Fire Country Round Table: Are the Storylines Getting a Little Too Soapy In Season 2?

TV Fanatic

At its best, Fire Country is one of the most thrilling dramas on network television.

Borrowing the best elements from the procedural and nighttime soap genres, the show's first season took a risky premise. It developed it into a bonafide hit with writing a notch above the standard primetime fare.

The secret was relatable characters whose interpersonal drama helped to offset the wackiness of some of the more outlandish action storylines.

Is the show sacrificing the believability of its first season by featuring implausible emergency scenarios?

Did the writers paint themselves into a corner with a premise that all but demands that they raise the stakes week after week? We've already considered that Fire Country may have fizzled out, but we're here with a more detailed discussion.

TV Fanatics Jasmine, Lucy, Sara, and Tyler discussed these matters and more during our latest Fire Country round table discussion for Fire Country Season 2 Episode 4:

The season started with a prison knife fight that was interrupted by an earthquake, and it hasn’t slowed down since. Is it time for Fire Country to ease up on the melodrama, or do you enjoy the faster pace?

Jasmine Peterson:
I don't mind the faster pace, although they're pushing their limits with how much they opt to cram into a single episode at once. The faster pace related to the calls they go on is perfectly fine and entertaining.

My issue is the melodrama. I need them to scale back by a thousand when it comes to that because it even spills into those great action sequences that make the series so interesting.

The last thing I want to deal with when I'm watching technicolor fire in the woods or heroic rescues in caverns is for them to break away so Bode can pout or Gabriella can make google-eyes at him, or for Vince and Sharon to bicker, or Vince and Liam to have, um, hose-measuring contests.

It's the messy, personal melodrama that I'm struggling with, which really hits home for me when I have to describe the current plots of this series to a novice who swears I'm describing something from Days of Our Lives rather than a primetime drama.

Lucy Peel: This show raises my blood pressure like no other. But I find the pacing a little odd sometimes. They need to urgently stop the fire from getting to the house nearby, but they have time for a little heart-to-heart.

I think the fast-paced nature of the fire scenes works well, but as Jasmine said, I would much prefer the action to be the action without the interpersonal stuff mixed in.

The exception for me was on Fire Country Season 2 Episode 3, with the conflict between Vince, Sharon and Liam and Vince helping Sharon get through that fire with an engine full of people and Jake and Gabriela on the roof.

The entire sequence was amazing and in that case, the interpersonal drama added to the action, rather than detracted from it. But I am not enjoying Vince and Sharon otherwise, and Bode is grating on me. The whole Leone family is not high on my list right now.

Sara Trimble: While I enjoy fast-paced storylines as much as the next viewer, I have to say that, so far, I’m underwhelmed by this season. The show has non-stop action, but it’s overworked. As much as I love Bode, I’ve struggled with his behavior.

I get that he’s excited about the potential to become a dad, but the scriptwriting for it isn’t there. Instead of being the badass he was in Season 1, it’s like he’s trying too hard this season. And it keeps falling apart.

I would like to see the next few episodes slow down some. You can’t take out all of the action, but I would like to see the show have a calmer day where the scenes don’t put more tension into the storyline that’s unfolding.

Especially at the emotional angle. I'd like to see a normal day at the camp so we can really get to see the development of the side characters.

I think this would help Eve get a better connection with her crew and see them as potential firefighters redeemed from their crimes versus convicts out of good behavior. Manny was able to relate to the inmate firefighters in a way that Eve hasn't so far, and it's been an issue.

Much like Bode is trying to force his possible relationship, the writers are trying to develop something in the first few episodes that really shouldn’t get resolved until the end. Or next season.

Tyler Johnson: I agree with Lucy about the sequence in which Vince took over the drone operator and talked Sharon through the woods.

That whole storyline showcased what this series does best. The family drama and the action scenes complemented each other perfectly, with each informing the other in interesting ways.

If this show can accomplish that more often, then the more over-the-top action sequences might become less eye-roll-inducing.

Fire Country is in a trickier position than most of TV's civil-service dramas. The sort of professional drama that cops encounter is easier to tie into the setbacks they're coping with at home.

Unless a character keeps burning themself on the stove, the task is a little more challenging when it comes to firefighters.

The writers have done an impressive job of coming up with new emergency scenarios week after week, but do you think they’re in danger of running out of fire-related storylines? Did this show start out with an unsustainable premise?

By the season finale, I had a strong suspicion that they didn't anticipate this series becoming such a massive hit and likely risked writing themselves into a corner with its premise. I haven't been dissuaded from that position.

But to be fair, regarding emergency scenarios, if the 9-1-1 franchise can continue to come up with the most outrageous calls in the most spectacular fashion, Fire Country isn't at risk of burning through emergencies anytime soon.

Lucy: As we've learned from all of the fire-related shows out there, there is an inherent unpredictability in fighting fires. All it takes is one little variable to change the course of the emergency, which the writers can certainly use to their advantage.

I'd also like to see other rescues, not just those dealing with flames. The cave rescue was more out of the box, and it gave Gabriela a chance to shine.

