Thursday, November 19, 2015

REVIEW: 'Chicago P.D.' - Erin Worries About Voight's Personal Connections and Methods in 'Never Forget I Love You'

NBC's Chicago P.D. - Episode 3.09 "Never Forget I Love You"

When the decapitated body of a woman found in Lake Michigan is connected to Voight's social circle, Erin fears his relationship with the group may hinder his ability to approach the case objectively. Roman is having a hard time coping with recent events and an error in judgment causes him to make a grave mistake. 

Hank Voight has had a very complicated history in the Chicago franchise. He was introduced in Chicago Fire's first season as an antagonistic figure who needed to be sent to jail for his crimes. During that arc, the creative team really liked the energy of the character. So they decided to have him step up into the lead for the P.D. spinoff. That meant they needed to make the character multi-dimensional. That hasn't always been successful. Sometimes it's frustrating watching as he exploits his connections for his own personal benefit. That has been less crucial to the character for the last year or so. But it still presents a challenge when the show decides to do an episode that's all about his connections to the various gang elements of the city.

The show has found a way to continually justify Voight's methods of police work. His methods are a necessary evil in order to keep good cops on the job and put bad people behind bars. He boasts that he has never put an innocent person in jail and doesn't plan on starting now in this episode. That's a code that is easy to understand. So even though he is investigating people who he is seemingly friends with, he doesn't allow that to block his judgment. Voight wants answers in this murder by decapitation of a 20-something pregnant dancer. He is given answers by this mob outfit. But he also wants to make sure that everyone is rightfully given their fare punishment.

Erin questions a lot of Voight's actions in this episode. She comes from a place of pure optimism as a detective. This is her second chance with the unit. She wants to do things the right way so that she doesn't spiral down in despair again. That means questioning Voight when she's not sure he has the unit's best interests at heart. She knows how connected he is to the people they are investigating. She has a connection to Voight that no one else in the unit has. She feels comfortable calling him out for possibly doing the wrong thing. He always has his mind on the big picture. Erin just wants to make sure that he hasn't lost sight of that. It's a weird dynamic for the show to depict in this hour. It forces Erin to be a little bit more naive. That can be trumped up by her still getting back into the rhythms of being a detective. This is the first time her complicated history with Voight defines their relationship on the job since her return. That's so important for the character. But she also is given a big lesson about how the world and this organization actually work by Voight. It's answers that don't come in the end. But they do make the overall story much easier to swallow.

Voight knows that the suspect his outfit friends have given him is innocent of this murder. He would be easy to blame because he has slight mental disabilities due to an accident from his previous stint in jail. The guy maintains his innocence until his lawyer comes in. After that moment, the story shifts. He confesses to the crime. It's apparent from that moment that the lawyer is the reason why. But the show also puts a bigger look on the actually boss of this operation. The victim was sleeping with him. But her baby couldn't be his because he had a vasectomy a few years ago. So that answer is able to keep his friendship with Voight strong. Looking at this guy as a suspect had the potential to put all of the characters at risk because of how much power and influence this boss man actually has. The story didn't come to that though. In fact, the lawyer did the crime.

The resolution to this story is not completely typical of a police procedural though. Voight gives the lawyer a choice. He can either confess to the crime and spend the rest of his life in prison. Or he could walk out the door and face whatever painful punishment his employers have planned for him. In that moment, the show truly embraces its own brutality. The lawyer chooses to leave and walks straight into his bosses. Erin watches as they drive off with him - likely to never be seen again. It's suppose to be okay because it was the lawyer's choice to go free knowing what punishment was awaiting him. But it still should resonant with the detectives more since they just let a man die and let that be the resolution to this heinous crime. The lawyer was guilty. But does that mean everyone is okay with the justice that was delivered to him? Or are they all just comfortable with Voight's methods and don't want to question them? Erin hates it but she comes to accept Voight as the person he is - both as a father figure and a boss.

Plus, it seems that Voight is going to help Burgess and Roman out of a tricky situation. Roman has gotten very attached to this woman. He couldn't save her sick kid from dying even though he tried his best to save his life. That was admirable. It shows just how good of a guy he really is. But he has also formed an attachment to this woman that could be affecting his judgment on the job. He is willing to do whatever it takes to protect her when her ex-husband finally comes back into the picture. He knows that any kind of restraining order won't do any good. So, he just goes and threatens the guy. Burgess is along for the ride but she sees just how personal Roman is taking all of this. It leads to an ambiguous shootout in the alley after the ex-husband does bodily harm to the woman. It's a confrontation that leads to the man's death. Roman fully believed he saw a gun. He shot and will need to deal with the consequences of his personal closeness to the case. Burgess calls Voight because he'll be able to help them out of this mess. Despite this, Roman is still a good police officer. But Voight fixing this for him will have strings attached. So that's an enticing complication for the future.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Never Forget I Love You" was directed by Terry Miller with story by Ryan Maldonado & Eduardo Javier Canto and teleplay by Craig Gore & Tim Walsh.
  • Platt has found an engagement magazine in Mouch's truck. So now, she is so excited by a wedding that she is fine with anything her officers want to do. Plus, she starts a bet with Burgess over who will get married first. That's a fun development in this story.
  • It sure is interesting that everyone in the unit senses the tension between Voight and Erin and just let's it play out between them. They all know when to keep quiet and not to interrupt them.
  • It's weird that the show features Ruzek being pushed off the side of an elevated patio and never follows up on how he recovers from it. Initially he says he isn't fine from the fall. But Jay and Antonio treat it as the action that lead to the guy's arrest.
  • The decapitated body coming out of the river was probably as nude as a show can depict a body on NBC.
  • This is also the final episode of the show for 2015. The cliffhanger with Roman is a fine way to go out. Though it will definitely be weird to see characters from P.D. pop up on Fire and Med (which will still be airing new episodes in the next few weeks) and not know what's happening in this corner of the universe.