With the country showing strong support for Black Lives Matter and the defunding of police departments, TV series that are based in law enforcement have had to rethink their storytelling as a result, and one of those series is NBC’s Chicago PD, which returns with new episodes tonight.
“It affects the reality of the world in which the show takes place,” executive producer Rick Eid commented to Monsters & Critics about the movement in this exclusive interview.
“Our characters will be under increased scrutiny due to internal reform. They’ll be forced to take a hard look at themselves and adapt to the changing times and social mores. But this is a process. They’ve been doing things a certain way for a long time. It’s not like they can just flip a switch and transform overnight.”
The change in policing style may prove most difficult for Sgt. Hank Voight (Jason Beghe), who is very much an old-school-style police officer, not a racist, but an ends-justifies-the-means cop, so he has gone to extremes in the past to catch the bad guys.
“Yes, Voight definitely isn’t racist,” Eid said. “His main objective has always been keeping Chicago safe from violent criminals. And yes, Voight always felt that the end justified the means, but that attitude doesn’t fly in 2021, so he must learn to adapt.”
To make sure that he does, Voight has come under the watchful eye of Deputy Superintendent Samantha Miller (Nicole Ari Parker) this season, and while he may still occasionally slip into old bad habits, she will be there to supervise.
“Voight is listening to Miller, and trying his best to change, but his main priority remains putting bad people behind bars,” Eid continued. “I don’t think ‘reform’ will change the types of cases Intelligence selects, but it will definitely impact the way we do our job and how we interact with the community.”
On tonight’s episode, Officer Adam Ruzek (Patrick John Flueger) and Officer Kim Burgess (Marina Squerciati) discover a child walking alone in the middle of the street and when they take her home, they discover that her entire family has been murdered.
Then, Det. Hailey Upton (Tracy Spiridakos) is approached with a job offer from the FBI after she served a temporary assignment at the New York bureau, partnering with OA (Zeeko Zaki) during Missy Peregrym’s maternity leave. Here is what Eid has to say about those storylines:
Monsters & Critics: Burgess sacrificed her unborn baby to rescue a young girl being held by sex traffickers. Does that give more emotional impact to her and Ruzek’s discovery of an orphaned girl in the return episode? Does it bring back some of what she was feeling at the time, or possibly make her think of fostering or adopting?
Rick Eid: Finding the orphaned girl certainly dredges up some of the emotions, good and bad, connected to Burgess’s miscarriage. When she and Ruzek spend time with the little girl, they can’t help but wonder “what might have been.” As for Burgess’s future… her experience with the little girl in Episode Three definitely stirs up her maternal instincts and desire to have a family.
M&C: The relationship between Jay Halstead (Jesse Lee Soffer) and Upton has been building, but is this a pattern for him? After all, he and his former partner Erin Lindsay (Sophia Bush) were together until she moved to NY.
Rick Eid: Could be a pattern. Could be a second chance at finding true love. Halstead and Upton definitely have strong feelings for each other, but it’s unclear if they can be in a romantic relationship while, at the same time, working together in such a high-pressure environment.
M&C: We’ve seen what happened with Kevin Atwater (LaRoyce Hawkins) when he chose to stand up against a racist cop. So far, he’s survived by threatening to give up his badge and go public, so is that story finished or is there more to come? It seems as though even if he survives, it may have limited how far he can go in his career.
Rick Eid: Short term, there’s an uneasy peace. The immediate threat has been put to bed, but there is still underlying tension between him and a certain group of “old-school” cops. In other words, Atwater still has to watch his back.
Chicago PD airs Wednesday nights at 10/9c on NBC.