Chicago Med 2×20 Review: ‘Generation Gap’

At the heart of all great television shows – the shows that leave a lasting impact and form a bond between show and audience – are the relationships at the core. For a franchise that has a large procedural element to it, One Chicago shows have not only managed to incorporate these kinds of relationships but set an example that most television shows should follow.

One Chicago is a franchise that knows its strengths – both as a shared universe and individually by show. They know that while, yes, they are a procedural through and through, that it’s their responsibility to bring a sense of heart and feeling to these shows in a way that makes these shows more than some just cardboard cutout. The heart of One Chicago breathes life into its series.

In Chicago Med’s latest hour, “Generation Gap,” there was a focus on family, which is a popular and proven theme on this show. There were two separate family dynamics that had a unique emotional driving force that teased that there is so much more to both of these stories.

First, we had the debut of Papa Halstead, who was admitted to Med after a problem with a valve in his heart – although, it took a lot of convincing to get him there. We got to see this dysfunctional dynamic that Papa Halstead has with his sons Will and Jay, the focus of course centering on Will given this is Med. (Don’t worry, I’m more than confident that we’re going to see Papa Halstead on P.D. and get some clarity involving him and Jay.)

Then, we picked up after last week’s cliffhanger where Robyn was hearing rats inside the walls. Our initial response was that there was something off about her. And this episode proved that our hunch was indeed correct. Only the mystery is far from solved. It’s just getting started.

Let’s break this episode down:

Papa Halstead & Will

The introduction of Papa Halstead has been a longtime coming, dating back Chicago P.D. when Will and his brother Jay first made mention of a man that we already knew was less than pleasant. We knew what to expect – only we didn’t.

Papa Halstead is brash man that is independent, short-tempered, and overtly critical in everything that he does, whether it’s regarding his sons, lack of sports channels, or being admitted to Chicago Med. Almost immediately we were introduced to the Halstead world and our hearts felt for Will and Jay. There were so many questions – Was their dad always like this? What was it like growing up? Was it their mother’s death that did this to him? Why had Jay not talked to him for two years? Why wasn’t he a proud father of two successful and brave sons?

Well, it’s all a matter of personality and experience. We’ve got the personality part down after this episode, but the experience part is something to expand on moving forward.

Papa Halstead was introduced into this franchise after he was having some issues with a valve in his heart. After a home visit from Will and Dr. Rhodes proved that something more serious was up, Papa Halstead was admitted to Med and we got a first row seat at the dynamic between father and sons. But this section is specifically focused on Will (see Jay below.)

Will is a hardworking man who has fought incredibly hard and long to get to where he is today. He hasn’t asked for help – he set his mind out to become a doctor and put himself through medical school accruing expenses that continue to affect his living situation. Will is also someone who wears his heart on his sleeve. He’s someone you get the feeling doesn’t ever want to let anyone down for any reason. His emotions are written all over his face.

But he’s also someone that values family as an important asset in life. He has a close relationship with his brother Jay – and I’m sure he had a close relationship with his mother. And even though his father is an asshole, Will loves him.

Will was in physical pain in this episode as he watched his father struggle with a heart condition. Despite his father being a complete asshole to him, Will still cares. Of course he does. Nothing will change the fact that he loves him.

This episode provided some context regarding the distance in Will and Papa Halstead’s relationship. Basically, Will’s father considers him to be a disappointment because he went to college. I know, the exact opposite of what you were expecting. Apparently, Papa Halstead is the kind of man that believes that you skip college and go right to work.

But you have to wonder if that’s truly how Papa Halstead feels about his son. Is he really disappointed in him?

It’s funny how a life and death situation can put things in perspective for you. As Papa Halstead lay on the operating table preparing for open heart surgery, he opened up to Dr. Rhodes about Will. For the first time, we saw Papa Halstead show remorse, which is a sign of redemption. He says that he’s proud of Will.

“That doesn’t begin to say it. He made something of his life. He’s a better man than I am.”

After that heartfelt confession, you had to wonder if that was a conversation that he’d have with Will. Would he finally admit it? The two shared a nice moment in his hospital room post surgery where father and son opened up about their feelings – a scene that ended in mutual “I love yous” and the promise of bettering their relationship.

Even though there was a sort of closure with their relationship, I still feel like there’s more to this story. I want there to be. There is so much to explore with Papa Halstead’s introduction that can come on both Chicago Med and Chicago P.D. It’s a storyline that continues to drive home the theme of family in this One Chicago franchise, which is the cornerstone of its success.

Papa Halstead & Jay

I felt like I needed a separate section to talk – sorry, rant – about Papa Halstead and Jay’s relationship. While we didn’t really get any context about their dynamic, other than the obvious tension that’s a result of years of disrepair, the little that we did get was enough to indicate that this is a story that will be continued on Chicago P.D. Someday. Hopefully soon. Cause I need it.

Now, given that we haven’t really been told much about Jay’s relationship with his father – other than it’s a real messed up dynamic – I have to do some inferencing and speculation about what’s transpired and what might possibly happen moving forward.

While Will is the son that easily gives into their father, Jay is the son that gets up in his father’s face. It was a realization that dawned on me simply by watching their interactions with their father in his room. While Will sat silently by not wanting to cause any reaction, Jay was actively engaged and battling insults and throwing jabs. While I’m sure both Jay and Will have longed for their father to be proud of them, from what I gathered acceptance is something that Will has longed for more. Whatever happened between Jay and his father is something that is obviously deeply suppressed. But it’s also something that has perhaps limited the emotional interactions between father and son.

