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How Chicago Fire's 'Claustrophobic' Crisis Set Up A Big Payoff For Gallo, According To The Director

Alberto Rosende Gallo Chicago Fire
(Image credit: NBC)

Spoilers ahead for Episode 13 of Chicago Fire Season 10, called “Fire Cop.”

Chicago Fire has officially returned from its Olympics break with an episode that delivered a near-death experience for none other than Gallo. It takes a lot for one of the firefighters of Firehouse 51 to be shaken up by a fire after everything they’ve gone through, but this inferno was nearly too much for him to make it out alive. “Fire Cop” director Kantú Lentz (who used all ten seasons of Fire to prepare) spoke with CinemaBlend about the episode, and how the “claustrophobic” crisis set up the big payoff for Gallo by the end of the hour.

The heroes of Firehouse 51 were called to the scene of a blaze that was bad even by Chicago Fire standards, to the point that it even looked like arson for most of the episode. Gallo bravely fought his way through the fire to try and find the person he could hear trapped inside, but who wouldn’t call out for help… or so it seemed. He discovered that he wasn’t hearing a person in need after all, but a smart speaker, and the mistake might have cost him his life if not for a daring leap out the window and Stella Kidd coming in with a ladder to save him. 

Gallo’s crawl through the fire to save what really seemed like a person was a harrowing sequence, and director Kantú Lentz – who came to Chicago Fire as part of the NBCU Launch Female Forward program that promotes gender equity for directors in scripted TV – broke down how the sequence came to be, saying:

For me, that scene was all about becoming more and more claustrophobic for him, because it's basically his instincts betraying him. I know it's not the first time, but for the first time in a while. Gallo has really grown and really is trying to show Pelham, like, 'You can trust me. Let me do my thing.' And this time it backfires.

Gallo was clearly getting more and more frustrated as the “person” he was trying to rescue wouldn’t call out to guide him, but he truly believed there was somebody in peril. In most cases, he would have saved the life of somebody who 100% would have died otherwise, and it would have reflected well on him (and Casey’s training before Jesse Spencer left) as he adjusts to Pelham as lieutenant. When I noted that Gallo’s frustration was relatable even for viewers who haven’t been in that kind of situation, Lentz elaborated:

Right? Being so sure of something and then going, 'Oh, it was all so clear.' For me, it was the claustrophobia thing. Gallo is such an interesting character, played by Alberto Rosende, who is also so talented. First off, technically just I did the blocking in a way – obviously as written – but I tried to do it in a way for the final moment when he sees. I wanted him to, until the last moment, think that there was someone in that room. Looking under the bed so that literally as he's lifting up his head, he sees the smart speaker. It was important to me that until the last moment we were also wondering. The entire show is always very much about the point of view of our heroes, right? So basically, it's about covering a lot of the action in a beautiful way but then also covering it from literally their point of view. So that you can experience it with them in a voyeuristic way. So those were the elements that I sort of always went back to.

It may be for the best that Gallo found a smart speaker rather than a person, in the grand scheme of things, because he would have had a hard time getting somebody without any protective gear out of that house unscathed. His own life was in danger, even with his mask and turnout gear! Still, it was clear that the mixup was sticking with him, even though nobody but Gallo himself blamed him for a mistake that any of them could have made. Kantú Lentz credited actor Alberto Rosende for his performance in the sequence: 

Sound [department] also did an incredible job with that because obviously on the day, we're just doing that with cues for Alberto and for his stunt. I just think he did such an incredible job when he comes out [of the house]. Like once he's survived, once he's coming down that ladder, I just think he created such a beautiful moment of, 'That was almost too much. I almost died in there.’

Stella Kidd was there for him after making the ladder save, and Pelham didn’t hold it against him, but Gallo couldn’t shake off that he nearly died for something that wasn’t even what he believed it was. Luckily for Gallo (and viewers), “Fire Cop” didn’t end with him still wallowing in misery about the call gone wrong, as there was another incident that required Truck 81’s help: a cat in the tree. 

The stakes were quite a bit lower for retrieving the cat compared to the inferno that nearly killed him, but pulling off this save by climbing the tree (which Kantú Lentz confirmed that Alberto Rosende did himself) was the payoff that Gallo needed. The Female Forward director explained: 

I was so excited that I got to do the cat in the tree. You have no idea. [laughs] For me, it also felt really like a poetic moment. Because it felt like even those who always land on their feet, like Gallo, like the cat, sometimes need a little help. And I felt like that really tied up that storyline of Gallo, of saving the cat which is in a way saving himself, which in a way is bringing back his mojo of, you know, 'I can do this. I made one mistake but I've learned from it' versus 'I'm gonna let it destroy me.'

Gallo getting his mojo back was an important beat for his character, and I think it’s safe to say that one of the Chicago Fire heroes getting a cat out of a tree was a fun way for viewers to see the storyline come to a close. It’s a good thing that Stella realized Gallo could use a win and pointed that out to Pelham, or we could have been denied Gallo’s cat-related heroics! 

Find out what happens next for Gallo and the rest of the Firehouse 51 crew with new episodes of Chicago Fire on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET in the 2022 TV schedule, between Chicago Med at 8 p.m. ET and Chicago P.D. at 10 p.m. ET on NBC. All three One Chicago shows were missing from the airwaves for weeks due to the Olympics, but they’re back and ready to deliver more stories with the rest of the 22-episode seasons

Laura Hurley
Laura Hurley

Resident of One Chicago, Bachelor Nation, and Cleveland. Has opinions about crossovers, Star Wars, and superheroes. Will not time travel.