It's never easy being Kelly Severide.
Try as he might, it's never just smooth sailing for our favorite lieutenant, which is a shame because he's dealt with enough troubles for one lifetime.
The good news, though, is he handled everything thrown at him on Chicago Fire Season 9 Episode 11 like a champ, further proving he is a good man worthy of Kidd.
Telling someone they're not cut out for a specific career is never simple, but when lives are on the line, you don't have the luxury of always being kind.
Firefighting is a dangerous career path, to begin with, and when you head into the flames -- both metaphorically and literally -- you need to be able to count on your fellow firefighters.
Boden: Why didn’t you come to me right away?
Severide: Because it’s not your problem.
Boden: Another battalion chief comes into my firehouse to jam up one of my officers just for doing their job, that is absolutely my problem. And I will take care of it. I promise you that.
Severide: I don’t want you to lose an old friend over this.
Boden: Old friend like hell. He crossed the line. He’s going to pay for it.
Severide: It’s my mess. I’ll clean it up.
So, when you have someone like Mercer, who can't even remember to put on safety equipment before picking up a hot wrench, you know firefighting isn't going to be a good fit for the young recruit.
Severide spent most of the installment weighing the pros and cons of whether he should give Mercer another chance, and his indecision nearly led to the deaths of two other recruits after Mercer filled their oxygen tanks up with carbon dioxide.
Feeling guilty, Severide tried to course correct, shutting everyone out, except Kidd, in the process.
The lieutenant felt like because he didn't listen to his instincts, he was to blame and wanted to deal with the repercussions on his own.
He almost took Boden's head off when the battalion chief offered to step in and smooth things over, but Severide wasn't having it.
Severide felt that he needed to be the one to fix things because, in his mind, he bared sole responsibility for what happened.
In his heart, Severide knew he should kick Mercer out of the Academy, as Casey suggested, but after learning about Boden's friendship with Mercer's father, he was hesitant to do anything that might get in the way of that.
After all, Boden has been like a father to Severide, and the last thing Severide wanted was to cause tension between his father figure and his father figure's old friend.
I wish my dad had my back the way you have Jacob’s. You want the best for him. I can respect that. He deserves it. He’s a good kid, but he’s not a firefighter, and if you come at this like a chief and not a father, you’ll see that. You wouldn’t send your men into a burning building with someone you knew wasn’t up to snuff. And you were right to blame me for what happened at the Academy, but the mistake I made was giving Jacob too many chances. I should have cut him sooner. I’m sorry it didn’t work out, but he’ll be OK. He’ll land on his feet wherever he ends up because he has a father who supports him.Severide
And it was noble of Severide to do that, but with a job like firefighting, one where a mistake on any call could mean the difference between life and death for both the firefighters and the victims, there's little room for softness.
You have to be prepared at all times, and putting your trust in an incompetent or impaired firefighter can be deadly.
Did you hear that, Casey? Your reckless disregard for your health could put your fellow firefighters at 51 in danger.
Well, it certainly wasn't my words that got through to the impetuous captain; no, that would be Brett, who, like a good friend, forced Casey to confront his injury head-on and see a doctor.
Had it not been for Brett, Casey probably would have continued to ignore the issue until someone -- maybe even himself -- was seriously injured due to his head injury.
And now that Casey has agreed to see a doctor, the question then becomes what this means for his future at the CFD.
Firefighters at 51 have been sidelined before due to injuries, but there have been very few instances where said firefighter didn't return, at least in some capacity.
So, while it's hard to see the writers sticking Casey behind a desk for an extended period, it's still feasible.
Casey: Thank you for pushing me the other day. You’re right. I was too quick to move on when the headaches stopped. I can’t help thinking that when I got that head injury a few years ago the doctor said if I get another bad hit, it could mean the end of my career, or worse.
Brett: OK, hold on. There’s no need for you to get there yet. All you need to do right now is make an appointment and get checked out. The sooner, the better.
