Elizabeth Morris/NBC
May 14, 2014 at 04:55 AM EDT

Spoiler alert! If you haven’t watched the Chicago Fire season 2 finale and intend to, stop reading now. There’s a reason #ChicagoFireFinale was trending on Twitter Tuesday night: the hour ended with everyone but Chief Boden (Eamonn Walker) in danger of having just been killed off. “Anyone from House 51 report! Report!”

Perhaps you can tell from the photo I pre-selected for this react, that I fully expected the cliffhanger to revolve around Severide (Taylor Kinney). The promo for the episode showed that he missed a child in the first sweep of what turned out to be a horrendous boarding school fire. The sight of the 10-year-old with such severe burns will likely earn a spot in the Most Disturbing Image category in our upcoming Season Finale Awards. I assumed he’d feel so guilty, he’d be extra cautious in the next fire, not leave when the Chief called it, and be caught inside. But no, that wouldn’t have been dramatic enough. 

Instead, we got to see Severide lean on Erin (Chicago P.D.‘s Sophia Bush), learn the boy had taken a good turn, and make up with Shay (Lauren German) — whose good-intentioned thief ex Devon (Vedette Lim) he’d gone off on — before heading into a seemingly contained thrift store fire. We got to see the Chief marry Donna (Melissa Ponzio) at the firehouse in front of everyone — so in awe of her when he first saw her that I almost teared up — before being called to that fire while still in his suit. We got to see Dawson (Monica Raymund) pass her firefighter test, not implode when Casey (Jesse Spencer) orchestrated her a transfer from chauvinist Welch’s house (she convinced Casey to tear it up), and indicate to Shay that she was, of course, going to accept Casey’s proposal (which had gotten interrupted by the call). We even got to see Mouch (Christian Stolte) make a connection with Trudy (Amy Morton) over wedding cake, and hear Mills (Charlie Barnett) ask the new guy for help in locating his father’s family.

It was all too good, too hopeful. You could feel we were being set up to come crashing down. I winced while Dawson and Shay were at the ambulance talking about Casey’s proposal — I thought that’s when massive flames would suddenly pour out of the out-of-business thrift store, so we’d see Dawson’s horror at never having said “yes.” But again, no. Dawson and Shay had to get called in for someone who fell down the stairs, so everyone but Boden would be inside when the radios went dead. Perhaps it was just the heavy concrete affecting the signal? Boden didn’t like it. A guy from another House offered to go inside to investigate, and just as he got close to the door, boom. The windows blew out on a high floor with flames that seemed to come out of the roof as well; the ground floor erupted in dust, as though there’d been a partial collapse. Boden had blood on his face and collar — was it his own from scratches, or from his colleague getting blown up? The radio was silent again, and even though it’s a predictable cliffhanger for a show like this, it doesn’t mean hearing Boden plead for someone to answer him didn’t momentarily chill you to the bone.

Right now, it doesn’t matter what caused the explosion/flames. (Did someone cook drugs in the abandoned building and fall down the stairs trying to escape the fire he’d inadvertently started? Update: I agree with the commenter who pointed out that shady deal Casey spotted going down outside Welch’s firehouse and/or the call with the gunshot victim Dawson punched could somehow be related. I also considered payback for Cruz’s brother turning rat.) It only matters who survives.


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