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Warning: This story contains major spoilers from Tuesday’s episode of Chicago Fire.
For the second time this season, Firehouse 51 has lost one of their own—though at least this time the person survived.
As telegraphed by the Chicago Fire promo that aired after the preceding episode, Peter Mills (Charlie Barnett) has decidedly left the building. Faced with his family moving to North Carolina to open a restaurant just as he finally got back on Squad, Miles was torn between tagging along or staying in Chicago. Ultimately, he realized family was more important. So, is this really the last we’ve seen of Mills? EW turned to executive producer Matt Olmstead to get the scoop:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What came with the decision to write Mills off the show? Had you exhausted his storylines, or was it Barnett’s decision to leave?
MATT OLMSTEAD: It came from the former. We definitely had given him a lot of storylines. It felt like the character had really completed a whole journey. We’re always looking for an opportunity to stay fresh, to not get stagnant and be ambitious. So we, as we oftentimes do, looked at the board to see what the next storyline is for characters and what the next pairing is. We realized that also on the show, as in a firehouse, there are so many guys and two women on the show, that we [had] exhausted all the permutations of romantic entanglements—Mills had dated Dawson (Monica Raymund). It was a very difficult decision to make, and it wasn’t based on anything other than wanting to have the opportunity to have some drama and emotion from a character leaving in a different way than Shay (Lauren German)—left and to bring in some new lifeblood in a different character.
So you’re not mulling a possible spinoff that takes place in North Carolina with Mills’ family?
[Laughs] No, no plans on that.
Was there any thought about killing him, or was that just too similar to Shay?
It was similar to Shay. We knew that. But at the same time, we wanted to give him a really dignified exit, which we did. Down the road, if we’re fortunate enough to go longer, maybe we have him come up for an episode or longer—or not at all. We’re leaving ourselves open to the possibility. But first and foremost was giving the actor and the character a dignified exit.
Dawson seemed to have a moment’s hesitation when Mills told her to come to North Carolina with him. Was that hesitation real?
The whole thing with Mills was he was kind of flat-footed. But it was a reminder that they dated and they were having conversations about the future, and you realize those feelings never completely went away—for him especially. For her, it was more of a reminder of the relationship she had with Mills. Keep in mind, it ended with Mills because she couldn’t admit she still held a candle for Casey (Jesse Spencer). She and Casey, it comes to a head at the end of the season in terms of they have to make a decision in a big way. At the end of the season, one of the cliffhangers and one of the major reveals for us going forward is Casey and Dawson, in terms of the jeopardy he finds himself in over this whole Stilettos job he took up—and the fact that he’s working with Voight (Jason Beghe) now to figure out what’s going on there.
What can you tease about Casey going undercover and having to work with Voight again?
Intentionally, we held off on those two ever crossing because Voight has slowly rehabilitated himself, though not completely. He’s patched it up with various characters on Fire and worked with them. Many have buried the hatchet, but not Casey. We wouldn’t devalue the Casey character by all of sudden having him in a group scene with Voight and not mention what happened.
This became the right time where Casey, out of dumb luck, is working at this strip club just doing this construction work, and is trusted by the guy who owns it. He leaves because he’s starting to get a sense that things are funky there. It’s Voight who says you’ve got to go back in. Casey has certain choice words for Voight, and has no desire to work with Voight at all. It’s Antonio (Jon Seda) reaching out to Dawson and Dawson reaching out to Casey. Emissaries reach out so it’s made known to Casey that there’s some pretty heavy stuff going on there. They haven’t been able to get anybody undercover there. Casey is trusted. Can he wear a wire? He says no, but once he’s made aware of what’s going on in there, he agrees to work with Voight. It’s definitely arms length, it’s frosty for sure on Casey’s side. At this point, Voight has put it behind him, but he’s respectful of what Casey is feeling right now. They work together, but it’s not the friendliest alliance ever.
Stay tuned for more scoop on Chicago Fire, which airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.