Given that the show is called Fire Country, that's clearly the focus, but we've seen all kinds of emergencies across the various franchises, and if we see more here, that will give the show a better chance of staying fresh.

Sara: There are several similar shows on the air, from Station 19 to Chicago Fire to 911. And if you look at past series, you’ll see that we have an unhealthy obsession with emergency response shows.

So, I feel that there are plenty of materials to keep the series going in terms of emergency scenarios. And if done right, there’s enough going on with the characters to keep things interesting.

But it’s going to take some work to keep up the high pace of life-risking episodes while simultaneously juggling the characters' personal lives. There is a risk of focusing too heavily on one side of the show and not leaving enough room to grow out the rest.

However, there are only so many things a writer can do with the limits of fire and a prison firefighter team before everything has been done. I think it’s important that writers and producers spend a bit more time getting us invested in the characters before worrying that there are no more ideas for fire scenes.

If we don’t love the people, why do we care about what they’re going through? And at this moment, I’m not sure I like them anymore. In the short time Season 2 has been on, I’ve already lost respect and my fondness for several main characters.

What about the prison plots? Should the writers spring Bode from jail so that he’s better able to involve himself in the lives of the other characters?

It may be an unpopular opinion, but their first mistake was dangling the idea that Bode could easily spring from prison in the first place. It was my understanding that the original premise of the series centered around exploring these prison-related fire camps.

It's Fire Country's most original concept that sets it apart from other first responder series. If anything, I wish they would develop that angle a bit more. During the first season, I wanted to spend a tad more time with secondary characters at Three Rock, but we never did beyond Freddy and that Reaper situation.

Lucy: Three Rock is integral to the show, and now with Manny going back (although in what capacity is entirely unclear to me - did I miss something?), I'd like to see more happen there.

I don't need drama in the camp a la Reaper, but it would be good to spend more time there and see more character development of the other inmates. And since the visiting hours seem pretty free, we could see more of the cast drop by on the regular.

Not having Bode stop by Smokey's doesn't bother me. Between Three Rock's presence at the fires and having Manny, Eve and Bode all at Three Rock, there are plenty of opportunities for Bode to interact with the cast. They've even got Cara coming to the scenes, so she's not missing either.

Sara: I’ve given a lot of thought to whether I think Bode should stay an inmate fighter at Three Rock or if there would be greater character growth if he got sprung.

I feel that his being in prison gives the show an element of drama that the other fire shows are missing. If you take that aspect away, you’ll have another fire show that has to compete with what’s established.

Given the short time FC has been on the air, I don’t feel like there’s been enough progress and character development to make it last long if they take away the prison aspect.

We’ve seen major growth in Bode but I think if we take him out of his confinement any time soon, all of his progress will fail. His rush to force the relationship with his potential daughter proves he still doesn’t think before he acts. That impulsiveness gets him in trouble while in prison. What would happen on the outside?

Eventually, I will enjoy seeing him on the other side of the fire line, maybe as a mentor or a second in command at the prison camp.

His involvement with his fellow prisoners might make him the perfect person to become a counselor or recruiter several seasons in if the show continues seeing success. Truly, the sky is the limit for Bode; when he is ready. But not anytime soon. That would be a final-season storyline.

And how about Bode declaring his love for Gabriela? Is this show rendering its lead character unlikable? Do we want Bode to win Gabi back, or is it time for him to move on?

I'm pretty sure they would've needed to call in the squad for me, as I was at risk of spontaneously combusting from second-hand embarrassment at that declaration if I didn't blind myself from rolling my eyes so hard first.

I may be starting to respect the commitment to making Bode the series' most annoying character. I can't say I've been invested in Bodelia, so I feel it's time for them to move on and work on themselves, but alas, as the primary ship, we all know they aren't going anywhere.

Lucy: Ugh. Either Bode needs a new girl, or Gabriela and Diego need to end things so that she and Bode can be endgame. I am not into lovesick Bode. His sudden desire to be a father to Gen and the way he looks at Gabi has got to stop. I think he's still likable, but he's kind of pathetic this season.

I enjoy badass Bode. His instincts are excellent - smashing the window to get those people out of the chemical plant, although sometimes foolhardy - going further into the plant after they got the people out.

But those types of actions are what made Season 1 so great. We need a resolution to the personal drama so we can get back to fightfighter Bode.

Sara: This may make me unpopular, but it doesn’t bother me any. I’ve never been a fan of the Bode/Gabi dynamic. And I was excited when it fell apart. Truly, maybe it’s just her I don’t like.

I don’t want to see Bode win Gabi back. I think she’s good where she is with the annoying paramedic she leeched to the second Bode hit a rough patch. She doesn't need him at his best if she can’t be with Bode at his worst. And I’d hate to see her influence on his potential child.

But I think now is the perfect time to bring in a companion for Bode. I believe it would reduce the strained storyline of his rush to step into fatherhood with a kid that might not be his. Maybe he should meet a female with a young fatherless child that he could adopt in time.

