Chicago Fire star Yuri Sardarov remembers he had one thing on his mind when he read the NBC drama's Season 2 finale: "Man, I better call my manager and see what's going on with my character," he tells TVGuide.com.
Sardarov likely wasn't alone. For those who don't remember, Chicago Fire wrapped its second season with a huge cliff-hanger that put the fate of nearly every member of Firehouse 51 — with the exception of Chief Boden (Eamonn Walker) — into question when a huge explosion went off inside the warehouse in the middle of a search and rescue. When the series returns for Season 3 this fall, showrunner Matt Olmstead confirms it will be without one of the show's familiar faces.
"Not everybody makes it out of that building," he says, "and then certainly what people deal with in terms of the loss of whomever that character is, that's definitely what we're dealing with in the first episode and beyond."
Fans won't have to wait long to figure out which member of the team will say goodbye in the Season 3 opener, which Olmstead says will pick right up after the accident. "In the episode, they're going to use a dramatic device that we've never used before on Fire to show the repercussions and why what happened happened. I just got the script. I've read it three times now and I've cried every single time," Sardarov says. "There will be many tears at the end of it."
Could the waterworks be because his character, Otis, is the one not coming back for Season 3? Not quite. "I'm very happy that I get to come back. It's exciting," Sardarov says. However, he is still in very much in the dark about what's to come. "I went and had lunch with [co-creator] Derek Haas. I walked into the writer's room and they had the board with the story lines for the entire season, and my name was the only name blacked out," he says.
This is far from Chicago Fire's first casualty; past deaths include firefighter Andy Darden, Casey's ex-fiancée Hallie Thomas and firefighter trainee Rebecca Jones. However, Olmstead says this upcoming death will hit the hardest. " In the pilot, there was a death of a character that you knew for about 30 seconds. This will be the death of a character that you're much more invested in," he says. "It's this family that takes a hit, and how do you come back from it? It's been done before, but not to this extent. ... The loss of a main character is a big deal."
Not only will the house suffer a major loss, but several others will suffer serious injuries that will impact the dynamics of Firehouse 51. "It does shake things up within the house in terms of who's doing what, because there are also injuries from that collapse and people have to make decisions of what they're going to do and how they're going to do it," he says. "It goes back to the original theme of the show in terms of this family."
One exciting development from the devastating loss will be a new closeness between two on-and-off estranged characters. "Because of the tragic aspects of what happens from that collapse, it brings Severide and Casey together," Olmstead says. "They kind of come together for different reasons as friends which is very gratifying to see it after all this time of them circling each other and not really [connecting]."
The team's loss also means there will be new blood in the firehouse this fall. "There will be a new face to ultimately fill in the role of the character that's not going to make it," Olmstead says.
But although it may be hard to fill the firefighter boots/paramedic shoes of the dearly departed cast member, Sardarov is optimistic about the forthcoming newcomer. "They do such an incredible job of finding the right actors to fit into the show. There hasn't been a single person guest star or regular that hasn't become a part of our family so it's just exciting to start to bring in different x factors and see how they fit," he says. "I know that whoever they bring is really going to relate to us very well and they're going to fit whatever holes are present."
Chicago Fire returns for Season 3 on Tuesday, Sept. 23 at 10/9c on NBC. Who do you think is going to die? Rewatch the Season 2 finale here.