By Natalie Abrams
Updated September 29, 2015 at 06:58 PM EDT
Credit: Matt Dinerstein/NBC

For all intents and purposes, the Erin Lindsay that we’ve come to know and love over the last two seasons is gone.

When Chicago P.D. returns, Lindsay (Sophia Bush) has fallen further down the rabbit hole in the wake of Nadia’s death. Not only did she quit Intelligence, but she’s turned to drugs and alcohol to soothe the pain. Can anyone bring her back from the brink? EW caught up with executive producer Matt Olmstead to get the scoop on what’s in store for season 3:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Where are we picking up with Lindsay in the new season?

MATT OLMSTEAD: We pick up with her and she’s committed to keeping the party going, because it’s easier to do that than to face the guilt and grief she has over the loss of Nadia (Stella Maeve) from last year. She was grooming Nadia to one day be a cop, much like Voight (Jason Beghe) groomed Lindsay. Lindsay was a teenager and ironically partying with her mom many years ago, and so she was wanting to return the favor to Nadia and Nadia didn’t make it, and that really ultimately sent Lindsay off the rails. So, she’s checked out, and that becomes the journey for her in the first few episodes. What’s important to her? Is it too late to come back? Does she want to come back? Then, certainly for everybody in Intelligence, every time they’re working you’re looking at am empty desk where she used to work, a desk that’s not going to remain empty forever, they’re definitely going to have to fill it if she’s not going to come back.

How does Intelligence feel about what’s going on with Lindsay?

People have different reactions. Voight’s heartbroken, but resolute. He reached out to her, she said no, he probably tried one more time, she said no, and he’s got to move on. Everybody else was like, “Look, she made a choice, maybe it was a good choice, maybe she just knew it was time to turn your badge in, it’s better to turn it in too soon than too late.” Halstead [Jesse Lee Soffer], who obviously had a relationship with her, he’s the one who really, more than anyone, believes that it’s not too late for her, and reached out to her. There’s a scene in the first episode when he sees her and he didn’t even recognize her. It’s just not the person he knows. Then he tells her when he sees her, “Look, if you ever see Lindsay again, tell her she made me a better cop,” and walks away, because she’s fully committed to just partying and not facing essentially everything in her life. That becomes the journey in terms of reclaiming her as a cop, and then ultimately reclaiming her as a person. Can she deal with what happened last season?

And a kidnapping brings her back to Intelligence?

Yeah, Intelligence is a proactive unit as you know, and it’s not just showing up and there’s a dead body and taking notes. The characters in the unit actually kind of force the issue sometimes to get a big case going. They do that and one of the people in Intelligence gets grabbed out. It’s someone she knows obviously who’s in harm’s way that is the initial bell that rings for her in terms of trying to help out, that’s the immediate concern. But then, in terms of being able to come back and actually get her job back and stay there, that’s not even on the table when she first comes back. That’s a separate issue, but what initially brings her back is concern for a former colleague that she wants to help out.

Is Halstead only focused on getting Lindsay back?

Yeah, he’s focused on Lindsay in the first part of the season. Once upon a time, Voight let them both know he doesn’t tolerate in-house romances, and so they had to break it off. But knowing what she’s going through, and Voight having to take a hard-ass stance on her, he privately tells Halstead to look out for her. He’s essentially letting him know, “I don’t care anymore about any potential romance. I know that you have a different relationship with her clearly than I do,” and so he gives him the green light, which comes out of caring for Lindsay, but he has to be the boss right now. The journey is reclaiming her, keeping her from going down the tubes, and then rehabilitating her and being the one person that she can turn to so. Her journey is: Will they ever get back to that place that they were before where they were really, really connected?

Who has stepped up at Intelligence in Lindsay’s place?

I mean everybody has. Ruzek (Patrick John Flueger) has, Atwater (Laroyce Hawkins), who is the newest addition to it, has. They’ve had to really compensate for her loss. Even Voight tells her at some point, when everything goes sideways in the case in the first episode, in his mind he can’t help but think that if she was there, it never would have happened. It’s not a seamless transition where people can just pick up the cases she was on. Her sensibilities, her intelligence, who she is a cop, as a top level cop, I don’t think ever could be really compensated for and Voight definitely feels her loss in that first episode.

Let’s talk about how much Voight has changed from being a dirty cop when he first debuted on Chicago Fire. Will we ever see that side of him again?

