Chicago Fire isn't really subtle about celebrating its hundredth episode.
Chicago Fire Season 5 Episode 8 is called "One Hundred" and its 'B' story involves the 100th anniversary of Molly's.
It's all very on the nose, but that's okay because really this is a party for the show and everyone's invited.
Obviously the big news that everyone will be talking about is that Casey and Dawson have finally married. It's a step that feels almost overdue considering that the ship has been sailing since Chicago Fire Season 1 and the two are already living together and co-parenting. Marriage is about the only thing they haven't done.
This is also a big moment for the fans who have rooted for them all that time, as well as the big happening that you'd expect from any show celebrating a milestone episode.
From the way it was set up (c'mon, you knew it was coming as soon as the DCFS agent said Dawson would be classed as a single parent) to how it was shot, the Dawsey wedding is well done all around.
Of course Chicago Fire then has to kill their buzz by potentially ruining their adoption plans, but hey, there had to be some suspense to serve as a hook since this was also the midseason finale...
There's an answer out there. We just have to find it.Casey
One of the best things about this episode is the Chicago Med connection that allows Chicago Fire to bring back Jeff Clarke. It is beyond wonderful to see Clarke on Fire again, and not just because Jeff Hephner is one of the most awesome human beings ever.
Fire is where Clarke began so this is like a homecoming. Plus, the dialogue between him and Severide helps explain – albeit briefly – a little bit more about how Clarke went from firefighter to med student.
Severide: Be careful. Someone might hand you a halligan if the bells go off.
Clarke: I'd love that actually.
Clarke is one of those recurring characters who just clicks. He's one of those that every time they pop up you get excited. And it's clear that he still fits right in on Fire, even if his back injury means we won't see him running around with that hooligan. (I'd be happy if he just gets to punch somebody, but that's probably because I miss Agent X.)
And his appearance also has big picture potential. Clarke may just be the guy who finally pushes Severide out of his habit of sleeping with everyone that has gotten to be something of a running joke. Five seasons in there's plenty more to talk about than his romantic life.
For example, his participation in firehouse Scrabble games. There needs to be a deleted scene or two that's just Severide, Capp, Tony and the crew playing Scrabble arguing over words. And somebody has to play "kwyjibo."
You know what I felt today as I got blasted in the head by a fireball? Nothing.Severide
You know who else is an awesome guest star? Charlotte Sullivan, best known as Rookie Blue's wonderfully snarky Gail Peck, who appears here briefly as the woman in need of Severide's bone marrow. Now let's hope that she doesn't get shoehorned into a romance with him too.
But while "One Hundred" has some excellent visitors, another thing to appreciate about this episode is how it gives a little extra screen time to Fire's recurring cast like Randy Flagler and Tony Ferraris. We see these guys almost week in and week out, but they don't always feature.
Yet they are just as important a part of the Fire ensemble as the main cast and it's a very nice gesture that this episode makes sure they are included significantly as well. You could even argue that's true with Clarke, that "One Hundred" made him the doc on duty and didn't hand that off to Halstead or Rhodes.
Stella: These things are cyclical.
Herrmann: Yeah? Well, let me know when the wheels are going to turn again so I can tell my kids they can go to college.
We saved the most entertaining story in the episode for last: Otis, Hermann and the Molly's anniversary party. Firstly, watching David Eigenberg go through the stages of a progressive meltdown is hilarious. We've discussed this before, but the man is really a comedic genius and Yuri Sardarov sets him up so perfectly.
The future of Molly's has been discussed in several Chicago Fire Season 5 episodes so Fire fans knew something about the bar had to be coming up. Having it be the 100th anniversary is a nice invention to tie it into the 100th episode, and hopefully also a button to the whole "the bar is doomed" idea.
But the bar story ended up facilitating the most resonant moment of the episode (and yes, that includes the wedding). Hermann's speech about the bar wasn't really about the bar; it was about the show and its family, including the fans. It was short, sweet and Eigenberg nailed it.
Plus the happy sniffles it prompted made up for the terrible cringing caused earlier by having to see the paramedics reset that injured woman's horribly twisted ankle. So thanks, Hermann, you big softy.
One hundred of anything is impressive. But one hundred years, for a bar? That is downright magical. Back then there was no television, radio, Internet, phones. There was just a neighborhood of hard-working people who needed a place filled with family.Herrmann
The Molly's plot is also one example of the dual nature of this episode. By being not only episode 100 but also the fall finale it has to serve two masters: celebrating 100 and also wrapping up the first part of Season 5. The celebration is a great moment in the big picture, but it moves us past the bar story, too.
Casey and Dawson's wedding is great for the fans, but now they need something else to worry about, so here's Louie's dad. Although people have to stop lurking about on this show. First James a few episodes ago outside Boden's house and now this guy. This is how people get punched or worse.
But the show really does recognize the occasion without diverting at all from its needing to handle business, and that is not an easy task, which makes "One Hundred" that much more admirable.
In fairness, there are a few minor bones to pick. Firstly, this show continues its recent streak of finding the most odd places to start episodes. Is the scene of Severide's angry one night stand really the best place to kick off such an important installment? That moment does need a place in the first act, but maybe not the first scene of the whole episode.
And clowns. Just like Brett, I completely hate clowns, so I likewise would've been totally fine with skipping that 'C' story as funny as Kara Killmer's reaction shots continue to be. (Can we just get a permanent camera on her all of the time?)
But "One Hundred" has a tremendous heart and not just on screen. It's not simply another one hundredth episode or another fall finale. It's clear that Chicago Fire saw the milestone and decided to really turn it into an occasion.
That's obvious in series co-creators Michael Brandt and Derek Haas being the ones to write the script. It's in them making a script that has that speech, that has the screen time for everyone, and that includes the wedding that many fans have been waiting for.
It's obvious in Joe Chappelle being the guy to direct the episode. If you didn't know, Chappelle has directed more episodes of Chicago Fire than anyone else. If there's a directing squad he's the lieutenant. It's fitting that he gets the nod and he puts together some absolutely beautiful sequences in this episode.
It's obvious in just the performances that come out of the actors, like they found just that little extra notch to take it up to. This really feels like a celebration of Chicago Fire, as well as a strong way to pause Season 5. It's a template for what all hundredth episodes should be.
If you want to watch "One Hundred" again or catch up on any of Season 5 so far, you can watch Chicago Fire online now. The series will return in January with new episodes, and hopefully they'll be as memorable as this one.
What did you think of Chicago Fire's 100th episode? Did you celebrate the occasion? Want to make any crazy predictions for the rest of the season? Sound off in the comments and we'll see you in just about a month for the next episode!
Brittany Frederick is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.