Chicago P.D. 9×04 “In the Dark” is about breaking points – and what we do when we’ve gone past ours. In a way this episode seems a little disconnected from the way the show tried to pain Hailey as someone on the cusp of becoming Voight last year, and yet, in so many other ways, this episode is a perfect example that, sometimes, the things we tell ourselves we’re capable are very, very far from reality.
Hailey Upton is a good person, deep down. I don’t think there’s ever been any doubt of that, despite the show’s attempt to have her flirt with the dark side last year. And it’s because Hailey is a good person that this episode is as hard as it is.
Most of us have been where Hailey is – if not in the circumstances, in the feeling. The last year and a half has brought a great deal of anxiety and fear. The tiny things we used to take for granted, going to a restaurant, to a concert, meeting with friends, are now fraught with constant worry. Life has changed, and the ways we react to life have considerably altered too.
Of course, Hailey’s anxiety, her pain, have a very clear culprit: Hank Voight, and our anxieties typically don’t. But that doesn’t mean it’s not incredibly easy to relate to the ways in which the walls start to close in on Hailey, no matter what she does. You can’t control your feelings, and more often than we want, our feelings control us. Hailey Upton got through this episode, but anxiety isn’t a thing that just goes away. It’s a thing she’s gonna have to work through. The Voight problem, however? That is, hopefully, a problem with a solution. And this is, hopefully, the beginning of the end – once and for all.
So, let’s talk about Hailey Upton’s spiral, Jay and Voight’s confrontation and what comes next as we review Chicago P.D. 9×04 “In the Dark”:
I CAN’T BREATHE
Hailey Upton is having a bad day. No, she’s having a bad few weeks. Because the truth is, though on the surface it might seem like this storyline doesn’t really follow Hailey’s storyline from season 8, it absolutely does, as long as we remember that people aren’t black and white, people are mostly shades of grey, and they have to make decisions about who they want to be basically every day.
Yes, Hailey seemed to be a different person during parts of season 8. I think Hailey tried to believe she could be like Voight. It’s not that she ever was, but it’s that she told herself that the pain had turned her hard, dark. But the truth is, she never was, despite what she wanted to believe, and in that moment with Voight and Roy, Hailey proved that to herself.
She didn’t discover it, because finding things out about yourself isn’t as important as believing things about yourself. And in that moment, as she tried to stop Voight from killing Roy, Hailey understood her line. She understood the kind of person she wanted to be. And she took action.
Of course, then things went sideways, and that was just …another guilt for Hailey to carry. Another thing that is on her. And Hailey Upton already has a really long list of things she holds herself responsible for, even if a lot of them aren’t, could never be on her.
So, when Hailey is having an anxiety attack in this episode, it’s not just about the man who killed himself, it’s not just about Roy and the secret she’s keeping from the first real family she’s ever had, the first person who’s always been honest with her, it’s also about all her guilts, perceived or otherwise. It’s about all the things she could and should have done differently. Trauma is sneaky like that, even when you think you’re over it, the moment there’s a new friend to come hang out with, it will absolutely pay you another visit.
But the thing Hailey has now, the thing she hadn’t fully let herself accept she had last season, is Jay. She’s got a partner, a support system, and that can and does make all the difference. Not because another person can cure you, that’s not how trauma of any kind works. But because another person can be the shoulder to lean onto while you fix yourself.
Will things be a little rocky between Jay and Hailey for a while? I think so. If nothing else there’s gotta be a part of Jay that wonders if Hailey really does want to marry him, or if that was just her reaction to trauma. But understanding that sometimes the things we hang onto with both hands aren’t just about avoidance, or fear, but about love is Jay’s journey. Hailey’s, on the other hand, is very different. Hers is about understanding that she doesn’t have to carry any burden alone.
SO, HELP HER
The utter gall of Voight telling Jay to help Hailey at this point aside, and Jay’s understandable anger at Voight putting the burden on him, like he didn’t cause Hailey’s breakdown, the truth is that Jay Halstead is incapable of not helping Hailey Upton through this. That cruel ending scene feels like a bad omen, and yet, in a way, it truly shouldn’t be. Not if this show is paying attention to their own groundwork, not to mention Jay’s words in this episode.
Jay is angry at Voight – and we will go deeper into their history and their fight in the next section, he isn’t angry at Hailey. He’s sad, he’s concerned and perhaps, he’s a little disappointed she didn’t turn to him, but there’s nothing in this episode that points to Jay truly being angry at Hailey for what she did.
I do believe, however, that there’s a part of Jay, one that has more to do with his own insecurities than hers, that will seriously question the engagement. She wanted this, he thought. She wanted him. That was a decision she made, not a reaction. Except, now, he has to wonder, was it? Would another Hailey, in another moment, make the same choice? He isn’t sure. How can he be? She can swear the answer is yes, and we can swear the answer is yes, but that probably won’t be enough for Jay.