Yeah. we will. We actually are doing it in episode 4 because, down the road, a convict gets out of prison that he put away and, in his mind justifiably. The irony being that the reason this guy gets out of prison is there’s a little bit of a glitch in what he reported back then years and years ago, because he was dealing with, ironically, Lindsay and her mom. It really shows what kind of cop Voight was back then. His past is paraded in front of him whether he likes it or not. Even the first episode, when they’re investigating the case, he has to go to prison to get information from someone who’s there to help hopefully solve the case they’re on. He goes back to Statesville, where he was locked up before he was released and got his job back. He’s walking in the hallway and this guard recognizes him and says, “Welcome back, convict.” It’s a reminder that he was there once upon a time.

He goes to get information from his former cellmate, portrayed by Clancy Brown, and it’s just again a reminder to the audience that this guy was shady. Voight would tell you differently, he’s less shady in more situational ethics that he operated under, but he has to go and get information from a guy who was a cellmate when he was himself a prisoner. We never wanted to whitewash his past. We’ll never do it. Just when he thinks that he’s rehabilitated himself or really kind of got it together, something comes up that reminds him that he made some mistakes in the past there’s no doubt.

Olinsky (Elias Koteas) apparently has a daughter, so how is he dealing with that when the show returns?

Well, what’s great about that is it’s dropped on his lap and it’s certainly borne from who he was 17 years ago. We established that he was a deep undercover character, who really lost himself in that world to the extent that he was living in his garage for ten years. He has this tenuous relationship with his wife, and a small relationship with his daughter, but he’s been living in the garage. So when this is dumped in his lap, it becomes: “Do I acknowledge this, do I embrace this, do I reach out to this girl, try and help her?” And not only that, “Do I let my wife and daughter know that this happened once upon a time? What are their reactions going to be?” Much like Lindsay having to deal with her guilt and the mistakes she made and whether or not she can get back to the unit, ultimately it requires the help of the extended family. So we have Antonio (Jon Seda) helping out Olinsky, because, at a certain point, he can’t deal with. We have Platt (Amy Morton) reaching out and helping Olinsky, because it’s just too enormous for him to deal with. He deals with it, but he doesn’t deal with it alone. He doesn’t necessarily get the reaction he hoped for from his wife and daughter, but he tries to do the honorable thing.

Ruzek really rushed into that proposal. What’s up with him and Burgess (Marina Squerciati) this season?

What we’ll find is he absolutely rushed into it, and what Burgess begins to realize is as opposed to really wanting to get married, he’s just getting a buzz off of being engaged. People buy you drinks, you get the attention, show off the ring, but when it comes to actually picking out the font for the save-the-date cards, he’s not that interested. Because he was engaged to someone else when she met him, is this what he’s about? Has he even thought about this? He just seems to be more into engagement, which, at some point, he’s going to have to confront.

Will Antonio’s boxing gym play a big role this season?

Yeah. Molly’s is somewhere where everyone can show up. This was something that other characters in the show can potentially show up to the gym. He’s going to find out that, in terms of bad businesses to own, I think restaurants, horse racing and boxing gyms would all probably be in some configuration of the top three. It’s definitely a labor of love. You’ll never get rich of this stuff, but he really wants to give back to kids. He was heading down the tubes himself when he was a kid and then boxing saved his life. That’s one of the things that we’re playing in terms of even Olinsky’s illegitimate child potentially is something that Antonio can help out with in terms of bringing her to the gym, get her aggressions out. He has the gym, which begins to have provide an environment to help other people out.

And are Platt and Mouch (Chicago Fire‘s Christian Stolte) still together?

Platt and Mouch are still together. They’re the absolute tortoise compared to all the other hares who are running around them, falling in and out of love and in and out of relationships, and they keep chugging right along. There’s a real stability to that. For Platt more so than Mouch, there’s an awareness that she never thought it would happen for her. She kind of crested, age-wise, and had a relationship that never came to fruition. In her mind, she was like, “I’m just going to be single, this is the way it goes.” Here she is in a relationship, but why can’t that relationship also grow? I don’t think she’s ever going to pressure him to get married but there is a sense of, “Could that be available to me?” There’s a real sweetness and a stability to that relationship with Mouch.

Want more? EW’s Fall TV Preview mega-issue has the scoop on 115 shows! While the issue has left newsstands, you can still buy it here.

Chicago P.D. returns Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.

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