WARNING: SPOILERS FOR THE ENTIRE FIRST SEASON OF CHICAGO P.D.!!!!!!
Yes I am! Wait… Damn! It would seem that in my excitement, I have prematurely ruined the expertly crafted foreshadowing just one paragraph above! But the excitement is nonetheless warranted. Chicago P.D., over the course of its short fifteen episode season, managed to not only maintain, but improve upon, most of the things I so enjoyed about the first couple of episodes. Rarely do I find a procedural that I enjoy this much. Sure, some of them have some grit, others have great characters or character development, and some are great at weaving the week to week stories in with an interesting and overarching plot, but few are able to accomplish all of these things. Luckily for NBC and Chicago P.D. fans, this show does just that.
Chicago P.D. focuses mainly on the Intelligence Division of the CPD, somewhat of a very local FBI. They are plain clothes officers who deal with the “big fish”, and thanks to their fearless leader, Hank Voight (Jason Beghe, X-Men: First Class), they do it “by any means necessary”. Since I mentioned that phrase, I might as well get a small complaint about the show out of the way. They use that phrase, “by any means necessary” a lot in the show, specifically voiced by Voight. It’s unfortunately one of the rare times I roll my eyes at the writing in the show. Regardless though, the phrase remains an accurate description of what the show is all about. These guys are willing to do almost anything to get the job done. This, of course, also means that a dirty cop’s ultimate nemesis, Internal Affairs, plays a big part in the show.
Sergeant Edwin Stillwell (Ian Bohen, The Dark Knight Rises), is a great addition to the season, about a quarter of the way through, and adds some legitimate fear that Voight may not be able to get away with bending the rules as he sees fit for very much longer. He presents himself as tough, unable to be bought, and aggressive enough to try tactics like installing Detective Sumners (Sydney Tamiia Poitier, Grindhouse) in the Intel division and even more surprisingly, getting Detective Jin (Archie Kao, Power Rangers Lost Galaxy) to turn on everyone. The reveal at the end of the season that Voight knows about the betrayal by Jin, and his subsequent death, was very shocking to me. Sure the show does push the limits at times in terms of the good guys doing the wrong thing, for the right reason, but expected the safer play here. Instead of Voight forgiving Jin and bringing him back into the fold, icing out Stillwell or using the bug in his office against him somehow, the season ends in cold-blooded murder. It was a bold move that worked for me.
Dick Wolf and Derek Haas also weave in several other great stories this season. The two that can’t be ignored are that of Detective Erin Lindsay (Sophia Bush, One Tree Hill) and her past, and Detective Antonio Dawson (Jon Seda, Twelve Monkeys) and an extremely crazy Adres Diaz (Arturo del Puerto, The Devil’s in the Details), aka Pulpo. The first involves one of my favorite small screen actresses, in one Sophia Bush (Yes, I did watch One Tree Hill). This is a role unlike she’s played before, and she is able to balance it so that she maintains the right amount of innocence needed to play the daughter-like figure to Voight, and still remains a total badass. Women amongst men be damned, she holds her on in every way, as do many other strong female characters in the show. Likewise, the story arc involving Antonio and Pulpo is the first one to hook you, at the beginning of the season, and then is brought back towards the end to great effect. Puerto is exceptional as the deranged cartel boss who receives far too much pleasure from Antonio’s suffering.
There are numerous other great stories told throughout the season like the promotion of Atwater (Laroyce Hawkins, The Express), one of my favorites on the show, to the Intel division; the dynamic between Sergeant Platt (Amy Morton, Up in the Air) and pretty much every other character; Voight’s son Justin (Josh Segarra, The Music Never Stopped) being released from prison; or Ruzek (Patrick John Flueger, The 4400) and Burgess (Marina Squerciati, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2) and their complicated relationship. The all weave together perfectly and in a way that allows you to get attached and invested in many, if not all, of them. The show also manages a pace that is borderline perfection, keeping you just on the edge of your seat for the full forty-two minute ride.
Overall, Chicago P.D. is a wonderful addition to the great legacy of procedural dramas that both NBC and Dick Wolf have been known for since Law & Order premiered back in 1990. It amps up the pace a bit more than most shows of its kind, and goes to some much darker places, but that tradition is still clearly at the heart of the show, and I know that’s part of the reason it speaks to me. I can’t wait to see what the show brings us next year as it starts its second season. I should also be up to date on its sister show, Chicago Fire, which I highly recommend watching if you enjoyed Chicago P.D., as the two are very closely linked.