Don't take it so personally, guys

By Amanda Bell
October 28, 2016 at 04:41 AM EDT
Elizabeth Sisson/NBC (2)
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This week, the Chicago shows had a running theme of “What happens when our characters get personally involved with the people they encounter on the job?” Sometimes, it works out and ends up one of the happiest “yay” moments the show’s ever had; sometimes, it’s about accepting your coworker isn’t you and needs to be set free from your judgment; and other times, it results in a punch right to the feelspot that’ll probably never heal. Here’s how One Chicago went down this week.

Chicago Fire Season 5, Episode 3: “Scorched Earth”

New Chicago Fire drinking-game idea: Take a swig whenever the stare happens. You know the one. I’s not precisely anger or confusion that’s lighting their eyes, but something’s not right, and whoever’s giving said stare has not yet made up their minds on how to feel about whatever’s aching ’em. Lieutenants Casey and Severide had enough of those this week to get us all dropped off at a hospital bench like the girl at Travis Brenner’s party… Actually, that’s probably a terrible idea.

The Department of Child and Family Services is coming down hard on Dawson right now because Matt Casey neglected to take a few calls from Alderman Dearing, who’s all too happy to play his trump card in retaliation. Casey used his influence to get Dawson at the front of the line to foster Louie, so he’s sicced a Chicago Sun-Times journo to start sniffing around the station in hopes of exposing him as corrupt. The DCFS is spooked by the implication and wants to move the kid to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.

Matt turns to Susan as a last-resort shot at fixing the problem before Louie’s placed with another family, and whaddaya know — she’s got all the answers and can fix everything like *snap* that. It’s all coming back together a little too easily for Casey’s taste, but Dawson is nothing but grateful her little boy is safely home, where he can get all the breakfast pancakes and orange juice his little heart desires.

Casey dives a little deeper into the reason Alderman Dearing would be so quick on the draw with firing off his manipulation missile, so he turns to the exact same reporter who’d previously been giving him guff and discovers Dearing is actually a client of Susan’s, which means she’s the mastermind behind all of this. Now, you’ve gotta admit: She looks, talks, and acts an awful lot like Gail McLeod from season 2 — those perfect brunette locks, the steely-eyed pursed-lip routine — so is it really any wonder she’s breaking bad this season? Because “a woman scorned” and all that trope-ness. Casey tells her to step off and get out of his life (how’s that for letting a gal down gently?) and that he has no ambition of vying for a Senate seat. Her smile in return says it all: This isn’t over. Not by a long shot.

Meanwhile, Stella embarks on a mission to save someone who reminds her of herself once upon a time. The tent city a few homeless teens erected in an abandoned sewer cell caught fire, and during the rescue, she encountered a boy named Chris who really, really wanted to retrieve his backpack on the way out but was instructed to leave it for some odd reason. It’s not like the extra half-second it would have taken to grab it would’ve been any more detrimental to him than, say, the five minutes they spend waiting on the squad to open the steam grate and get them out.

The kid takes off after downing a few oxygen pulls, and Stella later recovers his pack from the scene and finds it filled with medicine he needs for his Hep C treatments. She turns to Chicago P.D.‘s Antonio Dawson (who’s been confusingly MIA from Sylvie’s life, by the way, but more on that later) for help tracking him down. They learn young Chris has turned to a life of crime to procure his meds — since, ya know, he doesn’t have a home or money, let alone health insurance to cover the cost of the pharmaceuticals. It’s now a race between Stella and the entire police force to find Chris — if they do, he’s going to jail and his chances of getting into a youth assistance program are kaput.

This is where the story gets hokey in that feel-good Chicago Fire way. Stella tracks down Chris to the local YMCA, where he’s allowed to shower for free, and convinces him to come back to House 51 for a little chit-chat. Her timing in entering Chief Boden’s office is unrealistically precise, because he’s assembled Sharon Goodwin from Med and state’s attorney Mark Jefferies (from the forthcoming Chicago Justice) to present the kid with an offer he can’t refuse: He’ll be included in a clinical program at the hospital to treat his disease for free, given a place to stay at a long-term shelter, and offered a plea for probational clemency from the city’s justice department. A win all around, and the kid is flummoxed by the generosity of everyone involved. Yeah, it’s all a little over-the-top, but Stella needed a moment of positivity after all she’s been through — and frankly, so did the audience. She’s not gonna be Joan 2.0, guys.

There’s a second subplot with Kelly Severide palling around with Travis Brenner that gets a little out of hand. During one of his parties, a girl ODs on some unnamed pharmaceuticals, and Brenner — a local hero of the viral-party circuit who manages to give Molly’s a patronage uptick simply by showing up once — leaves the woman on a bench outside the hospital. Severide’s pretty disgusted by the decision, but Brenner claims it was for her own good. If he had showed up with her like that, she’d get some unwanted attention from his fan base. The obvious (but unspoken) counter to his argument is that Severide could’ve taken her into the hospital himself. For some reason, Travis refused to allow it, so Kelly’s questioning whether he really wants to hop on a private plane to the tropics with this guy after all. There’s something fishy about Travis, but as I mentioned, the stare Severide offers in response to these events is indeterminate for now.

