Thirty balloons may feature in the latest episode of Chicago PD, but this ain’t no kid’s birthday party.
The balloons are filled with cocaine and every time they pop up, we’re treated to a vision of blood, guts and gore. Yes, no sugar coating anything on this show. We get to see the good, the bad, and the ugly and that’s just how Voight (the incredible Jason Beghe) reacts when fending off any possible suitor of Erin Lindsay (Sophia Bush). There was plenty of good, a little bad, and a healthy serving of ugly in “Thirty Balloons.”
Let’s start with the good. The characters interacted with each other more than on any other eppy and we got to see their relationships develop. The episode begins with Jay Halstead (Jesse Lee Soffer) and Antonio Dawson (Jon Seda) at a gym punching bags and doing other testosterone filled activities like gossip about their boss, Voight. Halstead wants to know if Voight’s dirty. This is a major theme of the episode – is the leader of the Intelligence Unit good or bad? Is anyone really all good or bad? Does it even matter? By the end of this outing, we’re ready to question our own morals/ethics and see Voight’s “tactics” as necessary.
More good was the funny banter between our favorite cops. When Erin walks into the gym, she ribs Jay mercilessly, telling him, “Nice muscle-T.” He defends his questionable fashion choice, and she counters with, “You don’t even have to change later when you break dance.” The two flirt for most of the episode with Voight counseling Jay to “keep it in his pants.” He replies, “I didn’t know it was out.” Voight says Erin is off limits. End of discussion. His turn as Papa Bear is cute and shows another side of the leader of the team.
We also learn more about Olinsky (Elias Koteas) and Ruzek (Patrick Flueger) as they spend tension filled hours together on a stakeout. I think that would break up any marriage and theirs is no exception. Ruzek introduces his fiancée to his partner and when the soon-to-be bride has never even heard of her groom’s partner. Olinsky spends the rest of the night nursing hurt feelings and being really mean to Ruzek like any respectable wife would do.
The plot was fast paced, action packed, and featured all the gritty realism of the preceding episodes. Two brothers are taking a turn at moving drugs by using pretty college kids as their “drug mules” by placing the drugs in their stomachs. When it’s a race against time to save the girls, Voight will stop at nothing to get them back. Great storyline, PD. The critic in me says the show’s bound to take a misstep, but so far it’s proving me wrong.
More things about the episode that make me all warm and fuzzy inside, make me happy Chicago Fire decided to have a baby, make me even madder that the Olympics are “ruining” the programming on NBC… We find out the mystery woman threatening Voight with another stint in jail is from Internal Affairs. By episode’s end, she’s telling Antonio Dawson that if he ever needs to tattle, she’s there for him. Wow, talk about adding an interesting twist!
We see the adorable baby cops Atwater (LaRoyce Hawkins) and Burgess (Marina Squerciati) ruin a brand new squad car, help out a desperate mom, and chase down one of the bad guys. They even get an “atta boy” from Voight, who says that’s the kind of effort that gets you on his team. He may want to check out the gawky way Burgess “runs” before offering up the golden cow. She doesn’t look like she could handle an intense Zumba class let alone a gun battle. It makes us love her even more.
Jin (Archi Kao) gets to show off his mad nerd skills wielding technology like a gun to help out the team. Front desk Sergeant Platt (Amy Morton) offers up more one-liners in her turn as Oscar the Grouch of the station. She makes Voight seem like a perky Polly as she shoots off gems all night like telling Dawson, “I’m assuming that’s Spanish for I’ll go get her myself” after he tells her to bring a suspect up to him.
Unfortunately the suspect turns out is Voight’s son, Justin. He’s not a hooker with a heart of gold, but instead a major jerk in any situation. He seems to be itching to get into trouble. I give him a month before he’s back in jail. Make that thirty minutes. He’s hanging out with a friend he met in the pen, which is always a good strategy when trying to not get arrested.
More bad involves how the writers fast tracked the blossoming relationship between Lindsay and Halstead. The two definitely have chemistry, but isn’t that something you would want to save for a couple of more episodes or a couple more years? Nope. By episode’s end we know these two will be shacking up soon if they haven’t already. I would’ve loved to have seen a Kelly Severide/Jay Halstead dance-off to win Erin’s heart. Better yet… a break dance-off with both of them in those muscle-Ts. C’est la vie.
The ugly was the violence and graphic nature of this cop show that read as necessary and not exploitive. The bad guys do bad things and the show isn’t afraid to show it. Cutting open one of the girls to get out the balloons of drugs only shows what our team faces daily. It feels like we get a little peek into what it’s like to be a detective on the streets of Chicago. And we want to pull back that curtain to see even more.
Chicago PD is officially a must see of the season. It is no wonder the network asked for two additional episodes and will certainly be announcing its renewal for next season. This is a quality show, with quality storytelling told by quality actors. Oh, and one more bad I forgot about. We have to wait a couple of weeks for the next episode while those pesky Olympics interrupt regular programming with their own version of good (figure skating), bad (curling), and ugly (figure skating outfits). See you back here on February 26 when CPD returns.