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Warning: This story contains major spoilers from the winter finale of Chicago Fire. Read at your own risk!
Love was in the air in a major way for the milestone 100th episode — and midseason finale — of Chicago Fire. Little Louie (Aiden and Austin Cohen) called Matt Casey (Jesse Spencer) “Daddy” for the first time, Herrmann (David Eigenberg) gave an epic tearjerker of a speech, and, oh yeah, there was the matter of that little wedding between Gabriela Dawson (Monica Raymund) and Casey.
To continue our Dawsey shipping, help us wrap our heads around Kelly Severide (Taylor Kinney) and all those mirrors, and give us a sense of what’s to come, we went straight to the show’s co-creator, Derek Haas.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What were your thoughts when you first realized episode 100 would also be the winter finale?
DEREK HAAS: We thought two things: We were like, alright, we want to acknowledge the 100th episode within the 100th episode, so how do we do that? And then we had the idea that we find out that Molly’s was incorporated in 1916, so then Otis has the idea, “Oh, let’s throw a 100th-anniversary party.” … And then No. 2, I think [co-creator Michael] Brandt and I walked into the writers’ room in June and we were like, “OK, Dawson and Casey have got to get married this season. When are we going to do it? And then as we started to line up the board, we just thought, what if it’s the 100th episode? And what if it’s a surprise? Can we fool the audience long enough to keep it a surprise? So those two things were what we built the episode around.
Talk about the choice to have Dawson and Casey’s sudden decision to get married be a non-verbal exchange.
As originally written, there was no dialogue at the wedding after Brett comes in and says, “You think you could do this without your firehouse family?!” We even wrote in, “The Dawson-Casey theme kicks in,” and then it was going to be no dialogue. But then I can’t even remember who said, “We need to hear the words ‘I do’ and ‘I do,'” so we put that in. But it was playing off of that moment of these two are so on the same page that they know what they have to do. And I think it’s Herrmann talking about the foundation built on love, which is really what we’re talking about for the whole show, which is where they make that connection and then off they go. And then it was cool that Brett’s the one who sees it and knows what was happening.
You’ve already done two weddings over the years, but was there any hesitation to give them a courthouse wedding versus a more traditional event?
No. Where it really came from is we wanted them in their firehouse gear getting married. So we did this big call in the fifth act, and the design of that in the 100th episode was let’s do a call that we haven’t done before where all three groups are working on three different things. Truck is trying to get a woman out of a car, Ambulance has a woman with a broken leg on the street, and then Squad has a guy whose head has gone through a windshield. Joe Chapelle directed this episode, who’s been with us since the beginning, and the camera’s flying around over these three scenes and all three, they’re working separately but in unison, and it was really Firehouse 51, but because of that they all have to go to Molly’s in their fire gear, because that call took too long. And then we thought what if Dawson and Casey were literally in their turnout gear when they say ‘I do’? Which feels like it’s right for our show.
Louie’s biological father popped up in this episode wanting him back — is he going to be around for long?
It’s going to be awhile but it does have an ending. I think that the way we go with it is going to be surprising. People are going to think they know where this story is going and it’s going to flip and then flip and then flip. … [Dawson and Casey] are going to be super, super protective of Louie, knowing what Louie’s gone through, knowing that this guy’s showing up now — where was he the last three years? All of Gabby’s mama bear instincts come out. But where it goes from here, it’s not going to be over the entire second half of the season. I do think we’re going to shift focus to Severide a little bit whereas I think Casey’s gotten most of the focus in the first half.
What were your goals going into Severide’s storyline?
We thought let’s have him have a rare moment of introspection and we wrote in a few times in this episode where he’s looking in the mirror and he’s questioning, and he has this conversation with Casey where he’s on the cot being introspective, and then we push that into a second half of the season storyline where he’s going to donate to a woman in need and it’s a connection that’s not going to be an anonymous one and not going to be a drop ’em off at the hospital and hope they’re okay and never hear from them again.
How much fun was writing Herrmann’s big speech?
That was fun. … It really was Brandt and I trying to put into Herrmann’s mouth — who’s really the heartbeat of the show anyway — what we wanted to tell mainly our cast and crew, but by extension, everybody who watches the show, what 100 episodes means to two guys who had never done television before and who had no clue that you could tell a story this long and have this many people watch and be that emotionally invested.
What can you share about the two-hour crossover with Chicago P.D. when we come back in January?
It’s one of Severide’s best performances in both episodes. You’re going to see Severide and Lindsay (P.D.‘s Sophia Bush) together for the first time in awhile — not together-together, but on screen together — which is going to cause tension between Lindsay and Halstead (Jesse Lee Soffer), and it’s a major case where Severide’s at the center of it.
Chicago Fire returns on Jan. 3 on NBC.