Friday, May 5, 2017

REVIEW: NBC's 'Chicago Justice,' 'Chicago Fire,' 'Chicago P.D.' and 'Chicago Med' (April 30-May 4)

Reviews for NBC's Chicago franchise from April 30-May 4:

NBC's Chicago Justice - Episode 1.11 "AQD"
NBC's Chicago Fire - Episode 5.20 "Carry Me"
NBC's Chicago P.D. - Episode 4.21 "Fagin"
NBC's Chicago Med - Episode 2.22 "White Butterflies"

Due to the demands of Peak TV, it is becoming more and more difficult for this website to devote the time to full length episodic reviews. And yet, there are still thoughts to be had about the ongoing adventures on a number of series. So I thought it would be good to still write down a couple of brief thoughts about each episode on a weekly basis. Of course, you can still expect full reviews for premieres and finales. If NBC should make screeners available, those episodes would get detailed analysis as well. But for now, this will be the way to continue to provide content for these shows while also being a lighter workload for me.

Chicago Justice - "AQD"
When an anti-environmentalist Alderman is killed during a vicious hit-and-run, Antonio and Nagel go all out to track down the driver. But instead of this being an organized hit, it turns out the driver is a frantic mother desperate to save her kidnapped daughter. When Valdez discovers the mother was victim of a scam, the legal question becomes complicated: who is responsible for the Alderman's death? Written by Lawrence Kaplow & Elizabeth Rinehart and directed by Victor Nelli Jr.

There is a brief moment in this episode where Valdez is the one to make the crazy argument for arresting someone for a crime. It teases that this may be the episode where she takes charge in the courtroom as lead prosecutor. It is not. It is still all about Stone at the helm. Plus, it's boring and lame for this show to keep having its characters dumbfounded and sanctimonious about how technology has changed the way crimes are committed. And thus, they have to change the way they prosecute. It's a novel idea but the show still only wants to scratch the surface on it. It doesn't want to provide any in-depth knowledge about the dangerous effects of technology. It just wants to say that it's bad and corrupts the wholesome values of the world. That's not enough - especially when it's been the basis for a number of episodes this season. Plus, the resolution of this case was just sloppy and slapped together. C+

Chicago Fire - "Carry Me"
Casey goes to drastic measures to help his friend, Kannell. Severide helps an old widow come to terms with letting go, but realizes he may be the one needing help. Otis and Cruz deal with surprises when they find a new roommate to move in. Gabby and Brett get crafty to save a young girl. Written by Jill Weinberger and directed by Eric Laneuville

This is a very weirdly plotted episode of the show. It is very disorienting at times. Why in the world did the creative team think it was smart to surround Anna's death with weird stories that have had nothing to do with the characters previously? Why is Cruz suddenly working another job? Why do Cruz and Otis need a new roommate right now? Those are just completely random and bring the episode down. Meanwhile, Casey is still in pure setup mode for a new character about to join the firehouse, Kannell. That's not all that exciting either. And yet, this episode is a soaring success when it comes to Severide and Anna. That relationship has grown to be one of the most meaningful on the show. It's one of the best stories this entire franchise has done. That's what makes it so devastating when she dies so quickly after her cancer returns. The audience wants to fight alongside Severide but there's nothing to do. It was a doomed relationship but it was still so easy to get swept up in all of it. This will profoundly change Severide as a character. Who he becomes moving forward should be very fascinating. He still compassionately helps the people of Chicago. But how does he go on following this tragedy? B+

Chicago P.D. - "Fagin"
When the team is called to an in-progress bank robbery, they come across Detective Hailey Upton trying to take over the crime scene with her unit - butting heads with Voight in the process. As the robberies continue to be executed around the city, Lindsay is forced to make a decision in the heat of the moment, revealing a surprising suspect behind the mask. While working on the case, Upton is shocked to come across Platt, who has a special connection to her past. Written by Craig Gore & Tim Walsh and directed by Fred Berner

Whenever one of the regular characters departs the drama (either temporary or permanently), the creative team has a tendency to replace them with similar characters. Following Burgess' exit from Intelligence, a new female detective is introduced to fill the void. Of course, I've always found it easier to care about the female characters here than the men. In one episode, Upton has more personality and backstory than Rixton did earlier this season. And yet, she also feels too similar to Burgess. She's a young officer who has quickly risen through the ranks by impressing people and has a personal connection to Platt. Something more needs to happen for her to feel different and worth caring about. Meanwhile, Lindsay killing a teenager (a black one no less) gets a little too lost in the high stakes of the main story. Everyone quickly forgets about it and moves on like it didn't happen. Lindsay has a minor moment in the end. But it's not enough for it to have a ton of value. B

Chicago Med - "White Butterflies"
Dr. Rhodes challenges Dr. Charles and other hospital staff over the proper treatment for Robin. Dr. Manning seeks help from Detective Halstead when a sensitive case involving a young girl turns into a crime. Dr. Choi and April work together on a conflicting case. Goodwin helps a friend in distress. The doctors are surprised to learn who the new med resident is when match day finally arrives. Written by Stephen Hootstein & Eli Talbert and directed by Eriq La Salle

Right now on this show, two men (Dr. Rhodes and Dr. Charles) are clashing over their egos and a women's health is caught in the crossfire. The optics worsen because the show doesn't even bother to tell Robin's perspective in this story. This dynamic with the three of them was interesting and nuanced throughout the season. But now, it has been broaden in a very toxic way that could become dangerous solely for narrative tension. Elsewhere, the medical cases with Natalie, Will, Choi and April were interesting and complex. That moment of an almost kiss between Choi and April was random and weird. Not quite sure what to make of that. And finally, a big deal is made about who got the one resident spot at Med. I didn't care who it was. Noah still seems too childish and naive while Jeff has been absent ever since his breakup with Natalie. So, Jeff's departure doesn't really mean anything - especially when it also gets Natalie to change up her hairstyle. B-