'Chicago Fire' Boss on Brett and Casey's Messy Aftermath: It Won't 'Be an Easy Road' (Exclusive)

Chicago Fire
Adrian S. Burrows Sr./NBC

Showrunner Derek Haas breaks down Wednesday's winter return.

Spoiler alert! Do not proceed if you haven't watched the winter return of Chicago Fire.

One (almost) couple went into relationship purgatory, while another is headed for trouble.

Chicago Fire resumed season 9 on Wednesday, picking up with Brett (Kara Killmer) and Casey (Jesse Spencer) faced with the awkward aftermath of their passionate kiss. While Casey seemed to entertain the possibility of pursuing something romantic with the paramedic, Brett was less sure, in part due to the looming cloud of Casey's ex, Gabby. As they addressed the consequences of the kiss, their relationship was left at an uncomfortable stalemate, leaving a lot still unresolved between the two.

Meanwhile, Kidd's (Miranda Rae Mayo) path to getting the coveted lieutenant job was without its obstacles. After learning that she was fast-tracked through the process because of her romance with Severide (Taylor Kinney), he secretly made the decision to step back in their relationship without Kidd's knowledge. 

To break down Wednesday's winter return, ET hopped on the phone with showrunner and executive producer Derek Haas to discuss Brett and Casey's awkward purgatory in the aftermath of their kiss, Severide's one-sided decision to step back in his relationship with Kidd and much more.

ET: How has it been tracking production and making sure everything is going as smoothly as possible with protocols in place? (Chicago Fire suspended production for two weeks in November after positive COVID-19 tests.)

Derek Haas: We all feel like NBC and Universal TV have done all they can to keep us as safe as possible in the face of this crazy pandemic. But we decided we were going to really try to put on the air a show that looked like and felt like what we had been doing for eight previous seasons. This crew has been working their tails off and trying to deliver stunts and action and drama and romance and suspense at the levels that we're used to doing it. While it has been challenging and certainly it sticks for me and for the writers, because we usually go to set and produce our episodes, now we've been watching remotely the A camera and the B camera and talking to directors over the phone. It's challenging, but I'm very, very happy with the results and have to keep praising our awesome crew and cast.

Only a handful of episodes have aired this season. Have you noticed a creative shift in terms of the boundaries that you have in place because of the safety guidelines and the stories that you can tell? Have you seen a shift in focus with the storytelling you're able to do?

We're trying to keep that off-camera. In other words, you don't know what it took to get what we're shooting. But it feels like everything that we've always shot. We do have an episode coming up, No. 5 this year, that's very different than anything else that we've done and was certainly a response to shooting during a pandemic. But I think for everyone, this is probably true of everyone in Hollywood, instead of looking at it as an obstacle, it's more like, what could we do creatively that's different than something we've done before? And so you'll see in episode 5 something unique to our show.

Can you share more about that episode?

I'll just say that we came at it like, let's write an episode like it's a play. Let's have longer scenes in a more confined space and see what happens. For the first time, probably in the history of the show, we've had some takes that were 22 minutes long, 24 minutes long. Many of our actors are theater guys or have experience on the stage. It was fun for them to flex muscles they hadn't flexed before.

Adrian S. Burrows Sr./NBC

Prior to this episode, there was a pretty big cliffhanger with Brett and Casey. Here, they've come to an awkward place where they're in this weird in-between with their relationship and their friendship. Why did you want to go down this road and having Brett and Casey not be in a formal relationship?

I love that description, the weird in-between. I just thought, and I think our whole writing staff thought, we're a show that plays on its history. And we have a nine-year history now. We don't pretend that things that happened nine years ago, didn't happen. I also think we're realistic. We try to treat relationships as real as we can. Just last season, Casey's ex-wife [Gabby] came back into town and he went with her to a charity event and what happened, happened. Brett knows that. It would have been false for us to pretend that Casey and Gabby didn't have a six-year relationship that you saw on the show and that that really didn't get rekindled last year. These are issues that are human issues. These two have to discuss it before they can go forward. I think it's important that it all comes out in the open. When Casey said, "regardless of Gabby," and Brett says, "There is no 'regardless of Gabby,'" that to me felt very real. That's my note to all of our writers: Let's keep these relationships as creatively open as possible, but also without disregarding our history.

How much is it going to take for them to be on the same page? I know you like to play with the fans...

Guilty. Well, we're Chicago Fire, so we never make anything easy. There will definitely be some other obstacles coming up, new characters coming into their lives this season. I can't say it's going to be an easy road here for Brett and Casey. But maybe they'll find themselves in a new place soon. We'll see.

Seeing Kylie and Boden interact added some levity to the firehouse. What does Kylie bring to the firehouse and how does her role impact the season moving forward?

We just really liked the actress from the moment we cast her in the episode where she was a volunteer for Girls on Fire. We really liked Kylie as a character. Bringing her in, we haven't had anybody in the bullpen that we focused on regularly since Connie left. We just thought, "Wouldn't that be funny if there's a much younger person in the bullpen?" We really enjoyed last year, the Gallo-Ritter dynamic on one side of the common room and Mouch and Herrmann on the other side, and the multi-generational thoughts and aspects they could play. Then we thought, "What if Kylie's even younger than Gallo and Ritter? What would those differences be?" We'll see her off and on. It's not going to be a series regular or anything, but she's fun and gives us a lot to play with.

Severide decides to step back in their relationship for Kidd's benefit without her knowing, after learning that she may be in the running for lieutenant because of his connections. There's a lot to unpack there already, but what are the consequences that may lie ahead?

Yeah. Severide is not the greatest person to speak about his feelings sometimes, which we played for eight years. His heart is usually in the right place and somehow he doesn't say what he should say. If people are out there saying that the only reason why Kidd's going to get a promotion is she's in a relationship with a guy who's close to the commissioner, then in his mind, it's like, "OK, I got to step back, let her achieve this on her own. But I can't tell her that's what people are saying or she's going to get freaked out about that." Then he makes this move, which is going to get misinterpreted and have consequences. Things are going to be rocky here for a minute with Severide and Kidd.

What can you tease for what viewers can expect? 

We're usually halfway through or almost halfway through the season when we hit the Christmas break. So this is so strange to only be on episode 3 when we get back. We're planning on shooting 16 episodes, so we just are starting this season. You're going to have a lot of chaos inside the firehouse because we have so many characters now in so many relationships, but you'll also see the coming together of the different generations. You got the older end with Herrmann, Boden, Mouch. You got the middle with Severide, Casey, Brett, Kidd, Cruz. And then you got the new generation with Ritter and Gallo. We've already gotten to see Ritter in action making a save. So more of those dynamics are going to be playing out as the younger generation tries to step up into more responsibility.

Chicago Fire returns Wednesday, Jan. 27 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on NBC. For more on the series, watch the video below.

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