s a sweet moment until Cruz walks in the room and Dawson and Mills jump apart like a couple of lesbians caught holding hands in church.
Boden and Benny have a nice little chat in the bathroom about what Peter Mills knows about his father’s death. Boden insists that Big Mills died a hero and Benny is like “bitch, please, don’t insult me.” Boden glares and tells Benny that the subject isn’t going to come up unless Benny brings it up. Papa Severide acts innocent and says, I’m just here to bond with my son and relive my glory days for a week before I go back to my hobo camp with Smokey Lonesome and the boys.
Mills asks Shay if she would like some food and she waves her fork at him and informs him that she is preparing her body to be a temple to health and fertility and will only be eating fruit and vegetables from now on as she prepares for the journey of motherhood. Because when the going gets tough (for writers) lesbians get pregnant. Herrmann gives her shit about eating healthy and she stands up, straightens her little jacket and gives a nice little speech about how proud she is of her decision to be inseminated and how happy she is not to be hiding it from them because she’s proud to be planning on getting pregnant and proud to be looking at sperm donors and did she mention she’s proud and sure of her decision? Dawson frowns at her crazy friend, and the others shrug and return to their gossiping about the bar. Casey saunters over to do his best Finn Hudson impression and tells Shay that he thinks it’s a great plan, clearly well thought out, and she totally has his blessing. Oh thanks useless straight, white, dude, I definitely needed your permission for this fools errand.