Casey takes another gut punch, while Boden takes a stand to protect James
Credit: Matt Dinerstein/NBC

Just like last week, One Chicago is down to, well, one this week as Chicago Fire heads toward its midseason finale (and 100th episode) next week with what looks to be a very special occasion for Lieutenant Casey and Gabby Dawson. But before we can get to that, we have to deal with what happens tonight, which is not quite as happy an event as what we expect for the milestone hour.

Chicago Fire Season 5, Episode 7: “Lift Each Other”

This season has been an absolute seesaw for Lieutenant Casey. He’s had a few key rescues on his shifts, but he’s endured some pretty excruciating losses in recent episodes. Remember the woman who was flayed alive while Casey frantically tried to pry open her bathroom window? This is different…but somehow even worse.

This week, the team is sent to a closed warehouse where a pair of kids have snuck in to play Avengers, which for some god-awful reason entails jumping off high shelves. One of the kids — the conscious one — has probably broken his legs or knee caps in the fall — but the other, Wiley, is stuck hanging upside-down with his foot caught in one of the shelves. Casey wastes no time bringing the kid down and getting him to breathe again with CPR, and all seems well and good…until he goes to the hospital and learns from Maggie the kid’s in a coma.

As new foster parents to Louie, this news seems to hit Casey and Dawson like a ton of bricks, but Casey’s especially hard on himself about the boy’s decline and consults with Kelly Severide to see if anything he did (or didn’t do, for that matter) contributed to the amount of time the boy was left stranded and without breath. Making matters worse, his parents are obviously inconsolable, and the devastated dad visits the station to deliver them some “thank you” pastries, remarking that their work is never appreciated by the public until they’re needed.

If that wasn’t gut-wrenching enough, Casey visits the hospital the next day and finds out the boy’s condition worsened and he actually passed away. That…hurts.

But Dawson’s going through her own brand of an emotional crisis, because her dear old dad decided their swanky 40th-anniversary soiree was the perfect place to announce he’s leaving her mother. Antonio (who brought along a very trepidatious Sylvie Brett as his date, by the way) is fit to be tied over the news and wants to exact some fist-to-face vengeance against his father for being such a brute about the whole thing and embarrassing their mom.

We don’t get to see it, but we imagine Casey had a hand in calming and dispensing with the crowd while Antonio and Sylvie tended to the mom. When he finds Dawson beside herself in the staircase, he doesn’t betray his own anguish or dare to compare notes on who’s had the worse day. Instead, he simply offers to be there for her, however she needs. If we weren’t already convinced Casey’s made of solid friggin’ gold, this oughta do it.

Casey finds himself in a second victim-not-breathing situation soon after, as he tries to hoist a man out of a quicksand-like substance in the bed of a semi. He has trouble finding his bearings or getting the guy out with any semblance of speed, even with Stella and Herrmann’s help digging him out. Luckily, this time, the coast seems clear for the man, so this success story will just have to do for now.

When Dawson does find out about what Casey’s withheld for her benefit, she’s completely dumbfounded by his generosity of spirit. She kisses him like she did in the old days and assures us all that occasional baby-sitting conundrums aside, they’ve still got it.

NEXT: Boden takes matters into his own hands

Chief Boden and James have completely reconnected during his tenure at the station. In fact, James loves the atmosphere of so many saviors enough that he not only sees a future for himself at Fire House 51, but he also asks Boden to let him move in for his senior year. Of course, Boden’s in favor of the idea, but Wallace is nothing if not considerate, so he decides to ask James’ mother before saying yes.

He meets with his ex-wife Shonda at her new boyfriend Todd’s restaurant, and the guy couldn’t seem nicer while making introductions with the Wallace Boden. Shonda touts their new relationship, saying her new beau treats her like a person (cue the sneer stare from Boden), they live together, and it’s gotten serious. Even better, she’s amiable to the idea of James moving in with Boden — maybe it can help with his attitude problems of late.


Boden’s method of straight-shooting when it comes to matters like this really doesn’t get enough credit. He’s just not the kind of guy who likes to waste anyone’s time, least of all his. He tells James he, Donna, and baby Terrance would just love for him to come stay with them…on one condition. No lies. That’s when he confronts James about the markings and receives the prototypical “I fell” excuse in return, which he accepts and walks away. It doesn’t take James long to come out with the truth (maybe he is a chip off the step-fatherly old block) and Boden, of course, overreacts by showing up to Todd’s restaurant and doing some damage to the man’s face.

Shonda shows up to his house later in tears, promising she had absolutely no idea what Todd was doing to James and she left him immediately after finding out about it. James overhears her convincing confession and offers to join her in living with her mother for a while, a decision Boden clearly has mixed feelings about but supports anyway. Will James make good on his ambition to go into firefighting eventually? Perhaps, but even if not, we haven’t seen the last of him, that’s for sure. He knows the Boden house is filled with family — and he belongs just as much as anyone else.

NEXT: On a lighter note…

In a third story line — the obligatory cheery bit — Stella and Otis have developed a competitive spirit with one another after Herrmann invites them to run in a mud race (though Herrmann’s only involved for the chance of distributing Molly’s T-shirts to the crowd). Herrmann and Mouch wager a little (really a lot) of money on who’ll win, and when Stella loses and Otis brings a crowd of dirty racers to the bar after he’s just paid to have it detail-cleaned, he’s beyond annoyed. Poor Herrmann… The man wants so badly to be rich. One of these ideas of his is bound to pan out eventually, right? Those five kids at home aren’t going to feed themselves.

Finally, let’s talk about Antonio and Sylvie. After making their thing ~official~ last week, they’re now at the point of meeting each other’s families and double-dating with Casey and Dawson. It’s a little weirder than anyone might’ve expected, which is kind of a bummer after all that buildup. Hey, at least Sylvie’s a good sport about the family fracas that unfolded before her eyes, and she does seem to be treating this thing like the real deal, so who knows? Maybe it’s long-term, maybe it’s not. (On that note, how about Severide finally just admitting he’s not marriage material?! We’ve spent how many episodes confirming that very fact?)

Crossover notes:

Maggie is the greatest go-to when it comes to spilling out quick details; she doesn’t hesitate to share even the worst news on a dime. She not only tells Casey of Wiley’s death (what kind of HIPAA violations are being tossed out right now?), but also takes it a step further to explain to Dawson in detail how much it upset Casey — just minutes before he was being made to pick out which set of her earrings he liked best. Yow.


Chicago MVP of the week: Matt Casey, of course. Whether young Wiley ultimately survived his injuries or not, Casey did his part by getting him down and resuscitating him before he was taken to Med. That counts. Plus, he has a second save of the day, so based on sheer numbers, this honor’s his.

Steamiest Chicago couple of the week: It’s not so much that they were steamy — ’cause, really, no one was this time — but it’s that their solidarity as a full-on package is reaching a new level of trust and shared respect. So, it’s Casey and Dawson, all the way.

Episode grade: B-

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