CHICAGO FIRE Post-Mortem: Miranda Rae Mayo, Derek Haas on What's Next for Stellaride, Brettsey, and More - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

CHICAGO FIRE Post-Mortem: Miranda Rae Mayo, Derek Haas on What’s Next for Stellaride, Brettsey, and More

May 5, 2021 by  

Stellaride future

CHICAGO FIRE — “Don’t Hang Up” Episode 913 — Pictured: Miranda Rae Mayo as Stella Kidd — (Photo by: Adrian S. Burrows Sr./NBC)

[Warning: This post contains spoilers for the Wednesday, May 5 episode of CHICAGO FIRE.]

CHICAGO FIRE’s Stella Kidd (Miranda Rae Mayo) survived one heck of a day in “Don’t Hang Up.”

The Wednesday, May 5 hour found Stella on the phone with a young woman who was begging for help for herself and her injured brother–but wouldn’t say who she was and couldn’t reveal where she was located. Thanks to some Firehouse 51 teamwork (and a nifty use of sirens), the squad was able to trick their captors into abandoning the house they were being held in and get the duo to safety.

With Stella trying to coax information from the mysterious girl via a phone, it was unique challenge for the team, production-wise.

“Zuri Starks is the actor who played Aliyah, and I literally just got chills up my legs, just saying her name,” Mayo gushes. “She is a star. She is incredible. And she was in the room [when we filmed the calls], but I couldn’t see her. So she was performing and just giving her all while I was on the phone.”

Though episodes generally film sequences out of order, “I shot all of that [stuff on the phone] in one day,” Mayo says. “It was like a play. It was the most work that I think I’ve ever done on the show, needing to come in and knowing all of all of the text. But it was perfect. It was so perfect for the story.”

“Leading up to it, too, there was a lot going on, production-wise,” she continues. “We had some scheduling hiccups and we had to move around my scenes. So, there was a lot of pressure for me to come in and get her done. So it was great. I felt so connected to what Stella was going through. I felt like I was very authentic and vulnerably telling that story: the pressure of trying to keep it together and not be too emotional.”

Part of what inspired that emotion? Her longtime boyfriend Severide (Taylor Kinney), who was by her side for much of the ordeal. “This man that I’m in a relationship with is here and there’s stuff within her about what it means to be a woman and sensual in a relationship and still powerful and not threatening,” Mayo acknowledges. “Which, you know, it feels uncomfortable to say. But it also lives in the collective consciousness of our society.”

But for Stella, the save has extra weight, since Aliyah was someone who knew of her through a brief stint at Girls on Fire. And while the program was her passion project, the fact that it has now literally saved a life has made it even more important.

“Oh my gosh, I mean we see her really fighting to hold her emotions together at the end,” Mayo points out. “I just caught a glimpse at ADR, actually. Stella runs on instinct. Her starting this Girls on Fire program, it was from a place of passion. It was from a place of instinct. It wasn’t necessarily because she thought that she had so much to teach girls—quite the opposite. I think she was like, ‘Listen. This is something that you can do. I’m nobody, and it’s changed my life. And so I want that for y’all.’ And then to have that program have saved a life? I don’t think she even knows how to process it. It’s so much for her. It’s so much.”

The abundance of emotion in that storyline was why the writers opted to not center the entire episode around the distress call. “By necessity, we needed to have some other stories,” CHICAGO FIRE boss Derek Haas notes. “Just being on one end of the phone call, you can only sustain so much page space. I always like to have a funny thing going on, anyway, and because of this [serious storyline], we thought we could have a couple of funny things going. Which was Cruz and Violet in baby swaddling training, and also Gallo and Ritter helping Donna do her class. It provided some comic relief as we had suspense going.”

Going forward, there will be big things ahead for two of the show’s central couples.

“Stella continues to navigate professionalism and the love that she has for [Severide],” Mayo previews. “We’ve seen her prioritize the relationship…not over her career, but it’s very important to her. And with him, he’s been in denial about how important the relationship is to him. And now we’re seeing her really lean more into, ‘Okay, so what does this mean?'”

“What Stella is thinking about as far as Severide is how the dynamics would change were she to make lieutenant,” she continues. “Because if she were to make lieutenant, she wouldn’t be able to stay at 51. There’s no spot open. And she’s also starting to get more aware of how a lieutenant shows up and how does her workplace relationship play into that? For him, I think he’s getting to the place of ‘F–k everything, I love this woman. I don’t care.’ We’re seeing him realize how much she means to him.”

And on that note, “there is going to be giant, life-altering changes happening to Stella and Severide, both personally and professionally in these last three episodes,” Haas teases. “Really, the last two episodes are almost a two-hour finale, because the second to last episode is every bit as big as the finale. If you’re on the Stella-Severide train, when you look back on the history of the show, these are going to be some of the biggest [episodes].”

Elsewhere, Casey (Jesse Spencer) tried to do the noble thing and help repair Brett’s (Kara Killmer) fractured relationship with Grainger (Jon Ecker)—only for her ex-boyfriend to insist the problems in their relationship were caused by Brett‘s feelings for Casey.

“I think that was the big lightning bolt to Casey, because Casey kind of gets in his own head about what he’s doing and how he can control his own feelings—how he can put aside his own feelings to help somebody else or for their own benefit,” Haas previews. “And he goes to Grainger, in his own way, thinking he’s [making] this chivalrous [gesture], ‘I’ll subjugate my own feelings and step aside because she obviously likes you.’ And he’s like, ‘I don’t care about you and your feelings. She’s in love with you.’ And that, to me, is the first time he’s heard that from somewhere other than his own head. And so that’s going to be super jolting to him and is going to drive him forward for what’s to come in the next three episodes.”

CHICAGO FIRE, Wednesdays, 9/8c, NBC


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