CBS this Friday invited you to Fire Country, its new drama co-created by and starring SEAL Team vet Max Thieriot. Did TV’s latest firefighter series ignite your interest?
Fire Country stars Thieriot as Bode Donovan, who is currently serving time for attempted robbery/holding a liquor store owner at gunpoint. When Bode loses his latest appeal for parole, his lawyer nudges him to consider the inmate firefighting program, where in exchange for helping Cal Fire battle blazes you get time shaved off your sentence. (You also apparently get $5 a day just for showing up, plus an extra $2/hour when fighting fires.)
Max agrees to enter the program, but en route in the prison bus discovers that he is being stationed in Edgewater, California — the hometown he years ago left. “For a reason.” Upon arriving at Three Rock, Bode tries to call his lawyer, but is told there are no phone privileges for a week, so he tasks his ADD buddy Freddy (W Tre Davis) with chatting up a delivery man. We then meet Manny (Kevin Alejandro), the Cal Fire chief in charging of teaching the inmates; Manny was previously spotted when the prison bus passes by a local ceremony where his daughter Gabriela (Stephanie Arcila) was being gifted a “key to the city.” More on her in a bit.
In Edgewater proper, we see fire chief Vince (Billy Burke) try but fail to secure city funds for a new Caterpillar that would help quickly clear foliage from the paths of fires. In the course of his failed presentation, Vince lobs a barb at police chief Sharon (Diane Farr), whom we later realize he is in fact married to. (No great surprise there, oldest trick in the TV pilot book!)
On their first night at Three Rock, Bode and Freddy sneak out to meet up with delivery man “MVP,” to secure a burner phone. But before that rendezvous happens, Bode comes to the rescue of Gabriela, a local celeb of sorts (the Olympian is the 14th best diver in the world!) whose car happened to break down right where the guys were waiting. Gabriela is wary of Bode in his prison orange tee and whips out a pistol from her handbag, but ultimately lets him get her up and running again. In the course of helping Gabriela, Bode clocks a photo of her with boyfriend Jake (Jordan Calloway) — whom Bode clearly recognizes.
Jake, along with Eve (Jules Latimer), work at Cal Fire with Vince. The two had been good friends with Riley, whom we come to surmise was Vince and Sharon’s dearly departed daughter. Vince overhears Jake and Eve talking about learning to move on from that years-ago tragedy; later, he laments to Sharon that the two of them, alas, will never be able to do that.
Manny finds the phone Freddy got from MVP, but Bode jumps in to claim it is his, since a 90-day prison sentence add-on is on the line. In private, Bode explains to Manny he had no intention of being stationed in his hometown. He also talks of how the liquor store owner had written the parole board a letter saying that he sees a chance for Bode to eventually “succeed.” With that in mind, Manny invites Bode to swing into action when a random car accident triggers a massive forest fire.
While Bode, Freddy et al “cut lines” (i.e. dig trenches that form a barrier between the fire and the town), Jake and Eve find themselves surrounded by flames on a high ridge, and the former is pinned down by a fallen tree. Against Manny’s orders, but quoting the fire captain’s handout — “Keep calm, think clearly and act decisively” — Bode grabs a chainsaw and makes tracks for the ridge. He finds and frees Jake, all the while concealing his face, and then saves Jake’s life when the fire consumes them and they need to duck inside Bode’s portable shelter. After the fire passes, the guys emerge from the shelter and Bode reveals himself… and then slugs Jake!
As Eve tries to break things up, we learn through the gents’ shouted accusations that on the night Riley died, Bode had gone to pick her up from Jake’s and found her sobbing. When Riley tried to jump out of Bode’s car to go back and talk to Jake, Bode reached for her, and in doing so he lost control of the car — leading to a fatal crash. “It’s my fault that she died,” Bode tells Jake, “but it’s on you that she died with a broken heart!” Bode says he came to rescue Jake and Eve in part because he couldn’t let Jake die a hero.
At the hospital in the aftermath of the blaze, Sharon realizes that Bode is the man who rescued Jake and Eve. She clears his hospital room and then gives her son a big hug. Vince arrives a moment later to ask, with a disappointed look on his face, “Bode, what the hell are you doing here?”
What did you think of Fire Country‘s debut, and will you stay tuned?