Chicago P.D. 4×16 Review: 'Emotional Proximity'

One of the most beautiful things about television – and the arts in general – is the power that they command when it comes to emotions. Emotions are the foundation of the very lives we lead. Everything we do is dictated by our feelings. It’s the cause of the multitude of effects in our lives.

There’s no need to hype what has already been an incredibly hyped three-hour crossover event that brought together Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D., Chicago Med, and the newest franchise Chicago Justice. Sometimes the product speaks for itself. And, I must say, the hype was much certainly warranted.

But that isn’t going to stop me from pouring my heart out in what was one of the most emotional hours of Chicago P.D. since the season three finale. In an episode where the title was well deserved – “Emotional Proximity” – the second hour of the three-hour event ramped up the emotions as Al Olinsky experienced the worst nightmare a parent could imagine.

Following Chicago Fire’s hour that revealed an arson at a warehouse where a large group of teenagers were partying – that left more than 30 dead and 20 more in critical condition – Chicago P.D. picked up with Al Olinsky struggling with the reality of his daughter Lexi Olinsky, who was one of the victims, fighting for her life.

This episode brought out the very best in Elias Koteas as it revolved around Olinsky’s love and emotions when it comes to his daughter. Those really are some of the best episodes of this show. The episodes where emotions are laid bare on the floor. The episodes where we’re reminded of the realness of this world that Dick Wolf has created. The episodes that absolutely shatter us because we feel the emotions deep inside of us.

We know how Olinsky feels about his daughter. We’ve seen the lengths that he’s been willing to go to protect her. There’s nothing Al loves more in this world than Lexi. Which made it even more gut-wrenching when Lexi’s organs shut down and she passed away despite the best efforts of Med’s Dr. Halstead.

To be honest, I never expected that Chicago P.D. would actually kill off Lexi. While she’s not a regular character on the show, her presence is still incredibly powerful when it comes to Olinsky. I never would’ve thought they’d kill her.

Oh, how blind I was.

You’d think after three shows, 11 seasons, and 216 episodes that I’d have learned my lesson. One Chicago doesn’t play around. These shows are not afraid to take that which you love away from you.

One of the beauties of One Chicago shows are how they resemble the world we live in. One of the things we know about the world is that life is hardly fair. Life is tough. Life is brutal. Life doesn’t discriminate. Life spares no one.

So in that regard, I really should have seen this coming. That’s what this universe has showed us. To never assume that just because a character is important doesn’t mean that they’re safe.

So when Lexi Olinsky was pronounced dead with her father and mother by her side, we were reminded of just how precious life is. That we’re promised nothing. That we need to live in the moment. That we simply need to live.

But this episode also served as a character moment for Alvin Olinsky. Al seemed like an empty shell of a man after Lexi passed. He found himself busying himself in the case as a distraction. But when it comes to Al, we always know that he’s always thinking one step ahead. In this case, vengeance.

When Intelligence had finally nabbed the young man responsible for the deaths of 39 kids, we saw Olinsky race to do what he’d been longing to do since Lexi was admitted into Chicago Med. He wanted to kill this guy. Screw the justice system, this guy killed his daughter and 38 other sons and daughters.

As Voight attempted to hold him back, Olinsky reminded him of his hypocrisy when it came to Justin’s death last year. Voight made no intention of getting the murderer locked away. He had every intention in killing him. And he did. We’ve seen the lengths that Intelligence has gone to protect their children and those they care about. So what made this any different?

The other victims.

This wasn’t about saving this guy’s life. This was about giving the parents of the other victims some sense of justice that the guy that killed their children would be suffering for the rest of his life. Death is easy. Death doesn’t hold consequence. Living is hard. Living in a cell for the rest of your life with the weight of 39 lives slain on your shoulders holds consequence.

Chicago P.D. always manages to surprise me and satisfy me even when the circumstances are heartbreaking. The confidence with which it understands itself – what makes this show work, what makes these characters thrive – is so refreshing in a television world where you find that lacking.

This show possesses the ability to make us feel like we’re living in another reality. All of the shows do. The characters are living. The world believable. The relationships dynamic. And when the emotions are center stage, there’s nothing that can top it.

Five Things


  1. Chicago P.D.’s hour of the crossover was most definitely the most emotional one. Not that they all weren’t. That would be impossible because this is the One Chicago But this was certainly an hour that tested your ability to not cry when faced with an emotional heartbreaking story that leaves its mark on you.
  2. Elias Koteas absolutely shattered my heart with his portrayal. There are moments that stick with you; moments that feel so incredibly real that you’re still thinking about it long after the moment is done. That’s a testament to Koteas’ sensational portrayal that resonated in all facets.
  3. Angry Voight is the literal best. There’s nothing more satisfying on this show than the moments that Hank Voight pushes the boundaries of physical harm with the suspects. Voight has this eerie calm about his approach that can just as easily morph into violence with a snap. He’s not a guy that yells. It’s the chilly calm and cocky arrogance that makes him the best in the business.
  4. Halstead is still driving the truck. More like, Lindsay is still letting Halstead drive the truck. I wonder how long this is going to last? Is it permanent? I know that this episode was in no means about Linstead. But in an emotionally-charged hour you need something to cling to that’s hopeful or not soul-crushing.
  5. I’ll never get over how amazing it is to see other One Chicago characters on the other shows. This is the shared universe I’ve been craving on television. One where crossovers aren’t confined to merely big events like this one. It’s something that happens on a nearly weekly occurrence. It actually makes these bigger crossover events all the more special.

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

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