Eve’s struggle to balance her job duties with her compassion for the inmates has been one of my favorite storylines this season. Do you think the writers should focus more on the challenges of the job, or do you prefer the interpersonal drama involving ‘ships and families?

Ironically, I've struggled with Eve's storyline a lot. I understand the root of her struggles and can even identify from experience in some ways, but the execution of this storyline hasn't been the best.

I like a healthy balance of both, and it feels like this season, they've tipped too far into the latter rather than the former, but the challenges of the job have been written stronger. At the same time, the family and interpersonal drama has weak writing and execution.

Does that make any sense? We have an abundance of poorly written and executed interpersonal melodrama and not enough intriguing focus on job challenges.

Lucy: I am so happy that Eve has a more positive storyline this season. And I understand that her approach has to be a bit different from Manny's because, apparently, Sacramento is breathing down her neck (how many times have we heard that now).

But I'd like to see her stick up a little more for the Three Rock inmates. I thought she was softening up to Cole, so when she told him he was going back to prison, I was disappointed.

She stuck her neck out for Freddie, but now that she's the captain, she doesn't seem to want to. Three Rock is a huge component of this show; it needs a champion.

Sara: I’ve been on Team Eve since day one, but the last episode really put a damper on my girl crush. I get that she’s the new boss, and she’s trying to be by the book. But she’s being too cocky with her promotion, and not only is she alienating the crew but also her fellow firefighters.

She needs to stop acting like she knows everything and take some advice and direction from the man whose position she replaced. I still have my fingers crossed that Mannie will resume his role at Three Rock, even if it's not as head of command. Maybe a trusty sidekick?

They’ve spent time developing every other relationship this season. It’s time to get Eve in love, too. Maybe if she has someone to share her life with, she’ll reduce some stress and stop being such a hard-ass.

I’ll enjoy seeing her connect more personally with her crew once she settles into her new role.

And while we know that Eve, Bode, and Jake have a relationship that goes back decades, we don’t know much about her life. It would be nice to get some insight into her past to get a full view of who she is as a person.

Any closing thoughts on this season as a whole or the direction in which the show appears to be headed? Is there any way to make Bode less annoying, or has that ship sailed? How did someone with such cool parents wind up so corny?

At this rate, the running joke has to be Bode's insufferability as a Gary Stu with a hero-martyr complex, and I'm committed to making fun of him now. I've accepted that it won't change.

I do feel like the series is having an identity crisis this season, and I hope it decides what it wants to be and commits to that.

This season, it feels like they tossed family drama, fire action series, primetime soap, and procedural in a blender on high speed with no ice (or chill) and served up the most lukewarm, imbalanced smoothie in existence.

Lucy: A lot of the characters are going in the wrong direction, except for Jake. His development has been excellent this season. Watching him interact with Gen is great, and his actions as captain of 42 have been excellent.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I cannot stand Diego. He's pissed because Gabi isn't totally on board with working at his station. Why shouldn't she choose which station she works at?

And as much as she idolizes Vince and Sharon, maybe she inherently realizes that working together isn't the healthiest. Also, Bode told Gabi he loved her after he was unconscious; Gabi didn't say it back, so why was Diego so bent out of shape?

And Vince and Sharon. I'm not thrilled with them this season, either. Vince is doing the puppy dog thing with Sharon, too. He's coming off as a little pathetic this season. Sharon has upped her badassery a bit, but she's not super likable these days.

I hope the writers can tone down the angst and bring back the awesomeness of these characters from Season One.

And lastly, is it normal for firefighters' helmets to be askew? Vince and Sharon's helmets never seem to sit right on their heads, sort of like when little kids play dress-up.

Sara: So far, I haven’t found Season 2 to be as exciting and involved as the first season. Maybe I just got caught up in the fact that FC is the first series where Max Theriot is the leading actor.

I loved him so much on SEAL Team and even before that when he was a young confused PITA on The Pacifer starring Vin Diesel.

I have high expectations for any Fire series, partly because I have an affection for the career. I’ve been watching the niche for decades, and it seems like it’s all been done.

But Fire Country gives us a refreshing spin on the tried and true. And I love the premise, I love the characters, I love the banter. But I’ve lost affection for the current plot line and character developments.

I’ve lost quite a bit of respect for Bode’s mom. She was such a badass bitch in Fire Country Season 1. But when she came back this season, it was as a hussy.

I still don’t think she’s being truthful about her relationship with the drone pilot who came into town. It definitely won’t be the last time we see him this season. And I don’t think the tension is done between her and Bode, despite their recent reconnection moment.

IDK if there’s hope for pulling Bode back from the mess he’s become. It’s hard to understand the person they’re trying to make him into at the moment.

He went from a hardass, soon-to-be killer to a wimpy bugaboo baby daddy with the typical “it’s not fair. That’s my kid, and I deserve to be in her life” script. Not a fan.

I hold out hope that they get the show back on track. There is still a ton of potential with the storyline. If they get past the baby drama and power struggles and get back to redemption and saving lives, there may be hope for a Season 3.

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