[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Chicago Fire Season 12 Episode 3 “Trapped.”]
Tensions have been running high at Firehouse 51 on Chicago Fire for Severide (Taylor Kinney) upon his return—with Cruz (Joe Minoso), who had stepped in to lead Squad and Kidd (Miranda Rae Mayo), since he left his wife in the dark while he was gone.
With Severide back, however, Cruz has decided it’s time for him to take the lieutenant test—and leave 51. And as this episode begins, Boden (Eamonn Walker) pulls Cruz aside to tell him he’s confirmed for the test coming up at the end of the month. “You gotta chart your own course. You earned that right,” he says when he notices Cruz look over to Severide.
When Kidd checks in with Cruz, he says Severide “basically said sorry not sorry for going AWOL” and shares what he said about not standing in his way if he wanted to lead his own unit. Kidd suggests he just said it out of respect for him and is letting him make his own choice, but Cruz’s “sure, yeah, let’s go with that” makes it clear he doesn’t believe it. He later tells her she could be right, that he would’ve felt trapped if Severide told him to stay, but he still can’t tell if he cares whether he stays or goes.
Meanwhile, Severide gets an envelope, priority overnight, from Tucson: an ATF file on an arson case. (Kidd sees him reading it and walks away before he spots her.) Van Meter (Tim Hopper) didn’t put his name back on the investigator list, but he knows he can help with this case. He can guess why Severide’s not doing fire investigation anymore—the firefighter denies it has to do with his late father (who was played by the late Treat Williams)—but points out how many lives can be saved with one arson arrest. It’s a tricky time, Severide says. Van Meter argues that he has the talent and passion for it, and he could have a bright future once he retires from Squad. He shouldn’t let any of that go to waste for any reason.
When Kidd confronts Severide, he insists he wasn’t hiding it from her and admits that it’s something he wants. This could open doors down the road, like if he wanted to run OFI one day. He wants to show her he can handle a case like this, then come back home to her. But if she’s not okay with him going, he won’t. After thinking it over, Kidd tells him he should go, giving him her blessing (because she doesn’t want him to feel trapped) as long as he comes back soon. “That’s the plan,” he promises. “But if you go MIA on me again, if you leave me in the dark,” she warns. “I know,” he says.
But, as Kidd makes clear, there’s someone else he needs to talk to: Cruz. “I won’t go unless you’re willing to step into my shoes, like you did before, take care of Squad 3 until I get back,” Severide tells Cruz. “There’s no one else I trust.” Though we don’t see the rest of their conversation, Cruz then goes to Boden to tell him it’s not the right time for him to take the lieutenant test and he’s withdrawing his name. “Maybe down the road,” Cruz suggests. “It’ll be nice to have you here for a while longer,” Boden says.
Severide reiterates that he’ll be back “soon” when he and Kidd say goodbye in the final scene of the episode. We can’t help but wonder if that’s the case or if something will once again keep him away for longer than planned.
Elsewhere in the episode, Derrick Gibson (Rome Flynn) officially joins 51 (“one of the best firehouses in the city,” he calls it) and Truck, though Mouch (Christian Stolte) notes to Carver (Jake Lockett) that they don’t know anything about him. (What they have to figure out, according to Boden, is not just if he’s 51 material but what he brings to the firehouse and what the firehouse brings out of him.) Mouch even thinks it’s a big deal a bar of soap went missing at a firehouse while Gibson was a floater there. And when someone at a call recognizes him from the Cicero Semifinals and Gibson brushes it off, Mouch takes notice. It turns out he was a pretty good boxer, so why didn’t he say anything when Carver asked him about sports? Mouch decides to let it be for now, with Carver noting it’s not easy being the new guy at 51.
Plus, Herrmann (David Eigenberg), though he doesn’t want anyone to see him as a “frail old timer,” begins wearing the hearing aids he needs (after he saved 51 from a bomb in the premiere) and thanks Ritter (Daniel Kyri) for staying on him about his ears, admitting, “Nobody likes a nag, but the truth is, you probably saved my life, maybe some other lives, too.” Boden reminds him that he didn’t get the hearing aids due to his age but makes sure he knows he needs to be straight with him if it gets to the point where his hearing gets worse and they don’t help.
Oh, and there’s officially a new romance at 51. Violet (Hanako Greensmith) tells Brett (Kara Killmer) that she can’t risk getting involved with a first responder again, but after Carver calls her out on being hot and cold with him, despite the “good energy” going on, she kisses him.
Chicago Fire, Wednesdays, 9/8c, NBC