Olinsky battles a blast from the past and April makes a tough choice

By Amanda Bell
November 13, 2016 at 03:21 PM EST
Elizabeth Sisson/NBC; Matt Dinerstein/NBC
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Are we here already? The Chicago Med midseason finale is upon us, and it’s a grim affair as the hits keep coming for some of the docs. Meanwhile, the delayed Chicago P.D. episode takes us on an intriguing moral journey with one of the more silent members of the squad. Chicago Fire was on a bye week in consideration of the election [insert the obligatory dumpster-fire joke here].

Chicago P.D. Season 4, Episode 6: “Some Friend”

This week’s Chicago P.D. episode was originally scheduled to air last week, but the Chicago Cubs’ World Series clincher airing the same night understandably meant it got pushed back so the Windy City faithful could watch the Cubbies make history.

Looking back at the Chicago Fire and Chicago Med episodes that would’ve bookended it, it really wouldn’t have mattered much as far context is concerned. And besides, there may have been another reason the night was just not right for this to air: It’s all about a retired local baseball pro who’s been caught up in a murder mystery. That’s…not the kind of story that quite fits with the hometown heroism of such an occasion, so it was probably a wise decision to scoot it back a bit.

Anyway, this week we meet Jake McCoy (played by Billy Burke), a former MLBer who used to party hard alongside none other than our own Det. Alvin Olinsky. Throughout this season, Olinsky’s been showing us new facets of himself — idly watching as his Intelligence teammates use their negligible interrogation tactics on a person of interest, making house calls to a victim’s mom, and the like. This week, we learn even more about his shady behaviors, and let’s just say, he’d probably be a fan of the marijuana referendums taking place in so many states.

But that’s not all; he’s also played crooked cop in his day, too, getting his old friend Jake out of a DUI and otherwise being the guy’s pocket-police pal in a pinch. So when a dead girl turns up in Jake’s house, he’s highly interested in the investigation, whether or not there’s a conflict of interest at hand.

Jake claims he had a life-changing car accident that drove him to shelter young prostitutes around the city in hopes of giving them new lives, and our victim, Mya Collins, was one of those women in his voluntary charge. He’s certainly got the video evidence to prove as much on his laptop — which they discover alongside a ton of McCoy’s memorabilia at a garbage-picker’s house. He swears he didn’t kill her, but instead went on a hunting trip and crashed at his daughter’s house. His former houseguest, also an old associate of Olinsky’s, claims they’ve been out of touch for a while and that he hasn’t heard from his former benefactor in months.

Commander Crowley insists he recuse himself from the investigation because of its obvious impropriety, and while he shows off his best temper-tantrum effort, she stands firm on what’ll happen to him if he doesn’t stay out of it… Of course, that’s still not going to stop him. Olinsky circles back to the daughter and finds out she fudged her original account of her dad’s visit — he did, indeed, call his old friend Freddie the night the girl died. There goes his alibi. Freddie tries to the pull the old “I’ve got blackmail on you, too” card, but Olinsky feels like he’s been played and doubles down on his determination to get to the truth. He whips out one of Jake’s old bats, stepping up to the plate to swing his way into Freddie’s submission, so to speak. Naturally, he doesn’t strike out.

Olinsky hauls him to the station and tries a much subtler approach to coaxing a confession out of Jake himself; just as Jake used to pretend they were best pals to keep his name out of the police blotter, Al acts like he only needs the truth so he can see his friend free. It’s a risky game, and Crowley only allows it with the assurance he’s going on temporary suspension afterward.

Olinsky hits a home run right away with his false promise of protection and finds out Jake did kill the girl — even though it was technically an accident, since all he meant to do was push her for stealing from him and she knocked her head on his table. That’s when he called Freddie for assistance in making it look like a burglary gone bad (hence why Jake’s personal items were in the trash). Thus, the case is solved.

