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‘Chicago Fire’: S08.E17. “Protect a Child”

Things get personal for Casey and Gallo in the aftermath of a suburban house fire involving a mother and her young son.

Shain E. Thomas
Mar 20, 2020 · 11 min read
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Protect A Child, the latest Chicago Fire episode, opens with Firefighter Stella Kidd (Miranda Rae Mayo) in a convenience store. Kidd gets herself a diet soda pop and heads to the counter to pay for it. Even though she doesn’t initially intend to purchase a chocolate bar, Kidd finds them too tempting and gives in to her desire for something sweet. This doesn’t go unnoticed by the store clerk. Gordy (Floyd Davis), the store clerk, references her initial hesitation to purchase a chocolate bar.

After exiting the store, Kidd notices two teenage girls standing next to a nearby vehicle. They are either buying or dealing drugs. Whilst Stella tries to talk to the girls, her words do not affect them. They simply walk away.

At Firehouse 51, seconds before the morning briefing begins, Kidd recounts the incident with the teenage girls to Lieutenant Kelly Severide (Taylor Kinney). Kelly seems sympatric to her story. Changing the subject completely, as Battalion 25 Chief Wallace Boden (Eamonn Walker) enters the conference room, we see Lieutenant Christopher Herrmann (David Eigenberg) needing to address an issue which is important to him: officer’s quarters. Herrmann, even though he’s an officer, hasn’t been afforded access to an officer’s quarters.

Both Captain Matthew Casey (Jesse Spencer) and Severide, even though the latter had not been stationed at Firehouse 51 for a short period earlier this year, have officer’s quarters at the Chicago Fire Department facility. Is anyone else wondering why it is Severide was able to retain his officer’s quarters at 51 when he wasn’t stationed there?

Even though transferring to OFI (Office of Fire Investigations) earlier this year wasn’t Severide’s choice, that doesn’t change the fact that Herrmann’s need for officer’s quarters was ignored and when Severide returned to 51, he was able to walk back into his quarters as if he hadn’t been gone.

With there being only two officer’s quarters at 51, when Herrmann suggests converting the blue storage room into accommodations for him, Boden immediately shuts the idea down. It’s been a year since Herrmann made lieutenant. Obviously, not that I need to point this out, Boden’s negative reaction to the suggestion doesn’t go down well with Herrmann. It’s becoming increasingly clear Herrmann doesn’t like having to play second fiddle to the other officer’s needs.

Before the discussion can go any further, not that Boden has any interest in discussing with Herrmann his concerns, we get a call out for our heroes to attend a house fire. A nosy neighbour catches the attention of both Paramedic Emily Foster (Annie Ilonzeh) and Paramedic in Charge Sylvie Brett (Kara Killmer). The neighbour, Arlene (Jane Brody), has nothing good to say about the woman that resides at the burning house. She’s apparently “unfit to be a mother.” Moving on…

Casey and Firefighter Candidate Blake Gallo (Alberto Rosende) enter the building and rescue Jennifer ‘Jenni’ Davis (Rachel Miner). Jenni, a paralysed woman, informs the firefighters that her six-year-old son Noah (Max Kafel) is trapped in his bedroom. Noah is rescued from his bedroom by Gallo and is brought safely out of the house relatively unharmed.

Even though Casey praises Jenni for risking her own life to save her son, nearby, Arlene continues to poke her nose in where it isn’t wanted. Firefighter Randy “Mouch” McHolland (Christian Stolte), having reached the final straw, politely tells the neighbour that she’s “not helping anyone with that” and motions with his hand for her to stow her attitude.

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Back at 51, not letting the officer’s quarters issue drop, we find Herrmann hard at work creating his own make-shift accommodations. What could possibly go wrong? It’s not as if using a plastic curtain will cause a fire hazard.

Meanwhile, as Firehouse 51 become increasingly bemused by Herrmann’s antics, we see Gallo and Firefighter Candidate Darren Ritter (Daniel Kyri) comparing notes on their respective fire department graduating class. When Kidd asks her colleagues how many people in their graduating classes were women, with them being stampede for a response, we hear a female voice say, “not enough.” It’s Paramedic Violet Lin (Hanako Greensmith) from Firehouse 20. According to Lin, in thinking about her graduating class, she recalls there were only three women.

Kidd approaches Boden about the possibility of establishing a recruitment program for young women that have an interest in pursuing a fire department career. Far too often, with such programs, we see fire departments primarily focus their efforts on recruiting young men. It’s not 1951 anymore. The tide has changed. It’s time for young women to be given the same level of respect that young men are afforded.

