'Chicago PD' Season 8 Episode 8 Review: NBC series finally makes good on promise to tackle BLM issue faithfully
This episode is just an example of why the 'Chicago' series on NBC does so well, and when deployed the right way, the Dick Wolf series is capable of delivering phenomenal stories
This week's episode of 'Chicago PD' — which is also the show's return after a short break — begins with a psychological evaluation of the officers on the Intelligence Unit, except, of course, Hank Voight (Jason Beghe). What stands out in the beginning moments is that the only person who understands the purpose of these evaluations is Kevin Atwater (LaRoyce Hawkins), the only Black officer on the team.
However, the episode continues to stand out more. What comes next is a viral video of a White cop shooting a Black man who was pulled over for going slightly over the speed limit. The Black man was carrying a gun legally but was putting his arms above his head. His only "mistake"? Not complying with the White cop's intention to arrest him.
Deputy Superintendent Samantha Miller (Nicole Ari Parker) enlists Voight and the Intelligence Unit, specifically Atwater and Adam Ruzek (Patrick Flueger) to carry out justice. She tasks both the officers to arrest the police officer for murder, while she prepares the police department for protests and civil unrest in the wake of the video of the Black man being shot.
What was supposed to be a simple "Uber" drive as Voight puts it, turns dangerous when a second video surfaces and Ruzek and Atwater have to wait with the White cop, Officer Wheelan, at one of the Chicago Police Department's safe house. However, the safe house is soon hit by two masked gunmen who seem to be targeting Wheelan, leading to speculation whether it might be an inside job as Atwater and Ruzek take Wheelan off-book.
While this group hides out, Voight, Jay Halstead (Jesse Lee Soffer), Hailey Upton (Tracy Spiridakos) and Kim Burgess (Marina Squerciati) try to figure out the identity of the shooters and where the shooters got the location of the safe house from.
Here's where 'Chicago PD' finally stuck true to its promise to make some change in the wake of last year's Black Lives Matter protests after the death of George Floyd. For Ruzek, this arrest is just another job. He does not want to get involved further, even though he knows Wheelan's was a bad shoot. On the other hand, for Atwater it is personal and he tells Ruzek that this is not above their pay grade.
The difference in Atwater's and Ruzek's attitude to Wheelan makes it crystal clear just how starkly different the protests matter to Black and White people. It takes a lot of nuance to depict that and not often does a cop show get it right. 'Chicago PD' took its time, but what came through was certainly worth it.
When Atwater shows Wheelan the second video, the latter thinks it is an altered video, because Wheelan is unable to accept that his perception of the Black man moving, and therefore putting his life in danger, was false after all. It is unlikely that this happens in real life, but it certainly provides a learning moment to viewers with respect to bias, especially when it comes to race.
To be fair, 'Chicago PD' has a long way to go before truly becoming committed to its viewers when it comes to its racist storylines. But this week's episode, which for once did not isolate Atwater in his race-related storylines, was a step in the right direction. This episode is just an example of why the 'Chicago' series on NBC does so well, and when deployed the right way, the Dick Wolf series is capable of delivering phenomenal stories.
'Chicago PD' airs on NBC on Wednesday nights at 10/9c.