“Chicago Fire” recap (1.13) “I can dance. You can just watch.”

Dawson and Casey are having breakfast and flirting over a light conversation of parole hearings and mommy murderers. Casey is headed to the hearing and Dawson falls all over herself to go too. He gives her a ninety-seven outs but she insists that she wants to sit in a municipal building and wait for the hearing to start so she can listen to Casey defend his mom and ask for her to be released.  Dawson, sweetie, if this is your idea of foreplay you might need a tutorial.

Ernie calls the Chief again, from another fully functional payphone. He tells the Chief that his uncle is making him set the fires and that he would kill him if he knew he was telling all of this to the Chief. When Boden races to find Ernie the kid is gone and the Chief is getting more worried. I have a terrible feeling about this story line.

Renee and Severide are sitting in a fancy doctor’s office and the doctor is telling Severide how with his cutting edge treatment Severide’s healing time might be only four weeks instead of a year. This is some Lance Armstrong shit right here. The down side is that there might be minor side effects like paralysis. They leave feeling disinterested in what Doc McStuffins has to offer but so very much in love they can’t wait to get to Spain.

I know, Helena Peabody will totally fly everyone to Spain to see us.

The parole hearing has started at Casey gets up to speak on behalf of his mother. He gives an impassioned speech about all the times he and his sister screwed up as kids and how his mom was always there to forgive them after they had paid for their mistakes. He’s forgiven his mom and thinks that the fifteen years she’s spent cellmates with Shell Dockley more than makes up for murdering dear old dad.  

Shay is taking out her anger on some apples she’s peeling for what I can only assume is welcome home ex-girlfriend who I have invited to live with me because I have a creeping sense that everyone I love is leaving and it’s really freaking me out. Severide pops in and tries to talk to her. He calls her out on the fact that she’s really mad he didn’t tell her and that’s she’s really just pissed he’s moving away. She’s all “you don’t know me and by the way Clarice is going to need your key.”

Otis is taking a few shifts at another fire house. The guys there are super nice, they laugh at his stories, and they even let him drive the truck instead of bypassing him for Puppy Mills. It’s paradise. They casually drop that he could look to transfer if he wants and Otis looks ready to leave the lame-o goat mascot and go on over to the house where they think he’s funny.

They crew is called out and the call is to Ernie’s apartment. The place is blazing and the Chief searches frantically for Ernie. He finds a door on the second floor that is wedged shut with a chair under the door handle. He gets inside and searches for Ernie. He finally finds Ernie in the closet and carries him out.  

Shay and Dawson work on the kid but he’s gone. The Chief collapses.  

Every episode the Chief fills space. He walks with his chest puffed out, he rolls his shoulders when he walks, and his chin juts in a way that just dares you to be crazy enough to take a swing. He exudes quiet confidence, the air that he knows everything, that he can handle anything, and that he is impenetrable like a cartoon superhero. In this moment, when they tell him Ernie’s gone, his body changes. His chin seems to recede, his shoulder hunch, he slumps against the front of the truck, and he looks no more forceful than a mylar balloon that has lost half its helium and can no longer hold keep its walls from collapsing, let alone float. There are no hysterics, no big reactions. It’s a crushing performance as we watch the Chief realize that not only has a child died in a fire, but that he could not save this boy despite his best efforts. His failure and grief are palpable and moving.