'Chicago PD' Season 8 Premiere Review: Kevin Atwater faces 'Blue Wall' harassment as tension remains high
Spoilers for 'Chicago PD' Season 8 Premiere
The final hour of 'Chicago' Wednesdays brings the premiere of the eighth season of 'Chicago PD'. As expected, all focus is on Kevin Atwater (LaRoyce Hawkins). Season 7 ended with Kevin Atwater at the front and center and we hope that trend continues into Season 8. When Atwater was partnered up with a cop who had racist tendencies for the second time, he found himself in a messy situation. The cop — who died — had pursued someone just because he was Black, but in the process got shot and died from the wounds.
Atwater's decision to tell Internal Affairs the truth about the cop racially profiling two Black men made him some new enemies. The late cop's friends are going after Atwater and in the Season 8 premiere, we see how they are doing that -- adopting intimidation tactics and hiding a brick of heroin in his car.
None of this fazes Atwater and even as Intelligence Unit's head, Sergeant Hank Voight (Jason Beghe) cautions him, Atwater stays strong and continues to advocate for the Black men wrongfully accused. The repercussions are taking a toll on him, however, as he begins to wonder whether his teammates feel the same way about what he did. Nevertheless, they assure Atwater that they are on his side.
Meanwhile, it is clear that the tension in the city is high. When the Intelligence Unit responds to a call where a five-year-old girl was shot, no one in the predominantly Black neighborhood is willing to help. Adam Ruzek (Patrick John Flueger), Hailey Upton (Tracy Spiridakos) and Jay Halstead (Jesse Lee Soffer) are clearly upset by it, but Atwater points out that the police haven't been the greatest guys in the country.
The focus is also on Voight as the new character, Deputy Superintendant Samantha Miller (Nicole Ari Parker) tells him that should he continue his investigation the way he normally does (violent tactics), he will lose his job by Christmas, However, she is rooting for him, because if Voight can change and stick to the rules, the rest of the police department will follow.
This week's case is a pretty horrifying one. The officers are on the case to find out who shot her and they come across a church where the offender stole drug money. One of the strong aspects of 'Chicago PD' is the way Intelligence solves crimes, how the show depicts the way the officers and detectives track each clue down to arrive at the final suspect.
Later, Atwater is even pulled over for allegedly running a stop sign, but it is clear that the officers -- one of them is Black -- are targeting them. He is made to get out of the car while a gun is pointed at him and he tells them to check his ID. The police say they got an anonymous tip about drugs in his car and Atwater tells him to search it and that he found the hidden stash. Atwater is especially upset that a Black cop is doing it to him.
The following day, Voight talks to Atwater about what happened and Atwater tells him about the heroin hidden in his car. Voight also asks him about his plan but since Atwater can't prove that other officers are harassing him, he plans to wait. Voight tells him that he has another option and advises him that fighting the Blue Wall is like fighting a ghost. However, Atwater decides that he will persevere.
An arrest the Intelligence Unit conducts raises issues with Miller because they did not announce their office before they entered the house. Miller warns Voight that his days of playing god are over and this leads to all the evidence that the Intelligence Unit had to be tossed out the window. Of course, this is making things very hard for Voight, who is used to doing whatever he wants (including physically threatening suspects) to get people to confess. While viewers may be worried about this taking away what they liked about the show, we are excited to see what it means for the team -- and we love that it is Atwater who is pointing out that they need to change the way they do things. Yes, it sucks that the killer of a child is getting away and Voight's frustration is more than understandable, but so far, the show is going great in depicting exactly why Voight needs to change.
The episode ends with Atwater being jumped by a few people and being beaten up and left injured on the side of the road. Things are going to be difficult for him and we don't know how his story is going to proceed. Atwater may be tempted to leave, but we hope that won't be the case. One thing about the episode that confused us was the fact that there were no pandemic protocols followed within the show, so the timeline of things was quite confusing. We do, however, hear the mention of George Floyd's death, which happened after the pandemic began.
Now, the pressure on 'Chicago PD' has been high. The past year has been quite tense as protests against police brutality raged throughout the country and across the world. That the show is focusing on Kevin Atwater is definitely a plus, as is the focus on Voight's shortcuts that are being called out. It has only been one episode, however, so we need to see how all the characters react to the new normal throughout the season. We saw some of the frustration when Upton claimed they were doing their best, but Atwater countered that they were not good enough. Understanding is the most important thing and we hope 'Chicago PD' can find a way to reflect on how the Black community is mistreated by the police and why people are asking for police reform.
'Chicago PD' airs on Wednesday nights at 10/9c on NBC.