Chicago Fire Season 8 Episode 20 Review: 51's Original Bell

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Well, this is it: the end of the season.

It's hard to judge this episode fairly, as The Powers That Be never intended Chicago Fire Season 8 Episode 20 to be the season finale.

However, with production cut short due to the deadly novel coronavirus pandemic, Chicago Fire, like so many other shows, was forced to rework the last episode filmed into an ersatz finale.

The result was a mixed bag, as some things worked well, while others were just a hot mess.

Boden and Casey long - Chicago Fire Season 8 Episode 20

One of the bigger misses this episode was the series' continued underutilization of its recurring stars.

Capp's injuries would have been the perfect opportunity for the show to delve further into his background, but The Powers That Be squandered the chance by showcasing the same old Capp.

Severide: What’s this?
Capp: Ding a ling ding. It’s 51’s original bell. I’m gonna get it shining again.
Severide: Nah, not here.
Capp: Squad table’s everyone’s table. Er, I mean everyone on Squad’s table.

He's a chill, lovable goofball who has been on Squad since Chicago Fire Season 1 Episode 1.

While he may not be the sharpest pencil in the box at times, he's usually good for a hilarious one-liner or two every episode.

Capp - Chicago Fire Season 3 Episode 18

That's all viewers know about him, really, even though Capp's been there since the beginning.

It could have been a chance to more prominently feature the character and maybe learn a little more about him, but it wasn't

All viewers learned was about the first time Severide met Capp.

And while it was the epitome of Capp-esque shenanigans, it wasn't enough.

Capp - Chicago Fire

Viewers also learned that Capp left the hospital against medical advice, but the audience never learned why.

Was he in denial about what had happened? Was he afraid he could no longer be a firefighter if he lost his eyesight? Is he just scared of hospitals in general?

Severide: Capp?
Capp: Hey guys.
Severide: What the hell are you doing?
Capp: They said I need to rest my eyes.
Severide: They said stay under hospital supervision.
Casey: You need to go back and see Dr. Halstead or he’s reporting you to the CFD.
Capp: I’m already feeling better.

Any of these explanations -- and more -- would have sufficed, but viewers never got an answer.

Was it asking too much to give Capp a heartfelt and emotional monologue about his disappearing act when Casey and Severide stopped by his house?

Severide and Capp - Chicago Fire Season 3 Episode 16

A small change there would have made a considerable difference to the scene while simultaneously providing more depth to Capp and giving fans a reason as to why he was MIA.

And lastly, it would have added another minute or two at most to the episode, which would have worked out fine timewise, as the installment is only 40 minutes long.

It doesn't seem there's any justifiable reason why Capp got relegated to the background in a storyline that revolved around him.

You'd think after 178 episodes, Randy Flagler, the actor who plays Capp, would have earned enough goodwill for the writers to throw him a bone, but apparently not.

Severide scene - Chicago Fire Season 8 Episode 20

So who did get Capp's deserved screen time?

Well, none other than the leader of Squad 3.

Severide: Hey, you the manager?
Owner: Owner.
Severide: We were here this morning.
Owner: Uh-huh, yeah.
Severide: Just wondering how much you’re getting paid under the table to dump hazardous materials.
Owner: Hey, I can’t personally check every piece of metal that comes through here.
Cruz: I thought that was your job.
Owner: I got a whopper of a fine from OSHA. What more do you want?
Severide: One of my men might lose his eyesight.
Owner: Hey, some of my people got hurt too.
Severide: That’s on you.

Yes, Severide, once again, took it upon himself to solve all of the world's problems.

This time, though, his involvement made sense as the explosion injured one of his men, as opposed to an average Joe.

Severide obsessed - Chicago Fire Season 8 Episode 20

And as for how the lieutenant went about handling the matter, well, Severide oscillated between doing things his way and doing this the right way.

First, he went off on the owner of the scrapyard, which is a very Severide thing to do.

Then, he went to speak with the employee from OSHA, which is never his first impulse.

Finally, he went back to the scrapyard, ready to have it out with the owner again, only to find that his conversation with the OSHA employee had made a difference.

