Wednesday, January 13, 2016

REVIEW: 'Chicago P.D.' - Erin Leads the Search for Robbers While Voight's Cellmate Returns in 'Knocked the Family Right Out'

NBC's Chicago P.D. - Episode 3.11 "Knocked the Family Right Out"

After a luxury condo is robbed, the team is shocked to learn that not only was the family fast asleep but their teenaged daughter was violated as well. Voight confirms his suspicion that the family was knocked out by a powerful gas. The team goes undercover to seek out the perpetrators. Voight tries to help a former acquaintance get back on his feet. Platt and Mouch receive disappointing news regarding their upcoming wedding.

Chicago P.D. features a very unsettling case at the core of "Knocked the Family Right Out." That is made apparent in the opening moments of the episode. A woman is asleep on the couch with the TV on. And then, a group of robbers enter the apartment. They absolutely trash the place. And yet, the woman does not wake up. In fact, there is a whole family in this house and none of them here this noise at all. The robbers have knocked them out with gas and have taken full advantage of the situation. It's a horrifying prospect that the show doesn't take lightly. However, the various aspects of the investigation could have been handled in a much more meaningful way as well.

The show never forgets the human cost of this crime. The daughter of the family was raped during this break-in as well. That gives the hour a strong emotional through-line. And yet, it also just feels like the episode is going through the motions. It's sensitive to the subject because it's a horrifying experience. But it never truly delves into what this experience actually means for the characters. Erin is there for this family in their time of need. She's the one who understands what has happened to the daughter and is there for her throughout the process. This is an episode about Erin as she tries to get justice for this family. She's the one who supports this family. She's there for the daughter at the hospital. Moreover, she's there for the father who doesn't want to leave the precinct until the people responsible for this despicable crime have been caught. All of this is significant. It just doesn't have a whole lot of time to actually become all that emotional resonant.

That can also be said of the main case. The premise is much more compelling and horrifying than the actual investigation. The team tracks down several leads. It does allow a number of the detectives to go undercover at a club in an attempt to catch the guy who has this knock out gas. That affords the cast a chance to dress up and look pretty for a little bit before needing to save a woman from overdosing and chasing the suspect into the pool. Jay sure does make a lot of last second plunges into danger in the name of arresting a suspect, doesn't he? But it's still just marking time a little bit. The show even introduces a second victim who is much more than she appears to be. That character's introduction is the reason why the unit is able to put all the pieces together and solve this case. The second victim is actually a member of the team who only claimed to be raped in order to provide an alibi for her fellow robber who's in police custody.

First of all, it's a terrifying thought to claim rape just to create a story. It's sickening really. That's a quality the show doesn't shy away from in the final moments of the case. But it's a tad problematic as well. Erin tracks down where the second "victim" has run off to and gets knocked out herself. That leads to the sensational threat that Erin will be killed just so these robbers can get away with their crimes. It doesn't particularly track all that well with their previous behavior. But then again, it's difficult to understand anything about these robbers. The show never properly explains why they are doing all of this. It just goes through the motions of this investigation. There's just a throwaway line in the end that justifies this whole experience saying that they started doing this just for the fun. That hardly is good enough justification - especially for putting one of the team in peril and then delving into a foot chase with gun play. So it's a bit too wobbly to really work all that well. But they still catch the criminals and they won't be able to harm the family anymore.

Additionally, Voight's former cellmate at prison, Eddie, has made parole and is back in town. Eddie had a very brief introduction at the start of the season that indicated a close bond between him and Voight. And now, he's about to play a more integral role in the season. It's unclear what exactly that will be. He largely walks into the room to make his re-introduction to the narrative clear. He tells Ruzek all the complaints about the wedding that Burgess is too afraid to say. That creates an awkwardness between them. But that's never really important later on in the hour. Voight does get the hint that Eddie could be making a dangerous decision with his future very soon. He wants the chance at a better life and may become an informant for the police just to get the money. But that will put him back in the world that got him sent to prison in the first place. It's not something that Voight wants for his friend. But it's almost certain that it will complicate his job in the not so distant future. It's a good enough tease. But that largely comes from the appeal of Clancy Brown playing the role.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Knocked the Family Right Out" was written by Mo Masi and directed by Mark Tinker.
  • Jay sure was quick to shoot the suspect with the knife to Erin's throat. Plus, how did he get to that part of the house without running into either of the other suspects?
  • Ruzek, Atwater and Olinsky got to be a part of an entertaining chase sequence in the end too. The focus was largely on Ruzek as he exchanged a few bullets with the criminal. But Olinsky got to hit him with a car and Atwater was the one who finally stopped him.
  • Platt is very quick to flaunt her engagement and wedding planning in Burgess' face. She seems confident that all of this will go off without a hitch. Unfortunately, her plans hit a snag when she learns that her father can't pay for as much of it as she was planning.
  • Also, was Platt seriously expecting her father to pay for her entire wedding? And is the audience to believe that between her and Mouch, they won't be able to afford what they really want?
  • It's really incredulous that Herrmann is already back to work at Molly's after his life was in peril just last week for the crossover event! His appearance was so distracting because of it too.
  • Erin reaches out to a former friend she knew when she was getting high. She gives her some money in order to learn who has this type of gas on the streets. I wonder if that contact will ever appear again on the show?
  • Dr. Ethan Choi from Med pops up to react in bland horror to the case that Intelligence is currently working and Jimmy from Fire delivers the exposition about the house being filled with the gas.