The very first scene that Jay and Papa Halstead shared were the pair holed up in dad’s house watching the White Sox as Will and Connor arrived. There was this unemotional attachment that was evident from the first glance. It’s clearly something that they’ve both pushed down so far that it’s become obsolete. But it still exists. It’s something that when dealt with – as I expect it to be – will be an emotional bomb of epic proportions. When you suppress that kind of anger – and for a significant period of time – the reaction is not going to be pretty.

Jay’s in a pretty bad place right now. While he’s by no means in trouble, he is dealing with the PTSD that me had managed to suppress for a significant amount of time before it revealed itself. It forced him to take a break in his relationship with Lindsay – not because he doesn’t love her or doesn’t want to be with her, but because he doesn’t want to risk ruining another relationship; the relationship. So with all of the stuff that Jay is dealing with, this stuff with his father is just icing on the cake.

There was a specific lack of focus on the details of Jay’s dynamic with Papa Halstead in this episode for the sole purpose that they’re saving it for Chicago P.D. While there aren’t any current plans to introduce Papa Halstead on P.D., it’s something that’s obvious and inevitable. Honestly, I would watch a show just about Jay and Will Halstead. I want to know everything. And I’m beyond happy that we’re finally starting to see the payoff with this family stuff we’ve been teased about.

“Jay and him have their own history,” Will said.

Damn right they do. And you damn well bet that we’re going to see that explored on Chicago P.D. There’s so much I could speculate on, the number one question being – what significant moment happened to cause this rift in their relationship? Did it have to do with Jay enlisting? Did it have to do with him becoming a cop? Was it something else entirely? We do know that back in P.D.’s second season that Jay mentioned that he hadn’t spoken to his father in two years. What happened in those two years? Something to do with their mother passing away? Honestly, I can’t wait to find out.

Robyn’s Struggle

Sometimes the most frightening things and the things you don’t see coming. And Robyn Charles’ apparent psychological uneasiness is one of those storylines. At the end of last week’s episode, we found Robyn in Connor’s apartment claiming to hear rats in the walls. There was something so eerie about the scene – how she was hearing something that wasn’t there and the level that she was convinced that it was 100 percent real.

The concerns about Robyn’s well being were a focus in “Generation Gap” as Connor went to her father, Dr. Charles, to share his concern. It was brave of Rhodes to go to Charles. It’s not always easy to admit things – even to people’s families. And it showed a genuine concern that Connor has for Robyn that’ll strengthen their relationship.

At first it appeared as if Dr. Charles didn’t want to see it. Or that he had already seen it. At one point, I believed that Charles knew exactly what was “off” about Robyn. He was too calm, pushing it to the side, and looked super suspicious. (Gotta work on that poker face, Dr. Charles.)

Well, turns out he didn’t know what was wrong with Robyn. So Dr. Charles took it upon himself to figure out what was happening. At first, Robyn is convinced that this is her father once again “psychoanalyzing” her and finding something that wasn’t really there. But the thing is, even us – a television audience with no medical background – could see that the something was there.

But Robyn soon realized that something was indeed “off” about her. Her father kept persistently reaching out attempting to help in any way he could.

“I’m saying this as a dad not as a shrink…”

All Charles wants is for someone to take a look at her. He’s worried. This has nothing to do with him being a psychologist and everything with him being a father. This is what I wanted to see. This is character development. Remember the man that didn’t really have a relationship with his daughter? Well, he’s certainly changed. We’re seeing the impact of Charles putting himself out there and being an active part of his daughter’s life. And it’s not only rebuilding and strengthening their relationship, but it’s also helping them both individually.

Now, we still don’t know what’s “off” about Robyn. But that’s the next step. I’m glad that this isn’t a one-and-done storyline that doesn’t shine a focus on an important issue. This is one of those issues that the show should take its time with to show the gradual nature of something like this. But I’m really curious to see how this plays out.

Seven Things…

  1. I would a watch an entire show about Jay and Will Halstead. Well, given that they’re essential to Chicago P.D. and Chicago Med, I wouldn’t want to take them away from that. But give us like a web series or something. I need more Halstead brothers – and I need more about Papa Halstead.
  2. I’m going to need Papa Halstead to stop by Chicago P.D. next. There are some hardcore unresolved issues between him and Jay dating back years. We heard back in Chicago P.D.’s second season of Jay’s strained relationship with his father. Now that Papa Halstead has been introduced into this universe, it’s about time we see it.
  3. I have to credit Med for how they’re handling Robyn’s storyline. It was something they addressed in this episode, but they didn’t reveal the answers just yet. Which means there’s so much more to this story. Which means there’s so much more Robyn and Dr. Charles moments that I crave.
  4. I loved the how Med paralleled Will and Connor’s separate relationships with their fathers. Sure, Papa Halstead is an ass. Sure, he fights with his sons. But at least he communicates unlike Connor’s father, who just doesn’t talk at all.
  5. Honestly, I enjoyed Reese teaching those high school students with those baby dolls more than I thought. It was just so uncomfortable and so entertaining — and it took an interesting turn while also delivering the line of the night: “You can’t hack a real baby.”
  6. Hmm, color me surprised at the reveal that Noah has a thing for Reese. Is this going to be a thing? Did I miss Sarah and Joey breaking up? I know there was some tension. But is this Med’s way of telling us a new ship is on the horizon?
  7. Well, we can clearly see where Will’s heart lies. As he walked out of Med after the daunting day with his father’s heart scare, we saw Will smile as he looked at Natalie Facetiming with her son. As soon as he walked out to meet Nina, we saw the smile completely fade as the couple walked without a word. Manstead is rising!

Chicago Med airs Thursdays at 9/8c on NBC.

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