Season 9 of Chicago Fire ended on a professional high note for Stella Kidd, and Season 10 opened pretty optimistically for her once the show resolved the cliffhanger that could have ended in Severide’s death. Then, the silver lining of Jesse Spencer’s emotional departure as Matt Casey was that it seemingly opened up the slot that Stella needed to become a lieutenant at Firehouse 51. Now, after some drama that she had to deal with off-screen, she might have lost her shot at taking an officer’s spot at 51, but there are still a few ways that it could happen.
Stella’s trip around the country to promote Girls on Fire (and deal with some emotions regarding Severide) got longer and longer, to the point that Boden had to bring somebody in who could take on the permanent place as Truck 81 lieutenant. Brett Dalton’s Pelham proved to be a pretty stand-up firefighter despite some red herrings early on, with Severide and Stella liking him and supporting him at their firehouse, even though it means Stella working Truck underneath him rather than leading. Let’s take a look at ways that things could potentially change for her.
Jason Pelham Leaves Firehouse 51
Brett Dalton joined Chicago Fire in a recurring role, whereas Miranda Rae Mayo (who broke down her character’s motivation for going radio silent earlier in Season 10) is a series regular. It’s possible that Pelham will stick around 51 simply through to the end of the current season, then depart for another firehouse now that his name has been cleared. He clearly likes Stella, so perhaps he would pursue a job elsewhere when he sees what she can bring to Truck 81 both as an officer and a trusted member of the team for years already.
That said, Fire took care of the potential conflict between Stella and Pelham pretty early, so she seems more or less at peace with her status as a firefighter as opposed to a lieutenant, despite working very hard to pass the test back in Season 9. As a fan of Brett Dalton, I’d normally be happy to see his character stay, but not necessarily if that would mean Stella not getting to step into a leadership position on more than an interim note.
Herrmann Steps Down From Engine 51
While the Season 10 talk of Stella stepping up as a lieutenant has been all about Truck 81 and filling Casey’s spot, it’s worth remembering that the goal back in the final episodes of Season 9 was for Stella to take a spot on an Engine at another firehouse. It would have meant leaving 51, but still taking her place as an officer. If we assume that Fire isn’t going to ship Stella off to another firehouse indefinitely and bench Miranda Rae Mayo from the action, then Truck isn’t the only possibility for her. She can’t become lieutenant of Squad 3, but she can certainly become lieutenant of Engine 51 if there’s a vacancy.
Of course, there’s currently not a vacancy in the lieutenant slot on Engine 51, as Herrmann is still leading there and has more than earned his status as an officer. That said, Herrmann has spent some time reflecting on how long he’s been on the job, including in the holiday episode that brought Stella back. I don’t want to even entertain the idea of Herrmann being killed off, but could he step down from his role as lieutenant to focus more on his family? I’m not sure I see it happening, but when it comes to Stella living up to the role she earned within the CFD, there’s no denying that she could do the job on both Engine and Truck.
Stella Leaves Firehouse 51
Although Miranda Rae Mayo confirmed to CinemaBlend that she’s back for good in Season 10 after her absence in the first half, that doesn’t mean her character is staying at Firehouse 51. Back when Casey was still firmly situated on Truck and Herrmann was going strong on Engine, the assumption was that she would have to move to another house if she became a lieutenant. That’s a little less certain now that a newcomer is leading Truck, and it’s easier for me to imagine a Season 11 without Pelham than without Stella. Casey isn’t coming back for a while, if at all.
And she was recommended for a spot as an Engine lieutenant at another house last season, so it’s really not out of the realm of possibility. It’s not unprecedented for Chicago Fire to send a female character to another house to try and move up the ranks, since Dawson had to leave 51 to work elsewhere when she was trying to become a firefighter but couldn’t train under Casey. Her departure didn’t last long either, so if Stella heads to another firehouse for a while, it wouldn’t necessarily be permanent.
But the issue of no open slot at 51 will still be there if there’s not a change for either Pelham or Herrmann. It’s not like Chicago Fire can add another vehicle just to make Stella a lieutenant at her preferred house! I would suspend my disbelief for that, though, if it allowed her to become an officer without cutting Pelham or demoting Herrmann. And that leaves a possibility for Stella’s future that may be the most likely course for the rest of Season 10, but it’s not a way for her to be all that she can be.
Stella Stays A Firefighter
At the end of the day, Stella may just remain a firefighter at the same rank that she has held since she debuted on Chicago Fire, rather than get a boost to lieutenant. She hasn’t been bitter about going back to her old place, even though she did well during her temporary stint as leader on Truck while Pelham dealt with efforts to sabotage him within the CFD. She earned a lieutenant position, but may not get it before the end of Season 10.
While it would be a shame to not see Stella get the job she deserves in Season 10 after putting so much work into it in Season 9, there’s no need to worry that Chicago Fire is going to end for good any time soon. The show has already been renewed through Season 11; if Stella doesn’t get her lieutenant bugles by the end of the 2021-2022 TV season, there’s always hope for the fall.
As for what I’m guessing will happen, my money is on Stella staying as a firefighter for the foreseeable future and not getting a promotion to lieutenant until either the very end of Season 10 or in Season 11, and as a result of Pelham leaving. I like Brett Dalton and Pelham, but I just can’t vote for him over Stella, and I wouldn’t want Herrmann to give up being lieutenant unless it’s something that he decides that he wants. Even though Pelham seems like he’s sticking around for now, that doesn’t mean forever!
I did admittedly predict Stella replacing Herrmann on Engine during Season 9, but that was only because it seemed unlikely that Fire would say goodbye to Casey unless there was no other choice. See what’s next for Stella when Chicago Fire returns from its Olympic break on Wednesday, February 23 at 9 p.m. ET on NBC, between Chicago Med at 8 p.m. and Chicago P.D. at 10 p.m. The episode count for Season 10 is good news for fans to hold onto during the rest of the wait. For more of what’s on the way in the coming weeks, be sure to check out our 2022 TV schedule.
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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. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. 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).