The Season 8 premiere of Chicago Fire was a rough one for longtime fans. While pretty much the entire firehouse was in jeopardy during an especially dangerous call, Otis lost his life after sustaining some pretty gruesome injuries. Much of the season opener dealt with the characters adjusting to losing Otis, and that was particularly true for Cruz, who not only lost a co-worker but roommate and best friend when Otis died. He is, understandably, having a hard time dealing with the emotional blow, but how can we expect to see Cruz continue to adjust to life without his best friend?
When I had the opportunity to speak with actor Joe Minoso, who plays Cruz, at One Chicago Day recently, I posed that very question to him. It turns out that fans should get used to changes when it comes to Cruz, because it sounds like losing Otis (and hopefully no one else) is going to kick him into gear.
Well, I think, specifically for Cruz, he's lost his connection to youthful exuberance in losing Otis. Unfortunately for me, but fortunately for the character, you're going to see kind of an evolution of real growth for him. He's going to be somebody who becomes a lot more laser focused on what he does in his career. I think when you see somebody in this business die that way, you can't help but be affected by everything you walk into now. You're going to see that manifest for him in both the way that he attacks his job and how he's going to try to hold on to the last few people in his life that he has that he loves, specifically Chloe and his brother. I think you're going to see a real effort on his part to, just kind of grow up, frankly. Otis gave him an opportunity to live in that juvenile space longer than he would have liked. I'm 41 now and I should probably start acting like it. I'm assuming Cruz is around the same age, so...yeah, I think there's going to be some real growth for him this year.
Man, do Joe Minoso's words make solid sense, or what? It's certainly true that Cruz and Otis tended to occupy more of a "juvenile space" than other characters from Firehouse 51, despite having the same very dangerous job. We can all see that many people with such a difficult gig would need to blow off steam and maybe even spend a significant amount of their downtime goofing off, but the two BFFs frequently seemed to take that a bit further than most.
With Otis gone, and with Cruz being the one to find him after the boiler exploded and then sitting by him in the hospital when he took his last breath, Cruz is now going to be ready to make some major moves in his life to buckle down and get more serious about things and really begin to grow and evolve. And, we've begun to see the seeds of this change recently.
During the extremely intense "Infection" crossover storyline, Cruz decided that he was going to ask his girlfriend, Chloe, to marry him. He made a reservation at a fancy restaurant and everything for the occasion, but she told him they were moving too fast and dumped him before they even got to dinner. Luckily, in the most recent episode, Cruz told Brett about the breakup and she had a chat with Chloe over coffee, which helped her realize that she was sacred of never being able to save Cruz when he's in danger, and that's why she broke things off with him.
By the end of the episode, Chloe had surprised Cruz outside of his apartment to apologize, made cake pops that told him to "Ask me," and he finally got to propose. From the looks of that kiss after he popped the question, these two are definitely getting hitched before too long. And, this also goes right along with what Joe Minoso said about Cruz looking "to hold on to the last few people in his life" that he really loves.
It also sounds like Cruz will truly be getting into his career even more, as the synopsis for the October 30 episode makes it sound like he and Severide might be doing some fire investigating on their own after a deadly call. So, Joe Minoso seems to be right on track with how Cruz is going to adjust his life in this, sadly, post-Otis world.