Severide decide - Chicago Fire Season 8 Episode 19

Had the OSHA employee not changed his mind, it's unclear what Severide would have done.

Viewers would like to believe a Chicago Fire Season 8 Severide would be mature and evolved enough -- or at least have the common sense -- not to do something that would have landed him in hot water, like beating up the owner.

Severide: You gave them a fine?
OSHA employee: Three fines, actually.
Severide: Still.
OSHA employee: We’re also assigning them training for the handling of hazardous materials.
Severide: Yeah, which we both know they won’t do.
OSHA employee: Then that’s another fine.
Severide: It’s not enough.
OSHA employee: It’s the best I can do. Precedent.
Severide: One of my men got hurt on that call, took in a face full of chlorine. He’s still not seeing clearly.
OSHA employee: Like I said…
Severide: I know what you said, and just so you know, I could have called and left a message instead of driving all the way down here to see you in person, but I wanted to look you in the eye and ask you not treat this case like another manila folder. Treat it like it’s a human being whose life and career was put at risk because of guys who pay a few fines and then keep right on doing what they’re doing. That’s all I ask.

In most instances, I'd agree with this.

However, in this case, someone Severide cares about was injured, and there's a clear person at fault.

Worse, the owner of the scrapyard knew something like the gas explosion could happen, as there had been past calls to the scrapyard over the past few months.

Severide - Chicago Fire Season 8 Episode 18

All those factors combined could have been enough to push Severide over the edge.

Things probably would have been worse if Capp had died or been permanently injured, as then there's no telling what Severide would do in his blind rage.

In the end, though, everything did work out, and it was a nice scene with 51 presenting Capp with the polished bell at Molly's.

Sometimes, it's the quieter moments that get you, and this was one of them.

Foster teaching - Chicago Fire Season 8 Episode 20

One of the strongest moments was Foster's decision to reapply to med school.

To some, this storyline may have seemed to ramp up quickly, but it has been two seasons in the making.

When introduced on Chicago Fire Season 7 Episode 1, Foster had taken a job as a paramedic after cheating on her boards and being kicked out of her residency program at Lakeshore.

Foster: I need your advice, and I need to give it to me straight.
Kidd: Do I ever hold back?
Foster: No, you don’t, which is why I wanted to tell you I have a meeting on the books with the admission’s committee at Northwestern.
Kidd: Wait, start over.
Foster: I want to go back to med school.
Kidd: Wow, whoa.
Foster: It’s just a meeting, but yeah, it’s something I’ve been… I’ve had on my mind for a while.
Kidd: That’s great.
Foster: But the thing is that was before everything happened with Brett’s birth mom dying, and then Cruz moving out. What kind of friend would I be if I were to abandon her in the middle of all that?
Kidd: Look, I can’t tell you what to do here, but what I can tell you is you shouldn’t be talking to me. You should be talking to Brett.
Foster: So just dump this in her lap on top of everything she’s gone through? No, no thank you.
Kidd: She’s your partner, your roomie, and one of your best friends. Talk to her. You told me to give it you straight. I’m giving it to you straight.

Then on Chicago Fire Season 7 Episode 9, she was offered the chance to re-enroll in medical school by the newly appointed dean at Northwestern Medical School.

At that juncture, she declined, feeling she went to medical school the first time around for all the wrong reasons and had found a family at 51.

Foster ambo - Chicago Fire Season 8 Episode 19

The matter seemed to be put to rest then. Still, there have been instances this season where Foster expressed regrets, specifically on Chicago Fire Season 8 Episode 10, when Foster revealed how hard it was to see her medical school classmates pass her by.

And it seems Will's comment about her having a gift on Chicago Fire Season 8 Episode 19 was the final push of encouragement Foster needed to reapply to medical school.

As for the timing of Foster decision, it felt very season finale-esque, as this is usually the time when big, possibly life-altering decisions are made.

All of the pieces of this storyline came together quite nicely, even Foster neglecting to tell Brett about her decision, as it led to Brett coming out to support her best friend and roommate at the end.

