‘Chicago P.D.’ 4×23 Review: ‘Fork in the Road’

Honestly, you’d think that I’d be better prepared for Chicago P.D. season finales. But I so am not. While I thought I was ready for the conclusion to what’s been a sensational fourth season, I most certainly was not.

There’s a reason why Chicago P.D. is my favorite show on television. It manages to capture all of the typical procedural elements while adding some sensational characters and arcs that have a profound emotional impact on its viewers. It’s not always the action that leaves a mark. Most of the time, it’s the big character moments that are wrought with emotional implications on all fronts.

Look, I don’t like to compare these One Chicago shows, but I’ll explain the difference between Chicago Fire’s season finale and Chicago P.D.’s season finale. Both were sensational hours of television that took my breath away and left me a weeping mess on the floor. Both shows ha some amazing character moments and scenes that left me sobbing, but they differed in their cliffhangers, both of which were impactful.

While Chicago Fire’s cliffhanger was more life-or-death with some serious emotional trauma, Chicago P.D.’s cliffhanger relied more on the emotional implications of one character’s decision. It’s not easy to deliver those kinds of cliffhangers where there’s so much at stake for all involved based on a single decision. And yet Chicago P.D. managed to do so effortlessly.

Look, I get it. We’ve been here before with the Lindsay leaving thing. First, she quit Intelligence in the season 2 finale. Now, she’s (potentially – we haven’t seen her official decision yet) leaving Chicago to go work for the FBI in New York in the season 4 finale. Similar, yes. But so incredibly different at the same time. The circumstances are different. Erin chose to leave in season 2. She’s essentially been backed into a corner in season 4 – to help her mother.

And don’t even get me started on the implications for Linstead in this episode. I knew very well coming into this episode that it would be Linstead-centric. Naturally, I assumed it would be Jay and Erin’s reunion. But that wasn’t the case. It almost was. But it wasn’t. Life is a matter of choices and stars aligning. The stars didn’t align here for Linstead. Or did they?

“Fork in the Road” was all about presenting these options and making a decision. Not necessarily the right decision – as things aren’t black and white in this world – but the decision that these characters feel is right for them.

Whether it was Jay choosing to propose to Erin (which he never got the chance to) or Erin standing at a fork in the road where she’s going to have to decide which path to take. Does she take the easy path – with the FBI in New York? Or does she take the harder path – with Intelligence in Chicago?

Erin’s no strangers to forks in the road. She’s had to choose before. Usually it was between Voight and Bunny. And while Bunny is her mother, Hank is the one that actually raised her and protected her and has her best interests at heart. So that’s always been the easy choice. This fork in the road? Well, it’s going to be more challenging.

Erin needs to decide what she wants. Does she want to take the easy way out or fight for the life she really wants? Well, we’ll have four months to think about that. Let’s just hope she makes the right decision and heads to Molly’s.

Let’s break this episode down:

CHICAGO P.D. — “Fork In The Road” Episode 423 — Pictured: Sophia Bush as Erin Lindsay — (Photo by: Matt Dinerstein/NBC)

An Uncertain Future For Lindsay

There is no Chicago P.D. without Erin Lindsay. And this season finale did everything in its power to show you exactly why.

“Fork in the Road” was all about the aftermath of Erin getting caught up in the moment and going to extremes when it came to prying important information out of a sick pedophile. This is usually the norm for Intelligence. But usually the captain isn’t walking in on you in the middle of it. That spelled trouble for Lindsay.

So with her future at Intelligence up in the air – which here means, Already decided because everyone has it in for Voight and wants to take “his girl” out whenever possible. Basically, they were waiting for this moment. And it came.

So what’s a girl to do?

Voight being Voight, which here means looking out for Lindsay at all costs, was confronted with a difficult decision: Either Lindsay goes or Intelligence goes. So he did what he had to do. He reached out to the FBI and worked a deal to secure Lindsay a position with them, which wasn’t difficult seeing as they wanted her a year ago before Voight turned them away.

When the FBI approached Lindsay, she was faced with a decision: Take a dream job with the FBI in New York or remain in Chicago and await her fate with the force.

A fork in the road. Two paths ahead of you. Which do you choose?

Do you choose the easy path?

The path where the future seems open and promising but also represents a life where you’re leaving behind those closest to you. If Lindsay chooses this path, she’ll be packing up her life and moving to New York to start anew with the FBI. It’ll be a fresh start. Something she’s always craved. But is a fresh start worth it if you’re all alone?

This reminded me of that moment earlier in the season where Erin’s friend was asking her what’s keeping her in Chicago. It was a question she never answered, but the answer was implied. We know. It was Jay. It was Hank. It was Intelligence. It was her life. Sure, her life hasn’t been the easiest – and there’s a pretty good chance it’ll never be without its rocky terrain. But it’s a life that has been fulfilling. It’s a life that has brought her so much good, as well. For everything bad, there has been something good to offset it.

Do you choose the difficult path?

