Warning: This story contains major spoilers from the season 5 finale of Chicago P.D. Read at your own risk!
Voight finally paid for his sins during the season 5 finale of Chicago P.D. — but he wasn’t the one who paid the ultimate price.
Going into the season finale, Olinsky’s (Elias Koteas) fate was looking grim. After being formally charged with murdering the man who slaughtered Hank Voight’s (Jason Beghe) son — though he only helped dispose of Bingham’s body; it was Hank who pulled the trigger — he was stabbed multiple times while in prison.
Alas, Olinsky succumbed to his injuries early in the hour, with Intelligence getting justice by hunting down the man who put the hit on Al; Hank also shot him in cold blood, and there were witnesses. However, Hank was able to set up Denny (Mykelti Williamson) for witness tampering, effectively clearly Voight’s name in the Bingham murder case. Though Hank’s off the hook for now, the repercussions of this finale will definitely permeate next season (Chicago P.D. officially got renewed Wednesday night). EW caught up with executive producer Rick Eid to get insight on Olinsky’s tragic death.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Why did Al have to die?
RICK EID: He didn’t have to die. It was one of the things that just evolved from the storytelling this season. It was one of those ideas that the writers, after pitching, once that Woods-Voight-Olinsky story line really became front and center and we started thinking of ways to dramatize it and play it through to its honest conclusion, it was an idea that just kept coming up. From a dramatic point of view, we all thought it was really interesting. From a human in real life point of view and a business point of view, we all thought it was really difficult and horrible. It was just a tough thing. We were like, “Wow. This feels real. It feels like Voight is finally paying for what he did to this Bingham character.” It was an interesting way for Olinsky to exit. We kept talking about him. He’d be dying on the mantle of his own loyalty. Just all the writer speak and creative things, it was a really compelling idea. Ultimately, the final decision is just really hard because everybody loves Elias, and he’s a great actor and a great person. It’s hard. That’s honestly how it all came about.
Was there ever any conversation about Hank ending up in jail and Al surviving?
Yeah, I think everything was on the table. Really we just kept talking about what happens. What does Woods do? What’s Woods play here? What’s Voight’s play here? What’s Olinsky’s play here? Does Olinsky finally give up and flip on Voight? We went through practically every iteration we could think of, and we all just kept coming back to this idea as a really powerful idea. That’s ultimately how it all came about.
No matter how it played out, did it always need to end with Voight finally paying for his sins?
We try to think about every angle and what is the most real and honest version of it all. I think that it’s a little too neat and tidy to have Voight always have his cake and eat it too. So we felt that he needed to, to the extent that he wins against Woods, he needs to lose against something else. The weight of all this, I think, will be interesting how it impacts going Voight going forward and effects the team.
Since Voight was ultimately responsible for Al’s death, will this cause a divide among the team moving forward, that they really now see what being loyal to Voight might get you?
Yeah, possibly. It’s all interesting fertile territory to explore. We haven’t convened the writers’ room for next season yet. So who knows where it will all go? Everybody’s impacted, and everybody has their own point of view. We saw some of that with Antonio and Voight in the finale and in episode 21 as well. This was a big thing, him being arrested was a big thing, and certainly, him being attacked and killed was a big thing. I’m sure it’ll play out in some fashion in season 6.
There are witnesses who saw Hank shoot that man on the rooftop in cold blood. Will that come back to haunt him next season?
I’m not sure if it will come back to haunt him, but we will definitely address it in some way. We haven’t thought it through completely yet, but I think the idea is that we will address it. What they saw, they saw, and there may be another version of that story, and Antonio has his version of the story. So, I think there are a lot of interesting things that we will play out in that investigation.
How will Al’s death affect everyone going into next season?
I think it will definitely affect everyone in a meaningful way. I think it will manifest in different ways for different characters. I think Ruzek will be really impacted by that, Antonio. Al was a beloved figure in that unit, and some people are going to blame Voight. I’m pretty sure Voight’s going to blame Voight. It’ll be interesting, hopefully.
Is this the last we’ve seen of Denny?
Possibly. There may be more to the story than we know. One season at a time. It was a long season and an emotional ending, so we haven’t picked up the pieces yet and figured out how it’s all going to move forward. Yeah, I think that specific chapter of the Voight-Woods mano-a-mano battle, I think we’ve seen the last of that. But who knows? He’s a great character, he’s a great actor. I thought it was a really interesting dynamic between the two of them, and watching those guys butt heads was pretty compelling.
Have you guys started talking about any new threats or social commentary that you want to touch on for next season yet?
Nothing specific yet, but we like the idea of tethering the show to Chicago — Chicago 2018 and what’s going on in Chicago. We like to reflect that in our show in some way. So it’s likely that there’ll be some component, like last season we explored the idea of reform. Hopefully, we’ll find a new interesting topical idea to explore that’s actually happening in Chicago as well.
Have you already started talking about another big Chicago crossover for next season?
We have not started talking about that just yet. No, but it would not shock me if there were a crossover at some point in the season. But we haven’t talked about that yet.
Chicago P.D. is expected to return in the fall.