Chicago Fire: How far will Cruz’s downward spiral go?
Episode Title: “Counting Your Breaths”
Episode Description: Griffin learns the truth about his father’s death and reveals why he really came to visit Casey. Gallo, Ritter and Violet take steps to expand their microbrewery business.
What To Watch For: According to the advertising for this episode, Joe Cruz’s (Joe Minoso) anxiety issues after his near-death experience get so bad that Kelly Severide (Taylor Kinney) might bench him. TV promos can often be cut in ways that make episodes seem more dramatic than they are, though, so what’s the truth?
The series is taking an interesting approach by showing Cruz having lingering effects from the boat situation. It’s a longer-term effect than we’ve seen other characters have to deal with in the past, except for Cruz’s BFF Otis (Yuri Sardarov) working his way back to being a firefighter. (And then Otis ended up dying anyway.) While it’s a lot more interesting to explore trauma rather than move through it, at a certain point it does become a problem, and it looks like we’re there.
Assuming that Severide does call out Cruz’s behavior Chicago Fire season 10 could continue the storyline by showing more than just that consequence. If Kelly has to sideline Joe as his boss, that’s understandable so that he doesn’t jeopardize anyone else’s safety, but balance that out by also showing him and other members of Firehouse 51 as supportive friends. Don’t just present the negative effects; tell a story of him overcoming those challenges and of the firehouse being that family we keep hearing about.
Luckily, longtime fans know that Derek Haas and company are wonderful at writing those kinds of found family moments so odds are good something like that will happen. As much as Chicago Fire beats up its characters, the writers also love giving them heartwarming moments, too. This show ventures to both ends of the emotional spectrum on a pretty regular basis.
The good news is that Cruz’s life will have to get better eventually, since he and his wife Chloe (recurring guest star Kristen Gutoskie) are expecting their first child. At some point Chicago Fire is either going to move on to the baby subplot or at the least mix that positive in with all of his current struggles. But let’s see how much worse the show makes things before it lets him up.