Erin has had it rough. She’s had a rough childhood and a rough adulthood. But she’s tough as nails and rises to the occasion when something threatens to take her down. She’s used to fighting for herself. So choosing to stay in Chicago and fight for her job back wouldn’t be the hardest thing she’s done before.

The hard part here isn’t how does she fight to keep her job. The hard part here is Lindsay making the decision to stay in Chicago and actually fight. Because it looks appealing as hell – that FBI job in New York. There’s promise of a new beginning and working a job that people dream about. Then again, who’s waiting there for her? In Chicago, she’s got Jay, who is ready to propose to her, be there for her, and spend his life with her. In Chicago, she’s also got Voight, who has always been the parental figure she’s deserved.

When it’s all said and done, what will Lindsay do?

Take the road less traveled. Don’t take the easy way out. Fight for the life that you want. That’s what I believe Erin is ultimately going to realize that she needs to do. It might take an episode or two being stuck with the FBI in New York. But just like with the task force, Erin will realize where she truly belongs: With Jay. In Intelligence. In Chicago.

Hell, maybe it won’t even come to that. Maybe Lindsay will make the decision to let her mom finally own up to her mistakes and make the decision to forgo the FBI and stay in Chicago.

But if/when she makes that decision, there’s another tough battle ahead of her as she’ll certainly have to fight her way back into Intelligence. But if anyone can do, our girl Erin can. There’s no stopping her.

 

CHICAGO P.D. — “Fork In The Road” Episode 423 — Pictured: Jesse Lee Soffer as Jay Halstead — (Photo by: Matt Dinerstein/NBC)

A Potential Future for Linstead

When the cast teased that Chicago P.D.’s season finale would be Linstead-centric, they weren’t kidding. Naturally, I assumed that it would have implications for Jay and Erin getting back together. I was too complacent. Naturally, Chicago P.D. had to me suffer given the nature of this season finale. Naturally, I’m emotionally shook after everything that went down between Jay and Erin – and what could’ve been.

Honestly, the reason that Erin was in the situation she was in was because she didn’t have Jay by her side. While she certainly isn’t dependent on him, Jay has been a shoulder to lean on through some of the rough times she’s gone through. And it hasn’t been exactly easy for her to do. But she’s come to a place where she’s more open to it. After Voight split Halstead and Lindsay up on the force, Erin loses it in the interrogation room. If Halstead had been there, that never would’ve happened. It wouldn’t have gotten to that point. There would’ve been a talk. There would’ve been an awareness that something was happening due to Bunny’s arrival to the point where Jay would’ve been on high alert. So basically, this is all Voight’s fault.

Let’s talk about Jay’s decision to propose to Erin. That was the driving emotional force behind this Linstead-heavy episode. While it never actually came to fruition because the timing just wasn’t right to pop the question, this decision to propose is an important one to discuss.

When Jay told Will that he was going to propose to Erin, my heart stopped. My initial reaction was: “OH MY GOD” and an intense amount of fangirl flailing. I felt like I was on cloud 9. Then the commercial came, and I found myself asking: Is Jay being rational here?

Here’s the thing, I can see it from both sides. I can see why it’s completely irrational for Jay to propose to Erin with them being broken up. I understand that Jay loves her with all of his heart, but you could argue that it was too soon after being apart.

But then I can also see why it’s entirely rational for Jay to go all in with the woman he loves and wants to spend the rest of his life with. He messed up by taking a break. Even if at the time he thought it was the right thing. He doesn’t want to make that mistake again. He knows that he wants to spend the rest of his life with Erin. So proposing – making that grand gesture that says, I’ll be by your side through the good and the bad, and I’ll let you be by mine – actually makes sense.

Honestly, I’d have to ride with this being rational if only because there’s so much history between them, so much trust and respect that it’s a natural transition. Who says you have to wait to propose? When it’s right, you know it’s right. And Jay knows that it’s right.

If only we’d actually gotten to see Jay propose. But a shitstorm of drama came pouring down and the time was never right for him to pop the question. It broke my heart after Linstead’s one and only one-on-one conversation as Jay reached into his pocket and held the ring knowing that he should’ve done it right then and there. And he should’ve. Because guess what happened next? She accepted the FBI job.

While Will is absolutely right with the whole “Erin doesn’t need anyone to save her,” love’s not about saving. It’s about support. It’s about being that solid rock in a cruel, cruel world and being reminded that you have someone to face your demons with you. That’s the support Halstead and Lindsay have been to each other. That’s the support they’ll be if/when they get engaged preferably soon.

I wholeheartedly believe that if Jay had proposed that Erin would’ve said yes – at the very least not taken that job. It was never her decision to end things. Jay needed time to sort things out. And he realized, much like we did, that he didn’t have to face it alone. He made a mistake. He needed to lean on her through that tough time. That’s what they do.

Let’s talk about that ending. That cruel ending that’ll haunt me for the next four months. As Jay and co. waited at Molly’s for Erin to come bearing news about her hearing, she never came. Jay was anxious as hell as you know he was prepping to pop the question. But she didn’t show. So Jay went outside to call her, and we saw Erin standing looking at the Chicago skyline weighing her two options: Stay in Chicago with her old life or go to New York for a new beginning.

