‘Chicago Fire:’ If anyone can #SaveSeveride, it’s Casey

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The repercussions of Leslie Shay’s death in the season premiere of “Chicago Fire” rippled throughout all of Firehouse 51, but Tuesday’s episode made it clear that Severide was hit the hardest.

“It’s the catalyst that sets everything in motion for my character for a large part of the season,” Taylor Kinney said during a recent interview on the Chicago set of the NBC drama.

While #SaveSeveride trended on Twitter during the series’ 50th episode, we watched the rescue squad lieutenant downing Irish car bombs like a marathoner chugging Gatorade, showing up to work with a mystery shiner and not coming home to Casa Dawsey at night.

Severide is walking a self-destructive path as dangerous as the L tracks he traversed at the start of Tuesday’s episode, when — in a symbolic scene — he came close to losing his life after a shooting on the train.

<b><i>Kelly Severide (Taylor Kinney) and Leslie Shay (Lauren German) in a flashback in the season premiere of “Chicago Fire.” | Photo courtesy NBC</i></b>

Kelly Severide (Taylor Kinney) and Leslie Shay (Lauren German) in a flashback in the season premiere of “Chicago Fire.” | Photo courtesy NBC

“With the death of Shay, Severide is really kind of unmoored,” said “Chicago Fire” showrunner Matt Olmstead.

So is Dawson (Monica Raymund), who lost her rig partner and has to grapple with the guilt of having switched places with Shay shortly before the building’s beam fell, killing the paramedic right before her eyes.

RELATED: The emotional story behind Dawson’s other piece of new jewelry

Rather than repress her grief, Dawson has embraced it — thanks in part to the support of her fiance, Matt Casey (Jesse Spencer).

What we’ll see this season is that Dawson isn’t the only one who needs Casey’s help to come to terms with Shay’s death. The personal tragedy has the potential to forge an unprecedented bond between Severide and Casey — two characters who started the series despising each other in the wake of the death of Darden, their mutual friend and firefighter.

“Because of Darden’s death at the outset of the show, Casey and Severide were never really in the same orbit,” Olmstead said. “It’s fairly uncommon on shows to have your two leads keep their distance from each other.”

“Severide could drift off from the grief of losing Shay,” Olmstead added. “Casey sees it. That’s why he invites him to stay with them in the new apartment. Severide accepts for reasons I don’t think he really understands, other than deep down he knows he needs to be around people that care about him. So after two years, you have Casey really looking after Severide and Severide accepting it. Our two leads are brought together, really for the first time. It’s rewarding to watch that in light of the fact that they really weren’t that tight for this first couple of seasons.”

RELATED: ‘Chicago Fire’ showrunner ready to take the heat for killing off Shay in season premiere

In real life, Kinney is grieving the loss of his costar, too.

“I miss her like crazy,” he said about Lauren German. “She was a great scene partner. Great actor. Someone to work with and someone to confide in. It was an honest relationship. We hung out off the stages, too. I didn’t take that too easy.”

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