Chicago Fire Season 12 Episode 11 Review: Inside Man

Spoilers

After a handful of lukewarm episodes so far this season, Chicago Fire has finally delivered the heat we’ve been missing.

It’s been a while since we’ve been this invested in an hour of TV, but Chicago Fire Season 12 Episode 11 was intense and kept us on the edge of our seats.

We also finally got a taste of the Stellaride vibes we’ve been missing for so long!

We got a much-needed look into our favorite characters who haven’t been given much emotional content to work with this season.

Stella’s reaction to Severide’s situation reminded us that these two actually do share more than a locker room. The rest of the crew showed how much they cared about Kelly, too.

One of the resounding themes from “The Wrong Guy” was the mystery surrounding two of Chicago Fire’s newest characters: Jack Damon and Lyla Novak.

Yes, we’ve confirmed that her name is Lyla, thanks to a reader and some backup on Google!

The pair shared a moment of camaraderie during “Inside Man” as Damon panicked about being accused of being involved with Severide’s disappearance. Novak reassured him that he shouldn’t take it personally and that everyone was just freaked out.

It’s hard to know if Damon is sincere. He seemed to totally come unglued at the thought that the others didn’t trust him. But still, something is off.

On that note, Novak is almost as new as Damon is. Why didn’t the cops question her, too? Ritter’s tip about Damon is what triggered the suspicion, but it would have made sense to bring Novak in for an interview, too. We still don’t know anything about her, really.

She even joked about it. Could there be something more beneath the surface of that quip?

Hopefully, the rest of this short season will have some answers for us about these newcomers. With a lot of heavy-hitting cast changes, Chicago Fire has had its share of shakeups, so it’ll be interesting to see if these two become staples.

It’s no secret that I love a good firefighter show. Chicago Fire, 9-1-1, Station 19 — the thing these all have in common is how well the writers turn the team into a family.

The members of 51 are an actual family in some cases, of course, but even outside of the occasional coworker-turned-spouse or stepson-turned-employee scenario, the folks in this house have a real bond.

When any kind of tragedy strikes, they’re there for each other. Because of that, the team’s reaction to Severide being in danger wasn’t a shock.

But it was a comforting reminder that the characters we know and love haven’t disappeared despite some rocky developments so far in Season 12.

At times, it’s been hard to tell where they stand with each other. The soapy nature of Chicago Fire can put relationships at risk of seeming shallow, and we’ve seen the writing veer into that territory recently.

Thankfully, it seems like we’re getting back on track. I’m not saying the show’s writers read my complaints about Stellaride cooling off and did something about it, but whatever the reason, the heat was back in this episode.

We saw the Stella we’ve always known her to be — passionate, dedicated, and even a little bit short-fused and explosive — and it happened because she was worried about her husband.

Her fear forced her into action, and she didn’t care what risks she might be taking as long as it led her to Kelly.

When the two were finally reunited, it was all hugs and kisses (and later, once they were home alone, a little implied woo-hoo).

Like I’ve said before, no one needs a graphic sex scene to believe in a couple. The subtle glimpses we got into their love for one another did the trick to make me a Stellaride shipper once more.

Aside from all the drama and suspense, there was another little piece of magic between characters that was a joy to witness.

Once everything had been resolved, Cruz confided in Hermann that Chloe had asked for marriage counseling. Hermann’s response was so encouraging and kind that it really made me feel all warm and gooey inside.

Something I don’t think we talk about enough is the fact that this show nails the concept of wholesome masculinity. In the scene with Cruz and Hermann, we witnessed a conversation between two men about a vulnerable topic, and it was full of gentleness and care.

We don’t often get to see examples of wholesome masculinity like that.

Someone usually has to crack a joke or do something “manly” to break up the tension from the vulnerability. But not here; Hermann was just open and understanding and willing to meet Cruz where he was to offer advice. We love to see it.

There were some folks missing (again) from this episode. Mouch and Boden are still away, and there is no word on when they’re expected to come back.

Given the news that dropped about Eamonn Walker stepping back from the show, it looks like we’ve got an explanation for why Chief Boden hasn’t been around. Here’s hoping that Mouch isn’t following a similar path.

That’s all for this one, folks.

This was really enjoyable to watch, and I just hope that the rest of the season follows suit.

Don’t forget to share your thoughts about all things Chicago Fire below!

Haley Whitmire White is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. You can follow her on X.

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