Spoilers ahead for Episode 14 of Chicago Fire Season 9, called "What Comes Next."
The future is looking bright for the first responders of Chicago Fire's Firehouse 51 as of the end of "What Comes Next." Stella Kidd passed her exam and will become a CFD lieutenant, Severide has marriage on his mind, and Casey is working out what he wants now that he doesn't have to worry that his head injury will sideline him from his job as captain of 51. Plus, Brett got rid of her crazy cat, so it was a great episode for the good guys all around! Still, I found myself wondering on two different occasions – is Chicago Fire setting up Casey replacements?
Now, this isn't the first time in Season 9 that I've begun to suspect that Chicago Fire is preparing to send Casey off to a new (and off-screen) chapter of his life and career, and I honestly thought it was no longer a possibility after the reveal that his head is fine and there are no obstacles in his way as captain in the CFD. But there were two instances of characters showing that they could begin to fill Casey's shoes if he's not around in Season 10. And I say all of this as somebody who loves Casey as a character and not exactly dying to see him leave!
The first instance of "What Comes Next" making me think that Chicago Fire is proving that Truck 81 can keep on rolling without Casey was when Gallo pulled off a daring and downright heroic move that, quite frankly, reminded me of Casey in his earlier days of Chicago Fire before he had as many responsibilities as he does now. And Gallo was even described as "a junior Casey" by showrunner Derek Haas back before Alberto Rosende made his Fire debut in Season 8. Honestly, he even sometimes looks like Casey.
On the firefighter front, based on some of Gallo's actions in Season 9 prior to this point and now in "What Comes Next," I could see him as the next Casey, if Casey is gone. But Casey is of course far more than just a firefighter, and Gallo is in no way ready to step up and do what Casey does on a regular basis, especially due to Casey's status as the officer on Truck. A status that, as of the end of "What Comes Next," could be shared by Stella Kidd thanks to the news that she passed the lieutenant's exam. (Congrats, Stella!)
Now, the most obvious concern about the fantastic news of Stella becoming a lieutenant is what that means for Stella's future at Firehouse 51, as Miranda Rae Mayo confirmed that the lack of an open spot for an officer would probably mean Stella leaving 51, and the promo for the next episode reveals Boden already talking about Stella needing to find an opening at another house.
I'm having a hard time imagining Chicago Fire writing Stella out after following her work up the ladder in Season 9, and with Severide looking toward their future. But if she stays at 51, then 51 will presumably either need to say goodbye to an existing officer or not let Stella take her earned spot as a lieutenant just yet.
Stella couldn't take Severide's spot even if something in the Season 9 finale somehow makes him want to leave CFD, since he's Squad. She could presumably serve as lieutenant on Engine if Herrmann was to leave or step down, since Herrmann himself went from Truck to Engine. Or, Casey could leave and Stella could step up at Truck. And the dots I started connecting back when it looked like Casey's head injury might take him out of actively fighting fires are starting to line up again for me.
A lot probably depends on what Casey sees for what showrunner Derek Haas described as his "personal future," and his personal future may depend on whether he wants that future to include a life in Chicago with Brett or a life elsewhere with Dawson, who got another name-drop in "What Comes Next" with another instance of Casey not saying that he doesn't still love her or see her as a potential obstacle to moving on with Brett. Haas has also confirmed that the watch from earlier in Season 9 will make a comeback, which I then felt pointed toward Dawson.
At the same time, Casey's attention is on Brett, who is newly single and even no longer has an evil cat. Unlike Chicago Med, which is saying goodbye to two series regulars ahead of next season, Chicago Fire has no confirmed major cast departures ever since Brett lost another paramedic partner earlier in Season 9. At this point, I can only speculate about what Chicago Fire has planned, and I would definitely be bummed to see Casey bow out after nine seasons and lose Jesse Spencer from the show. At the same time, I 100% don't want to see Stella not take her earned place as a lieutenant or leave 51.
Basically, the last couple episodes of Chicago Fire Season 9 shouldn't be missed when it comes to Casey's future, as well as all the rest. See the final episodes of the season on NBC Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET, in between Chicago Med at 8 p.m. and Chicago P.D. at 10 p.m. For some viewing options once the three One Chicago series wrap for the season, check out our 2021 summer TV premiere schedule.