Watching “Jay Halstead” appear on her phone and watching her ignore his call broke my heart. I was audibly shouting, “PICK UP THE DAMN PHONE, ERIN!”

But the one saving grace amidst this heartbreaking episode was that Erin appeared torn. She didn’t immediately go to New York. She went somewhere to think things through. To weigh her options: Go to New York and help her mom or stay in Chicago and finally make her mom pay for her sins. Maybe Erin is realizing that her decision needs to be about her and her alone.

Perhaps when season 5 opens, we’ll find Erin going to Molly’s to find Jay and her friends. Maybe we’ll get a happy season premiere. Or, more than likely, we’ll get one filled with angst beyond belief.

CHICAGO P.D. — “Fork In The Road” Episode 423 — Pictured: Markie Post as Barbara “Bunny” Fletcher — (Photo by: Matt Dinerstein/NBC)

Where There’s Bunny, There’s Fire

What did I tell you? WHAT DID I TELL YOU? Not that you didn’t already know, but every time Bunny comes around something always goes to hell. I knew last week wasn’t a fluke. It was leading to something even bigger. Something that Bunny couldn’t possibly get away from, right?

Long story short, Bunny killed her boyfriend that had been beating her. Can’t say I disagree with the motive, but there’s was more at play here. Bunny served to make a profit off of the drugs that her BF had smuggled. And she was playing Intelligence and Erin like a drum. Until the FBI got a hold of her.

But perhaps the worst part is that Erin is letting her slide. Again. What happened to Erin earlier in the episode when she finally wanted Bunny to pay for what she’s done? BUNNY KILLED THAT MAN. SHE WAS SMUGGLING DRUGS. And Erin wants to let her off the hook for that? I’m sorry, but I don’t get it. Lindsay continues to protect her mother even when she knows she shouldn’t. I understand that she’s her mother, but she needs to realize that making her own up to her bad decisions is what’s best for her.

Let’s be honest, the one and only true parent that Lindsay has in her life is Hank Voight. He saved her life. He raised her. He looks out for her best interests. He loves her selflessly. Basically, everything Bunny does not do.

It’s Hank that Erin goes to for help. It’s Hank that Erin goes to for encouragement. It’s Hank that tries to help guide her in the right direction. He’s not perfect and he’s not always right. But he does always care. And that’s the parent that Lindsay has always deserved.

Six Things

  1. THERE’S NO WAY LINDSAY IS LEAVING CHICAGO – RIGHT?! I just cannot even entertain the possibility. It’s one thing for her to have left Intelligence, but to leave the city altogether? Nope. No. Not gonna happen. There’s no way this show goes on without Sophia Bush. What a cliffhanger! But certainly not going to stick.
  2. RED ALERT. RED ALERT. HALSTEAD NEARLY PROPOSED. Thank God I’d heard this rumor like a couple hours before the episode otherwise I would’ve dropped dead the moment Jay told his brother that he was going to ask Erin to marry him because she’s all he thinks about and he wants to be there for her. AND THE RING. AND THE MOMENT HE ALMOST PROPOSED. AND THE FINAL SCENE. WHY?!
  3. Can this show just lock Bunny away for good? Lord, every time this woman comes back into Erin’s life she leaves a hurricane of a mess in her wake. It’s like Erin senses that her mother is back and thus accordingly f**ks her own life up. I know that family is family, but why is Erin still helping Bunny run away from her consequences? She needs to own up to it or she’s never going to learn.
  4. The corruption in the police department when it comes to Hank Voight makes me fuming angry. How they were just praying for Lindsay to screw up so they could bring the hammer down on her. She’s Voight’s girl. They hate Voight. It was a no brainer for them. Assholes.
  5. That final scene between Voight and Lindsay gave me all the feels. This show has been grounded upon the significant relationships that define it. Voight and Lindsay are one of those relationships. He’s the reason that she has gotten to the point that she has. He saved her. He’s always saved her. Even though where she’s at is partly his fault (he split her and Halstead up, which put her in a compromising position without someone to watch out for her), he still fought for her. They’re walking proof that family isn’t blood, it’s love.
  6. That final scene of the episode straight up shook me. Jay waiting at Molly’s for Erin, ready to pour his heart out and propose. Erin staring back at the Chicago skyline as she prepares to drive to New York. Jay calling Erin. Erin ignoring it. Uncertainty. There’s still something holding her back. Perhaps this isn’t the end. Maybe Jay will be enough for Erin to stay. I just have one question: “Why the hell didn’t you pick up the phone, Erin?”

Chicago P.D. airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on NBC.

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Alyssa Barbieri

Senior Managing Editor, DCTV Writer

Teacher by day, writer by every other free moment. Obsessed with sports, TV, books, movies, and superheroes. Proud shipper and supporter of strong female characters. TV and Sports Editor. I write about DC TV, One Chicago and so much more. Contact: alyssa@fangirlish.com.

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