'Chicago Fire' Boss Breaks Down Surprising Season 8 Romance and Nixes Severide Love Triangle (Exclusive)
By Philiana Ng
Warning: Spoiler alert! Do not proceed if you have not watched Wednesday's winter premiere of Chicago Fire.
Changes are afoot at Firehouse 51.
On Wednesday's winter premiere of Chicago Fire, titled "Hold Our Ground," the firefighters and paramedics of 51 were forced to contend with a rival firehouse over at Firehouse 20 when their jurisdictions were redrawn, causing tension between the two adversarial crews. And things didn't get any easier from there, with BFFs Brett (Kara Killmer) and Foster (Annie Ilonzeh) at odds and Severide (Taylor Kinney) -- who got out of that dicey situation in the fall finale cliffhanger, whew -- navigating the tricky waters of OFI investigator, Seager's (Andy Allo), obvious feelings for him.
But with the second half of Fire's eighth season in full swing, executive producer Derek Haas hints that things are starting to ramp up for the men and women of 51. "In the first half of the season, we had the death of a beloved character [Otis] and we wanted to show how his death affected everyone in the firehouse at different rates and different speeds and different waves of sadness. In the second half of the season, we're looking at a theme of new beginnings and people deciding on major life choices and life events," Haastells ET.
So, what exactly does that mean following Wednesday's episode? ET spoke with Haas to get the scoop on how the events of the winter return shape the rest of the season (hint: a wedding! a surprising new hookup!) and more.
ET: Before we get into what happened in the winter premiere, what are you excited about digging into in the second half of the season?
Derek Haas: We're looking forward to the Cruz and Chloe wedding that's coming up. We're going to try to do something different than we've ever done on the show with that. We've had a wedding at Molly's, we've had a wedding at the courthouse and we've had a wedding at the firehouse. This is going to be something very unique to Chicago and with Severide as best man and Kidd over on the bride's side, the audience will be excited to watch what may happen there.
Is there a chance for a double wedding? Severide and Kidd seem to be on the path to some form of stability.
We're not going to see a double wedding in that episode, but I think you're right that Severide and Kidd are very secure in their relationship and we'll be looking to take steps moving forward.
Yeah. When you sleep with your ex-wife, it's going to affect where you are mentally going forward. And we'll see that discussion between Casey and Brett. At some point this season, they're going to talk about it. We're going to explore a facet of Brett's life that we haven't seen before in the second half, and we wouldn't be Chicago Fire if we didn't place Brett and Casey in proximity of each other for [a number of] episodes. All of those things can be discussed and explored.
Getting into Wednesday's episode, by the end of it, Severide transfers back to the firehouse after getting unceremoniously fired by OFI. How did you determine that this was the right time for him to come back?
The captain of the Office of Fire Investigation (OFI), Van Meter, while he appreciated that Severide was a bit of a bull in a china shop and was closing cases, I think he realized that maybe Severide is better suited doing what he does best: running a rescue squad. It was kind of like, "Thank you so much for your time and you're fired." All in the same sentence. We always thought that this would be a temporary thing for Severide, but that does not mean we've seen the last of Seager.
Severide shuts down Seager after she propositions him. But you still left the door open for them to reunite at some point, whether it be professionally or not. What did you feel like you still wanted to explore with those two characters?
She appreciated Severide's abilities as a fire investigator and she certainly wants to keep that as an open option professionally to seek out his advice on cases. Whether or not that also means that she's putting out there that she's emotionally available for him should anything go awry, it remains to be seen. The fun part for us as writers predicament-wise, is that Stella had her friend from high school, Tyler, who came into town and Severide kept saying, "Hey this dude is into you," and she was like, "Oh no, no, we're just friends. And in fact I don't like your petty jealousy rearing its ugly head here." And Severide ended up being right. Well, now she is in that position and she doesn't want to be. She's boxed herself in on what she can say about Seager.
How do you anticipate Severide navigating the potentially messy situation with Kidd and Seager if it does come to a head?
Severide's into Kidd. He's only got eyes for Kidd. He said it last year at the end of the season that he was going to be a better man, the man that she deserves. While Severide never falters from that, I think he's amused by Seager's forthrightness. But you'll see going forward. Severide's got his eyes on the prize -- the prize being Stella.
So there's nothing to worry about with Severide and Kidd?
We're Chicago Fire, so you can always worry, but Severide's not going to be put off by his commitment to her.
Let's talk about a new romance introduced in the winter premiere: Gallo and the new paramedic, Violet. What do you see for what their maybe-relationship means moving forward?
We have this writer friend named Phil Hay, who is genuinely one of the nicest people in all of Hollywood, and we always make the joke that if Phil Hay is talking bad about someone, then they must be really bad. And so Gallo's a little like Phil in that he's talking about this person -- we don't know yet if it's a girl, who he butted heads with at the Academy and who was ultra competitive. Then we meet her and she's really nice and competent and attractive. Then we realize, oh, now we know what's going on here. Gallo's in denial about his feelings. But I really like Violet and we're going to see a lot more of her going forward.
They want to keep saying it's a one-night stand and one-night stands become two-night stands. She says she doesn't date firefighters and Gallo is like, "Right." In the next episode, there are circumstances where Firehouse 51 has to operate out of Firehouse 20, which is her firehouse. Just as they said in Godfather 3, just when you think you're out, they keep pulling you back in. That's what happens to Gallo.
Brett and Foster really had it out for each other and it's the first real time we've seen them butt heads in a long time. What were you interested in playing there in terms of testing the limits of their friendship?
Any friendship you have, especially when you're working together, you're forced to be next to each other for 24-hour shifts and even best of friends can have their stumbling blocks. Emily is looking at this picture on her phone, but we the audience, don't see what it is, and she's pretty grouchy and challenging to Brett. In the shift, Brett doesn't know what's going on, but you can only take so much before you push back. Brett wasn't going to have it, not going to have challenges to her authority. And it takes a Fast and Furious car chase to bring our two girls back together. We wanted to see what that was like. You can't have everything be rosy at all times with all characters.
I do want to ask you about that Fast and Furious car chase, which we haven't seen on Chicago Fire. What was it like putting that sequence together?
Way back in 2002, [executive producer] Michael Brandt and I wrote a movie called 2 Fast 2 Furious, which was our first movie to ever get made out of film school that we did with John Singleton, who passed away last year. We've always thought, let's get a Fast and Furious car chase into a Chicago episode. And it only took eight and a half years to get it, but we thought it would be fun and funny -- the fact that our trucks and ambulances are participating at old school Fast and Furious-style action. This was our chance to do a little shout-out to our departed friend, John Singleton, and have a little 2 Fast action.