Anyway, let’s all enjoy a moment for happy dancing, shall we? Because Sylvie and Antonio are finally a legit ~item~. The reason we haven’t been hearing about them after their initial round of flirtation was that Antonio’s been giving Sylvie the cold shoulder. When she first confronts him about the dis, he tells her it’s a no-go — his job is dangerous and he’s not ready to drag her into it. Her first response is to write him out of her sexy story times with Mouch, but Dawson assures her Antonio is most definitely into her and tells her not to take no for an answer. So, Sylvie gussies up and stakes her claim at Molly’s; she knows his line of work has its woes, but so does hers… And they’re both attracted to each other, so why not? Exactly. Cheers to THAT.

Episode grade: B

NEXT: This is what you call a Daddy issue

Chicago P.D. Season 4, Episode 5: “A War Zone”

It’s a family affair on Chicago P.D. this week, with not one, but two looney patriarchs going to extremes to get their way at the behest of the police force.

Case no. 1 involves a deadly stream of fentanyl that’s been cut with heroin and is flooding Med with OD victims. When a guy named Tyler turns up on the shore with a backpack full of pharmaceuticals — and his face smashed in so badly, the image of it alone justifies the show’s late-night timeslot — Voight and his intelligence unit get to work figuring out where the haul came from and why this kid turned up deader than dead on the beach.

The routine’s a little formulaic for the P.D. faithful by now, for sure. They start by questioning the victim (“vic,” in show slang)’s closest known associate, who seems crooked as the day is long (in this case, Tony Chen, a smart-mouthed college kid he’s been running dope with). A little more digging brings them to another guy, who’s got red hands thanks to a little undercover street-style sting. He swears he’s just a common peddler and had nothing to do with the big problem of the day. He leads the team to another guy (for today’s middle man, it’s important to note he’s not technically a rat because he doesn’t really care about the guy who’s supplying him, which makes his cooperation with police so much more palatable to his cred). Character no. 3 (here, a preppy kid who owns a boat and calls himself Scooped) knows a lot more about what’s happening with the real baddie involved — and with all the evidence they’ve got on him, he’s singing like a bird and willing to play along with a larger setup.

We’re eventually led to a man named Walter Ng. Ng’s a known Chicago crime lord who’s bullied a bunch of young kids into running his unrefined fentanyl down from Ontario and handing it off to another group of kids who cure it — which is the exact point at which it becomes a controlled substance, as far as legal punishment is concerned. Then a buyer swoops in and takes it away for distribution. The catch here is the pills they’re bringing in aren’t actionable, not fresh off the boat. They’re a molecule away from it, though, so the squad has to catch Ng in the act of picking up the processed drugs if they want anything to stick. Scooped is sent to the rendezvous point where Ng’s supposed to show, and look who’s there instead: Wiseacre Mr. Chen. He’s Ng’s nephew, and he’s gonna go down for all of his uncle’s bad behaviors because Ng didn’t show up to take the heat himself. He’s not sorry about it, either.

Voight has a heart-to-heart (more like open-palm-to-face) discussion with Ng and lets him know that if this killer drug makes its way to the streets ever again, Ng will be the next one they find washed ashore with his face made unrecognizable…and Ng, like us, knows well and good Voight means every threat that escapes his mouth. Problem solved? We’ll see.

Meanwhile, Burgess and Tay are working together on Tay’s last day on patrol — yes, Commander Scumbag Fogle has gone over Trudy’s head to ensure Tay’s sent back to the grunt post because, in Burgess’ words, “she didn’t consent to being his piece of ass.” They almost run over a kid who’s covered in blood in the middle of the street, and he looks an awful lot like Carl from The Walking Dead circa season 1, only not as awful. Chase, the boy, informs the pair his mom hurt his dad. Indeed, the partners find the man with a knife lodged in his neck, which he says happened after an argument with his ex-wife.

Trudy’s put on babysitting duty with the boy instead of shipping him off to DCFS, and he tells her it’s actually his dad who has the temper. So, she runs a little recon on the man’s cell phone with Greg and finds out he’s been Googling how to inflict a non-lethal stab wound, much like the one he recently received. His wife certainly acts surprised to be accused of the deed and indicates he’s trying to keep the kid away from her at all costs. This electronic evidence coaxes a confession out of Chase’s dad, who, in so many words, admits to staging the stabbery out of contempt for his wife leaving him for another man. And with that, Chase is restored to his mom, and daddio’s left to fester with his self-inflicted wound before going to a psychiatric facility and/or jail for his false reporting.

It was quick thinking on Trudy’s part to check into the man’s history, but Burgess deserves credit for pressing the dad with the likely illegal intel. As Tay walks off to her terrible assignment, she encourages Burgess to dress for the job she really wants, so she marches into Voight’s office and signs herself up for Intelligence. It’s about time. On a related note, Erin Lindsay uses her signature cheek-caress-slash-cooing conversation style to convince Halstead it’s time he stops trying to stifle Greg’s ambition to sign up for a second tour in the military. It works, and with that, Greg has finally gotten Halstead’s blessing to reenlist. Not like he should’ve needed it, but the material nature of their bromance is a mystery.