The takeaway is this: Hank Voight isn’t the only one with a dark side in this unit. Also, Olinsky’s got some deep-seated sadness about the girls Jake was trying to help: He tears up while watching those videos. Maybe they’re reminding him of his daughter, Lexi.

While all this is happening, the rest of the team do their best to keep busy as well. Lindsay and Halstead occupy their time looking into some anonymous flowers she received from a creepy peeping tom, and Burgess is sent (with her new brown-nosing partner Sorenson, who makes us miss Tay already) on a sandwich run for Trudy that turns into something else entirely.

The woman who’s been lifting her lunch from the local deli is actually a former police officer named Vicky who’s hard on her luck. She’s from the St. Louis force, and Burgess discovers the reason she’s been wandering the streets in a plaid button-up instead of her blues is she was involved in a high-speed chase effort that cost a woman and her children their lives. She can’t quite get over the grisly scene. Through a little heart and determination, she prompts Trudy to drop the charges against the woman — even though she did give poor Sorenson a bloody nose in their take-down — and spends the night in the tank with her as a show of solidarity. Any one of them could be dealing with what she is right now, so she doesn’t want Vicky to go it alone tonight.

It’s a noble effort, and it’s clear Burgess’ investigatory and detail-drawing skills are definitely suitable for Intelligence already. It’s only a matter of time, now.

Episode grade: B

NEXT: April is faced with an impossible decision

Chicago Med Season 2, Episode 8: “Free Will”

Things at Chicago Med are always just a little more fascinating when one of the hospital’s own becomes a patient — nine times out of 10 (a rough estimate, of course), they’re completely resistant to treatment. They’re the biggest problem patients of all, really. This week, it’s April who’s under the care of Dr. Halstead and her brother Nate after suffering a tuberculosis attack at her engagement party with Tate. There’s good news and there’s bad news…and then there’s worse news.

The good news is there’s going to be a Taypril baby — hooray! The bad news is April doesn’t just have TB. She also has a rare form of the disease, and what’s worse is it’s only responsive to one particular type of medicine, a known teratogen. There’s a chance that if she takes the drug, her fetus’ neural tubes could be malformed; if she doesn’t take it, she (and the baby) may die.

In this era of so many political discussions about the procreative rights of women, this plotline seems particularly relevant because, yes, it may come to a medically necessary termination. The risk of birth defects is a nightmare for any mother-to-be, so April’s understandably hesitant to take it. But she has to. This is the reality of her condition. And now she has to hope against hope she won’t be forced to make the choice she doesn’t want to later on down the road. It’s a heartbreaking position she’s been put in, but that is the painful truth for so many, and the gutting honesty of this arc is important to reflect that right now.

The same can be said for what’s become of poor Danny. When we last left Reese, she was torn up about the fact she had pause about letting him stay with her — even though it was, by all fiduciary rules, the right call — so she set out in search of him herself. Unfortunately, she wasn’t successful. Erin Lindsay delivers the bad news his body was discovered, presumably murdered by the sex-trafficking ring that had enslaved him for so long. Her devastation is consuming, and Charles does his best to remind her it’s not her fault; her advice for him to try and find a way out was not the cause of his death. But she’s not ready to synthesize that information just yet. What does this mean for her future in the psychology residency? Well, it could make her stronger and an even more determined advocate for people in situations like Danny’s, or it could very well turn her away from such a heartbreaking profession. Who knows.

The helplessness she felt about the situation — not to mention the lack of resources available for him on all protective fronts — is alarming and discouraging, but it’s an important reminder that the voiceless are out there, that they need help and someone to love them, come what may.

Yes, this episode is just riddled with heavy stuff, guys. There’s no way around digging deep tonight.

The third story line is a little bit brighter, though, if only for the fact the patient character herself is an ebullient bubble of light thanks to her illness. Karina, a teenager, suffers from Williams Disease, which is damaging to her cardiovascular system but pumps extra oxytocin into her brain and makes her a literal people-pleaser. Her main mission in life, it seems, is to smile every single second, no matter who she’s dealing with or what she’s up against.

