'Chicago Fire' Boss on Casey's Big Move, "Fallout" for Severide and Season 5 Firehouse Exit

"It’s a real possibility and we're not afraid to explore it," showrunner Matt Olmstead says of future wedding bells for Dawson and Casey.
Elizabeth Morris/NBC

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Chicago Fire's season four finale, "Superhero.']

Casey (Jesse Spencer) and Dawson (Monica Raymund) were once again tested in the season finale of Chicago Fire, but this time the lovebirds got a happy ending. Casey traveled to a political conference, where consultant Susan Weller (Lauren Stamile) made her romantic interest in him known and invited him back to her room. However, it was Dawson's door that Casey went knocking on at the end of the finale, much to the relief of the new foster parent, and fans everywhere.

However, not everyone was so lucky in love. After things started heating up between Severide (Taylor Kinney) and Stella (Miranda Rae Mayo), their romantic rendezvous was interrupted by her jealous ex Grant (Guy Burnet), who walked in on his estranged wife and her colleague in a compromising position and just as a knife in the kitchen went missing.

Also complicating things at Firehouse 51 was the ongoing tension between Jimmy (Steven R. McQueen) and Chief Boden (Eamonn Walker) following the death of Jimmy's brother in the line of duty and, in Jimmy's eyes, at the hands of Boden. (On the bright side, Otis will be back on truck after his recent health scare.)

In the wake of that finale, THR spoke with showrunner Matt Olmstead about the "battle" ahead for Severide, the personnel shakeup coming to Firehouse 51 next season and why a Casey-Dawson wedding is a "real possibility" in season five.

In the end, Casey ultimately went back to Dawson. Why?

In the room, we had a pitch where he's given a key card and he knocks on a door and either it's the door of the political consultant, or you open the door and you realize he's back with Dawson. There was a very robust discussion internally about which door it would be. It was Michael Brandt, who directed the finale and who co-created the show with Derek [Haas] … he made a really convincing argument that even though it's not the traditional, "Oh shit" cliffhanger season ender, with the other cliffhangers we have going on in that episode, that the audience would really dig it. And he was right. And also it goes toward what the relationship is for the show. It's just a bedrock relationship. Other relationships spin out, other relationships don't work, other relationships become complicated, but there's just something comforting and reliable about these two characters holding down the center of the show. That would have been a real big banana peel that maybe there's no way he would have come back from, but we didn't want to toss that relationship.

Because they're such a bedrock of the show, are the biggest obstacles behind them? What does it mean going forward that you've had this realization?

There's definitely obstacles ahead, but we're not playing the obstacle of, "Are we in a relationship or not?" For him to show up and for her to be relieved to see him, we want to play them together as opposed to will-they-or-won't-they, but obviously other complications can come down the line stemming from the fact that she's looking to take care of this child ultimately, maybe, full-time, and what does that mean in terms of outside complications? The parents could potentially come back. There's a host of things that could challenge that relationship but right now, whether or not they're committed to each other is not one of those challenges.

They've talked about a wedding before but going into season five, how likely do you think that is?

It's a possibility, for sure. There's a tipping point of where I think the audience would start to roll their eyes a little bit like, "How long are they going to jump the broom?" We're not afraid of that. There's always a reluctance in dramatic television that if you get your characters married, the first couple years of marriage are relatively conflict-free, so then what do you have? It's two blissfully wedded people who don’t have a care in the world. But we're at the point in their relationship where I think it’s a real possibility and we're not afraid to explore it.

Touching on the Louie aspect, going into season five, this is a huge undertaking. How will Dawson handle juggling everything and how big of a role this new challenge play in season five?

It’s a big part of her storyline, and Casey's storyline going forward in season five. Not only is it jumping, essentially, into parenthood where you're single on a Tuesday and all of a sudden you're looking to be a parent on a Friday so to speak. It's what parents who adopt go through where … how do you ramp up really quickly towards that? We're playing that. We're playing also who was in this kid's life? Who are they? When do they revisit this kid's life? What do they want, which can be difficult for Casey and Dawson going forward in terms of their compromise in that anytime someone can come forward and make a claim, or a convincing argument and upend what they're working towards so that's the big complication going forward.

Also, it reflects on her job. Her dream ultimately became being a firefighter and she accomplished that and got on truck, but then now as a parent, or hopefully a parent, do you start to second guess your chosen profession? And it's something that we envision her having a conversation with Herrmann. She's having second thoughts and he admits to her he's had them all the time, but for him, he knows that he has Cindy. So he doesn't fault her at all for having this apprehension of running into burning buildings. So does that inform a decision, potentially for her to look over at ambo, a place where she used to be, which is a little bit safer? Potentially. Because all of a sudden, loving someone this unconditionally and being their provider and caretaker, that becomes the priority and that informs everything else.

Will Casey become a foster parent as well? Or is Dawson dealing with the brunt of this?