Episode grade: B+

NEXT: They’re in too deep

Chicago Med Season 2, Episode 6: “Alternative Medicine”

There’s a danger for doctors of all kinds to get too involved with their patients. Some disciplines are especially prone to this dilemma, pediatrics and psychiatry among them. But before we get to that, let’s get one thing out of the way: It’s complete malarkey that of the several docs who took things to a personal level this week, the ladies were the only ones who felt pain or caught static about their actions. C’mon, Dick Wolf! It’s bad enough Tay was sent away on P.D. and we’ve got a carbon-copy villainess a-brewing on Fire, but this, too? Give the gals a break already, geesh. Okay, now let’s talk turkey.

This week features the return of two patients we got to know a couple of episodes ago — Hailey, the preteen with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and Danny, the sex-trafficking victim embedded with a tracking chip found by Drs. Reese and Charles. For very different reasons, neither of these kids are doing well right now.

Last time we saw Hailey, she was one of several patients suffering from the plague-spread of CRE to immunocompromised patients, but she managed to pull through without any long-term damage. It was a phew moment, but the relief doesn’t last long: Now she’s yellowed over with liver failure and has to be put on dialysis until a transplant is available, if ever. Not only that, but her brain has swollen and needs to be drained by Dr. Abrams, and the damage may already be too great. Kid’s in rough, rough shape, and there’s little hope. Manning’s grown attached to the child during her course of treatment, so she takes it exceptionally personally when the girl codes after the procedure on her brain proves unsuccessful, especially since she’d been falsely optimistic when describing her condition to the patient’s folks. Bummer.

Meanwhile, poor Danny’s beginning to reach his limit on how much he can endure from that horrific sex-trafficking ring. He turns to Reese for support — he’s considering ending his life to get away from the suffering — but she offers an alternative. Life can be better with some help, if he only asks for it. She reaches out to Chicago P.D.‘s Erin Lindsay to discuss Danny’s options, and Erin gives her the blunt truth: Taking down a human-trafficking ring will not be remotely easy, but they’ll be there when the kid’s ready.

At first, Danny’s resistant to the idea that there’s a way out, he’s been so conditioned to fear the power and unbridled cruelty of his captors. But then he’s found having tried to cut out his own tracking device, which Choi happily finishes removing for him. It’s a long road ahead for everyone, but especially Danny — and while Dr. Charles was hesitant for Reese to get involved at first, he’s now fully on board with helping the fella out. If they won’t, who will?

In other news, for those of us who’ve grown weary of Dr. Halstead’s inactivity during the first few episodes of this season, we not only got to see him gripe about the OD patients on P.D. yesterday, but he also saves a guy tonight using his bare hands. Yes, that’s right. Halstead has some kind of digital magic going for himself — despite a barrage of inconclusive tests and images, he “feels” that a portion of a patient’s bowel is dying and manages to convince Rhodes to perform a scope to prove it (and then remove it).

The only reason Rhodes is receptive to any of this wishy-washy diagnostic business is he’s just been owned by Dr. Latham (again), whose keen sense of hearing detected a beat Rhodes couldn’t hear on a surgical heart patient. Plus, there’s the fact he called in the Hawaiian barkeep to bless the so-called “red room” no one will put a patient in because it’s “too spooky”… and it’s not even Halloween yet!

Last but not least, Choi’s patient of the day is a spry teenage girl who’s hell-bent on saving the world. She ingests her own prototype of an organ-cleansing robot, landing her in emergent care, but otherwise, she’s making great strides with her makeshift laboratory down in her mom’s basement. Choi visits said basement, but no one lectures him on getting too involved because… I digress. Seeing the spread also does wonders to cheer up Manning after Choi takes her, and it’s also a subtle reminder she was right to have hope like she did, which was the whole point of this B-plot. But also… SCIENCE KIDS RULE. True story.

Episode grade: B+

Crossover notes:

  • How about that setup with Carl Weathers’ lawyerly appearance on Fire this week? Message received: Chicago Justice is in with the in-crowd, and it’s happening sooner rather than later.
  • Double the Halstead, double the fun! Who cares if they’re talking glib business — when Doctor and Detective Halstead are in one room together, there’s simply too much handsome to handle. Never mind the fact that they look exactly nothing alike, there’s still something electric about them working together. More of this, pretty please?
  • Prizes:

    Chicago MVP of the week: This week, it’s gotta go to Erin Lindsay. Props to Stella for getting that kid off the street and giving him a chance at a better life and all, but Lindsay’s doing the same thing for Danny (well, in theory) and she managed to talked Scooped down from blowing their cover on a sting. Unlike Hank Voight, who uses his might and mean-girl tactics to get things done, Lindsay uses her smarts and audible sense of compassion to make headway with people. It’s refreshing.

    Steamiest Chicago couple: There wasn’t much happening on the romance side for any of the shows this week, so let’s give another shout-out to Antonio Dawson and Sylvie Brett — whose names make them virtually impossible to ship, by the way. What do we call them? Brettson? Nah… Too cartoon space age-ish. Antvie? SYLVIO?

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