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Saturday, January 11, 2014

I like CHICAGO FIRE "In My Face"

Article first published as I like CHICAGO FIRE "In My Face" on TheTVKing.

Just ahead of its spinoff debut, NBC's Chicago Fire returns for the back half of its second season with "Shoved in My Face." Some time has passed since the fall finale, though how much is not clear. As the episode begins, Casey (Jesse Spencer) is able to resume work, healed from the incident. But has he fully recovered?

Casey is one of the most central players, so fans had to have known he wasn't dead, despite the cliffhanger we were left on. However, some might not expect the consequences of the injuries. Casey seems fine to most of his friends, but there's something a little off and unstable about him that begins to rear its head.

For most jobs, making mistakes is no big deal. For a firefighter, where lives are on the line every day, this isn't good. Mouch (Christian Stolte), who witnesses the danger Casey poses first hand, hasn't told on Casey yet, out of loyalty, but if Casey doesn't figure out how to fix the problem, there will be further ramifications, and none of them will be good.

Casey is trying to move on by asking Dawson (Monica Raymund) to live with him. It's about time the two were officially an item. They dance around each other for a season and a half before this comes about, and viewers and characters alike are happy that they have gotten together. But it's not a good sign that Casey isn't even confiding his issues with Dawson, beginning their relationship on a rocky path.

Dawson can be forgiven for not hounding Casey too hard about how he's feeling as she's now quite busy as a cadet in the firefighter school. She doesn't have the easiest start to classes, especially when she is around 51, as her instinct is to act like a member of the team. There will definitely be some adjustment time for her to step back and move away. But that should only be temporary, so it's all good.

Shay (Lauren German) also has to adjust to the new arrangement, as a new woman, Allison Rafferty (Christine Evangelista, Lucky 7), takes over Dawson's spot as Shay's partner and boss. This dynamic is very shaky at first, and there's a point in "Shoved in My Face" where it doesn't look like things are going to work out. Then Shay breaks through the new woman's armor, and they seem to get along.

Rafferty comes across as a homophobe initially. She says she has no problems with lesbians, she just doesn't want the behavior shoved in her face. This is usually an excuse for those who are small-minded and trying not to appear as full of gross hate as they are. In this particular case, though, it looks like one person just did over share with Rafferty, and while its unfair to employ stereotyping, Rafferty doesn't really appear to be a bigot at her core. Thank goodness!

There's plenty of conflict without bringing a jerk into the firehouse. Molly's might be lost, as Otis (Yuri Sardarov) and Herrmann (David Eigenberg) learn about a lien on the building, Mills (Charlie Barnett) has to push Clarke (Jeff Hephner) to stop protecting his gal from a serious crime, and Severide's (Taylor Kinney) teaching career starts off bad when he tries to kick out the daughter of one of the brass, Rebecca Jones (Daisy Betts, Last Resort). That's quite enough without more discord creeping in.

Of course, there are good things in "Shoved in My Face," too. Mills is finally accepted into Squad 3, Otis has a love connection with Severide's sister, Katie (Brittany Curran), Antonio (Jon Seda) finds evidence that could clear Clarke, and most of the main characters are getting along with one another, no internal spats disrupting the tone of the house right now. That's a relief.

Chicago Fire is a prime time soap opera, along the lines of Grey's Anatomy, so the personal drama will always be a focus. But that doesn't mean everyone has to be at everyone's throats all the time, and the shift in "Shoved in My Face," from internal conflict to external, is one that will hopefully stick around for awhile.

Chicago Fire airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on NBC, and the spin-off, Chicago PD, well worth watching, premieres tonight at 10 p.m. EST.

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