But there’s a big distance between that fear and blaming Hailey for what happened or holding her responsible. And hey, if that doubt means we get yet another proposal — and a ring, notice we haven’t gotten a ring, which is IMPORTANT — then I will take it and smile. Perhaps, in a few months, Hailey can say the same words, and Jay won’t believe they’re a response to trauma. That’d be the best storytelling avenue the show can take in regard to this.
And, for now, what Jay needs to do – what he probably can’t help but do, even if a part of him is disappointed – is …well, help Hailey. I hate to agree with Voight, but he can. Not because Voight said it, but because …that’s who Jay is. And a lot of that help is, indeed, just being himself, being there for her. The fear of losing him, the pain of keeping secrets from him, has been a big component of Hailey’s breakdown, and though the larger problem remains, that, at least, is now a thing of the past.
Now they need to talk. They need to confide in each other. Hailey about what happened, and Jay …about Voight. About his history with him. And perhaps, together, they can reach the same conclusion most viewers have already reached: Voight needs to go.
My dream storyline going forward? Jay and Hailey against Voight. What would make it even better? Jay and Hailey confiding in Kim, first, then Kev, who is sure to be on their side, and then bringing Adam in so it’s the team against Voight. All of them, united. Now, if you told me there was a chance this could happen when this storyline first started, I wouldn’t have believed you. Now? Now I want to hope, at least for now. That’s not a quick storyline, of course. It won’t mean getting rid of Voight right away. But it will mean the show acknowledging the problem they’ve created and putting in the work to try to fix it.
YOU DID THIS TO HER
The history between Jay and Voight goes back a long, long way. And sometimes it feels hypocritical of us to focus all of our ire on Voight, when absolutely everyone on this show has done questionable things at times. But Voight hasn’t just done questionable things, Voight is questionable. That was the entire setup for the character, and he’s remained the exact same person for nine seasons.
Growth? What is that? Hank Voight has never heard of it.
That’s why the conversation at the end of the episode – masterful punch aside – is so important. Because it’s Jay and Voight putting all cards on the table. It’s two different ways of seeing the world faced against each other. And though there’s no real winner, there is one certainty: after this, there’s no going back. Not really.
Particularly because the beats of this conversation play like Jay recognizing every one of Voight’s tricks, every one of his lies. The entire episode does, really. From Hailey’s reaction to Voight, to Jay’s reaction to him saying that Roy reached for his gun, Jay’s way past giving Voight the benefit of the doubt for anything, and honestly, why should he?
How many people has Voight dragged down with him? How many people has he involved in his messes? How many people has Jay lost because of it? And the Jay Halstead that walks away at the end of the episode doesn’t just know this, he also seems to know that this time, he can’t turn a blind eye. He shouldn’t.
Things I think I think:
- The montage at the beginning does a great job of straddling the line between hilarious and very, very sad.
- I enjoy when this show takes the time to showcase two characters who don’t usually get that much screen time. Good that Adam and Hailey are having some friend time – they’ve either had that weird thing that everyone knew wasn’t gonna work, or nothing, and life just doesn’t work like that.
- Did you really think Jay Halstead wasn’t going to notice that you weren’t sleeping, Hailey? Jay notices everything.
- I would have loved a more overt moment of Kim reacting like a mom in this episode – because she’s a mom now, and this is the kind of case that hits much harder when you are.
- Stay with the man who notices the little things about you, even when you don’t.
- Honestly, I’m glad it took Jay only 4 episodes to piece together what was wrong, because that’s still within believable range, and yet it’s not so little time that there aren’t consequences.
- The makeup on this episode is ON POINT. Tracy’s acting too, obviously, but she also looks like sh*t, which is hard to do with Tracy.
- Season 9 has already given me more Hailey and Kim than season 8 did in its entirety, and I’m absolutely here for it.
- I’m kinda shocked Jay waited till he had proof to confront Voight, considering how sure he was.
- They have really, really dropped Kim’s trauma, and that’s one of the things I really don’t appreciate that this show tends to do. Trauma doesn’t just go away – just like anxiety.
- “So, you just let her carry this?”
- The way Voight says “I kept asking” is despicable. It doesn’t matter who he’s talking about, the fact that he feels he gets to decide who suffers, who lives and who dies, and that he believes he should suffer no consequence for it…
- “You did this to her.”
- Ah, that punch. It’s a thing of beauty, it is. Go replay it. And then replay it again. Satisfaction.
- “You did everything you did …what did you get?”
- Look, the way this episode was shot was basically UPSTEAD ARE SOULMATES, okay? Just, visually, how Hay finds out and the camera cuts to Hailey letting out that breath, like a burden had been lifted from her shoulders? You don’t do that by mistake.
Agree? Disagree? What did you think of Chicago P.D. 9×04 “In the Dark”? Share with us in the comments below!
Chicago P.D. airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on NBC.