Lists Recaps Reviews Interviews Explainers

Exclusive: Showrunner Rick Eid on Chicago PD’s ‘shocking, dramatic, intense’ season 8 finale

Production still from the set of Chicago PD
Jay Halstead, LaRoyce Hawkins as Kevin Atwater, Patrick John Flueger as Adam Ruzek. Pic credit: Lori Allen/NBC

Last week’s penultimate episode of season 8 of Chicago P.D. was as dramatic as they come. It turned out that Deputy Superintendent Samantha Miller (Nicole Ari Parker) had a son, Darrell, who recently moved to Chicago and is already in trouble.

But instead of turning to his mother for help, he turned to Voight (Jason Beghe).

Darrell, who had been selling drugs on his college campus, owed his dealer $10,000. The college kids were slow to pay, and now Darrell’s life is on the line. So, Voight set him up with a wire to take down the small-time dealer, but when the Intelligence team saw the big-time stash, everything went south.

Voight told Darrell to back off, but Darrell figured this was his last chance to make things right, so he didn’t listen and went to meet the drug dealer at 3 in the morning. Unfortunately, he stumbled on a sex trafficking ring, and when he tried to save one of the underage girls, he got kidnapped, tortured, and killed for his efforts.

There was one point where Voight thought he knew where Darrell was and could rescue him, but he didn’t have enough information to get a warrant, so Miller told him to stand down. This is a woman who believes in police reform and she wouldn’t make an exception for her son. The next morning, they found Darrell’s body.

On tonight’s finale, “The Other Side,” Voight and the team muster all their expertise to bring down that deadly crime ring, especially because, in addition to everything else, the bad guys have kidnapped Kim Burgess (Marina Squerciati) and are holding her hostage.

Monsters & Critics spoke to showrunner Rick Eid, who says the finale has a “shocking ending.” Following is our conversation:

Monsters & Critics: This has been an interesting season as you’ve addressed the change in policing. Talk about your decision to have the finale be a story where Deputy Miller insists that Voight and the Intelligence unit police the correct way and it results in the death of her son.

Rick Eid: One of the goals for the season was to really address the idea of police reform and take that very seriously from the point of view of all the characters. We thought towards the end of the season that we really liked the idea under the most [uncertainty] we could to give this idea of reform a real stress test. What are you willing to do if it is a loved one and it was personal?

And so that was the genesis of the idea of that episode. We just thought that this character, Deputy Miller, would stay true to her beliefs. She’s not really political, she’s a believer, and she would not waiver in her point of view on the importance of reform even if a family member was in harm’s way. It’s a really interesting stance for someone like Samantha.

M&C:  Now that this has happened, will she rethink her approach to policing or maybe even want to quit?

Rick Eid: I think she’s going to figure out what she wants to do and how. What happened to her son connects to this idea of policing and reform, but she’s not going to blame reform for her son’s death. I don’t think that it’s that simple. I think she ultimately believes that she did the right thing and just didn’t get the right result with her son.

It’s a complicated issue. It’s not one plus one equals two here. I think that she did the right thing. It’s just interesting to put somebody who’s a proponent of reform in the face of reform, someone who’s a believer in reform, and put them in a really difficult situation to see if they walk the walk when it really matters. And I liked the fact that she did.

M&C: When push comes to shove on this, Voight wanted to go with his instinct to search the garage, and so he thinks he could have saved the son’s life. So, for the finale, how focused is he on bringing these killers to justice?

Rick Eid: Well, given what they did, the bad guys in these two episodes are truly heinous and two of the worst people in the world. They’re sex trafficking young girls, they’ve tortured and killed the deputy superintendent’s son, and they killed the young victims. These are bad, bad, bad people. So, he wants to bring them to justice as badly as he’s wanted to bring anyone to justice.

Added to the fact that it now appears that they’ve kidnapped Burgess or are in possession of Burgess, and may have harmed Burgess, it goes off the charts in terms of the team’s desire to bring these guys to justice, which again is part of the point of putting this idea of reform under a microscope.

When people are truly heinous, truly evil, and doing horrible things, are you afforded any latitude in how you police? And the answer is really no. And so, it puts the team in conflict because, as you might imagine, some people on our team want to do whatever it takes to find these guys and to save Burgess.

And then some other people on the team are a little more reluctant to cross some pretty clear lines in pursuit of that. Of course, they want to save Burgess, and they’ll do whatever is possible to save her because they all share that commitment, but it puts this idea of reform under the microscope.

M&C: The fact that you picked Kim to be the one that was captured or kidnapped makes it so more dramatic because she has so much more to lose now that she has a daughter.

Rick Eid: I hope they catch her. I hope they find her. It’s a dramatic finale. It’s a really eventful, dramatic, intense finale. There’s a shocking ending. We’re excited about it.

M&C: Will the Black Lives Matter issue continue with Atwater (LaRoyce Hawkins) to next season? Or maybe even expand because when Atwater thought that Darrell was getting a favor because of who his mother was, it didn’t sit well with him, even though the kid was Black.

Rick Eid: No pun intended, but with Atwater, it’s not all black and white. He’s still growing as a person and as a cop, and he continues to see the world in a different way and continues to see his role as a police officer in a different light. It will definitely continue with him because that’s who he is.

One of the very first conversations I ever had with Royce was 5 years ago, so it was before this recent Black Lives Matter and George Floyd were in the public consciousness. We were just talking, and he said something to me that really helped me focus his character. He said in talking about himself, “I’m just a young Black man trying to do the right thing.” And I just took that and that became him as a cop.

It makes it interesting because there’s so much going on racially with the police with Blue Lives Matter and Black Lives Matter. There’s so much conflict. It’s just a rich place for the character to be.

M&C: When Voight found out that Upton and Halstead were an item, he told Upton that he needed Halstead to stay the way he is, what does that mean? Does it mean he doesn’t want her to influence him to bend the rules, or is there something else there?

Rick Eid: No, I think he meant the former. He likes the fact that Halstead is by the book. More by the book than he is certainly, and more by the book than Upton is certainly, and as the father of the family or the leader of the team, he doesn’t want everybody being on his side of the line.

Would you call him their conscience?

Rick Eid:  Halstead? Yeah. I think Halstead represents the moral conscience that Voight knows they need to make this family balanced and function properly. I think this year, and certainly, in this episode, you’ll get to see where each character’s line in the sand is on these issues.

The season 8 Chicago P.D. finale airs tonight at 10 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.