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Chicago Fire boss previews plenty of Dawsey drama in 2018

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It seems someone in Gabriela Dawson’s life is always in peril on Chicago Fire, and 2017’s winter finale was no exception. When last we saw her, she was discovering that the Good Samaritan who’d just been stabbed on a train platform was her father. Not surprisingly, that’s right where the show’s first episode of 2018 will kick off.

“Gaby’s going to be traumatized a bit,” executive producer Derek Haas tells EW. “She freezes up because she wasn’t expecting this, so Brett shines more in the moment as Dawson is grappling with the fact that this was so shocking.”

And that’s just the action in the episode’s teaser. Haas gives us a bit more of a taste of what’s coming in the new year for our friends at Firehouse 51.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How is Gaby going to handle the guilt of what’s happened with her dad? They had such a negative last conversation.
DEREK HAAS: They left in such a bad place, though I think when things like this happen, a lot of those type of dealings go out the window. Because Antonio was also in a bad place with his father, and he shows up immediately at the hospital as well.

Is Ramon going to be okay?
Okay is relative. He’s going to survive. The episode centers on Dawson and her feelings regarding her father and the complicated relationship they have and then, even more so, on her job as a paramedic, that she does selflessly and out of the limelight every day over six seasons — she doesn’t even like limelight, she shies away from it. And then here’s her father who’s been kind of a heel, for lack of a better word, for the better part of his life and he’s suddenly thrust into the limelight, hailed as a hero, and how he deals with that and her reaction to him dealing with that is the crux of the episode.

How is Casey going to handle that?
Casey’s going to be supportive of Gaby. The real conflict coming up between Casey and Dawson has less to do with her father as a holdover from the winter finale and more going forward, at least in this batch of episodes, with a young teenager in need that Dawson helps rescue and then, as she has a tendency to do, gets close to a victim and Casey’s worried about her emotions and the emotional damage it can do when you get close to these victims who may not be leading the lives that you think they should be leading.

We saw that a little bit with Louie.
That’s where Casey’s head goes when he sees her getting close. It’s not the same story beats as with Louie. It’s complicated and confusing for Casey and Dawson and they end up not communicating as well as they should.

Kidd and Severide had that awkward kiss when Kidd was drunk and he said, “Not like this.” Does that mean he’d be into it were she sober?
I think so. I think he’d be into it if she wasn’t drunk and acting on feelings in a heightened state of emotional intensity. That’s not how he wants to do this if they’re going to get back together. Interestingly, they’re living together, so that’s almost like skipping a step. We’re going to play over the next half-dozen to a dozen episodes, a little more, of the timing not being right for them. We’ll build up the will they or won’t they. But they have such a great chemistry as actors, it’s hard to keep them apart for long.

Does Otis have a chance with Lily?
Yes! I really like Lily and what she brings to Otis’ character. Something we haven’t done a lot of is explore some of these characters’ outside relationships… She’s winning and has a great personality and they’re cute together so we’re going to see where it goes. And it’s not stopping in these first few episodes.

Molly’s North seems like a disaster waiting to happen.
As is so often the case with Herrmann’s ambitions. Molly’s North is not going to be a disaster. It’s heading in that direction but these guys have gotten better at the bar game since they started five years ago. There is some humor to be had out of Otis taking the reins, but no, this isn’t going to be a flash-in-the-pan like the Molly’s food truck that we had in season 2.

Was the midseason finale really the last we’ll see of Hope?
I don’t think so, but there are forces beyond what we want to tell story-wise.

What’s going on with Brett?
Brett and Antonio see each other again because Antonio shows up at the hospital in the wake of his dad being stabbed and what I love is that moment when he shows up and Brett has just been going, going, going because of the call, and then she’s bringing coffee to her partner and it never crosses her mind until she sees him that of course Antonio would be here. And she has feelings for him, he has feelings for her, and I think with the emotions that are running hot with this story line, then that becomes the natural reason for them be emotionally vulnerable themselves.

Any big calls you can tease coming up?
We’ll be heading towards a situation towards the end of this batch of episodes where Severide and Casey again butt heads a little bit over how to extract a sheriff from one of those kind of transport vans where there’s a prisoner in the back, and it’s going to jumpstart a whole series of events. But we thought that was an interesting call where you’ve got a guy you have to rescue in the front seat and you’ve got a prisoner you have to rescue in the back seat, and as firefighters, you’re not allowed to discriminate who you pull out of a tough situation.

Any big crossover events coming?
There’s going to be one — we’re working on it as we speak. It won’t be before the Olympics.

Chicago Fire returns Thursday, Jan. 4 at 10 p.m. on NBC.

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