CHICAGO FIRE Boss on the Big Loss in 'Sacred Ground' - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

CHICAGO FIRE Boss on the Big Loss in ‘Sacred Ground’

September 25, 2019 by  

Chicago Fire Otis Dies

CHICAGO FIRE — Pictured: “Chicago Fire” Key Art — (Photo by: NBCUniversal)

[Warning: This post contains major spoilers for the CHICAGO FIRE premiere “Sacred Ground.”]

Though One CHICAGO fans knew there would be exits on CHICAGO MED and P.D., FIRE had its own loss to contend with in the season premiere: Otis (Yuri Sardarov) succumbed to injuries from the season finale call.

In the wake of his death, the show jumped forward to months later, with Brett in Indiana and the Firehouse trying to desperately move on post-Otis.

CHICAGO FIRE boss Derek Haas explains why the show made the tragic move and what’s next…

What led to figuratively pulling the trigger and having this call be a fatal one?
We examined a couple of weeks after the [finale] show aired. We were in our hiatus and I was talking to my head writers, Michael Gilvary and Andrea Newman, and we were just starting to lay the foundation for what do we do in season 8? And the more we talked, the more we thought that we just pulled the football away too many times from our audience, you know? You end up taking the suspense out of it when everyone miraculously gets saved every time. So we started to say, well, we should put some teeth back into this show.

We’ve done it before. And we definitely had calls that had consequences. We’ve lost characters before, we’ve had characters leave the show, big characters threaten to leave the show and then did, which I don’t think every show does. We just wanted to say, “Hey, when you watch an action sequence on our show and it looks like somebody might not make it, guess what, sometimes they don’t.” Which is real life.

How did you land on Otis being the character to die?
We just were talking it out, “Okay, so what does that look like?” amongst the three of us and we landed on Otis as a character, but Yuri, also. I’ve known Yuri prior to doing CHICAGO FIRE. We did a movie together that I wrote and produced way back in 2010, I think it was. I’ve known this kid since he was in college. And he could not be a better person and as wise beyond his years and well-adjusted and professional and all the things. I hate to say that weighed into my decision as a character, but…though first I had to call Dick and say, “Hey, this is what we’re thinking” and [we] talked for an hour on the phone and what the ramifications would mean. And ultimately, he was on board. I knew when I called Yuri, which I did, it was exactly what I would expect. Yuri’s a writer himself and he understands, creatively, you have to make tough decisions, sometimes, even decisions you don’t want to make as a human being, but you do want to make for the surprise of the show.

One of the threads of the grief of the episode was Otis’ last words. Was there talk of never revealing it, or did you realize with Google, the secret would quickly be out?
I gotta give a lot of credit to Arthur Forney—who is our head of post-production for all of Wolf Films, and he’s been with Dick for 30 years; he is very well trusted and respected and a real partner on the show since the inception. I knew I wanted to do memorial service [and] I wanted to have a physical memorial put up at the end of the episode the journey was going to be to that and Boden was going to speak and call it sacred ground and all of that. And then I wrote the first draft of the script. And Arthur came down to my office and he said, “I had a thought.” I said, “What is it?” He said, “What if Otis said something cryptic in Russian in the death scene? And then we figure out what he said over the course of the episode?” And it’s like when you get hit with a bolt of lightning, you’re like, oh, my god, that was a great idea. And I just then then I wrote the next pass of it. And I was just like, “Okay, this is how this can play out: three different beats. One where Otis says it on his deathbed. Second one where you realize that Cruz doesn’t want to emotionally know what that was because it might wreck him if it’s something bad. And then to have Boden do it and present it at the memorial. Arthur gets [credit for] the idea.

On a lighter note, Stella and Severide were in a good place in the premiere. What’s ahead for them?
Yeah, I think they’re in a good place for a while. Severide, he said at the end of last season, “You know, I want to be the man that you deserve.” And he’s going to honor that and really trying to honor that with her. We’re going to have some external pressures put on them—not on their relationship, per se, but just on them as firefighters and as people. And so the way they respond to that is of interest to me, from a writing standpoint. But I think fans of the two of them as a couple are going to be happy with where this is headed.

On the flip side of that, Brett really seems to be trying to go all-in on this engagement. What is next for her?
That goes back to trying to keep the audience on their toes and really surprised them. Sometimes you surprise them by doing what the show leads you towards, as opposed to what the audience thinks you’re going to do because you’re a TV show. I’m sure most the majority of our audience thought, well, they’re just going to gloss over this proposal from the finale and it’ll be done by the teaser of the first episode back. We were like, nope, we want to see [this]. She said she’s moving to Indiana, and, and my devilish nature looked at the opportunity to bring Hope back. I just love Eloise [Mumford] and that character. And it was fun to write. You’re gonna be feeling the effects of this for a while.

Last season, it seemed like the show was leaning into starting something with her and Casey. Is that door closed for now? And how will he continue to process the loss of Otis?
The Otis thing, we didn’t want to just be a one episode thing and then you forget that he was ever on the show. The way that people are dealing with Otis is varied individually. And you’re gonna see the effects of that throughout [the season]. I mean, we’re on episode nine and it’s definitely still affecting characters.

For Casey in particular, the Brett thing, I think there was “two ships passing in the night” sort of feelings between the two of them last year. I’m going to leave the door open for where that may go this year, but it’s not a quick burn.

You have the big crossover coming up. What can you tease about what’s ahead?
We’re going to kick off the [night] with FIRE. Most Wednesdays we’re MED into FIRE into P.D. It’s going to be as big of crossover as we’ve ever done, and I think even more sprawling in terms of cast. Sometimes we just hand off the baton, you know, it’s here’s the FIRE episode, then we hand it off and here’s the MED episode. And this is going to be much more of an integrated cast in all three hours. And the main premise is that there’s a an epidemic, an outbreak that has hit Chicago; all all the characters are involved.

And the links to catch up on:

CHICAGO FIRE’s eighth season kicks off tonight at 9/8c on NBC.

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