Why Chicago Fire Fans Might Not Want To Root Too Hard For The Newest Character After Casey

Season 10 has been a time of great change for Chicago Fire thanks to the departure of Jesse Spencer as Captain Matt Casey, and the show has had to get back to business as usual as much as possible since he bowed out in the 200th episode. That has meant characters like Gallo and Severide missing him, Brett struggling with a long-distance relationship (for now), and Boden bringing in a new officer to take Casey’s spot on Truck. Brett Dalton joined Fire as Lt. Jason Pelham and established him as a (more or less) stand-up guy, but longtime fans might not want to root too hard for him even if they like the character.

At least, longtime fans might not want to root too hard for the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. veteran‘s new character if they want to see Stella Kidd climb the ladder at CFD without leaving Firehouse 51. Before Pelham’s debut, it seemed like one of the few upsides of losing Casey would be that his leaving opened up a spot for a Truck officer shortly after Stella passed the lieutenant’s exam. She has earned the rank of lieutenant; even though she was originally suggested for a potential Engine position at another firehouse, what better place for her to take her position than on Truck 81, where she has been part of the crew with a familiar group of firefighters for years?

That certainly seemed like the plan until Chicago Fire made it clear that Stella’s trip to promote her Girls On Fire program across the country wasn’t going to just be for an episode before she returned to take her well-earned place as the officer on Truck after Casey’s departure. As Boden has clearly realized, 51 can’t just indefinitely leave Truck without a permanent lieutenant, and even Severide revealed that he doesn’t know when his fiancée will be back. Stella is doing a great thing by promoting Girls On Fire, but she may have lost her shot at becoming Truck 81 lieutenant if Pelham settles into the role.

That’s not to say that Boden is ready to go all-in on Pelham with no reservations. He did learn that Pelham’s suspension and subsequent status as a floater were the result of him refusing to out a superior officer for crossing lines and ruin his life, so he’s not as awful as what Herrmann and Mouch were imagining. But he still wasn’t forthright with Boden, and there’s still the question of whether the rest of 51 can adjust to the idea of having him around in the long term. Whether or not he’d be a good permanent fit for 51 is presumably up to Boden, which means that it could come down to Pelham vs. Stella. 

And who would Boden choose, assuming nothing new and bad comes to light about Pelham and Stella comes back to stay after the upcoming midseason finale? Well, he has supported Stella in her journey to becoming a lieutenant, and supported Girls On Fire. On the other hand, Pelham has more experience as an officer in the CFD, and that might count for more in this case than Boden's past support of Stella. I can see it getting ugly at 51 if it seems like Pelham is sticking around even after Stella gets back, because it’s hard to imagine a reality in which they would all support the newcomer over their longtime comrade-in-arms. 

Brett Dalton joined Chicago Fire in a recurring capacity while Miranda Rae Mayo has been a series regular for years despite her absence for the last several Season 10 episodes, so the odds seem to be in Stella’s favor at this point. Still, as somebody who has really liked what Pelham brought to 51 to mix things up after Casey’s departure, I would 100% be rooting for him to stay… if only it didn’t mean that Stella could lose her shot at the ideal position within CFD. So for those of us rooting for Stella getting to advance, we probably shouldn’t root too hard for Pelham. Sorry, Lt. Pelham, but I'm Team Stella if a choice has to be made!

And based on some comments from current showrunner Derek Haas, Stella will likely be back to Chicago Fire in the upcoming midseason finale on Wednesday, December 8 at 9 p.m. ET, between Chicago Med at 8 p.m. ET and Chicago P.D. at 10 p.m. ET, all on NBC. The episode sounds like it will be more of a merry holiday affair than anything too dramatic, so if there’s any conflict coming on the Stella vs. Pelham front, fans may not see it until the show returns in 2022. Fans may also want to check out Wolf Entertainment's new audio project Dark Woods while waiting for One Chicago to return in December!

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

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, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.