Boden, having given Kidd “full support,” points his firefighter in the right direction. Given how Boden had been previously trying to mould Kidd into Firehouse 51’s next management candidate, it’s not surprising he would be pleased to see her take the initiative to establish a forward-thinking program.

Julie (Kelly Deadmon), having previously let Brett know she and her husband are planning to move to Chicago, needs assistance finding a new house. The two women take a moment to geek out over the television series House Hunters. Brett is apparently “the biggest fan in the world.”

It doesn’t go unnoticed that Brett references she was previously engaged. Which engagement is Brett referencing? Could she be talking about Casey? Julie wants to hear every Brett story she can get.

Nearby, Casey can be seen next to one of the Firehouse 51 vehicles. It is here that we see a DCFS (Department of Child and Family Services) official show up at the firehouse. She, having introduced herself as Vera Gantry (Jennifer Joan Taylor), wants to speak with Casey about the house fire Firehouse 51 attended earlier that day. Gantry received a DCFS complaint asking her to remove Noah Davis from his mother.

The scene transitions to a meeting with Casey, Boden, and Gantry. Casey refers to the nosy neighbour as being “a real piece of work.” Gantry, as Casey correctly notes, just “wanted a few choice quotes” so she could justify taking Noah away from his disabled mother. With what we know of Casey, injustice not being tolerated, it “doesn’t sit right with” him.

In a moment of levity, something this episode lacks, we find Firefighter Harold Capp (Randy Flagler) telling Ritter that Herrmann needed to see him in his “office.” The reference to Herrmann’s office has Ritter immediately confused. Herrmann tells Ritter, whenever he has any suggestions, complaints or whatever, he can knock on his door day or night. What door? There is no door. It’s a plastic curtain.

The scene moves to the kitchen where we find CFD Community Outreach Department Rep Owen Horton (Matt Fletcher) looking for Kidd. He finds her without too much difficulty. Horton, seeing where Kidd is coming from, directs her to write up a formal proposal. The guidelines are on the CFD server. Once all Kidd has a female officer to co-sponsor the program, she should email the proposal to him when she’s done. Unfortunately, with Kidd not being an officer, she can’t run the program herself. Is it time Firehouse 51 had a female officer?

Elsewhere, as Brett and Foster tend to a medical assist where a naked man seems off his rocker, they encounter a few patrol cops. Their attitude seems right out of the stone age. Because the guy is naked, Officer Nesbitt (Bryan Kelly) wants to palm him off onto Brett and Foster. Foster, not liking being called “honey,” speaks directly into Nesbitt’s body cam and calls the officer an A-hole. She’s not wrong. Before Nesbitt can do anything, the naked guy runs off down the street. The cops give chase. It’s here that the episode introduces us to realtor Nicholas Winter (Aaron Latterell).

Meanwhile, as Boden, Gallo, and Casey exit the firehouse, we hear the captain telling the chief that he wants to stop by the Davis house and then speak with that nosy neighbour. Whilst everybody needs good neighbours, it’s clear from Arlene’s attitude, she’s not one. I know. I couldn’t help quoting the theme to the Australian soap opera Neighbours. Back in the day, not that many people watching Chicago Fire would know this, played Billy Kennedy (1994–2014) on the long-running soap opera.

When Boden asks Casey what he means, before he can properly respond, Gallo offers to go with him. Gallo connected with Noah on a personal level. Boden directs Casey to not “do anything to have headquarters call” him.

At the academy, we see Kidd speaking with Chief Wilson (Mary Kay Cook) about the Girls on Fire program. Wilson understands the importance of such a program, but because she can’t give it her full attention, the chief isn’t able to put her name to it. Overhearing the conversation is Captain Leone (Mo Sketch) from Firehouse 20. The chief tells Leone that Kidd needs an officer to cosponsor her Girls on Fire program. Leone suggests discussing the program over coffee and pancakes.

On the other side of town, as Casey and Gallo arrive outside the Davis residence, we see Arlene outside raking her lawn. Casey, references his own son being taken away from him, tells Arlene what she’s doing is “reprehensible.” Because of his personal experience with the DCFS, something that sounds a lot worse than it actually is, Casey sees a very different side to the issue.