Brett: I’ll go with you.
Casey: No, no you don’t have to do that.
Brett: I know things have been weird between us lately, but you were always there for me when I needed it most. Please let me do that for you.
Casey: That would be great. OK, I’ll make the appointment for Friday after shift.
Brett: Friday, um…
Casey: If you have plans, I can handle it solo.
Brett: No, I can reschedule it. I’m going with you, Matt.
What's the most likely scenario is that, on a partial crossover with Chicago Med, Casey has some miraculous brain surgery.
The surgery would mean that Casey would be riding a desk for a few episodes, but sooner rather than later, he'd be back in action, just like nothing had happened.
It's a working theory, so we'll see where it leads.
And as for theories, Brett's decision to accompany Casey to his doctor's appointment rather than attend her weekend getaway with Grainger spells trouble for the new couple.
This was supposed to be the first time they would be staying together overnight, and then at the last minute, Brett decides to blow off her current beau and be there for her ex.
It's not the best way to start a new relationship, and even if Brett claims she's over Casey, her actions speak louder than her words.
She can allege she's only returning the favor, but her feelings for Casey didn't just evaporate because she believes he's still hung up on Dawson and she's dating someone new.
No, Brett still has deep-seated feelings for Casey, no matter how hard she tries to deny it.
And it'll only be a matter of time until Grainger sees it too.
Brett: What do you think Ruzek?
Ruzek: Well, you have an anonymous letter that makes a vague accusation that may or may not posit that your victim was shoved down a flight of stairs by the muffin man next door, and even your victim doesn’t think that’s what happened. I got that, right?
He's not stupid and deserves better than someone who's still hung up on her ex.
Hopefully, this is just a roundabout way for Brett to realize her feelings for Casey and break up with Grainger, thus ensuring a Brettsey reconciliation is on the horizon.
Otherwise, what was the point?
Lastly, Ritter finally got his own storyline, and it was great until it wasn't.
Part of the problem is that we know very little about Ritter, and this subplot did nothing to flesh out the character's background.
We just learned that Ritter and Eric broke up at the pandemic's start, but that information became obsolete when the pair reconciled by the end of the episode.
Ritter is such a fantastic character, but it's frustrating to watch him constantly play sidekick to Gallo.
He deserves a lot better, and while this subplot was a decent attempt, it just fell flat.
That's not to say there weren't things to like, but they were far few and in between.
Eric: I heard you had a date with Andrew.
Ritter: I had no idea it was him. Believe me.
Eric: Oh I know. He told me what happened, and how you went to bat for me.
Ritter: He’s something.
Eric: I just wanted to come by and say thanks for doing that.
Ritter: Oh, you’re welcome. Of course.
Eric: And that I miss you.
Ritter: Well, maybe we should do something about that.
Ritter going off on Andy/Andrew, who was a complete douche and deserved to be yelled at, was funny and his all too brief reunion with Eric was sweet, but those moments weren't enough to save this plot.
I wanted more, more of everything Ritter-related, so let's hope my wish is granted before the season ends.
Some stray thoughts:
It was Brett and Violet's turn to play detectives this time, and again the case of the week took a backseat to the character-driven storylines. I'm still on the fence about everyone playing detective, but I appreciate these subplots being relegated to the background. So, we'll call it undecided for now.
Gallo and Violet continue to bring their p game to what I've decided to call the 'Flirt-lympics.' And since they both like to one-up the other, they'd probably love this sort of competition to see who can flirt better. They've got incredible chemistry, and it's only a matter of time before they're hitting those sheets.
Herrmann assuming all gay people in Chicago knew each other was the sort of loveable ignorance that the character has been sorely lacking. It's been the first time in ages that he hasn't felt like a one-dimensional cartoon character when his unintelligence shows.
So what did you think, Chicago Fire Fanatics?
What is Casey's future at the CFD?
Does Ritter deserve better from the writers?
Don't forget to hit the comments below to let me know your thoughts. If you missed 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.