Brett and Foster on standby - Chicago Fire Season 8 Episode 18

It feels like an appropriate sendoff for Foster, but it's unclear if this signifies Annie Ilonzeh's exit from the series.

If Foster remains on the series, there needs to be a believable explanation for her continued presence.

I know you read my application, and I know you are aware of the circumstances surrounding why I am reapplying to Northwestern. I made a life-altering mistake, and I won’t make excuses for it. That said, that mistake was the best thing that ever happened to me. I wasn’t ready, and I get that now. In the last three years, I have met and worked with some of the most amazing people I’ve ever known. And I’ve learned so much from all of them. With their help, I’ve been able to transform myself into a responsible, knowledgeable, caring, resourceful paramedic, the kind of paramedic who knows how to put the patient first and handle whatever is required on the other end of a 911 call. I’ve been in the trenches, and I know now that I am ready to be a great student and an even better doctor.

Foster

Her rejection from medical school would suffice, but that's unlikely.

The final few episodes may have offered greater insight into the matter, but it looks like viewers will have to wait until the premiere of the ninth season to know for sure.

Brett demonstrate - Chicago Fire Season 8 Episode 20

And as for endings, the storyline involving Brett's birth mother finally came to its natural conclusion when Scott announced he and the baby were moving back to Rockford.

It makes sense given everything Scott has been through, and while Brett was disappointed, she understands the reasoning.

The entire experience of meeting Julie and then losing her so quickly has impacted Brett.

What we can hope she takes from that ordeal is that time is precious. You never know how much of time you have, so you should make the most of it.

Brettsey wedding - Chicago Fire Season 8 Episode 19

Hopefully, this will lead Brett to confront her feelings for Casey head-on and admit how she feels to the captain.

They've been doing this dance for over a season, and it's about time something happened.

Brett: They are moving back to Rockford.
Foster: Oh damn.
Brett: I just had this idea that I would get to see her all the time. You know, swing by, take her to the park, bring her to our place for playdates, just watch her get bigger.
Foster: Well, Rockford isn’t that far.
Brett: Yeah, I know, and I’ll make it work. I am not going to let someone else I care about out of my life, you know?

They don't have to start a relationship just yet, but a declaration of like or a short but passionate kiss would be a welcome gesture for 'shippers.

However, since Chicago Fire snagged a three-season renewal, the writers certainly have time on their side.

Gallo - Chicago Fire Season 8 Episode 20

And while Brettsey didn't set sail, at least it didn't crash and burn like Gallo and Violet.

The inevitable imploding of their relationship was the much needed comic relief of the episode and hilarious to watch.

In short, Gallo had no idea what he was doing, as evidenced by his suggestion they see other people and then the complete 180 when he low-key proposed to Violet.

He is clueless when it comes to relationships, and it didn't help that advice was coming at him from all sides.

Gallo and Ritter - Chicago Fire Season 8 Episode 18

The only person Gallo should have been listening to is Ritter since Herrmann, Mouch, and even Cruz are in different stages in their lives than Gallo and Ritter. Plus, Ritter is a favorite of mine, so he somewhat wins by default.

Even with everyone's input, though, Gallo should have first figured out what he wanted.

Violet: What’s going on with you?
Gallo: The other day when you said you were going out to the Sox game with another guy…
Violet: Yeah?
Gallo: I just… I guess I didn’t really like it. That’s all.
Violet: You didn’t like it?
Gallo: Yeah.
Violet: You’re the one who said we should see other people.
Gallo: No, I know. I just didn’t think you actually would.
Violet: So you figured you would see other people, and I would what, just sit at home, mooning after you.
Gallo: That’s not it at all.
Violet: You are the most arrogant…
Gallo: Maybe we should be exclusive.
Violet: Maybe we should break up.
Gallo: Maybe we should get married.

When he realized he didn't want to see other people, he should have just come clean to Violet, admitting his mistake, instead of coming off like a stalker with the incessant texting.

Gallo walk

Again, honesty here would have worked wonders.