Kidd takes Leone to breakfast to discuss the program. After Leone gets what she wants from Kidd, a free breakfast, she accuses the firefighter of being a “schemer” and walks away. If there is anyone in Chicago Fire that is a real schemer, it’s Leone. She’s only interested in what she can get out of things for herself.

Elsewhere, Brett and Julie meet with Winter to discuss Chicago houses. Obviously, with him being into Brett, Winter asks her out. She’s not interested in pursuing a relationship. Julie concludes Brett must be “hung up on Matt.” Whilst Julie might be right, Brett would never admit to it.

Meanwhile, over at the Gaffney Chicago Medical Center, we see Casey and Gallo visiting with Jenni. Casey is there to inform Jenni of the damage the fire caused to the house. It’s minimal. Jenni speaks about how her ex-husband left her. Gallo correctly observes her ex “sounds like a terrible person.”

Speaking of terrible people, the DCFS rep shows up to formally tell Jenni that the state is taking her son away from her. DCFS people are seen forcefully removing Noah from the hospital. When Gallo and Casey update Boden on the situation, something the captain is taking personally, the chief directs them to focus on their respective jobs.

Kidd tells Severide she wants to cosponsor Girls on Fire with someone dependable, enthusiastic, and smart. Severide tells Kidd he knows a woman officer who’s all those things. He is, of course, referring to OFI’s Lieutenant Wendy Seager (Andy Allo). We always knew Seager would return to the series sooner or later.

Herrmann adds a lamp to his new office. He places it next to the plastic curtain. This isn’t going to end well for Herrmann. Foster, noting Brett looking at Casey as he strolls through the communal area, looks at the paramedic in charge with knowing eyes. It’s here that Brett tells Foster the realtor asked her out.

The third emergency call out of the episode sees a warehouse forklift truck driver is pinned under one of the forks on his vehicle. The driver had been driving the forklift to fast. Consequently, because of this, he turned it cover. Shelving units, stacked with heavy boxes, where impacted. The warehouse employees, able-bodied men, did their best to get their colleague free from the forklift but it wasn’t enough.

Herrmann, seeing the problem from a different angle, suggests a plan to extract the warehouse worker. It works and the guy is transported to Chicago Med. The rescue gives Casey an idea.

Casey and Gallo, before returning to 51, visit DCFS to speak with Gantry. Casey tells Gantry about the forklift incident. He notes, when the firefighters got to the call, “five of the biggest men” he’d ever seen was trying to lift the forklift off their colleague. They were able bodied men and they failed. The woman that filed the complaint against Jenni is better because she doesn’t like the tree roots being in her yard. That’s the kind of person Arlene is.

Whilst Casey admits he doesn’t know Jenni Davis well, he does know “character ‘s defined by action.” Jenni placed being a mother over everything. Casey talks Gantry into doing the right thing and tossing out the report.

Back at 51, as Herrmann and his truck arrives, we see Chief Walker’s (Steve Chikerotis) vehicle. It turns out that Herrmann’s make-shift officer’s quarters burned down. Herrmann is ordered to attend “remedial fire responsibility training.” Boden looks angry; but if he’d let Herrmann use the blue storage room as he requested, the fire wouldn’t have happened.

Seager shows up and immediately detects the smell of burned plastic. Severide tells her not to ask. Kidd with her needing an officer to cosponsor her program, tells the lieutenant about Girls on Fire. Seager is immediately on board with the program. Seager tells Kidd that “young women need to see real role models at CFD.” It’s not just a career choice for boys. She’s not wrong.

As Brett leaves the firehouse, she receives a call from Winter. She tells him she’s not looking to get into a relationship with anyone. The scene alternates between Brett and Casey. Chicago Fire clearly wants us to think there will be a Brett Casey relationship in our immediate future.

The episode closes with Casey visiting Chicago Med to check up on Jenni. He sees Noah, with Gantry there, has been reunited with his mother. Casey, knowing that he did a good thing, enters the elevator.

Next Time …

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Shain E. Thomas

Written by

With an M.Sc. from the University of North Texas, I’m a freelance journalist and a social historian. #APStylebook #BBCStyleGuide

Harsh Light News

Harsh Light News revolves around entertainment news, social and political commentary. Harsh Light News is now available on the News360 website and app.

Shain E. Thomas

Written by

With an M.Sc. from the University of North Texas, I’m a freelance journalist and a social historian. #APStylebook #BBCStyleGuide

Harsh Light News

Harsh Light News revolves around entertainment news, social and political commentary. Harsh Light News is now available on the News360 website and app.

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