Chicago Fire “Hold On Tight” Review: A Solid Start

Chicago Fire “Hold On Tight” Spoilers Ahead

Stella Kidd in Chicago Fire "Hold On Tight"

Chicago Fire’s Season 11 premiere picks up right where the finale, “The Magnificent City of Chicago,” left off with threatening forces interrupting Kelly and Stella’s steamy (and cozy) honeymoon. And while it seems the show knows where it’s going, the clunky overall opening suggests otherwise as it leaves viewers questioning the route the series will take with various character exits. To some degree, it could be better this way, but we’re treading lightly as we attempt to figure out precisely what’s going on. 

For starters, while the entirety of One Chicago universe has had its issues writing complex female characters, it’s never been as questionable in Fire as last season’s fair share of problems and where we could go today. There are quite a few concerns that arise in the season premiere, and though we won’t jump to conclusions now, we might have a few things to say as the season progresses.  Still, the show remains all heart and comfort.

“Hold On Tight”—Stellaride are

Stellaride in Chicago Fire Season 11 premiere

As the title of the episode echoes throughout the hour for more than one couple, Kelly and Stella are very much holding on for dear life. As Stella says, every day is a honeymoon with you (a little cheesy for my book, but I’ll take it) because these two physically holding onto each other will always be among one of my favorite things about them. #GiveUsMoreCouchCuddlesSeason11.

But more than anything, what we’ve established better than ever last season, especially after “Back With A Bang,” is that Kelly and Stella are a team. Their decisions affect not only themselves but their partner, now husband/wife, which means that this needs to be considered when addressing their issues. And more than anything, it will require a lot of talking—just like the final scene to handle whatever it is that’s challenging like mature adults. A large chunk of the problem with this show is that people seldom talk to one another, and while it’s organic at times to hold off on conversations, it happens more frequently in Chicago Fire than not.

Forbidden Romance, No More?

CHICAGO FIRE "Hold On Tight" Episode 1101 -- Pictured: (l-r) Hanako Greensmith as Violet, Jimmy Nicholas as Chief Hawkins Hawkami
(Photo by: Adrian S Burrows Sr/NBC)

When Hawkins took sole responsibility for everything that transpired with Violet and Emma, it meant a district transfer Violet wouldn’t be aware of until Gallo intervened and found out for himself. And if there’s one thing Chicago Fire’s “Hold On Tight” continues to prove, it’s that Gallo could be a much better friend than a boyfriend to her. 

Further, I’m standing by the assessment that Hawkami is one of the best relationships in the show now more than ever, as a disheveled Evan’s vulnerability has taken a chunk of my heart and run with it. There’s much we could potentially doubt later on, as distance on the show has repeatedly shown not to work, but could Hawkami be the exception?

As Violet says, she’s here—completely and totally. Before this moment, conflict was primarily brought on by outside leverages and the threats of being seen. However, now that they’re out in the open, the possibilities of perils are both endless and more manageable. There’s a potential in their relationship surviving that I’ve only ever felt with Stella and Kelly’s, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the showrunners have them planned as the endgame pair. It still feels like a tragic, temporary thing even though they have all the markings of a couple who could and should make it to the end. 

Maybe Someday


Brett and Casey’s relationship is interesting because if the series wanted them to make it work, they absolutely could have. Casey’s exit made it seem as though the show would try to make them work, and while it did for a bit, it’s understandable that it ends in a “maybe someday,” paralleling their promises instead of something worse.

But I’m most concerned about what the series will do with Brett because jumping from one relationship to another has been a pattern. There’s no reason a woman shouldn’t have multiple partners, but if the series doesn’t address character growth and reasoning adequately, there’s no purpose to it other than using a female character as a plot device that feeds into harmful stereotypes. And there’s no justifiable reason why they’d bring in Brett’s ex-fiancé, Kyle Sheffield (Teddy Sears), of all people, to nudge her into solidifying that the long-distance relationship isn’t working.

And speaking of harmful stereotypes, we’ve long established by now that Stella Kidd’s instincts aren’t wrong. The series already played with a questionable character turning out to be somewhat reputable with Lieutenant Pelham (Brett Dalton), which means there’s no justification for going back down the same road with Sam Carver. Not to mention that having another blond white man who looks like Jesse Spencer is entirely unnecessary given the events of the episode, but still having Stella questioned and heading toward a familiar road isn’t a good look for the series. I’m hoping I’ll bite my tongue about this later, but as of right now, it’s a no from me.

Chicago Fire’s “Hold On Tight” is an okay premiere that doesn’t do much to address anything worthwhile, but it points us toward a trajectory that could get messy if time and care aren’t put into the storylines. The entire arc with a mole in P.D. and Kelly standing his ground is fascinating but only if where it leads doesn’t cause a bigger mess on Chicago P.D., given the news about Jesse Lee Soffer’s exit

Further Thoughts

  • As it turns out, I can indeed love Hawkami more than I thought. Y’all, I’m going to be a mess if they break up. And I just…feel it coming.
  • Stellaride cuddling will always make every episode much better than the one before.
  • Chief Boden doubting Stella hurts.
  • Every time I heard the words “mole” and “P.D.” my brain went to the whole thing about Jay’s exit.
  • Mouch continues to be the best. And I would’ve preferred the other new guy staying and having the show pick on him than another boring hot shot.

Now streaming on Peacock: What are your thoughts on Chicago Fire’s “Hold On Tight?” Let us know in the comments below.



  1. Thank you for your honest review. It is actually refreshing to read honesty and criticism of a show than colored glasses reviews. You have expressed all the concerns I have with the writing of Chicago Fire especially when it comes to the women of the show. You are right there is no reason why the LDR could not work with Sylvie and Matt. They love each other and they have found their one (as proven by that beautiful scene in 9 x 16) and for the writers to throw it away in a 10 second scene. Sylvie does not need another relationship but unfortunately with Chicago Fire they must be in one to get any screen time or good storylines – and judging from the interviews with Andrea post 11 x 1 interviews they are going to “have some fun with Sylvie getting back out there”. If anything I want her Paramedicine program to take center stage because it is great to see the women on the show their brilliance and intelligence and Sylvie can showcase that with her program, a program that she created by herself.

    As for Stella and Violet, you have pointed out that time and time again the men of the show have undermined Stella’s instincts and it looks to be an ongoing pattern with the new guy Carver, who is supposed to be seen as her nemesis this season. For Violet, she has fallen into the same boat as Sylvie with the focus being on her relationship drama (with Gallo and Hawkins), I would like to see her storylines away from both of them this season. I want to see who Violet is outside of her romance. If anything I want to see the ambo ladies kick ass with great ambo storylines that focus on them! I was let down with the season premiere and at this point I am hanging on by a thread due to the writing and lack of exciting storylines.

Leave a Reply