Chicago P.D. 10×04 “Donde Vives” is about Dante Torres, about balancing the place you come from and the person you have become, and also about what this show wants to be going forward. The good news is that, as a standalone, this is a fantastic episode, with a Benjamin Levy Aguilar that owns every scene he is in – and who feels like a breath of fresh air for a show that had relied on much of the same dynamics for years.
The bad news, of course, is that this episode isn’t standalone. Instead, this episode is a follow-up to what might be one of the worst episodes in Chicago P.D. history, and though at times it’s easy to forget that, at other times, it’s impossible to. Jay Halstead’s absence – or more importantly, the nonsensical way he was written out – shouldn’t take away from Dante Torres’ big episode. But it’s hard to watch the episode without remembering how Jay brought Dante into the unit, and without wondering what this episode would have been with him around.
But let us take this moment to do both as we review Chicago P.D. 10×04 “Donde Vives,” mourn what could have (should have) been, and celebrate what is for a character that has, very quickly, found a way into our hearts.
I TAKE CARE OF PROBLEMS AROUND HERE
Dante Torres isn’t just the one who takes care of his family (his mom, in particular), he’s the one who takes care of his neighborhood. The one people turn to when they need help, the one people trust. And that’s a very heavy burden to bear for Dante, especially because, in his position, there’s no way you can ever be all that people want – all that people need. No, at some point, you’re gonna need to choose you or your family.
Being a police officer, being part of Intelligence, feels like a choice Dante made for himself, and probably for the right reasons. It is, however, a choice that affects his mother too, and his neighborhood. And it’s not one he can take back or one he can reconcile with who he was before. He made the choice, now he has to live with it. Not just that, he has to find a way to live after he has made the choice he makes at the end of the episode – because Dante Torres isn’t, can’t just be that choice. He’s a fully realized character with hopes and dreams, one who triumphs and makes mistakes. One who learns and one who falls down. We want all of that. We deserve all of that.
He won’t be alone as he tries to find his balance. He’ll have a team – one this show will hopefully remember is that for more than one episode at a time. And he’ll have his mom, too. He better, because if she’s another woman sacrificed at the altar of storytelling and manpain, I’m going to be even angrier at this show than I am right now, and that’s saying a lot.
I’M HERE FOR YOU, WHETHER YOU WANT ME TO BE OR NOT
Ironically, the best thing to come out of an episode that should have had Jay in Kevin’s position, is …well, that Kevin is the one in Jay’s position. Chicago P.D. had previously established a bond between Jay and Dante, and they would have surely explored that had he been around, but in truth, no one made more sense to be the voice of reason – the one to look up to – than Kevin Atwater.
Not because all POC are the same. There’s no universality to POC stories, and TV is guilty of making it look like it is. That, however, doesn’t mean Jay could have understood Dante the way Kevin did. He could have helped – and he would have. But the narrative would have been different, the connection would have had to be handled in a different way. And though this isn’t really the way we wanted to see Kevin Atwater get more storylines, it was good to see him step up and be there for someone that needed him, even when Dante wasn’t in a position to realize he needed someone. No, especially then.
Of course, as much as this story made sense with Dante’s established background, and as much as Kevin made sense as the person bonding with him – and even though the story was told with more nuance than I expected – the storyline in this episode is, if not stereotypical, at least stereotype adjacent, for both Dante and Kevin. And as long as Chicago P.D. doesn’t provide these characters more than that, that will continue to be a problem. If, however, the show can continue to build on their connection and give Torres the backup he – the one having to take care of everyone and everything all the time – hasn’t really had before, and maybe have him do the same for Kevin in a way he hasn’t really had before either, then the show might have stumbled upon something special, almost by chance.
IT’S GONNA BE REAL STRANGE AROUND HERE FOR A WHILE
Adam puts what we’re all feeling into words because, yes, Chicago P.D. without Jay Halstead is strange, to say the least. And the way the show has written him off is …strange, to say the least. To Chicago P.D.’s credit, no one is pretending the whole thing isn’t messy, or borderline unbelievable. Which just begs the question of why …why did it have to happen? What storyline is it building? What lesson are the other characters learning from this?
For Hailey, the answer might just be more pain, the kind she didn’t need. Because it’s not like Hailey Upton learning to take care of herself, dealing with shit alone, is a new storyline for her. Hailey Upton has been dealing with her issues on her own for quite a while, and she knows she can do that. She was now just learning that she didn’t have to. That it was okay to have a backup – no, that it was great to have it. That she could choose someone and be chosen by them. And now, all of that is gone, and we get …more trauma?
And for the rest of the team, what are we getting, other than quick mentions about how weird it is? Will this be a way for the show to examine the dynamics within this unit, and explore what Jay meant to each and one of them? It should be, but considering how much Chicago P.D. loves to focus on one character per week, somehow we don’t think it will. And that’s a pretty sad state of affairs.
Jay Halstead got a shit deal. Jesse Lee Soffer got a shit deal. And it looks like everyone else is getting the same as a follow-up. Talk about worst-case scenarios, all around. At least Upsted is still together. At least they’re still the loves of each other’s lives. But isn’t the number one storytelling rule: show, don’t tell? Chicago P.D. is telling us a lot of things they’re not willing to show us right now. And fans can recognize how bad that is.
Things I think I think:
- We feel you on the Jay thing, Dante. We also can’t believe it.
- Even Kim’s like I DON’T KNOW, that’s how much sense this makes.
- This episode has more team scenes than we’e gotten in a while, and everyone’s acting like this is the first time they’ve seen Dante …except, it isn’t. He’s been around for a bit.
- Adam apparently only has food-related advice, which I can respect.
- THE SPANISH IS GOOD. I REPEAT, THE SPANISH IS GOOD.
- Man, Benjamin Levy Aguilar …you got me a bit emotional this episode.
- “People are a lot of things. You might not know her as well as you think you do.” You good, Hailey?
- Silly question, I know. I hate this storyline.
- 68 isn’t that old, WTF?!
- “We like food” is the worst pickup line ever, but I can see why it works for Torres.
- So, oookay, that was AN ENDING.
Agree? Disagree? What did you think of Chicago P.D. 10×04 “Donde Vives”? Share with us in the comments below!
Chicago P.D. airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on NBC.