Chicago Fire bid farewell to the beloved Otis in the devastating season 8 premiere. Otis succumbed to the injuries he sustained in the mattress fire. When he spoke his last words, Cruz was by his side. Otis has been on the show since season 1 so his death is absolutely gut-wrenching for all Chicago Fire fans. HollywoodLife talked with showrunner Derek Haas about when the writers knew that Otis was going to be the one who died.
“We didn’t know what we were going to do with the finale. It’s not that we weren’t going to do anything. Sometimes as a writer you write things in an open ended-way so that you have a little more time to think about them and how you want to go forward with the new season,” Derek told HollywoodLife. “I’d been reluctant to kill anyone off since we did it with Shay at the end of season 2. The problem with it is, when you start the next season, it’s kind of a bummer way to start off things. So you have to be almost a tightrope walker as a writer to still keep the theme of the show, which is optimism, family, and those kinds of things. But a couple of weeks into the hiatus, I was talking with our head writers Michael Gilvary and Andrea Newman and we were just like, we’ve pulled this rug so many times. You can only do it so many times where you put people into danger and then you just figure some way to get them out of it. The audience will stop caring that we’re in a potentially life-threatening situation if that potential is never realized. So we just looked at the list and said, honestly, what core character will affect a lot of people? If it hurts us, then it’ll hurt the viewers. That’ll be real. We just determined it would be Otis. And so I called Yuri [Sardarov]. I called Yuri and I talked to him about it. I can’t say enough praise about him. I knew him before we did this show. I did a movie with him, so I’ve known him since he was in college. He could not have been more professional or more considerate on the phone back. He said, ‘This has been the best seven years.’ He’s on the winning side of the table already, and I just know he’s going to have a million more things to do. I felt bad because you never feel good in that position as a showrunner. And yet, he was supportive of the creative decision.”
Otis’s death hits the entire firehouse hard, especially Cruz. Over the course of the season, we’ll see how the characters react to such a sudden and tragic loss. “You’re going to have a lot of different reactions, which I think is real,” Derek said. “I think the way it affects Cruz will be different than the way it affects Boden, which will be different than the way it affects Casey and Kidd and on down the list. We’re going to play that out. It’s not going to be all of a sudden we’re going to have forgotten Otis three episodes in. Reminders of him will be everywhere. Everyone will deal with it in various speeds. They always say it just takes time to get over things. For different people, it takes a different amount of time.”
Brett was badly injured in the fire as well. In the time jump after the fire and Otis’s death, Brett moved to Indiana with Kyle. Don’t expect her to be back in Chicago right away. “Brett will be on her own in Indiana for a while,” Derek teased. “You’ll see in the next episode where she does a FaceTime and talks to some of the people at Molly’s, but for now, she is isolated.”
Brett is engaged to Kyle but the show began to explore a will-they-or-won’t-they dynamic with Brett and Casey last season. HollywoodLife asked Derek if he’s decided where that relationship is going. “We like to explore that relationship. When I say ‘relationship,’ I mean, nothing’s happened so far. We like them together as friends. If it goes anywhere past that, I can’t say yet,” Derek said. Chicago Fire airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on NBC.