Scene Breakdown: Stella Kidd and the Art of Staring in Chicago Fire’s “Mayday”

Stella Kidd and Kelly Severide in Chicago Fire's "Mayday" available now on NBC.
Source: NBC

Stella Kidd could be standing in a room doing absolutely nothing and it’s always the most fascinating thing happening. And showcasing the art of staring in Chicago Fire‘s “Mayday” is, in of itself, picturesque.

I still don’t know what it says about me that I love moments of intimacy driven by intense fear. I suppose it’s the detail that it always (and valiantly) illuminates not only the weight of someone’s adoration, but the immense humanity in engulfing emotions. It’s terrifying to think you’ve lost someone, and it’s even more terrifying when it’s the person you’re in love with—your partner, your best friend, your fiancé…And thus, when they’re safely back in your arms, substantial staring is inevitable, and we need not to look further than Stella Kidd.

If anyone reading this is familiar with One Tree Hill, there’s a particular scene in season nine where a distressed Haley tells Nathan she’s never letting him out of her sight—to quote, she says: “if I could sew my skin onto yours, I would.” Bleak, dark, creepy, but the sentiment is clear as day. It’s the mark of a fear so intense, so brutally harrowing that we get it. And in Chicago Fire’s “Mayday” Stella wanting to stare at Severide until every part of her was convinced that he was really there is a beautiful kind of vulnerable intimacy.

It’s a form of the hurt/comfort trope I wish more shows would deal with as opposed to brushing off fears and traumas while equating strong women to emotionless when it comes to love. Or rather, allowing the audience to imagine that it happened off-screen. I don’t need to imagine it; I want to see it.

Stella Kidd and Kelly Severide in Chicago Fire's "Mayday" available now on NBC.
Source: NBC

Stella Kidd is in the same, threatening line of work as her partner, Kelly Severide; thereby, while discussing risks every time isn’t necessarily something they need to go into knowing this is a relationship they’ve both chosen (and a job they both love), to have brushed off the palpable fears Stella very clearly lived through would have been diminishing of her nuanced character. Stella is both incredibly badass and innately vulnerable. She loves fiercely and she loves hard. You’ve got to be pretty tough to be in her line of work, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s also incredibly human to feel the waves of fear when there are threats pertaining to the heart’s kindred spirit. (Or anyone that’s beloved, really.) Chicago Fire succeeds so much as a show because the characters all have immense heart and compassion for human lives. This isn’t just a job for them.

And so, while we absolutely should’ve gotten a reunion hug because they’re always everything (plus, something we can’t ever have too much of), this scene is such a stunning moment of vulnerability that innately paints a portrait of partnership in the face of two people for whom love is the highest priority. They’ve come so far and it’s a gorgeous sight to see. TV writers often believe the chase is the best part, but that couldn’t be farther than the truth. It’s these moments of quiet intimacy full of longing looks and tender explorations that we can spend hours excavating.

Marriage is going to look beautiful on the two of them, and this moment is a true mark of the adoration that runs deep inside. At the end of the day, Stella is always going to be the girl wanting to hold on to the family she’s found—the good that’s in her life, the best parts of it and the things she’s always deserved. And rightfully so, Kelly Severide will always be so smitten, he’ll never know how to fully grasp the immensity of his feelings for her.

In this moment, each kiss is a promising brushstroke of adoration, every touch is a trace that erases the shadows, and every look exudes a thousand declarations. The choice to continue being each other’s anchor in the aftermath of dark, consuming days is proof of how intrinsically tethered they are to each other. Allowing a couple moments of vulnerability as such to take in a hard, fearful day with casual intimacy is one of the very reasons Chicago Fire‘s “Mayday” is such a solid premiere.

There are bountiful reasons why Stella and Kelly are such a stunning couple, and this is merely one of the many—the unabashed gratitude for another night to spend in each other’s arms. It’s achingly tender and so beautifully soft, a true how to guide (and likely an accurate representation of how most would react if they’d been in Stella’s shoes).

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