Chicago Fire is saying goodbye to another paramedic! Annie Ilonzeh, who has played Emily Foster on the founding One Chicago series since early Season 7, is departing the show. The news broke less than a day after the Season 8 finale aired on NBC.
Annie Ilonzeh's departure from Chicago Fire after two seasons (as first reported by Us Weekly) marks the latest EMT to leave Fire, and the second whose departure was confirmed after the previous finale had aired. Despite Season 8 coming to a premature end, however, Foster's departure was arguably set up a lot better than Gabby Dawson's back at the end of Season 6.
So, how did Chicago Fire handle what turned out to be Foster's final story in her final episode, and what does it mean for Brett? Let's dive into what happened.
Spoilers ahead for the Season 8 finale of Chicago Fire on NBC.
The Season 8 finale continued with Foster's growing desire to return to medical school, and she went so far as to set up an interview with Northwestern to possibly get a second chance despite cheating on her boards during her first round. She was hesitant about leaving Brett, however, due to everything Brett had already gone through and then the bombshell that Brett's baby sister was being moved away.
Still, Brett came to terms with Foster's desire to become a doctor and even showed up after Foster's interview to lend her support, so the episode did actually set up a farewell from Foster in a way that may not be entirely satisfying to fans when a Foster-free Season 9 picks up but not totally out of the blue.
Of course, there's no guaranteeing what kind of news Foster would have gotten from Northwestern in the final three episodes of Chicago Fire Season 8 that never got to be produced, but since this is Fire and not P.D. we're talking about, I'm guessing Foster would have gotten back into Northwestern with Brett's blessing.
That would let Foster leave on a high note and an open door to potentially return, since Northwestern in Evanston, Illinois isn't far at all from Chicago. It could also let Brett view her future more optimistically than if Foster left for some much more negative reason. Besides, at least Brett still has Casey, and Fire has the chance to set up a new EMT dynamic.
A new EMT dynamic was actually on my mind ahead of the Season 8 finale, although I had been guessing that Annie Ilonzeh would move to Chicago Med rather than leave One Chicago altogether. I asked Chicago Fire showrunner Derek Haas how Hanako Greensmith, who debuted in Season 8 as a paramedic from Firehouse 20, would fit in with Firehouse 51, and he said this:
We love her and want to see more of her in Season 9. I think she’s terrific and plays the character with just the right amount of fun and swagger.
Of course, that's not to say that Violet will be Brett's new partner in Ambulance 61, but it may not be a coincidence that Chicago Fire has a new paramedic all but waiting in the wings while Foster was on the way out.
Personally, I'm just hoping that Annie Ilonzeh will be available and willing to reprise her role at least one more time for Fire to tie off some loose ends, like it did with Monica Raymund's brief reappearance as Dawson at the beginning of Season 7. That said, Sophia Bush was gone from Chicago P.D. for good after she left (for very understandable reasons), so only time will tell.
Sadly, Chicago Fire is done for now, and with the industry-wide production shutdown, there's no saying when Season 9 could hit the airwaves. At least Season 9 is already guaranteed! In fact, Seasons 9-11 are guaranteed. Along with Chicago Med and Chicago P.D., Fire received a three-season renewal.
For some viewing options during the wait for One Chicago to return and explain Foster's absence, check out our 2020 spring premiere schedule.