Showrunner Derek Haas and Killmer talk to ET about the new season, welcoming a new paramedic and more.
Chicago Fire is about to look a tad different when season 9 begins with a new paramedic shaking things up at Firehouse 51 and a fiery new romance, as well as a pandemic at the forefront of everyone's minds. For actress Kara Killmer, who plays paramedic Sylvie Brett, this season of Fire is emblematic of the hope that people are searching for.
"It is interesting with the CFD because it's not like fires take a break just because there's a pandemic. That doesn't happen. Definitely COVID is throughout our stories but it's really more like how can we keep doing what we've been doing? How can we still rush into danger and perform these rescues while trying to stay healthy and trying to stay safe?" Killmer told ET over Zoom. "That's something that the CFD has had to wrestle with all summer, and so that's kind of the way it factors in for us."
"At least for Sylvie, she's experienced a lot of loss -- her birth mother died last season, Foster leaves for medical school, she gets a new partner this season. I think people are really looking for hope right now. People are looking for something to believe in and I think that that's the same journey for Sylvie," she continued. "She's typically been a very resilient, cheerful person so amidst death and loss and the anxiety of everything that's happening socially and medically, I think Firehouse 51 more so plays the role of here's how we soldier on. Here's how we decide to put the gear on and keep going and doing what needs to be done because we're here to serve. That's the theme of our show this year."
That's not to say Brett won't have romance to look forward to. After years of dancing around their attraction for each other, Brett and Casey are maybe finally exploring their feelings for each other. "Two years is a long time of will they-won't they!" Killmer exclaimed. "They definitely take a little bit more risk this season, but [showrunner] Derek Haas loves to stir the pot and so people will just have to keep tuning in to see what happens to them."
As for Brett's new partner, Gianna Mackey (played by Adriyan Rae), things get off to a dicey start. "They get into some serious trouble within the first shift," Killmer said. "What's fun about this season for me is Brett is seasoned now, she can't be bothered by the shenanigans and the mischief that Chicago gets them into. You get to see her have a stronger leadership, so you're really getting to see her step into her own in that way. She's just going to have to lean into the relationships that she has with Stella or with Casey."
Ahead of Wednesday's return, ET sent off a handful of questions over email to Fire showrunner Derek Haas about how COVID will play into the series, introducing the new paramedic, Brett and Casey's possible romance and hints at Severide and Kidd's major "next step."
ET: The world has changed significantly since the show last aired. What was most challenging about reframing the new season with the pandemic at the forefront?
Derek Haas: We decided this summer as we broke the new season that we would attempt to portray what it is like working at a firehouse during 2020. We knew we were going to air in November so we tried to say, “What is Chicago going to look like in November 2020?” I think we got it right.
Because you were forced to shut down in the middle of production last season, how much did you deviate from the original plan in the first few episodes?
We took the big storyline that was going to end the last few episodes and put them into the first couple of episodes. The ending of the first episode was going to be the season finale.
How does incorporating COVID shift the dynamics within the firehouse?
We wear masks when we go out into the public and we try to be more cognizant of social distancing, but a firehouse operates a lot like a family, and you’ll see that.
Since Annie Ilonzeh didn't receive a proper goodbye, how will you address Foster's departure? What are the chances we'll get one last look at her in season 9?
I would love to see her again at some point in the season. Brett catches us up with where Foster is hanging in the first episode.
You're also welcoming a new character, paramedic Gianna Mackey. How would you describe her? How does she fit into the dynamics of 51?
She’s fun and cool and fits right into 51. Joe Cruz has known her all her life and vouches for her. She wants to work at a busy firehouse and she gets her wish, a little more than she bargained for.
At the end of last season, you said you'll "turn up the heat" on Casey and Brett's relationship. What are your plans with them in season 9? Will they finally admit their feelings?
Well, I’ve seen the first episode and consider the heat turned up. You’ll have to wait for answers to the rest.
Severide and Kidd seem to be in a good spot for now. What's next for them?
They are going to be looking to the future in a lot of ways this season. They are solid… and I think they could be taking next steps soon.
With the show picked up for three more seasons, have you mapped out a general blueprint?
No, we still break half seasons at a time. We want to be flexible in case a character pops and we want to bring him or her back. I’m thinking about characters like Anna, who was only supposed to come into Severide’s life for a short time, but we liked her so much that we brought her back for a longer run. We like to map out some shorter arcs coupled with some longer ideas for major characters and then see where inspiration takes us as the episodes start rolling in.
Lastly, how would you describe this season of Fire?
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