Dr. Rhodes tells her she needs open-heart surgery, and you’ve never seen so much hope emanate from someone on the receiving end of that assessment. Her mother, on the other hand, is not so delighted about the idea. Williams sufferers don’t always do well under anesthesia, so she wants options where there are none. The good news is Karina pulls through.

The bad news is while she’s merrily prancing the halls making friends, she happens upon a hardened criminal whose only goal at present is to stay in the hospital as long as he possibly can. Dr. Choi is treating this guy, and he’s none too pleased about providing him with a vacation from his cell, especially since the only reason the man is in the hospital right now — with access to magazines and TV shows — is because he stabbed himself.

When that’s not enough to keep him out of the pen, he fakes a suicidal tendency, knowing full well that means he’d be put under observation. Dr. Charles is quick to dismiss his impulse for self-harm (ab-knifing aside), so Choi’s all set to draw up the discharge papers when, oh wait, the guy really is crazy. Since Karina is such a giver, she happily donated her earrings to his “keep me here” campaign — he swallowed them, piercing his esophagus. He’ll need surgery and a lengthier hospital stay, and Choi’s fit to be tied.

Goodwin has some farm-friendly words of wisdom about the matter that help to clear his head (and provide much-needed levity to the evening): “My grandfather used to say never wrestle with a pig, you both get dirty but the pig likes it.” Truer words, am I right?

Last, but certainly not least, are a pair of twin brothers who are completely alike physically but have vastly different fundamental values. One of them is in need of a kidney transplant, and the other is a perfect match. Problem is the would-be donor has HIV contracted from a homosexual relationship, and the other is diametrically opposed to his lifestyle. So much so, in fact, his brother is unwilling to tell him — even if it means being resented for pretending to be unwilling to donate his kidney. “Right now, he hates me for what I’m doing. If I tell him this, he’ll hate me for who I am,” he reasons.

But love is big enough to withstand that threat of hate, in the end, which is also a timely sentiment. Although there’s a chance the patient, who is already immunocompromised due to the treatments he’s been on to sustain his rapidly declining health, will be further damaged by being infected with his brother’s disease. Halstead is not in favor of a transplant for that reason, but Manning is firm it’s the best course. Unfortunately, no one else agrees with her or will condone the intentional infection of a patient via the procedure, so she and Halstead lay the offer on the table quite literally: The patient must infect himself with a syringe of his brother’s blood; if he does, they can perform the operation. Both brothers agree, and love wins again (the hashtag is implicit there).

In other news, Halstead and Dr. Nina Shore have officially moved in together in her swanky new pad and host a housewarming party to celebrate their newly escalated status. Jeff Clarke and Dr. Manning are there, too, and since everyone on this show is musically inclined, apparently, it’s Manning’s turn to make googly eyes at Halstead as he plays the guitar for everyone. Are those two ever just going to get with it already?! Meanwhile, Rhodes and Robin have finally burst through their barriers — she’s not going to suffer anymore daddy dominance in her life, especially when it concerns her romantic affairs. Go, girl.

Episode grade: B+

Crossover notes:

  • Gotta love it when the Halstead brothers are together, especially when it’s a good time. Props to Jay for orchestrating the revelation that Will is a pretty good acoustic performer. His swoon factor just went sky-high on that note.
  • Last week, Erin got points for being good at talking people into things, but this week, she gets extra points for proving she’s even better at delivering awful news. The way she’s able to externalize her sense of compassion is extraordinary, really.
  • Prizes:

    Chicago MVP of the week: Olinsky’s willingness to put his badge on the line and turn his back on an old friend in service of justice was ballsy, and Burgess’ empathy for Vicky’s situation was touching. It’s a tie.

    Steamiest Chicago couple of the week: Eh. There wasn’t much lovey-dovey business going on this week, so let’s give this one to Taypril for Tate’s willingness to de-mask and make sure April could see how happy he was about her pregnancy. They’re too cute, quite frankly.

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