[This story contains spoilers from the second episode of Chicago Fire season 12, “Call Me McHolland.”]
In the eyes Chicago fire Showrunner Andrea Newman says multiple seasons of any show that brings in what she sees as a constant grind of everyday action heroes will bring change. And that’s exactly what viewers saw on Wednesday night, as old guard firefighters Christopher Herrmann (David Eigenberg) and Randy “Mouch” McHolland (Kristian Stolt) suffered Father Time’s blows in two separate dilemmas that will likely end their careers.
Loyal viewers of the long-running NBC drama have been left wondering about Mouch’s fate after Season 11, and whether he survived shrapnel from a sniper’s bullet in the finale. It wasn’t revealed that Mush survived his near-fatal ordeal until last week’s Season 12 premiere. But, as this week’s second episode showed, Mosh is still suffering from the effects of his injury, and he has taken it upon himself to change the way he lives and treats his body to show that he can still compete with the best of them.
Then there’s Herman, who risked his life to save Firehouse 51 from a bomb in last week’s episode. The explosion knocks Hermann unconscious, but he recovers. But this week’s episode revealed that he suffers from severe hearing loss due to the accident. Fellow firefighter and friend Darren Ritter (Daniel Keery) learns of Herman’s hearing loss, but the firefighter is in denial (or afraid of what disclosing such an injury might cost him during his beloved career).
Newman, who took over full-time showrunner duties for Season 12 after co-creator Derek Haas exited Chicago is one Franchise, I spoke to him recently Hollywood Reporter via Zoom to discuss Mouch and Herrmann’s story arcs, and also give viewers insight into the character’s comings and goings throughout Season 12 of the long-running NBC and Dick Wolf series — from Taylor Kinney’s return to Kara Killmer’s impending exit, and other new arrivals to come.
How does it feel to drive what some might call a huge horsepower car for the show as the sole exhibitor of the show? Chicago fire?
Well, I will say that, since it’s a big show, you’re not really doing this show alone anyway. This is a great job offer. It’s a big character show. I’ve got many things. Therefore, we work closely with production. We have this amazing producer, Demetra [Diamantopoulos]And the director is Reda [Tabrizi]And we are in constant communication. It always felt like a real team effort on this show. But it’s fun! It’s fun to be the lead in a big action show with some hot female characters for kicks. This is a thrill for me! We have Cade (Miranda Rae Mayo), Britt (Kara Kilmer), and Violet Mikami (Hanako Greensmith), all of whom this year have some wonderfully challenging stories, and I love that.
But you know, Derek [Haas] I built that show and still talk or text with him every day. He’s still a part of this show, so it’s like he never left.
Is it safe to say that you’ll shift into gears you haven’t ventured yet now that you have complete control?
I still use that metaphor, and I think what that really means for a show like this is just digging deeper into the characters, finding new character dynamics that we haven’t seen before. Not with the second episode is a good example. He’s been here since the beginning, but now we’re seeing other sides of him and digging into him a little bit, and I love being able to do that. Season 12 of our show, it’s a great gift. You’ve seen these arcs for these characters, but you find new dimensions all the time. And that’s what I’m excited to do this year: new pairings, people we may not have seen working together or getting close before. Exploring all those character dynamics a little more.
Speaking of Mouch and Episode 2, it seems like his character and firefighter Christopher Herman (David Eigenberg) were going through different but similar crises. They were both in a fight for their careers against Father Time (Moosh tells the crew he wants people to remember him as “leaving everything on the table”) as he battles a serious injury. Herman tries to hide his severe hearing loss. From Firehouse 51 after rescuing the crew from a Box It has a bomb.) Will the idea of fighting with Father Time be explored throughout the season?
I can’t tell you how much I love this question. I love it because it’s part of being an action hero. This is what firefighters do! And what do these first responders do? It’s a very physical job. So, what happens when you fight Father Time over the course of it? The guy who is our technical advisor, Steve Chikirotis, who is the vice president of the area, is retired and probably in the Mauch and Herman range. And I saw this man with his bare hands – when the technology truck stopped to explore – fending off two bulls attacking a passerby. It was a scary thing; This guy reaches up with his bare hands and rips this bullseye off of him! He’s as badass as they come, even in retirement. He’s amazing and intimidating, and you wouldn’t want to get into a fight with this guy no matter how old he is.
But that being said, you are absolutely right. It’s something that’s always a struggle. They raised the retirement age this year to 65 years. So, you can become a firefighter at the age of 65 and a lot of these men and women, they work hard to maintain their fitness and stay a part of it. But they also have to start thinking about the future; Some of them are happy to transition to an office job at some point. They can work that way like Boden, the fire chief at Fire Station 51 [played by Eamonn Walker]. It’s a bit of a struggle, but he can do the office job. But there are some people who are adrenaline addicts. They’ll never want to hang it up and commute to the office.
