Fire Country Season 2 Episode 4 Review: Too Many Unknowns


As we’ve discussed in our previous Fire Country reviews, if the current season has a fatal flaw, it’s the writers’ apparent desire to cram 22 episodes worth of drama into a season that’s been shortened by the writer and actors’ guild strikes.

In fairness, recent episodes have delivered some of the series’ most gripping action sequences to date, but we can’t help but think that all of this breakneck pacing is coming at the expense of characterization.

So it was a welcome change of pace when Fire Country Season 2 Episode 4 opened with Bode and Cole spreading homemade skunk repellant and discussing their kids instead of their recent brushes with death (of which there have been many).

And the focus on non-flammable matters continues as Vince and Sharon work to rebuild their relationship, and Gabriela celebrates getting one step closer to becoming a licensed medic.

But the job is never far from these folks’ minds, so it comes as no surprise when Eve receives a troubling letter and shares her concerns with Manny.

It seems that Cole, Bode’s friend and former cellmate, is a convicted murderer, and his victim’s family is protesting his placement at Three Rock.

Now, this is the kind of storyline we look for from this show.

As thrilling as the recent action set-pieces have been, the thing that sets Fire Country apart from other first-responder dramas is its thorny premise:

It’s a show that asks us to root for society’s most marginalized figures and urges us to believe that no one is beyond redemption.

Eve Edwards believes in the importance of the work that she’s doing, but the moral complexities of her position are not lost on her.

And Manny is happy to be able to wash his hands of her present predicament.

From there, Jake finds himself in a similarly sticky situation, as Genevieve reveals that she wants to visit Bode, who may or may not be her father (but, let’s face it, almost certainly is).

In a scene reminiscent of the goat scare from the beginning of Fire Country Season 1 (hey, network dramas can be forgiven for going back to the same wells. Those are tall episode orders!), Bode and Cole experience some comic relief in the form of a run-in with a skunk.

Bode then receives word that Genevieve wants to visit him, and we learn that Jake is planning to pop the question.

Okay, this show never really stops to catch its breath, but the pacing here is downright deliberate compared to what we’ve seen so far this season.

But it wouldn’t be an episode of Fire Country if we didn’t have an emergency of some kind before the opening title card, and this time, there are several in rapid succession:

A manganese-fueled fire breaks out at a chemical plant; a young girl gets lost in the woods; Bode oversteps his bounds by trying to help, and Genevieve looks on aghast as her dad (yeah, we’re just calling him her dad at this point) gets disciplined by a surly guard.

Oh, and inside the chem plant there’s a dude stuck under a shelf and several other employees trapped in an inaccessible room.

Hey, it’s not like we wanted this show to slow the pacing down forever! We just wanted some time to catch up with the characters!

And with that, we’re off to the races.

Folks, without delving too deep into industry jargon, your standard hourlong network primetime dramas can be usually be divided up into procedurals and nighttime soaps.

Fire Country straddles the line between the two, and we’d like to pause and credit the writers for continually coming up with unique emergency scenarios that also underscore the interpersonal turmoil that’s keeping these characters up nights.

Last week, Vince Leone healed his marriage by using his words to help guide Sharon through a crisis.

This week, Bode explores his conflicted feelings over learning that he might be a father by interacting with young Isla, the lost girl who won’t talk to anyone but him.

He extracts valuable information from Isla, but just as importantly, he walks away from their interview confident that he has the skills necessary to be a good dad — even though he’s currently locked up, and he spent most of his daughter’s life thinking she was just an ex’s kid.

Speaking of infusing action scenes with a touch of humanity, the plant fire turns out to be complicated for reasons other than the presence of weird chemicals.

The guy stuck under a shelf responded in homophobic fashion when his brother (who’s also trapped in the building) came out, and now he’s pleading with our heroes to rescue him so he can make amends.

And Bode finds out that Genevieve was standing just feet away when he was restrained by a guard earlier.

It wasn’t his fault this time, but Cara makes a valid point when she reminds him that she’s been hearing such excuses from him for years.

The fact that Cara goes from stressing over Bode’s behavior to stressing over Jake’s contamination reminds us how weird it is that pretty much everyone on this show works alongside an ex or significant other — but hey, nighttime soaps are gonna nighttime soap.

Perhaps anticipating that criticism, the writers have Gabi point out to Diego that spouses working together in emergency situations probably isn’t the best idea. If only someone had told Vince and Sharon that years ago!

Sharon urges Jake to learn from the lesson of Shelf Guy and not wait too long to express his true feelings to Cara.

Now, using emergency situations to explore the emotional lives of the characters is what this show does best, but the connection in this case is a bit of a reach — and about as subtle as the chemical explosion that follows.

Fortunately, the scene in which Eve dings Cole for fist-bumping a civilian offers a lot more in the way of nuance and moral ambiguity.

And the scene in which Cole shares his low point with Bode is made all the more poignant by the viewer’s knowledge that he’s soon to be kicked off the crew.

We then get another healthy dose of moral ambiguity when Cole endangers the life of Green Glasses Guy by following Eve’s orders.

The ensuing rescue effort shows Eve that the line between inmates and firefighters is a blurrier than she thought — and, well, it’s not really clear how she could’ve been in this line of work for so long and not realized that before, but it’s a powerful scene nonetheless.

Thankfully, a sequence in which we’re led to believe that Bode might have punched his ticket is cut short.

TV writers are savvy enough nowadays to know that audiences don’t actually believe they’re gonna kill off a lead character a quarter of the way into the show’s second season.

Dude goes on to pledge his love for Gabi while still regaining consciousness. From there, he underscores Eve’s lesson about treating inmates like humans when he receives a grateful phone call from Isla’s mom.

Yeah, no way is a show gonna randomly kill off a guy who’s currently juggling like 16 different storylines!

Procedurals and nighttime soaps both tend to stick with the proven formulas more often than not, but the good ones can still surprise you with moments of genuine humanity.

Take, for example, the back-to-back scenes in which Cole clashes with Eve, and Bode pleads his case to an unconvinced Cara. All four parties are making solid arguments and offering relatable perspectives!

Then Diego butts in, and the forest gods punish him by hurling a tree in front of his ambulance. Hey, nighttime soaps are gonna nighttime soap! But we’re sure Bode will be fine. The show has too much invested in him!

What do you think, TV fanatics? Did Fire Country mess up a solid episode with an overly bonkers ending? Hit the comments section below to share your thoughts.

Tyler Johnson is an Associate Editor for TV Fanatic and the other Mediavine O&O sites. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, cooking, and, of course, watching TV. You can Follow him on X and email him here at TV Fanatic.

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