It's her officially because she made it clear to him that this is her choice and she didn’t want to use this as a test for his commitment to his relationship. His coming back and knocking on her door is the first step in a series of steps she would need to make. … For the future, it's still the same plan where she's in charge, she's solely responsible because, based on the past, if something else comes up that makes him want to take a break again, that can't have too much of an overall effect on her relationship with Louie.

The last season ended with her discovering that she was pregnant and she ended up miscarrying. What made you and the writers decide that you wanted to revisit this and make her a parent again? And at this point in the show?

I think it's a direct result of when she miscarried. When we were exploring that storyline, we were well aware of the fact that that's been done on television before. That people's initial reaction to it is a little bit like, "Oh, this is the easy way out storytelling-wise." But we got some really great episodes out of it and I think it, as they say, keyed her up for being much amenable to this because she did go through a loss and she does believe things happen for a reason and then this kid is in need of help and there she is. So, it's not so much, "I'm just trying to distract myself from this raw loss that I'm experiencing. This kid needs help; I'm going to provide it." Deep down, maybe this could take a little bit of that pain away. So that's on one level why we wanted to do this storyline. Also, we can't shovel too much dirt on a character. After all, it gets a little bit depressing and we put her through the ringer and now we wanted to have a storyline that, though comes with complications, absolutely puts a wind in her sails, absolutely is joyous to her and for the actress, who could sell that all day long. It was just really satisfying to see these things and I felt they resonate and I hope the audience thinks that they resonate.

Since the episode ends with Casey going back to Dawson and leaving the political conference, what does that mean for his political future?

By going back to Dawson, he's essentially honoring what he had been saying to people all along, which is, "I don't care about anything beyond helping out the people in the ward," which he has been doing. I think he got a little intoxicated [by the office] like anybody would. But what it does is it resets his dedication to not only Dawson but to the firehouse. He's a lieutenant on truck first and foremost and an alderman second. We're still going to play these storylines of being an alderman down the line but it's always been envisioned as a side job, just like his being a construction worker was a side job.

Jimmy is having a hard time dealing with his brother's death, particularly when it comes to Boden. What is his longer arc going into season five?

Jimmy goes nuts, essentially. He's become increasingly convinced that Boden was responsible for his brother's death, and to the point where it's going to interfere with his ability to do his job because he's looking to go after Boden's job. So it sends some reverberations through the house as you might imagine, but there's no long-term prospects for Jimmy until he figures out how he's going to approach this. The choice is very simple for him: Accept everybody else at their word that it was an accident, let it go and be a firefighter or go to the mat trying to take Boden down, which he may accomplish. Either Boden's going to go or Jimmy's going to go in the next season, for sure.

There was this great cliffhanger in the finale with Severide and Kidd. How quickly does the new season pick up after those events? What can you say about the two of them going forward?

The beginning of next season really deals with the ramifications and the fallout of an unhinged ex and it definitely goes down in the beginning of the season where Grant and Severide have a battle.  Seeing as Severide's higher on the call sheet, you can probably guess who wins that battle, but then there's fallout for Severide in terms of the guilt of what happened. Severide is looking at Kidd like, 'You brought this guy into your life and now you brought him into my life.' You're looking to blame people a little bit. Kidd feels responsible because she did  no one's really to blame  but because of the severity of the circumstances, they have to keep each other at arm's length a little bit. What we want to do in the next season also is hint a little towards Severide's past from when he was 16 years old, stuff that is sealed, court records, but is that brought up when people are looking at that apartment? Because, keep in mind, Grant had a key to the place, they were going through a divorce  there are some questions being asked in terms of what really went down, which all leads towards to Severide and Kidd having to take a break. But, all the while, hopefully convincing the audience, as we're convinced, that they're really made for each other. They're really similar and we want to create a sense of, it would be great for them to be together. Will circumstances afford that?

For a few episodes, it looked like Otis would not be coming back to the firehouse. What were you trying to achieve with giving him a health scare?

We were at probably like episode 19 and we were talking about, we just need that little drum beat storyline of, what's going to happen to this character? We're reaping the benefits in a way of having to make some tough decisions earlier in the series of having to let some characters go  which always sucks on a personal level because you're having to end an actor's run on the show  but not only are you getting the short-term benefit of the drama of that character's exit, but you do let the audience know that this show does have teeth and this show does have people leave so that when you do this storyline of Otis with a bruise and having to go to the doctor's office, it could very well be an exit for a character because we’ve done it before. We just want to do a storyline to get some mystery, a little bit of that foreboding sense of, 'Oh no, is this guy going to go?' But we never had the intention of losing Yuri [Sardarov]'s character. He's too good. We had no plans.

Looking ahead for season five, are there any other characters that you're looking to add?

None right now. First order of business is resolving the thing that we’ve set up at the end of this episode and the major thing is it becomes pretty clear that someone's going to go, whether it's Jimmy or Boden. Then, after that is resolved, we'll see about potentially adding a castmember.

Chicago Fire returns in the fall for season five on NBC.

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