When it comes to violence and murder, it’s very easy for good people to find themselves on the wrong side of the law. That’s where we found one father in Chicago P.D.’s latest hour as he solicited a murder of an exonerated gang member for the murder of his 22-year old daughter.
“Favor, Affection, Malice or Ill-Will” was one of those episodes that makes you stop for a moment and put yourself in someone else’s shoes, in this case Donald Clark. Clark wasn’t a bad guy – he was a doting father who was swallowed up by so much anger and grief that he felt the need to seek vengeance instead of justice. And he found himself paying the ultimate price for dealing with his grief in the wrong way.
The episode tugged at your heartstrings as we watched a grief-stricken father tumbling down the rabbit hole with Olinski found himself trying everything in his power to talk the guy out of it. Because we’ve seen what Olinski has been willing to do to protect his family. We’ve seen what this Intelligence Unit has done. So Olinski fought tirelessly to try and save this guy from himself.
On the other side of things, Ruzek returned from his undercover case to discover that it wouldn’t be that simple when it came to rejoining Intelligence.
Let’s break this down:
Justice vs. Vengeance
When it comes to differentiating between justice and vengeance, often times some people assume that they’re the same thing. That they both are focused around a guilty party receiving what they deserve. But justice and vengeance aren’t the same thing. Although it’s hard to differentiate between the two when you’re lost in your own grief.
This week’s episode shed light on the difference between these two terms when it came to a father, Donald Clark, who wanted retribution for his 22-year old daughter’s murder. After the main suspect had been cleared of all charges and released from prison, Clark took it into his own hands to seek vengeance. His version of “justice” was soliciting a murder of the man that had been cleared of all charges.
That’s the difference between justice and vengeance. Vengeance is what you believe someone deserves whereas justice is what the law deems to be the appropriate punishment.
It’s no mistake that this lesson comes just one week before Chicago Justice makes its official debut with a One Chicago crossover event on March 1, where we’ll see the folks from Chicago P.D., Chicago Fire, Chicago Med, and now Chicago Justice come together for an epic event.
The folks at Chicago Justice, as we saw in this episode, are focused on doing the right thing – as deemed right by the law. That is the institution they serve, after all, the legal system. So they know a thing or two about justice vs. vengeance. In fact, they see it all too often as we’re all about to see.
So circling back – justice and vengeance are two terms that are associated as being synonyms when in fact they’re more like antonyms. When you take the law into your own hands, that’s you exacting vengeance. When you let the law handle things, that’s you – rather the law – exacting justice.
Mr. Clark, who was so overcome with grief, blurred the lines together. He was a good man, yes, but he made a choice that ultimately put him on the wrong side of the law, on the wrong side of justice. His heart was in the right place – his desire being fueled by his daughter’s murder – but even the best of people can succumb to the darkness of vengeance.
And who’s to say how I would react, how you would react if put in the same position? But it doesn’t change that the law is the law.
A Father’s Grief
One of the amazing things about Chicago P.D. is how it knows exactly what kind of cases it needs in order to add a personal touch to it. When you add a personal touch to it – through a character or characters emotional response – it makes the case more meaningful. It gives us a reason to care. I always enjoy Olinsky-focused episodes because it shines a light on the power of family and being a parent.
In “Favor, Affection, Malice or Ill-Will,” much like its name implies, was an episode where an individual’s decision was examined to determine the true intent of soliciting a murder. Our suspect: Donald Clark, a grieving father who had just lost his 22-year old daughter to gang violence. He seemed like a good guy. He wasn’t, by any means, someone you’d expect to be hiring a hitman. But tragedy has a way of bringing out the worst in people to the point where you don’t even recognize yourself.
So Mr. Clark wanted to hire a hitman to kill a man who he believed had killed his daughter. The guy had been arrested, sure, but he was also released and cleared of the charges. And yet still Mr. Clark believed with all of his being that this was the guy. And he wanted to exact vengeance.
After one of Lindsay’s CI’s brought them on to the case, Olinski went undercover as said hitman and eventually found himself thrust into a situation where he was emotionally impacted given the circumstances.
We all know Olinski is a dedicated father. We also know that there is nothing he wouldn’t do to protect his daughters. In fact, we’ve already seen the lengths he’s been willing to go to protect those he loves. Olinski isn’t the only one who has lost themselves to the emotional trigger of family endangerment. So it was easy for Olinski not only to empathize but also to care about this man that was potentially throwing his life away because the grief had become too much to bear.
