Warning: spoilers ahead for Episode 20 of Chicago Fire Season 11, called "Never, Ever Make A Mistake."
More than a month has passed since Chicago Fire said a temporary goodbye to Kelly Severide, with the Squad lieutenant heading to Alabama for some arson investigation training to accommodate star Taylor Kinney's leave of absence. While the show has felt different without the top-billed actor, it wasn't until "Never, Ever Make A Mistake" that I really felt like Severide is the only one who could have prevented a huge problem from arising the way it did for Stella and – of all people – Carver. I can't be the only one who misses him a little extra after this episode, right?
Let's start with what happened that made "Never, Ever Make A Mistake" end so badly for the two firefighters!
The problem started out of what seemed like a lucky break: a homeless man by the name of Shep was trapped and needed a rescue from Truck 81, and it was practically a miracle that his legs weren't crushed. Stella was able to calm him down... which ultimately backfired, as Shep formed an unhealthy attachment to her. He dropped by 51 later to give her something that he'd made for her, but also dropped the foreboding comment of "She doesn't love you" to Carver.
It weirded Carver out enough that he volunteered to go in her place to drop Shep's mittens off at the shelter where he'd told them he'd been staying. The plot thickened when Carver learned at the shelter that Shep was off the meds that he took for mental health, and that made him "scary, especially with female residents," and was kicked out of the shelter after he'd sent one to the hospital.
Carver spilled the details to Stella, saying that he hoped they'd never see him again, and Stella commented on how her husband would probably react, saying:
Carver opined that Severide would have a point in wanting to protect her, and credited Stella with changing his life for the better with how she connected with him... and those weren't just empty words, as he'd prove by the end of the episode when she ended up in a scary situation.
Fresh out of the shower in the loft, Stella got a buzz from none other than Shep, outside her building and wanting to come up. Luckily, Stella's compassion for the man didn't extend as far as buzzing him up to the loft when she was all alone and he was dangerous while off his meds. She called Carver, who immediately told her to call the cops and that he was coming over to help... which might have been great, if the timing didn't go spectacularly wrong.
Carver arrived before the cops, and he confronted Shep when he saw the man reach for his pocket, wrestling him to the ground just in time for the cops to arrive. They saw Carver pinning Shep down, Shep screaming that Carver was trying to kill him, and no sign of a weapon. Stella tried to stop them from taking Carver, but he was shoved into a squad car and driven away. Based on the promo, it's going to get much worse before it gets better, if it gets better at all.
Why I Missed Severide
Now, I'm not going to claim that cooler heads 100% would have prevailed if Severide had been in Carver's place, and I can imagine him confronting Shep like Carver did if it looked like he had a weapon. Still, the stakes would have been much more emotional if this storyline was between Stella and Severide, and it could have shown how much he has (or hasn't) grown by this point in the series. He's certainly not as volatile as he was in earlier seasons, but would a man following Stella home be too much for Severide to stay calm?
Alas, we'll never know, although he certainly didn't handle it well when Stella was almost killed on their wedding night! I actually did enjoy this storyline showing how important Stella has become to Carver, but this was the first episode that had me actively wishing that Severide was present instead of somebody else. That at least does speak well for how smoothly Chicago Fire has compensated for his absence!
Of course, I might be missing Severide a little extra nowadays after the confirmation that Taylor Kinney won't be back in time for the Season 11 finale, although Chicago Fire is bringing back Jesse Spencer as Matt Casey for what could be an absolutely huge crisis for Stella. I also previously thought that Fire might be setting Brett up to leave Firehouse 51 and rekindle a relationship with Casey, but her forming an attachment to an abandoned baby in "Never, Ever Make A Mistake" has me rethinking that theory.
Take a look at the promo for the penultimate episode of Season 11, which looks pretty terrible for Carver:
Fortunately, Chicago Fire has already been renewed for Season 12; unless news breaks over summer hiatus that Taylor Kinney is leaving the show, then fans should be able to count on seeing him again even though some One Chicago favorites may appear less in the new season. There's also the matter of the 2023 WGA writers strike that could mean a longer summer hiatus than usual. For now, keep tuning in to NBC on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET for new episodes of Chicago Fire until the Season 11 finale on May 24.
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Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.