Chicago Fire: “Professional Courtesy” (Episode 1.03)Photo courtesy of Matt Dinerstein, NBC TV Reviews
Chicago Fire had a lot of ground it tried to cover in its debut episode, but it scaled back in last week’s offering, allowing the show to solidify a little more after two weeks. In its third week, the show continues to work out the little kinks that hinder it while continuing to provide high levels on drama and intensity.
“Professional Courtesy” finds Casey struggling to follow his morals under the pressure of a dirty cop trying to cover up his son’s near-fatal error. The episode begins with Casey pulling a teenager out of a car while a SUV is flipped nearby. The boy, who turns out to be Detective Voight’s son, had an open six-pack and was clearly intoxicated. When nobody is looking, some cops get rid of the incriminating evidence and take the boy away themselves, letting the boy get off without any penalty.
The show does a good job switching up the pace from multiple lifesaving attempts to focus on the interpersonal relationships with the crew. This allows the show to not just become the type of procedural that barely focuses on the main characters. I never suspected it would be that type of show, but I also didn’t expect to see a slow tempo episode so early in the show’s life.
Casey must deal with the realization that if he doesn’t stand up to the detective then Voight’s son will not be held accountable for an innocent boy being paralyzed. Voight then donates a new flat screen television to the house (something they are trying to fundraise for). He makes the unpopular decision to send the gift back, confusing the rest of the house who isn’t aware drunk driving was the reason for the accident. Things escalate when the father of the boy who was paralyzed comes to the firehouse saying the police report blamed him for running a red light. Casey, knowing he’ll have an uphill battle, refuses to back down from a dirty cop.
The episode also highlights candidate Mills (who is slowly becoming my favorite character) as he has to balance his mother’s worries about him becoming a fighter and the constant pressure from fellow crew members for being the young guy. His mother is distraught that Mills willingly is going into the profession that killed his father. Meanwhile Severide continues his battle against the oversexed Nikki as well as soreness from his overuse of steroids. In the end he fails at staying away from the administrative assistant and continues to lie about the cause of his arm pain.
Fire’s building a necessary level of complexity that allows viewers to explore the characters personalities and emotions. Obviously a lot of the praise for the show rests on Jesse Spencer’s shoulders. His Lieutenant Casey carried this episode and will most likely continue to do so as the series progresses. Luckily Spencer seems up to the challenge and it’s a pleasure to see him in the spotlight after years in Hugh Laurie’s Dr. House’s shadow.
With episodes like this, eventually Chicago Fire should catch ablaze (sorry, couldn’t help it)—it just depends on if trigger-happy NBC will pull the plug on the show before people start to catch on to this well-produced drama.