Following Explosive Fall Finale, Chicago Fire Showrunners Talk The Aftermath Of Stella's Fateful Decision And Surprise Character Return

Stella Kidd in Chicago Fire Season 11
(Image credit: NBC)

Spoilers ahead for the fall finale of Chicago Fire Season 11,, called “Nemesis.”

Chicago Fire has a reputation for delivering wild finales to keep fans guessing over hiatus, and the Season 11 fall finale closed with the lives of not one but two Firehouse 51 heroes trapped inside of a house with some exploding artillery. After Stella made a fateful choice, she and Carver’s lives are in very serious danger, and that’s only one of the threats left hanging after “Nemesis,” because the return of Emma doesn’t bode well either. Showrunners Derek Haas and Andrea Newman opened up to CinemaBlend about what happened and what’s next!

After the Season 10 finale ended on Stellaride’s lives in danger due to some very bad men with weapons instead of a fire crisis or collapse, Season 11 is a terrifying return to the norm… which could be very bad news for Stella and Carver. When the showrunners spoke with CinemaBlend about the fall finale, Derek Haas previewed the immediate aftermath of the two Truck 81 firefighters being stuck in the exploding building: 

We're gonna pick up [Episode] 10 after the winter break, right in the moment that we left it with the explosion going off and Severide outside, and to us that played really as something we hadn't seen a lot of, which is Severide being on the outside while not only his firefighters are in harm's way, but his wife is in harm's way. And he's going to be in that single-minded disposition of 'I'm charging into the scene not even knowing if there's other ordnance that hasn't gone off yet and running right into the fog' and that'll be the opening of the next episode.

Well, when a raid on the house of criminals known for stashing illegal arms goes wrong, who better than the heroes of Firehouse 51 to risk it all to try and save the day? Stella had some personal investment in the crisis as soon as she learned that Detective Pryma was the one who’d been impaled by an explosive and needed medical treatment ASAP. The explosion happened shortly after Severide arrived on the scene, with just enough time to find out that his wife was inside. Fire won’t return until the 2023 TV schedule kicks off, but I’m already glad that we aren’t facing a big in-show time jump! 

Of course, it wasn’t that long ago that Carver would have been at the bottom of the list of people Stella would have wanted as a wingman in a situation like this. When I asked the showrunners why she and Carver were the right duo to go into the building in bomb gear, Andrea Newman explained: 

Stella's the lieutenant. It's funny because Boden has said this in the past too – you wouldn't put your squad in there before you put yourself in. You always put yourself in first, and that's what she's doing. She's the first person. If there was only one person, she'd be the only one, but they need two people and she has to make that choice. She makes it partly based on experience that Carver brings but she also makes it based on the fact that they are on kind of shaky territory. She wants to go in there and see what he's got to some degree, too. So that's the two that ended up in there.

To the credit of all the characters on Truck, there was no shortage of volunteers to join Stella on the dangerous mission. Mouch even said that he should go in because it should always be the oldest to risk their life in such situations. But she ultimately chose Carver, who has proved himself as a firefighter and begun to work well within 51. If they both survive this cliffhanger, maybe they’ll have a bond forged quite literally in fire!

There was another shocker in “Nemesis,” although not one that leaves anybody else’s life in jeopardy. As part of a pretty awesome stunt (which sent Taylor Kinney to the top of a bridge, as proven by some epic behind-the-scenes footage) with Severide in serious danger, Carver had to break down a door and push past the bridge operator to reach the controls. The operator filed a complaint, so Internal Affairs sent somebody to investigate… and who should that Internal Affairs person be but former 51 paramedic Emma Jacobs!

Emma’s return came as much of a shock to the characters as undoubtedly to many fans, as it seemed unlikely that she’d ever thrive at the CFD after she bailed on a call back in Season 10. She was so friendly and sweet in "Nemesis" that there’s no chance that she wasn’t faking it, and according to Derek Haas, actress Caitlin Carver wasn’t just back for a one-off. The co-showrunner said:

Oh no, she's back. She's like that burr you can't get out of your sock. You just thought you were done with Emma Jacobs, and now she's in a position that's even more fraught with danger than what we saw last season. She's wormed her way somehow into the Internal Affairs division, which can be responsible for firefighters' lives, or professional careers, and she's gonna wield that power.

Well, so much for Violet’s relief at Emma being gone! Firehouse 51 may have to be careful not to even approach crossing any lines lest they get the attention of Internal Affairs, since Emma may keep a very close eye on them. Chicago Fire may resolve the cliffhanger of Stella and Carver’s fates pretty early in 2023 (and hopefully without Severide getting himself injured in the process of wanting to save his wife), but it sounds like the Emma problem will last for a while.

Chicago Fire will return to NBC on Wednesday, January 4 at 9 p.m. ET, between Chicago Med (which dropped a big reveal at the end of its fall finale) at 8 p.m. and Chicago P.D. (which has some major obstacles and Upton’s obsession in its fall finale) at 10 p.m. For some One Chicago action over hiatus, be sure to check out all three shows streaming with a Peacock subscription

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

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. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).