Viewers could tell Violet was a little miffed by Gallo's suggestion, so she would likely have understood had her former boyfriend been upfront with her.

However, Gallo decided to die on that hill, and Violet ended up breaking up with him.

Let's be honest though, many of us would have done the same had someone we're romantically involved with had pulled the marriage card after wanting to have an open relationship.

Kidd talk - Chicago Fire Season 8 Episode 20

Lastly, Kidd's storyline, unfortunately, was the weakest link.

While it was great to see her get Girls on Fire off the ground -- and even better that Seager was nowhere in sight -- things became off-kilter when the focus of the storyline shifted to Kylie.

You get told a lot in high school what you can’t do, and you get it from all sides. You get it from your teachers, your classmates, but not here. In this program, you are going to get told over and over what you can do because I just saw what you can do. So don’t let anyone -- and I mean anyone -- ever stand between you and the goals you set for yourself.

Kidd

Her sudden "disappearance" felt random and crudely inserted into the episode to add more drama.

Kylie - Chicago Fire Season 8 Episode 20

Knowing very little about this character didn't help, as viewers probably don't care one way or another what happened to her.

There was also no context given regarding her absence so that it could be something as simple as the girl's family is moving or something more troubling like she's being abused. 

Therefore, even if viewers connected with the character -- which most probably don't -- they have no idea what to think.

Should they be worried? Should they fear the worst has happened? Should they start panicking right then and there?

Kidd talk - Chicago Fire Season 8 Episode 19

And without knowing more about the situation, what they most likely feel is bored.

Had the final few episodes of the season been shot, this storyline would have had more time to breathe, thus allowing viewers to get a better understanding of the situation at hand and learn a little bit more about Kylie.

Severide: Ever tell you the first time I met Capp? We get a fire call to this big apartment complex. The whole place is cooking, and there’s this woman stuck behind a door that I couldn’t open for the life of me. I tried wheel kicking it, prying the hinges, but couldn’t get the damn thing to budge. I feel this firefighter from another truck next to me, so I scream at him to get a sledgehammer. He heads away for about five steps, then turns back, runs, and flies through the air like the Karate Kid. And his foot goes right through the damn door, and now he’s stuck. But I can reach through the hole he made and finally unlock the door.
Casey: Only Capp.
Severide: Only Capp.

However, since this was the finale, the whole storyline felt clumsy and dragged the episode down as a whole.

In a way, it sort of came off like a poorly executed cliffhanger no one even cares about.

Kidd worried - Chicago Fire Season 8 Episode 20

There's a chance things could be cleared up on Chicago Fire Season 9, if the writers decide to continue this story arc.

At this point, it doesn't matter.

Either the writers find a way to make things work, or they just decide to drop the storyline altogether.

I'm not invested enough to care either way.

Boden talking - Chicago Fire Season 8 Episode 20

Some stray thoughts:

  • While I did enjoy the majority of Foster's storyline, I was a little peeved she felt the need to keep her decision from Brett. Yes, Brett has been through a lot recently, but finding out from someone else her best friend may be moving on isn't going to help the situation.

    Honesty is always the best policy, and we are evolved enough as humans that we can be happy and sad for someone at the same time.

  • Can someone explain to me why Foster has to repeat the entirety of medical school if she was already a resident at the hospital? I get that she was kicked out of her program, but wasn't that after she had graduated from medical school? Can't she just restart her residency, or does it not work like that?

  • Did anyone else expect Brett to offer Scott and Amelia the option to move into her apartment? There is an empty room now that Cruz is married and possibly more space if Foster gets into medical school.

So what did you think Chicago Fire Fanatics?

Would you have liked to see more of Capp's backstory this episode?

Is Foster definitely leaving 51?

Did you care about Kidd's storyline at all?

Hit the comments below to let me know your thoughts. If you happened to miss the makeshift season finale, remember you can watch Chicago Fire online at TV Fanatic.

51's Original Bell Review

Editor Rating: 3.8 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.3 / 5.0 (32 Votes)

Jessica Lerner is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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