So, this will be a struggle all season long, between the old guard and the new guard. They see these young people coming in and the questions are, do I have limitations, and if so, what are they? Will they hinder me at work? And what is the safest thing for everyone? But you know, it’s still tough!
Taylor Kinney is back like Lt. Kelly Severide this season After Kenny took a long break from the show. In the first episode, there was friction between him and his wife, Lieutenant Stella Kidd (Miranda Rae Mayo). Now, in the second episode, there is friction between Severide and Joe Cruz (Joe Minoso). Cruz is considering leaving Fire Station 51 to become a lieutenant elsewhere. Could this play into a spinoff role that was slated for Severide’s character?
Severide’s challenge is to regain the trust he lost when he got caught up in those arson cases. To be sure, Kidd sees arson cases as medicine for Severide, in the same way he views arson as medicine. It’s something he fell into, and there’s a lot of rich stuff in there because his father was an arsonist and he had a really fraught relationship with his father. So, is he falling into some kind of scary groove? Then I become your father no matter what you do? He has to figure out how to keep everything together, and make sure he regains the trust he lost with Cruz and with Kidd. He wants to keep arson out of his life. Arson is a very compelling area. As a writer, she’s really compelling, and I know I love the character of Severide. Yes, you have to find a balance there.
What about Kara Kilmer’s character Sylvie Brett. We know she’s preparing to marry Matt Casey (Jesse Spencer) and move to Oregon with her new adopted child. Will this be Kilmer’s last season?
Sylvie Brett will be leaving us this season, but we’ll have her for a while. In the second episode, she starts planning this wedding. What I will say about that is that everything will not go according to plan. She will have to scramble and it will be difficult to get where she wants to get. On that front, there will be some twists and turns along the way.
Will we see her fiancé Matt Casey (Spencer) again?
What are some other storylines in store for viewers for the rest of the season?
Obviously, change is one of the themes for this season and we will see new faces. She meets Gibson (Romy Flynn), our firefighter, in episode two. love it! He has come and is joining Firehouse. The question is: Will he adapt at the age of 51? Who is this man really? This is the question we always ask when someone joins the 51 year old group, because it takes a certain time to adapt there. So, we have some layers to uncover about Gibson and find out, is he a problem? Is it a good problem, is it a bad problem? We’ll be playing with this character for a while.
And we have a lot to play with Violet [Hanako Greensmith]. She’s been through a lot [her boyfriend, Evan Hawkins, was killed in season 11 trying to rescue a civilian], and she has had her partner for only a little longer; So, Violet has had a great journey this season with kind of stepping out of Sylvie’s shadow a little bit. She has fallen on hard times, as her boyfriend, the chief paramedic, was killed right before her eyes. So she’s going to have a hard time dealing with that a little bit and she’s going to have her moment out in the sun, dealing with a lot of what she’s been through in the past.
We have all of our guys experiencing change and comings and goings. So, there’s a lot to play with this season. Lots of new character dynamics.
You are in the twelfth season of Chicago fire. How does the show stay fresh after such a long period of time?
This is a great question. Think what fire That’s very unique – and it’s unique to me, because I wrote for a long time before I started here – is that it’s like three or more shows. Because we get the action, you get the dynamics of the character and the series, and then we always have comedy as part of the show as well. I think it’s unique for an action show to have entire comedic stories that could be their own episodes. What we like to do is be as true to first responder life as possible. To be as reflective of this world as possible. And this is how our first responders deal with it in real life. At the end of the day, you have to find the light at the end of the tunnel and hope. Humor is a big part of that. The fact that there are a lot of balls in the air, is what keeps it fresh.
How long have you been with Chicago fire?
From day one! Never in my life, in a tv writer’s job, did I expect to have this kind of permanence. But every time we say that number 12, those of us who have been around a while say, “What? That’s not possible!”
I think you want to be surprised. You don’t want to feel like you’ve been there, done that, especially once you get past a certain season. I think we work hard to always surprise people. And part of that is throwing back and forth. And people get angry and don’t want to lose anyone, but the reality is that at the end of the day, you have to turn it around a little bit and keep the roller coaster going. Also, only get characters that people have fallen in love with and want to see. We always say that Team 51 always calls themselves family, and we always write with the audience in mind as part of that family.
New episodes of Chicago fire It airs Wednesdays at 9pm on NBC.