Chicago PD 1 x 02 – Wrong Side of the Bars

[SOME SPOILERS AHEAD] Chicago PD Episode 2 aired tonight. They called this one Wrong Side of the Bars. But whatever they called it, on the surface, it was about getting Diego Dawson home safe. As you recall from the pilot episode broadcast last week, the show ended with a cliff hanger as Detective Antonio Dawson (Jon Seda) was notified by his wife that their son, the eight year Diego, had gone missing.

But below the surface, two other major story lines sprouted wings and flew into our midst. As the episode began, and it was one of the best opening segments that I’ve seen on a cop show in years. The squad had to run down leads which they culled from extensive pouring over case files. There was palpable tension. The level of intensity was high.

And even when things looked promising, like the location of a prime suspect became known, it was all undone by a mistake made by rookie Kyle Ruzak (Patrick John Flueger). So it was back to square one.

Meanwhile the heat was rising under Voight. In an aside with his Commander, Voight is told that a lot of people are unhappy with him and that he’s off to a very bad start with one his cops being killed, and the kidnapping of Detective Dawson’s son.

Voight absorbs this dressing down, and toughens up. He tells his crew, Until we get the kid back, nothing else matters. Nothing else.

Okay, so far so good. There were more good moments to come, but the over all episode wasn’t as good as the pilot in my opinion. I think the problems were structural. Having had one cop killed, we knew that it was unlikely that Dawson’s son would not be rescued. And they wasted time with two unappealing story lines. More on that later.

But that got Dawson started. With a little bit of help from a hooker that Dawson had used as a C.I., they got a lead on the first suspect again. To me it was a little too convenient that they found this guy twice. And so quickly.

But nab him they do. And when Dawson has this guy pinned to the ground, Voight hands Dawson a knife, and says, Back up won’t be here for five minutes. We got this alley to ourselves. Do what you gotta do.

This brings us to some things to strongly consider. One is that Voight will toss the rule book away whenever he needs to. Which is likely going to be a weekly occurrence. And Two, will Dawson go over to the dark side?

Later, Dawson’s wife shows up at the police station. They go off to a locker room to talk. She says, As your wife I love the man who you are. As a mother, I want you to do whatever it takes to get Diego back.

Dawson makes up his mind. He approaches Voight to tell him. Let’s do it your way. The suspect hasn’t talked yet, but after some body punches, then under the threat of a beating to his face with an iron chain, he decides to give up the location of where the boy is being held.

From there we go to a flea bag hotel, then to Union Station, then on to an intercity bus. And that last quarter of the show was the weakest. A showdown on the bus, played out very predictably.

But wait there’s more. As a coda, we found out that Voight was placed in his job by a powerful entity. She tells him that he works for her, and she can just as easily have him sent back to the rock pile. Voight says I don’t work for you, I work for Chicago. And you’ll get what you want when I decide to give it to you. Finally Voight, with his arms spread wide as he takes in the night time Chicago skyline, quotes Rudyard Kipling who once infamously said of Chicago – [this is] A city inhabited by savages.

Overall, this episode was  good, but more than a bit unbalanced. The opening segment was great. The investigative part was also excellent. But after that , as they piled on the action, and tension, the show weakened. It became all too predictable, and looked like it came straight out of the cop show playbook.

Strengths – Jon Seda and Jason Beghe are very good.

Weaknesses – two story lines aren’t the least bit interesting. The two uniforms that were assigned the stinky police car as payback by the desk sergeant. Did they roll down the windows – no, they just dealt with it as best they could with the windows up. And Ruzak’s lying to his girl friend. about his job. And this week’s episode relegated Detectives Halstead (Jesse Lee Soffer) and Olinsky (Elias Koteas) to almost afterthoughts. I hope the Asian Detective Sheldon Jin (Archie Kao) gets to do more than IT work.

So yes, this week was a step down from the pilot,  so I’m hoping for  improvement in the coming weeks. I’d really hate to see this series yanked, like Ironsides, after only a few episodes.

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