Chicago P.D. 9×12 “To Protect” tries to do three important things: give Hank Voight some focus, establish the new dynamics in Intelligence, and clearly set up Voight’s “redemption arc,” or at least the start of him turning over a new leaf. The problem is, of course, they utterly fail at all three things.
We’re more than a little short on sympathy for Voight right now, the new team dynamics come at the detriment of other dynamics we like much more and oh yes, there’s no redemption possible for Hank Voight at this point, so it’s all a waste of time. If we add that to the utter and complete lack of balance this show is infamous for, Chicago P.D. ended up delivering one of the worst episodes of the season.
Let’s go into what worked, what didn’t and what we’d like to see next as we review Chicago P.D. 9×12 “To Protect”:
Anna’s storyline has promise, and the show is doing about as decent a job at developing her relationship with Voight as it’s possible to do, considering neither of them are exactly likeable right now. It is, however, not enough to sustain an episode, not even close. Particularly not an episode that was so low on crumbs about anything else that we were left feeling like were just going to starve to death.
Then there’s the Jay/Voight dynamics, which sort of work this episode, even if they don’t work the way the show probably wants them to. We don’t feel much from them working together, we just recognize it makes sense. And if we can’t ask for continuity, or some cute moments between the ships, or friendship moments between the team, we will at least take common sense.
Better than nothing, I guess.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK
There’s some sense to what Jay is doing — and honestly, this is a storyline that could have worked, three or four seasons ago. At this point, we’ve tried the Voight redemption arc about 3 different times, and ended up in the same place. So the storyline just ends up being a way for Jay to assert some power over the unit that will one day be his (which good), and eh, a way for Jason Beghe to get more screen time?
We don’t believe — or truly want — a Voight redemption arc at this point. If we had to keep him, an apparently we did, he was a better antagonist than he is sympathetic boss. It’s hard to understand why Jay cares about Voight so much that he’s willing to stand between him and the decision that ultimately ruins him, and perhaps, that’s the bigger problem. Perhaps if we believed that Jay is doing this not because the storyline demands it of him, but because he cares, we could stomach it better.
But episodes like Chicago P.D. 9×12 “To Protect” make it hard for us to remember than anyone cares about anyone in this unit. Hailey and Jay, who are literally married, don’t get to talk — the biggest drawback from all the time Jay and Voight have to spend together to make this storyline work, by far — Adam and Kim don’t get to discuss Makayla and Kevin only gets to talk about the case, not about what’s going on with Celeste. These people aren’t friends, they’re work colleagues with long hours, and that makes it really, really hard to believe that Jay — or anyone — would go out on a limb for Voight.
WHAT WE WANT TO SEE NEXT
Broken record, I know, but this team needs to feel like a team. In hindsight, that’s probably what makes the rest feel so fake, that we don’t truly believe these people care for each other. Yes, we see it when someone’s in danger, but people don’t just suddenly pull out their emotions only in bad times. People go through life loving even when things are okay, I promise. A glimpse of that will make us invest more in the rest.
As for the things we already invest in, we need much more of them. Upstead has barely gotten any screen time together since their wedding. Hailey and Kim got some focus early on in the season, we need more of that. We need to see a lot more of the Burzek family, particularly with what’s coming. Plus, can we get some sort of conversation about the state of Adam and Kim’s relationship? It’s beyond absurd at this point that they haven’t even discussed it. Or that no one in this unit has made more than a passing reference to Hailey and Jay’s wedding. Come oooooon.
These are the things that work. Chicago P.D. would be smart to lean in. Despite what some might think, this show has never been about Hank Voight and he has never, ever, been the best part of it.
Agree? Disagree? What did you think of Chicago P.D. 9×12 “To Protect”? Share with us in the comments below!
Chicago P.D. airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on NBC.