So close, and yet so far.
It was the moment some of us had been patiently waiting for for two seasons, but just as quickly as it came, it ended.
While the whole 'will they or won't they' trope has become tired on TV, Casey and Brett's prolonged dance does make sense.
It's not something small or meaningless keeping them apart; it's a very real obstacle with which they're going to have to contend.
For a while, it seemed like Brett was avoiding Casey because she felt guilty about falling for her best friend's ex.
While noble, both Casey and Dawson have moved on, and girl code isn't explicitly clear about the rules when your best friend moves to Puerto Rico and divorces the guy with whom you're in like.
However, it turned out that Brett's caution was well-founded.
She decided to keep her distance because she was scared of finally knowing the truth.
Brett: I have to ask you a question first.
Brett: The reason I’ve been so scared of this happening. The thing I need to know. If Gabby came back to Chicago, right now, tonight, and asked you to leave with her, would you go?
Casey: I haven’t talked to her in a long time.
Brett: That’s not the question, Matt.
Casey: I don’t know.
Brett: Thank you for being honest. I guess that I knew you were still in love with Gabby all along, and so this, this is on me.
Casey: It’s more complicated than that.
Brett: No, it’s… it’s really not.
Unlike some other dramas where the third party of a love triangle is dead, Dawson is still alive and kicking.
She may be in Puerto Rico, but the possibility still exists of her coming back to Chicago and asking Casey to go back with her.
While the pair already had that conversation on Chicago Fire Season 7 Episode 1, it was pretty unconvincing then and still now.
Though Casey and Dawson's separation and eventual divorce was the result of Monica Raymund exiting the series, the actress has already returned once on Chicago Fire Season 8 Episode 9.
Who's to say that Dawson won't be back in Chicago at some point in the future?
It's an actual possibility, making Brett's decision to pump the breaks with her and Casey more feasible.
Brett essentially confessed to Kidd that she's in love with Casey, and it's understandable that she doesn't want to be his second choice.
She knows her worth and that she deserves to be with a man who puts her above all else.
While Casey does have feelings for Brett, a part of him will always love Dawson.
was is iconic and epic, and no one gets over a love like that.
Casey: Hey, I just wanted to tell you, I’m really glad you’re OK.
Brett: Thanks to you.
Casey: No, you got yourself out of there.
Brett: It’s just the craziest thing climbing out of there and seeing you. How’d you get there so fast?
Casey: Well, it wasn’t just me. We all responded quick, rushed down there together.
Brett: Hmm, funny, I didn’t see anyone else at first.
Casey: Yeah, they were there.
Brett: It’s always been you. Uh, I just mean, you’re always the one who’s there for me in a crisis. That’s all I mean. I guess I’m just trying to thank you for being such a good friend.
Even if they move on and date other people, a part of them will always belong to the other.
Brett had a nagging suspicion that was the case but wasn't willing to completely close that door until she was sure.
It was heartbreaking to watch Brett learn the truth, but she made the decision that was right for herself.
And while Casey and Brett aren't moving forward with a relationship at this time, there is still hope for the future.
As the promo for Chicago Fire Season 9 Episode 3 indicated, Casey isn't giving up just yet.
"My feelings for you are real, regardless of Gabby," he says, to which Brett replies, "There is no regardless of Gabby. That's the point."
So it may take some more time and a lot of our patience, but it does seem like Chicago Fire is committed to seeing this 'ship through.
What keeps Brettsey/Bracey/Casett still highly 'shippable is that no one is in the wrong here.
Brett is entitled to her feelings and has every right to keep things with Casey platonic, no matter how she feels.
Brett: I basically just told Casey I’m in love with him.
Brett: I think my brain got more rattled in that accident than I realized because I just blurted out, ‘It’s always been you.’
Kidd: Well, that can mean a lot of different things.
Brett: Could it? Really?
Kidd: Maybe. You know what? There’s no need to panic here, OK. What is so wrong with him knowing how you feel? That is how you feel, right?
Brett: I… I can’t feel that way.
Kidd: Why not?
Brett: I just… I just can’t. trust me. I’m just going to pretend I didn’t say what I said, and then everything can go back to normal.
Kidd: Is that really the healthiest?
Brett: I didn’t say it, OK?
On the flip side, Casey can't be blamed for still having feelings for Dawson.
It's a complicated situation they find themselves in, to say the least, but there are still 13 episodes this season to sort this mess out.
So we don't have to give up faith just yet.
Elsewhere, Mackey continued to endear herself to us even more.
She may present as a 'tough as nails' character, but her vulnerability is what makes her stand out.
It's been a while since a character expressed such uncertainty and doubt about firefighting, and it was highly refreshing.
Watching this show for nine seasons, we take for granted just how much of a risk firefighting is.
These characters put their lives on the line daily and rush into danger to help others, regardless of the consequences.
Mackey had quite the intense first few shifts, so it was natural that she found herself questioning whether she could hack it at 51.
Mackey: But, I don’t know. I don’t know if 51’s the place for me.
Mackey: It’s not just because of the crash. I mean, yeah, the crash was crazy, but I’m guessing that doesn’t happen every day.
Cruz: Not every day.
Mackey: I thought I wanted to be at a busier house. The reality is maybe I’m just not cut out for it. The way Brett acted at the scene, my head is spinning, crawling out of that rig, and she’s racing over to save the psycho who ran us off the road.
Cruz: She’s been doing this a while.
Mackey: Yeah, but some people are mad for that kind of heat. Maybe, I’m just not one of them.
While Brett felt Mackey handled herself like a pro in the face of two dire experiences, back to back no less, all Mackey could see was how she didn't measure up.
She compared herself to Brett and believed she fell short.
Thankfully, Cruz was there to remind her that it's OK if she's not perfect; no one expect herself expects her to be.
