I’ll be the first to admit that I was a bit skeptical when I heard about what last night’s My Lucky Day episode.
It was a stand-alone episode when we had already had a long break between the first few episodes of the season. Why would you do that? It would break the flow of the narrative and how would the season even benefit from this?
But you know what? I stand corrected. Not only was last night’s Chicago Fire amazing, but it showcased incredible performances from Joe Minoso and David Eigenberg. I’ll go even further and say that My Lucky Day only worked as well as it did because both Minoso and Eigenberg brought their A-game.
A play in an elevator
It all started with an ordinary day. Herrmann announced to whoever wanted to hear that his fortune cookie the night before had said that “tomorrow is your lucky day,” so he was already counting on that luck.
Cruz, however, seems to be a little out of it. Eyes staring at nothing, distracted — not at all like the usually cheerful Joe Cruz we know and love.
Their first call of the day was about a structure fire, but when they got there, the woman who received them said that the fire alarm was tripped on the tenth floor, but there was no smoke. It felt like a false alarm, but we know better by now, right? Of course, it wasn’t.
Chief Boden alerts everyone that the fire might be in the walls, and inside they go. When Herrmann asks the lady if anyone was up there, she says that the contractor was loading up the elevator when the alarm went off. He then talks to the contractor, Trevor McKay, and asks him to take him to the eighth floor and he’ll just check things out from there.
Before the doors close, Herrmann spots Cruz, and invites him into the elevator.
Now here’s the one pickle I have with this story. Isn’t the first safety rule when there’s a fire in a building to not take the elevators under any circumstances? Why would an experienced firefighter like Herrmann take the elevator and bring civilians with him?
Either way, up they go. Not even twenty seconds in, the lights start flickering, the elevator starts making weird noises; and then the whole thing shakes and drops a few feet when a cable breaks and falls on top of the elevator.
Both Herrmann and Cruz are unharmed, and so is Holly, the woman that talked to them when they got to the building. But Trevor, the contractor, has a broken leg due to a huge barrel of flammable liquid falling on him. When Herrmann tries to contact the Chief on the radio, they realize no one can hear them.
They’re stuck inside an elevator, that is likely going to fall, with two civilians — one of them seriously injured — with no way of alerting anyone. It could not get any worse.
Then they realize that they can hear fragments of what’s going on out there, but no one can hear them back. So when things get a little stressful for their firefighters up on the tenth floor, it only increases their fear, especially when they hear Mouch is missing. It feels like Otis all over again and it’s absolutely nerve-wracking.
Holly starts spiraling in panic and bitterness about everything that’s happened this year — and who can blame her, right? — and it does not help with their already precarious situation.
Trevor, bless his heart, starts talking about his son to difuse the situation. When he asks if the firefighters have kids, Herrmann says he has four kids, but that Cruz doesn’t have any yet.
And that’s when Joe reveals that Chloe told him that morning that she’s pregnant. Herrmann is overjoyed for his friend and tells him that kids are the best thing in the world.
Bear in mind that this is all happening while Joe is trying to open the hatch on the ceiling so they can try to climb out of there. But they soon find out that the steel cable fell on top of the hatch and it weighs a ton. And then another cable breaks, and their situation gets even worse.
Joe quietly tells Herrmann that the elevator is probably off its rails. If another cable breaks, the emergency break won’t engage, and they’re going to fall all the way.
Holly starts spiraling in panic again, and Herrmann tries to reassure her that his fortune cookie said that today was his lucky day — bless his precious heart — and that they are not going to die. Then he turns to Joe and asks him, what would Otis do?
Joe has an idea then — to open the panel and reset it, so they can bring the elevator up a couple of feet. That way, it should get it back on its rails. When Holly hears that, she starts panicking again, and let me tell you, I know this was an extreme situation, but this woman was a real downer.
Herrmann is fed up with her, but he still tries to distract her by asking if she has any kids. And then she goes and says, “what kind of world is this to bring a kid into?”. You know, in front of the guy who has just found out he’s going to be a father. Then she proceeds to tell them how her sister nearly died when she had a miscarriage, and it just goes downhill from there.
That’s when Herrmann jumps in to tell the story of how he and Cindy almost lost their first kid after Cindy had an accident. But that everything turned out great eventually and that his firstborn Lee Henry was now 21 years old and a fantastic kid. He reassures Joe that there is more good than bad out there in the world.
And then they start smelling smoke. Whatever the guys did out there, it directed the smoke to the elevator tunnel. Just as they hear on the radio that Mouch has gone missing, Holly starts panicking again and tries to reset the panel herself, getting electrocuted and shorting out the elevator in the process.
So now they have two injured civilians, no lights, and smoke slowly filling up the elevator shaft. Things are not looking too promising for them right now. But Joe goes back to working on the panel and manages to fix the lights but he is unable to put the elevator back on its rails.
Herrmann says they need to lighten the load, so they figure that they need to get rid of the tons of flammable paint stripper. So they get to work, and with a lot of effort, they manage to dump some of the liquid down the shaft.
That’s when they hear Mouch’s whistle, and him asking for help. Despair overwhelms Joe and he wonders if Holly is right. He tells Herrmann that when Chloe told him she was pregnant, instead of being overjoyed at the prospect, he was absolutely terrified.
With the state the world is in, the pandemic, politics; how can he possibly think about bringing a kid into this completely messed up world when everything seems to be falling apart in the country?
But Herrmann’s got his back, and his speech about how a country starts with the family, and that the country his child is going to know is the country of Joe and Chloe Cruz moved me to tears.
After that, the elevator is back on its rails and Joe decides they are going to get out no matter what. So he tries the hatch again, and he’s going to move those steel cables if it is the last thing he does.
But they hear the team calling for Mouch, and then an explosion. The elevator starts filling up with smoke. They need to get out immediately.
When everything feels lost, Joe manages to knock something loose on top of the hatch, and then he manages to open it. Herrmann gets out first; then Holly and Trevor, and then finally Cruz.
The moment they stand on top of the elevator, their radios start working again, and Herrmann calls for help. When the Chief hears them and Severide says he’s on his way, everyone breathes out a sigh of relief.
It looks like it was Herrmann’s lucky day after all.
Chicago Fire airs on Wednesdays at 8/7C on NBC.