[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Chicago Fire Season 11 Episode 15 “Damage Control.”]
We’ve known that Taylor Kinney has taken a leave of absence from Chicago Fire, and it’s in the March 1 episode that we find out how Lieutenant Kelly Severide’s absence onscreen will be explained.
At the end of the previous episode, he joined his wife, Lieutenant Stella Kidd (Miranda Rae Mayo), at Molly’s. “Hey, I got your message about Van Meter. What’s going on?” she asked, and he showed her his phone. “Wow. What are you going to do?” she asked. He didn’t answer. So what’s going on with Van Meter (Tim Hopper)? Is it OFI-related?
Yes, it turns out: As Van Meter explains to Boden (Eamonn Walker) when he stops by 51 very early on in “Damage Control,” he took his squad lieutenant out of commission on a day’s notice because a spot opened up in the best arson investigation program. “It doesn’t mean he’s planning a transfer to OFI,” Van Meter assures him. And while this will put a burden on 51 for a while, the expertise he brings back will benefit the entire department. Boden knows, and that’s why he’s going along with it.
Paramedic Sylvie Brett (Kara Killmer) remarks that she feels for Kidd, knowing that “long distance is no fun.” It is, after all, why Brett and Casey (Jesse Spencer) broke up. And we do see Kidd alone in the morning before work, looking around the otherwise empty apartment.
Adrian S Burrows Sr/NBC
Later, Seager (Andy Allo) stops by 51, and Kidd, assuming the OFI lieutenant is looking for Severide, tells her he’s in Alabama. Seager knows, commenting, “lucky bastard.” Rather, she’s there to see Kidd about a fire 51 responded to, in a stable; the manager, who had stayed inside to save all the horses, succumbed to his injuries. The stable was used for overflow from the boarding facility for mounted patrol officers, and the concern is that animal rights people will use this as an excuse to get rid of the program.
When Seager and Kidd check out the stable, they find what seems to be part of a space heater, but Carver (Jake Lockett) recognizes it as an immersion heater (used to keep water from freezing) and offers to help the OFI lieutenant with her investigation. And yes, sparks definitely do fly, with the two next seen waking up together in his bed. (As for the fire, it was the manager’s nephew who was responsible, not realizing he’d accidentally put hay on top of the heater.)
It’s in that stable fire that firefighter Blake Gallo (Alberto Rosende) briefly goes down but emerges with just a scratch. Still, paramedic Violet Mikami (Hanako Greensmith) worries, going so far as to insist she pick up a prescription-strength antibiotic ointment for him. But, as Ritter (Daniel Kyri) sees it when watching Violet put the ointment on Gallo’s cut, she’s going a bit overboard with helping him. Gallo’s the one to call Violet out on it when she offers to come take a look at suggests brunch after. He thinks this is just about Hawkins for her, while for him, it’s only about her.
Meanwhile, Lieutenant Christopher Herrmann (David Eigenberg) is trying to keep his family together — “we’re doing fine,” he tells Ritter, but the kids are snapping at each other and trying to help out while missing class — while Cindy (Robyn Coffin) goes through chemo, which is just as bad as the doctor had warned. It’s not until after he’s assured one of his kids on the phone that the nausea and dizziness is normal that he takes a moment to let himself cry. Ritter is the one to find him and hug him.
And so when Herrmann goes home, he tells the kids, “your mom has cancer and that really, really sucks. And we don’t have to pretend it doesn’t. It’s OK to talk about it and cry about it. … You can’t keep it bottled up. We have to let it out somehow.” Kenny shows them how he is: a Clown Bob Bag.
Plus, Brett calls Dylan (Christopher Allen) up to make plans, and he invites her to his hockey game. She brings Violet with her, and things seem OK between Brett and Dylan again … including when he brings her her hat and says he does want her at his next game. As for what changed, she explains when he asks, she realized she couldn’t force anything and wherever it goes, she’s game. He is, too.
Chicago Fire, Wednesdays, 9/8c, NBC