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Chicago PD - Politics - Review: "Shades of Gray"

After an amazing episode last week, Chicago P.D. followed up with an average episode. That’s not to say “Politics” was bad, but it just wasn’t at the same caliber as “Care Under Fire.” Part of that just has to do with the lack of interest I have in Burgess and her new relationship. We only just met her boyfriend this episode, so how are we supposed to react when they break up? As far as I’m concerned, he was just an obstacle in the way of Burzek’s eventual reunion. There was also very little follow up on Halstead’s storyline from last week which was disappointing as Jesse Lee Stoffer has been the surprise standout this season. I get that the show is trying this new format of featuring one character per episode along with Voight having a prominent subplot, but I’m starting to think the series would benefit from more of an ensemble approach, focusing on several characters each episode, like they did with the continuation of Atwater’s storyline over two episodes.

Despite my disappointment with the episode, the actual case of the week was pretty good. I thought the show was going to revisit the idea of someone being framed for a crime they didn’t commit but was pleasantly surprised when it turned out the prime suspect Congressman Graynor was actually the target of an identity theft. The dead Ukrainian woman, in turn, was murdered by a low-ranking member of the Odessa mob, the same criminal organization Burgess’ boyfriend Matt just so happens to be investigating. In an effort to identify their prime suspect, Burgess makes the mistake and tells Matt about Intelligence’s current case, thinking he could help. Voight is rightfully angry upon learning this, believing the Feds only look out for themselves, with his sentiments being confirmed when the FBI tips off their murder suspect. He then goes off on Burgess, loud enough for the entire team to hear, about how the FBI doesn’t care about their murder case and them helping Intelligence down the road is complete crap. Despite her screw up, Burgess is the only person who can fix this mess, and thanks to her deception, the team is able to arrest their suspect. Of course, the FBI is less than thrilled with how things turn out, as Intelligence put their two-year investigation in jeopardy. I really liked the decision to pit Intelligence against the FBI because unlike some other procedural dramas, Intelligence doesn’t really get to go toe to toe with other law enforcement or government agencies. While it appears Intelligence has won this round, their victory could spell trouble further down the line. Viewers are used to Voight picking a fight with literally everyone, but going up against a federal agency isn’t the same thing. His decision to essentially ignore the FBI’s wishes will probably have unforeseen consequences later in the season. I actually prefer watching Voight go head to head with the FBI rather than Woods because the former conflict has the added benefit of unpredictability.

This episode also succeeds in its examination of how we quantify a human life. While Intelligence and the FBI both do the same job, they aren’t on the same team. Intelligence is trying to get justice for a murder victim while the FBI wants to take down the Odessa mob, valuing the lives of thousands over one dead “Ukrainian hooker.” The situation was somewhat similar to Voight and Woods’ disagreement in “Care Under Fire,” where Woods was willing to give narcotics $700,000 to take down drug dealers and get opioids off the street but not spend $900,000 to save one kid’s life. These scenarios are prime examples of rudimentary ethics, where philosophy students would weigh the moral implications of killing one person to save five. As adapted by the show, the FBI wants to let one murderer go unpunished to save thousands of lives by taking down the Odessa mob. If you take emotion out of it, allowing a killer to go free to save thousands seems justifiable. Yet, we are not robots. We have feelings and the person killed was an 18-year-old girl who was being held hostage. She isn’t just some a hypothetical person now; she had a mother who loved her, friends who cared about her, a life that was cut short. So Voight made a decision to get justice for a dead girl and put her killer away. Was he right? Who’s to say? The case against the Odessa mob could have fallen apart and people wouldn’t have been any safer, or the FBI could have put away dangerous criminals and saved thousands. Personally, there are too many unknowns for me to make a definitive conclusion about who was right. Again, we’re dealing with shades of gray, and that’s where the series continues to shine this season.

