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Chicago Fire bosses preview season 5

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Matt Dinerstein/NBC

Good news, Chicago Fire fans: Severide (Taylor Kinney) and Stella (Miranda Rae Mayo) survived her ex-husband’s attempted knife attack. Bad news: “Going through something traumatic puts a strain on the relationship,” EP Michael Brandt tells EW.

They’re not the only couple facing new challenges. We haven’t seen the last of political consultant Susan Weller (Lauren Stamile), who made a move on Casey (Jesse Spencer) even though he’s ready to be a family man with Dawson (Monica Raymund) and foster child Louie. The show will explore their “challenges of being on a fire truck together with a child at home,” EP Derek Haas says.

The firehouse has its own set of internal issues: Jimmy (Steven R. McQueen) still blames Boden (Eamonn Walker) for his brother’s death, and that fight will get “about as ugly as possible,” Brandt teases. Good thing they’re experts at putting out fires! Below, Brandt and Haas tease what’s in store for season 5.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Where will the new season pick up?

BRANDT: We will be picking up with the next morning and we’ll see the results of what happened the night before.

How is that going to affect Severide and Stella’s relationship?

BRANDT: Well, it’s safe to say going through something dramatic and traumatic puts a strain on the relationship, so we’re going to see how that all plays out.

And Miranda has been promoted to series regular, what are we going to see for Kidd this season?

HAAS: Yeah, what’s great whenever we have a new character — and she’s pretty new to the show at the end of last year — we get to get into more of their backstories and their relationships. We’re always looking to explore more about her, we don’t know who her family is or any of those kind of things, so those are rich topics for the writers room.

What new challenges is Severide facing this year?

HAAS: We’re going to meet a new character on a call, who is like an internet celebrity — like an Instagram star — and this guy (Scott Elrod) always has a party going on, always has a new adventure to rope in a new friend. He feels like Severide is a real guy, not the usual hanger on, Entourage-type of guy that he’s used to hanging out with, so he’s attracted to Severide in that way and he’s going to cause some mischief over the first three episodes.

Jimmy is going after Boden — can you tease how ugly that will get?

BRANDT: It gets about as ugly as possible. Jimmy’s brother has died, Jimmy believes that Boden is responsible for it, Jimmy has trouble wrestling with the reality of what happened and he’s very passionate about the fact that his brother is gone now. It’s a real challenge for him, it’s a challenge for Boden, it’s a challenge for the whole house, so it’s going to tear things apart for awhile.

Is it going to divide the house or just turn everyone against Jimmy?

BRANDT: There is no version of people turning their backs on Boden this season. Certainly Jimmy is a thorn in the side of the house due to this passion. People support Boden, but it’s not going to be easy. There’s definitely going to be pressure on everybody to keep their loyalty.

Dawson has become a foster parent, what new challenges does that present?

HAAS: We haven’t seen the end of Susan Weller, who was the political consultant, who if you remember kissed Casey at the end of last season, gave her hotel room number. So there are some unresolved issues with Susan, she’ll be back in the first episode. She’s a political schemer, so I won’t say that she’s not going to affect the Dawson, Louie, Casey new family unit that was created at the end of the season. Also, Dawson is facing the challenges of being a new mom, who is partnered with the father figure in the child’s life. They have a very dangerous job together, so she goes through some close calls, and she has to make some decisions about what it is she wants in life and where are her newfound priorities in terms of being a firefighter or being a foster parent to Louie.

Casey did show up in the finale, so is he all in?

HAAS: Yeah, he is. Casey made a very conscious decision at the end of last season to go back to Dawson. We want to explore the two of them as a couple, not as a married couple necessarily, but as a couple with a child in their lives, and also explore the challenges of being on a fire truck together with a child at home and the challenges that that would present.

See what Casey himself, Jesse Spencer, had to say about his role in the new season: 

Are you going to get into Louie’s birth parents?

HAAS: No, not at this point.

How is Casey balancing his responsibilities this year?

HAAS: We’ll probably dial back the alderman part of it as the season progresses. We’ll use it the way that we used his construction jobs in the first few episodes, so it’s there and it’s present and we can use it as need-be, but it’s not going to be a huge part of the show. However, I will say that we’re looking to do an episode at some point this year that would really focus on Casey the way we’ve done a couple of episodes that were Severide-specific, where he was off duty and got into helping rescue people; we are looking to do that for Casey this year.

Where are we picking up with Otis?

HAAS: We’re going to start this year where he is part of the, as we call it, the Greek Chorus, revolving around that Brett and Mouch story that we were talking about, but also there’s a part coming up that we’ve talked about a lot, that he’s looking to maybe get involved in some sort of NASA project with space travel.

What about for Hermann?

HAAS: Hermann will remain as one of the multiple beating hearts and souls of the firehouse. He’s, of course, always dealing with issues at Molly’s, one of the least lucky clubs and bars in Chicago, so Molly’s will continue to present challenges for him, but Hermann will provide the voice of reason, especially as the guy who has children and is a firefighter, so Dawson and Casey will be leaning on him quite a bit.

How about for Cruz?

BRANDT: Well, Cruz is also part of the Severide story, dealing with this new internet celebrity. As we moved Cruz into Squad, one of the things that we liked about that was just that he would be, character-wise, closer proximity-wise to Severide, so Severide and he will both be together when they meet this guy and have divergent opinions about the character that we are naming Travis Brenner.

Any big multi-episode arcs this season?

BRANDT: We’ll definitely keep with the pattern that we’ve done in the past, where we usually tell our bigger stories over three episodes, so that will continue on. We think we have a really great story regarding Mouch and Brett, and something that they’re both doing as a side job, that we think fans will really love. It might involve firehouse fan fiction.

Any ripped from the headline stories?

BRANDT: We don’t have ripped from the headlines calls as much as just things that we’ve either heard about or talked about that are not like national news headlines. But we’re starting the season with an accident that involved a garbage truck, whose hydraulics system [malfunctioned] and it sent a hydraulic rod through a school bus. So the first call is literally a kids in jeopardy on a school bus with a burning truck nearby, so we love to do these gigantic calls, especially to kick off the season.

HAAS: Most of our calls, if not 100 percent of them, are always based on a real call that one of our technical advisers, or the firefighters we talk to, dealt with, so we tend to rip from the headlines, but sometimes we rip from the smaller headlines than SVU or Law & Order ever did.

Chicago Fire returns Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.

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