Thursday, November 12, 2015

REVIEW: 'Chicago P.D.' - Intelligence Gets Involved with the NSA While Burgess Does a Favor for Mouch in 'Forget My Name'

NBC's Chicago P.D. - Episode 3.08 "Forget My Name"

When Intelligence follows up on a tip Antonio and Halstead received from a reliable informant about an upcoming drug trade, the team is shocked to discover the mutilated body of a government official. When the man's acquaintances are questioned, they discover he had access to very important devices. Burgess helps plan a surprise for Platt.

With Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D. both being renewed earlier this week and Chicago Med set to debut next Tuesday, it seemed like the appropriate time to check back in with the police-based spinoff. P.D. has always felt more redundant and unoriginal than Fire simply due to the sheer volume of police procedurals in the medium. And yet, the show found a way to tell character based stories in its second season that was consistently engaging. Sure, some characters still work much better than others. But the show got more confident with itself. The third season so far seems to be continuing that trend - even though the things that worked last season still work well and the things that didn't still don't.

Despite all of that though, "Forget My Name" really isn't that great of an episode. The main investigation isn't the must engaging story the show has ever done while the Atwater and Burgess stories were very subpar in their execution. The overall hour felt much more fixated on the main task at hand with the murder of a government official that landed at Intelligence following a tip from an NSA agent. The episode also addressed some other ongoing stories like Olinsky staying at Ruzek's apartment, the realities of Ruzek and Burgess' engagement, Jay and Erin's ongoing relationship, Roman's complicated dynamic with the mom of the kid he couldn't save, etc. But those were largely just five second remainders to keep them in the audience's memory despite them having no greater impact to the larger story of this episode.

So with the main investigation taking over most of the running time, it needed to have value to the detectives or have multiple exciting twists to keep the audience engaged. However, it was largely straightforward. Things got complicated after this NSA agent gave information to Antonio and Jay which put his job on the line. People got to complain about the government spying on its citizens - though that really had no bearing on this case except for the NSA connection. The man murdered worked for a government contracted company developing top secret technology that was also apparently stolen a couple of days ago. The only big twist in this story is that his wife did the crime because she fell in love with the head of security at the company. That's such a familiar twist that it no longer garners any surprise or suspense. It's tense as Mouse, Olinsky and Ruzek break into the suspect's house in order to plant bugs. But that doesn't lead to a whole lot of information. It fact it only reveals the affair - and then it takes the guy coming clean for the unit to know exactly what is going on. The women was very smart in avoiding detection by the police. She used a fake gas leak in order to slip away and had her partner make the trade off with the terrorists they were selling the technology to. And yet, Intelligence still caught her eventually - because her partner really liked to talk. It was a formulaic story that really had no surprise to it. It didn't really add anything to the show.

Meanwhile, Burgess is asked by Mouch to find out Platt's ring size because he is planning on proposing to her. That's a sweet tease for what's to come with that relationship. They've always been a fantastic romantic pairing between the two shows. It also connects well to this week's Chicago Fire where Mouch dropped the hint that Platt has made several allusions to marriage. Burgess really isn't subtle about learning this information though. Platt has a fantastic reaction to this very awkward encounter in the bathroom. However, Platt has proven herself to be an excellent detective. So, she should really see this coming - not only from the bathroom moment but later at Molly's when Burgess actually delivers the intel to Mouch while Platt is standing right there. Still a proposal is a great prospect for the future - though I wonder which show it will happen on.

Right now, it also feels like Atwater has been given the first meaningful character building arc he has ever been given. He's the least developed character on the show right now. He largely just exists to deliver exposition on the case of the week. He does have a spotlight episode every once and awhile but it's never done in a way that builds him up as a meaningful character in this universe. This pursuit of respect from a well regarded captain is a complicated story. Atwater wants it more than anything else but this captain is asking him to do something very questionable in letting his son get off despite Burgess and Roman arresting him several times. This captain was introduced as being a genuine role model figure - considering his weekly poker game was attended by Boden and Patterson from Fire. And yet, this episode suggests a man who is willing to bend the rules when it comes to his son. Him forcing Atwater to do that for him puts Atwater in a compromising situation. It's not an engaging story because of the lack of character development. The resolution to it may not do much for Atwater either. But the show is desperately trying to make him work - which is admirable if not entirely successful.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Forget My Name" was written by Mike Weiss and directed by Nick Gomez.
  • I really liked Mouse telling the NSA agent that sometimes "you just gotta ask." It wasn't a subtle dig at the morally of this agent's job but it was still very effective.
  • Antonio felt the pressure to close this case because he's the man who got the tip in the first place. But his relationship with the NSA agent stopped being all that relevant quickly into the episode. In fact, all the agent did was complain about the unit not being to get him out of this tricky legal situation.
  • It still makes no sense why Olinsky and his daughter are staying at Ruzek's place. Of all the people in the unit, why would Olinsky choose Ruzek's one bedroom apartment? Voight has an empty house now that Erin has moved out.
  • Jay had a contentious/flirtatious dynamic with the legal counsel to the government-backed company. She even gave him her number - which he promptly tore up because Erin was right there.
  • Did Burgess seriously not think it was strange that she and Ruzek don't live together despite being engaged? Yeah, this relationship isn't being set up for success right now. That's not saying it won't eventually work. They just have plenty of communication problems right now.
  • Dr. Charles is hanging at Molly's doing some work or reading the paper all the time it seems on this show. He pops up just so one of the regular P.D. characters can chat with him. In this case, that person is Burgess and they have one very bad conversation about people being okay. It was a weird way to close the episode.