And now onto the most disastrous part of the episode. First, I want to start by reiterating that I have nothing against the character of Burgess. I actually like her, especially when I care about her storylines, but how can the show expect me to care about a relationship we’ve only heard about and never seen? I mean, viewers were just introduced to Matt this episode, and he wasn’t anything special, so while Burgess may be crying over the end of her relationship, I don’t really care. Voight forces Burgess to make a choice and she does, putting the team before her relationship with Matt. The decision Burgess makes is literally no different than the one Matt does after finding about Intelligence’s case. Matt could have just as easily told Burgess the name of the suspect, but he decided to put his job first as well. It’s actually pretty hypocritical the way Matt acts toward Burgess at the end of the episode, as he essentially did the same thing by filling in the FBI. Yes, arguments can be made that it’s not the same because he didn’t actively deceive Burgess, but they both made decisions where they put their work first. I’m sure Matt is a nice enough guy, but there are still plenty of unresolved feelings between her and Ruzek, so it probably wouldn’t have worked out anyway. Even though Burgess was with someone else, she still went to Ruzek for advice about what to do. She could have gone to Atwater or someone else, but she chose to confide in her ex-fiancĂ©. It was really sweet that Ruzek told Burgess whatever decision she made would be the right one, and that hug wasn’t strictly platonic either. I mean, Ruzek is obviously still in love with Burgess, and after her recent breakup, I sense a reconciliation of sorts isn’t too far off. It may just be a hookup, but those two are not done with each other. Given that next week is the fall finale, I’m predicting there will definitely be sparks flying between the two former lovers.

This week’s episode also featured Price calling in the favor Voight owes him for keeping quiet about McGrady’s suicide from “Fallen.” While Voight isn’t happy right now, I’m glad the series didn’t wait too long to bring it back up. It always annoys me when shows bring up some obscure plotline after several seasons later, when viewers have already forgotten about it. Like I’ve mentioned before, I really enjoy Voight and Price’s dynamic, but this may be the end of the line for the duo. After Price forces Voight to give him a crime scene photo of Graynor and the murdered victim, Voight declares they are no longer friends. Price doesn’t see how this deal is any different from the ones they already made, but Voight counters that the other deals only blew up the lives of criminals; this time an innocent bystander is caught in the crosshairs. Graynor was a mark of the identity theft ring and had nothing to do with the murder, but if that crime scene photo got out, it would ruin his reputation. What makes it harder is that Voight likes Graynor; the congressman is a straight shooter and openly supports the police. While Price could have been bluffing about coming clean about McGrady’s suicide, it wasn’t a risk Voight was willing to take. If the truth had come out, it could ruin careers, including his as he helped cover it up. Price essentially backed Voight into a corner, and Voight made the only decision he could to protect himself and his team. I’m not sure if the writers have plans to bring Graynor or Price back, but I’d rather see them again over Woods. I feel like I’m beating a dead horse with my dislike of Woods, but hopefully the fall finale is the last time we have to see him.

As for what else happens this episode, we learn Halstead is being investigated by internal affairs about the fight at the bar while undercover. Both Halstead and Voight are confused how internal affairs found out, as Ruzek kept the extent of the fight out of the report. What they don’t know is that Ruzek gave Woods the video footage of the fight, essentially making the report obsolete. What I find interesting is that Ruzek told Burgess she made the right decision in picking Intelligence over Matt, yet when faced with the same choice, he chose his family instead of the team. As this episode really tries to drive home is that sometimes there is no right or wrong choice; we just do our best given the circumstances. Of course, I doubt Voight will see it that way. Based on the previews for the fall finale, it looks like the truth about Ruzek’s spying will come out, and Voight looks mad. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ruzek keeps his job but is demoted to being a patrol officer. Voight values loyalty above everything else, willing to take a bullet for any member of his team, so he’s not going to take too kindly to finding out about Ruzek’s betrayal. I’m pretty sure after Voight is done yelling, he and Ruzek will come up with a plan to get Woods off their backs once and for all. However, even if Voight is willing to work with Ruzek to get rid of Woods, he wouldn’t forget that easily.

Some stray thoughts:
- It seems that Upton and I are on the same wavelength as she suggests that Halstead see a therapist. Despite her best intentions, Halstead once again brushes off her concern, claiming to be fine, which we all know he is the furthest thing from.
- I feel like we were promised more romantic relationships, but the show failed to deliver. Wasn’t Upton supposed to love interest, and whatever happened to Dawson and Brett getting back together? (Yes, I’m aware I spent a good portion of my review harping on about the Ruzek/Burgess/Matt love triangle, but what other significant romantic relationships have there been?)

So hit the comments to let me know your thoughts. Are you Team Intelligence or Team FBI? Do you really care that Burgess and Matt broke up? Have we seen the last of Price? What will happen to Ruzek in the fall finale?


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