Nine episodes ago, when this show started, I remember thinking that, if only for Peter Stone, I was probably going to ride this show out. What can I say? I have a type and my type is exactly Peter Stone.
I’m happy to report, however, that Chicago Justice is more than just Peter Stone. The ensemble works, not just in the way the cases are built and tried, but in the way these characters relate to each other. Sure, like in all shows with an ensemble, sometimes one character gets more screen time than others, but week after week there are little hints dropped as to what drives each and every member of the team, and though it’s still too early to say we know them, it’s not too early to say we want to know them.
All of them.
So, let’s go into the perceptions and examine both the characters and their relationships as shown in “Comma”
The crux of this episode is perception – not just about our Amanda Knox wannabe, but about guns, in general. We tend to examine situations, consciously or not, through the lens of our beliefs. If someone has been accused of killing someone before – whether they were found guilty or not, then chances are, we’re more than willing to believe that person would do it “again.” If someone has a gun, we’re more than likely to think that the person was, in some way, inviting gun violence.
I’m not even going to attempt to separate myself from the issue. I have very firm beliefs about guns – and they’re very different from Peter Stone’s. There is, however, a very clear line between fighting for your beliefs and committing murder. The gun is the means, yes, but you still need to make a choice.
Because, in the end, this episode wasn’t about gun control, this murder wasn’t about the issues. It was about protecting someone, it was about human emotions. Yes, if the gun hadn’t been there, it would have been harder, but it’s hard to say that, in this circumstance, the murder wouldn’t have occurred anyway.
And though the episode is not heavy-handed (the show rarely is), if, after this hour, people take some time to consider the drawbacks of prejudice, then the episode will have already done way more good than some lectures about the subject ever could.
Peter Stone: I’ve lost my ability to be objective when it comes to Peter. I’m all heart eyes. I especially love that – just like Voight, Stone projects this image of being 100% a badass and yet you don’t even have to push too hard to get to his soft spots.
Anna Valdez: The more I see of her, the more I like her. She’s always felt very relatable, and the small revelations about her in the past few episodes paint her as much more than just a starry eyed girl looking to be like Peter. At this point, she’s the one I’m more interested to know better.
Laura Nagel: I went from meh, who cares to I love this woman give her more to do in exactly one episode. Now I’m not invested in her personal life, which colors my perception of everything from her relationship to Antonio to her custody problems. I also want more of her and Anna. Female friendships are so rare on TV – give me these two ladies having each other’s backs.
Antonio Dawson: Fine, I give in. I sort of like Antonio now. Certainly much more than I ever liked him on four seasons of Chicago PD. And I think most of it has to do with the relationship (and no, not romance) between him and Nagel. Give me a few more episodes and I might even say I like him, without the conditional.
Mark Jefferies: Nah, still don’t like him. I understand his purpose, though, and the show does a good job of painting him like a mostly fair guy who just ..has to play the game. It’s just that it’s hard to love a player. Really, really hard.
I want to take some time to examine the interpersonal relationships, at least the ones the show has dedicated more time to, because they’re our way of relating to the characters. Jefferies is the only one we haven’t seen interact in a deeply personal way with anyone, so we’ll leave him out – but that means we still got:
Peter and Anna: My instinct says there’s a setup for romance here, especially because procedurals (and just because this doesn’t deal with the police doesn’t make it any less a procedural) usually have at least one couple. There’s also Anna’s face as she looks at Peter sometimes, with a combination of hero worship and a more real sense of admiration for the man she sees behind the mask. I have yet, however, to see anything in Peter that would allow me to say that he sees Anna as anything other than a colleague he’s supposed to guide. Luckily, we don’t need it to happen right away, and the actors have enough chemistry that this is a more than real possibility down the line. Probably farther down the line than most hardcore shippers would like, but hey, good ships don’t come easy.
Antonio and Laura: This could also be romantic at some point, but unlike Peter and Anna, I get the sense that there’s no intention for this to turn romantic, at least not anytime soon. The thing they both seem to need, and the thing that are, up to a point, finding in each other, is simply someone to be there, someone to have your back, someone to point out the good things when the other can’t see it. A partner, no more, no less. And surprisingly enough, just that interaction has made a character I didn’t really enjoy – Antonio – into someone I don’t mind watching.
Anna and Laura: We haven’t gotten as much of this as I would have liked, but the contrast between these two women that we got last episode seems to indicate that exploring their relationship would be beneficial for the show. Besides, with only five main characters – way less than in any other Chicago show – Justice can afford to spend as much time as they want building a strong female friendship.
Other things to note:
- I keep getting asked about Lawyers vs. State Attorneys and how common is to share a drink. The answer? Way more common than you thought. In this regard, the show sticks very close to reality.
- Does Jefferies do something? I mean, other than the politics of everything.
- As much as I love it and as much as it adds a certain level of drama to each episode, in real life, there’s no way Stone would be getting as much confessions on the stand as he does. No way.
- Get yourself someone who looks at you like Anna looks at Peter when he’s about to crack a witness.
Chicago Justice airs Sundays at 9/8c on NBC.