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Chicago Fire “Counting Your Breaths” Review: The Stories We Tell

CHICAGO FIRE -- "Counting Your Breaths" Episode 1003 -- Pictured: Jesse Spencer as Matthew Casey -- (Photo by: Adrian S. Burrows Sr./NBC)
CHICAGO FIRE — “Counting Your Breaths” Episode 1003 — Pictured: Jesse Spencer as Matthew Casey — (Photo by: Adrian S. Burrows Sr./NBC)

Chicago Fire‘s “Counting Your Breaths” continues to cement on the heart of found families beautifully. And it focuses on the stories we tell as the beacon of hope in trying times. Stories aren’t just literal recollections of a darkness that’s haunted firefighters for years, sometimes they are, but sometimes and more often than not, stories are told through the lens of steady belief.

When grief is an ever-present shadow in a person’s life, sometimes the only way to cope with its darkness is to share the pain. It’s to learn—it’s to allow oneself the opportunity to focus on the love for a moment longer. Andy Darden’s death (and any of the Firehouse 51 members) has left a lasting mark everywhere. Thus, where legacy is carried on through stories, grief can be managed through shared joy. That’s what happens in Chicago Fire’s “Counting Your Breaths” when stories become more than memories and they pave the road for what’s to come.

The squad sitting together at the station sharing stories about Andy was one exhibition, Casey opening up about the day Andy died was another. And both instances contribute to Griffin’s healing process because they gave him the space to understand that he isn’t alone. It’s never easy missing a parent (or anyone really), and some days when it hits you, it can feel like a cycle of never ending waves you’re dealing with alone. It can feel as though everyone’s moved on but you’re stuck.

Though that’s never the case because we all deal with grief differently—this moment for Griffin is a beautiful thing. It’s not just about the stories, but it’s about the experience. He might not have put out any fire, but he got to sit in the same place where his father once told and heard stories new and old. He got to experience what it’s truly like to be a family member of Firehouse 51.

CHICAGO FIRE — “Counting Your Breaths” Episode 1003 — Pictured: (l-r) Taylor Kinney as Kelly Severide — (Photo by: Adrian S. Burrows Sr./NBC)

If Andy were around—the loft would be fuller, but for a moment, Griffin got to bring his heart into the home. He contributed to what they could have had. He was given the chance to  be part of something that’d undoubtedly make him feel closer to his father, and he got to be a part of something that could help him understand the path he walks a little more closely.

The stories we tell are more than just about the literal words, it’s about the actions that are put behind to back them. It’s Kelly Severide choosing to hear about Casey’s mistakes and using them to understand Joe Cruz’s more intimately. It’s also using his own innate stubbornness to lead, and working alongside Cruz to ensure that he knows he isn’t fighting this trauma alone. It’s looking at who Gallo has become and where he wants to go.

It’s Mouch standing up for Sylvie and speaking to the new a chief himself. The stories we tell require listeners, and while sometimes it’s entertainment for entertainment’s sake, in Chicago Fire’s “Counting Your Breaths,” it’s about more than that.

The episode for Matt Casey is a recollection in more ways than one. It’s about remembering Andy Darden and how he could be more of use to his entire family, but it’s also about remembering that in his uncertainties, Sylvie was the one who stood by him. They weren’t together then, she had no obligation to, but for Sylvie Brett, it was always her choice to be his light in the same way he was hers. (In the same way he’ll be for Griffin and Ben.) The stories told are framed through quiet embraces, which emphasizes that even the toughest people need someone in their corner. It’s short and intimate, but an exhibition of the detail that Sylvie and Matt having each other to lean on has so far proven to be an utmost beautiful thing. They’re in a better place because they have someone looking out for them. They’re stronger because they believe in themselves, but also because of how fiercely they believe in each other.

It’s the big three starting their business, having each other to lean on and using their time to continue growing within this family together. Chicago Fire’s “Counting Your Breaths” is representative of the moments during the day, quiet and simple that years from now will be the stories that are told when they’re gone. Crashed on a couch, the “good game, babe,” a lieutenant looking out for his squad, two lieutenants going head to head with a plank, a much needed hug after a horrible incident, a chief revisiting his old squad, Herrmann supporting the big three’s beer brewing adventures, and so forth. Small moments, those always matter exponentially.

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