Chicago Fire fans are still reeling over the news that Taylor Kinney, who plays Kelly Severide, will be taking a leave of absence from the hit series to deal with a personal matter. Viewers have been wondering what will lead to Severide's exit on the show and just how much longer Kinney will be on the series before taking a break from the firefighter drama. It seems we may have answers to both of those questions.
According to TV Line, Kinney's last episode before his leave of absence will air this week. Episode 15 of season 11, "Damage Control" -- which airs Wednesday, March 1 -- is expected to address the reason for Severide's exit, and all signs point to Capt. Tom Van Meter (Tim Hopper) playing a major role in how everything goes down.
In case you need a refresher, Capt. Van Meter is an arson investigator for the Chicago Fire Department's Office of Fire Investigation (OFI). In the previous episode, "Run Like Hell," Severide and Mouch (Christian Stolte) are helping with an arson investigation. Toward the end of the episode, Severide is joined by his wife, Stella Kidd (Miranda Rae Mayo), at Molly's Pub. When Kidd asks Severide what's going on, referencing a previous offscreen exchange, he hands her his phone to read a message that fans believe is from Van Meter. Kidd's response? A cryptic -- and dramatic -- "wow."
So what does it all mean? Fans believe that the exchange will lay the groundwork for Severide's exit; it's believed that Van Meter may request that Severide step away from Firehouse 51 to take on a role at the OFI. It would make sense from a narrative standpoint. Severide has been a staple of the show since the beginning, so writers of the show would have to find a way to explain his exit in a way that's believable to the show's many fans. Having Severide take on a role at the OFI would likely keep him in Chicago while still explaining why the character is offscreen in future episodes.
So what does this mean for Firehouse 51 Lt. Kidd? Fans were shaken when Kidd was missing from the show in season 10. However, she made a welcome return during the season 10 midseason finale. Thankfully, she's been back in full force in season 11, as show creator Derek Haas promised.
"Yes, she's back for good, but she has a lot of explaining to do," he told TV Line. "The next batch of episodes, certainly, the driving force of them will be Stella Kidd's return to Firehouse 51 and all the offshoots of that."
As for what Severide's exit from the series means for his relationship with Kidd, that remains to be seen.
"In the next couple of episodes, the strength of their relationship will be tested as a revelation about Kidd's past in the CFD comes to light," producer and writer Andrea Newman told NBC. "Severide and Kidd are about as in love as two people can be, but that doesn't mean there won't be bumps and challenges. Especially because they work together in such a high-pressure environment."
"Chicago Fire" airs Wednesdays on NBC at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT. You can also stream the show on Peacock.
READ MORE: 'Chicago Fire' Meet The Current & Future Cast Members Of The Hit NBC Drama
Enjoy all things country?
Don't miss a story! Sign up for daily stories delivered to your inbox.