So while Olinski continued to play along with this fake hit, we saw him trying to talk Clark down from the ledge. Telling him how this Omar Frye wasn’t even the guy that the police suspected as killing Clark’s daughter Rebecca. As more information was released – as Intelligence dove deeper – Olinski would relay it to Clark hoping that he could change his mind. Before it was too late. But unfortunately, Olinski couldn’t do it. And I’m not surprised because there’s no negotiating with someone who is that grief-stricken. They have to convince themselves. No one is going to be able to do that for them.
It also makes you consider: What would you have done in Mr. Clark’s shoes? What would you have done if your daughter had been gunned down by gang violence? Would you seek vengeance? If you say you wouldn’t, could you be absolutely sure?
Ruzek Returns…But Not to Intelligence
It’s been far too long since Ruzek ran from Intelligence when he couldn’t deal with having to work with his ex-fiance – who he is still in love with. But Ruzek made his grand return in the final minute of last week’s episode, where he and Burgess shared a passionate lip lock that has us clamoring for resolution with the two exs we hope will reignite that spark and relationship.
I don’t know what Ruzek expected, but it sure looked to me that he expected to walk right back into Intelligence like nothing had changed. Like he hadn’t ran because he couldn’t handle working with his ex. Like he hadn’t left his sergeant one man short. Like he hadn’t left without any notice whatsoever.
Yeah, well, Ruzek learned pretty quickly that that’s not how the world works. You can’t just leave and expect to waltz right back up to the best party in Chicago police. Voight made that damn clear. Ruzek hadn’t been assigned to Intelligence. Technically, he’d only been detailed, so that meant Ruzek was coming back to District 21 just not as Intelligence but as a patrolman.
For most of the hour, Ruzek didn’t look like he understood the circumstance. He was mostly pointing the finger at Voight for not giving him the job back. But here’s the thing, as Platt told him. Sometimes you make mistakes, and you have to pay for those mistakes. You mess up, you do your time, and you fight like hell to return. And that’s exactly what Ruzek has to do.
I would’ve liked to have seen Ruzek down with patrol for another episode or two before returning to Intelligence, but this storyline was wrapped up pretty quickly and in the final minutes. Rixton, who I haven’t been fond of because he was coming into a preexisting family, took a moment to talk to Ruzek about the Intelligence situation. He told him that he was going to take an offer where he’d join another Narcotics unit and thus open the spot for Ruzek to return to his old desk.
Rixton knows what’s up. It’s kind of like the writers were saying to us, we know how you feel audience. We know that the family we’ve created in Intelligence is a tight-knit one. We know you don’t like us bringing in new family and pushing old family out. We know this is probably why you weren’t too fond of Rixton. But we’re fixing that. Rixton understands. We understand. You understand.
So next week it seems we shall find Ruzek back with his family in Intelligence as he tackles a new challenge – the challenge he ran from: working with his ex-fiance. Although given how last week’s episode ended, perhaps it won’t be as difficult as we assume. Or worse, it’ll be more difficult.
- Lindsay let Halstead drive their new ride! This entire scene made me heart squeal with excitement probably the same way Halstead’s did when Lindsay told him he could drive their new ride. “It’s time you drove, grasshopper.” “My angel.” We live for these Linstead moments!
- In a battle of terrible street names, Poodlehead beats Goldfish. I’m sorry but Atwater and Rixton were talking terrible street names was pure comedic gold. And yes, Poodlehead is far worse a street name than Goldfish. Although both are God awful.
- Carl Weathers makes a cameo, which reminds us how close Chicago Justice is! You know Chicago Justice is on the horizon as we start seeing small cameos on other One Chicago shows. The integration into the One Chicago family is in full-swing. It’s what makes this shared universe so great that characters from other shows can make an appearance because a story calls for it.
- Rixton sacrificed his position in Intelligence for Ruzek. Rixton is a good guy. I feel bad for disliking him for most of his time on the show. But he understands what it means to be a part of a family, which is why it means so much to Ruzek and us that Ruzek be back with his family.
- We didn’t get any resolution with Burgess and Ruzek from the previous week. I’m sure it’s coming next week when Ruzek returns to Intelligence, but it felt like it was ignored or brushed over this week.
- Olinsky’s moment with his daughter reminded us what this show is all about. It might be a procedural, but this show – and all of the One Chicago shows – work because they shine that focus on the characters and their reactions to the events and emotions around them. It’s what makes us care.
Chicago P.D. airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on NBC.