Chicago Fire

What can Chicago Fire expect from Brett Dalton?

Chicago Fire welcomes Brett Dalton in tonight’s episode—and with the Agents of SHIELD alum playing new Lieutenant Jason Pelham, what does his casting mean for season 10 and beyond?

Dalton’s arrival in “Whom Shall I Fear” signals that the NBC series is looking at the new lieutenant role as a long-term proposition. There was always going to have to be someone filling in after Jesse Spencer’s exit from the show, but casting an established TV name like Dalton isn’t typical for a short-term arc. It’s more likely that the actor is on a recurring-to-potential regular basis, the same way Hanako Greensmith, Annie Ilonzeh and other performers have been. If the writers’ room and the audience end up liking Pelham he could be promoted to regular in season 11—or maybe before the end of season 10.

What all that means is that Chicago Fire will be introducing another new character, rather than filling the space with an established one. And in addition to bringing in new talent, that also mixes up the writing a little bit.

Dalton is looking at his first series regular role since the cult hit Agents of SHIELD ended in 2017. He’s the second Agents of SHIELD veteran to join One Chicago; Chicago Med‘s Dominic Rains had a recurring role on the Marvel series. Dalton is also well-known from his trio of Hallmark Channel movies. So he can handle the action scenes that Fire is based around while also appealing to the female audience—which is important in a franchise where relationship and personal life storylines are a significant component. He’s got all the tools, and that’s all the more reason to think his arc isn’t temporary.

What’s going to be a challenge is what bringing him in means in a big-picture sense. Whenever a new character comes on to a series, especially one who might stick around, the writers have to spend a significant amount of time establishing who that person is and getting the audience to like them. This is usually established by having episodes where the character does something impressive and/or the existing characters are won over by them. So it stands to reason we’re going to see quite a bit of Pelham in the next few weeks and that he’ll probably look pretty good, even if he butts heads with people initially.

That means there will be less screen time to spend with the existing characters and their storylines may have to take a back seat or pause for a while. For example, Casey being missed by Sylvie Brett (Kara Killmer) was pretty well covered last week, so does the show let her continue to angst or put that aside because we understand what she’s going through already? There’s also making room for Stella Kidd and her future prospects when Miranda Rae Mayo returns to the show after finishing her movie. Chicago Fire has a lot of regulars it has to service so it will have to make some choices to fit Pelham in and Stella back in.

Maybe Stella will be surprised that Pelham is taking over Truck 81 when she thought that might be her job and the two of them get a combined storyline instead of trying to fit in two separate ones? Maybe another character gets a break for a few episodes, such as Joe Cruz (Joe Minoso) being off-screen spending time with his wife and his new son Otis? There are plenty of possibilities but also lots to consider when adding a new member to the firehouse family.

Chicago Fire airs Wednesdays at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.

Article content is (c)2020-2021 Brittany Frederick and may not be excerpted or reproduced without express written permission by the author. Follow me on Twitter at @BFTVTwtr, on Instagram at @BFTVGram.

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