She's a relative newbie and still learning.
Even firefighters with more seniority make mistakes, and she's going to have to learn to live with that.
That's great advice we should all listen to, and I was glad that Mackey decided to stay at 51.
Like the accident, it didn't seem like the character was going anywhere in the immediate future, but it was still nice to be right.
Cruz, for his part, was beyond supportive.
He may have gone overboard a little on the whole protective big brother schtick at times, but he was there for Mackey in exactly the right way.
Cruz: You don’t have to be perfect, Mack. No one expects that except you. It’s OK to be scared and screw up. Both of those things are going to happen a lot on this job. You just learn to manage, move on.
Mackey: I will try like hell. That much I can promise.
Cruz: And I will promise not to worry as much.
Mackey: If there is a cute boy that I happen to want to socialize with…
Cruz: No, no way. Never gonna happen.
Mackey: We’ll see about that.
He didn't try to convince her that leaving 51 would be a mistake.
Cruz was just their to offer encouragement and support whatever decision she made.
We also got a better understanding of why Cruz feels the need to be so protective of Mackey in the first place.
Cruz made a promise to Mackey's brother Dex to look out for his sister when he got sick.
He feels some sort of familial obligation to look after her, and he took it a little too far.
He did promise to back off, but we'll see how well that lasts, especially since Mackey has voiced her intentions about Gallo.
Meanwhile, though it started out as a comedic subplot, Ritter was truly given the chance to shine this episode.
He's come a long way from the scared firefighter who couldn't hack it.
Boden: I have had it. Hey, why is this thing making two-sided copies? This is unacceptable.
Ritter: Oh well, if you want to change it you just do that.
Boden: All of this clerical nonsense just to commission a new ambulance. Civilians not allowed to work in the house for almost a year now, paperwork’s piling up.
Gallo: These have been on Gloria’s desk for a year?
Ritter: Here, give me those forms. Gallo and I can handle it for you.
Boden: That’s a very generous offer.
Severide: Hey, does anyone know where 61 got towed?
Boden: Gallo and Ritter will handle that for you. They’re working the bullpen.
Severide: OK, I need the exact salvage yard the rig is in stat, and I need to address.
Gallo: Why does a squad lieutenant want to track down an ambulance?
Severide: Why does a truck newbie want to get up all in my business?
Ritter: We’ll find out, no worries.
Gallo: If we had just taken the Red Vines back to the bunks like I suggested, none of this would have happened.
Ritter: I told you that’s stealing. It’s just a couple small things.
Over these past two seasons, it's been a pleasure to watch Ritter come into his own, and Mouch said it perfectly toward the end of the episode.
Ritter is the epitome of a great firefighter, in that he's not just in it for the glory.
He's also willing to lend a helping hand to those around him, and most of all, he never asks for anything in return.
Who else didn't get a little teary when Mouch said he and the other smoke eaters could learn a thing or two from Ritter?
And Mouch returning Ritter's uncle's pen, which I'd completely forgotten about until this episode, was the cherry on top.
Mouch had said he would give Ritter back the pen when the time was right, and there could be no better time than this episode.
It was a small gesture -- it is a pen after all -- but it meant everything to Ritter and further solidified what he's already known: 51 is his home.
Lastly, Severide getting the door from the old ambulance was a sad reminder of just how many firefighters we've lost over the past nine years.
At first, it was perplexing why Severide would go to such lengths to locate Ambo 61 until it clicked that the old rig beared Leslie Shay's name.
Mackey: Leslie Shay. I like the name. Did she ride on 61?
Severide: Yeah, Shay rode on 61. She was part of the DNA of this firehouse. She was our friend. So much new blood at 51 these days, pretty soon the people who never knew Shay are going to outnumber those of us who did. They should know whose shadow they’re walking in.
Severide's speech about people not knowing who Shay was or what she meant to 51 was reminiscent of the speech given at the unveiling of Otis's statue on Chicago Fire Season 8 Episode 1.
With so many new characters coming and going, Severide was right.
There will come a time when no one knows or remembers the firefighters who came before them.
It's a heartbreaking reminder about our lack of permanence on this world.
There are adages about people dying twice: Once when they die, and again when their name is said for the last time or the last person who remembered them is gone.
Severide's actions at least ensure that Shay's legacy will live on, perhaps even surpassing his and the other's time at 51.
Some stray thoughts:
Why do we have to wait until January for new episodes? I'd wonder if it was because the series was temporarily shut down after crew members tested positive for COVID-19, but Chicago Med and Chicago PD are also on hiatus until then. This just seems cruel, especially since the series just came back.
Kidd getting Kylie a job at 51 was sweet. She went the extra mile just so Kylie could return to Girls on Fire, and it's that kind of dedication that will make her an excellent lieutenant when she passes the exam.
Gallo and Mackey are happening. Though they've only had a few scenes together, the characters compliment each other well and have great chemistry. I look forward to seeing their relationship progress.
Just when you think Herrmann is capable of change, he proves you wrong. Did he seriously need to be told why Boys on Fire was not comparable to Girls on Fire? Is he that dense that he doesn't see the gender disparity within the profession and realize there needs to be a greater emphasis on rectifying that issue?
Did anyone else momentarily think Severide had hidden an engagement ring in the rig and that was why he went to such lengths to find Ambo 61? I eventually realized the significance of it, but I'm still a little disappointed there was no Stellaride engagement.
So what did you think, Chicago Fire Fanatics?
Is there still hope for Casey and Brett as a couple?
Where does Mackey rank on your list of favorite new characters?
How amazing was Ritter this episode?
Don't forget to hit the comments below to let me know your thoughts. If you happened to miss the latest episode, remember you can watch Chicago Fire online at TV Fanatic.
Jessica Lerner is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.