There’s no question that The Chicago Code is trying to combine a lot of well-worn police procedural narrative ploys. When the show makes those clichés specific to Chicago or buries them within deep characterization, they work. Tonight, with one-off plots shunted aside in favor of using the final four episodes to reach some kind of conclusion to the season-long arc surrounding corrupt Alderman Gibbons, there appears to be a lot of work left to do in making those clichés more specific.
To recap those clichés that almost derail the episode just layers on how quickly The Chicago Code can lose momentum. First, a corrupt Waste and Sanitation official gets a mistrial in a corruption hearing, and the state’s attorney gives Colvin and Jarek only a few days to find evidence of jury tampering. Meanwhile, Liam gets introduced to Killian, and goes to pick up a gift basket from the waste and sanitation guy and records a phone conversation linking Killian to the mistrial results.
Liam wants to go after Gibbons through Killian, wearing a wire to expose drug trafficking through garbage trucks shipping waste out of Chicago and bringing in crystal meth. There’s a lot of ham-fisted conversation about all the work being for this one chance, or how Liam really wants to get the job done, but what’s left unexplained is just how Liam managed to ingratiate himself with Killian so well in less than a week, getting to a point where Jarek and Colvin can authorize a sting operation that ruffles Gibbon’s feathers.
All the while, Vonda and Isaac’s relationship has progressed with Isaac, and they have a paint-by-numbers sting whereby Isaac decides to sell his car in order to buy another, and an online buyer calls him offering to pay for the car in cash and cocaine. Right now the show doesn’t know how to deal with police partners in a relationship, and it falls back on Vonda’s uncle, Jarek’s brother Vincent, to have any kind of serious revelation.
Colvin, Jarek and Evers have had their share of distractions, (exposing high-class brothels, saving a kidnapped child caught between Nigerian and Mexican drug smugglers, you know) but the through line has always been exposing Gibbons’s association with the Irish mob, specifically Hugh Killian, through the use of Liam’s undercover work. When some personal aspect of the case gets Jarek or Colvin worked up, it really sticks, but tonight the only thing that clicked was Jarek’s story about his brother, and the way in which those new details informed his decisions involving Liam’s undercover work. It turns out that Jarek’s brother Vincent was an undercover cop who was killed after nine months on the inside, and never saw the hit coming.
The fear of another officer meeting the same fate as Vincent makes Jarek cautious, something we’re not used to seeing from him. It’s very telling that both Liam and Evers, young officers recently out of training, are the big proponents of Liam pushing his connections to Killian, but Jarek has significant reservations, checking with everyone he can along the way before going ahead. Gibbons, for his part, does well for the first half of the episode, but the last we see of him is the hiding-in-plain-sight reveal that he’s sexually involved with his secretary. That’s something anyone could’ve spotted from the pilot, tossed in unnecessarily as some kind of defense mechanism when Gibbons finds out the police are closing in on corrupt activities connected to him.
I’m pretty disappointed with this one. Just about the only silver lining was Jarek’s information about his brother and how that affected his feelings on sending Liam in, and the way in which his personal issues with his brother’s death inform his actions. Everything else was logical and interesting, but didn’t tie anything down to the well drawn characters the show has spent so much of the first season developing. Perhaps the final three episodes needed this kind of groundwork, but when the show does this over and over again with every mini arc it creates, it gets stuck in a vicious cycle of explaining how the plot will play out instead of showing just how exhilarating they can be.
Final Grade: B-
NU Sighting: The Law School downtown again serving as the exterior location for Alderman Gibbon’s office.
The voiceover history lessons on Chicago continue to be enlightening and full of Second City-centric information. Colvin compares political corruption to pizza: everybody does it, but Chicago does it best, while Jarek talks about growing up loving the Sox with his brother.