The Chicago Code: "Hog Butcher"

    The second episode of The Chicago Code might be even better than the first, simply for the reason that it doesn’t have any of the big backstory segments to get out of the way.

    Photo courtesy of FOX.

    We know the alderman is corrupt and running the city, but the show already does a great job playing with our expectations. Superintendent Colvin survives an assassination attempt thanks to her driver and bodyguard and suspects Gibbons to be the man behind the attack. The next day Gibbons shows up to give flowers to the fallen officer’s mother, which seems particularly slimy, but when the investigation turns out to implicate someone much closer to Colvin, it reveals Gibbons’ true intentions of showing the mother finding a path to a lawsuit against Colvin for the death of her son.

    The show is going to depend on the rather typical tropes of police procedurals, like the suspect of the twist shooting at the end of the pilot not being connected to the corrupt alderman, and instead coming from someone tied to the police. This is necessary, but what the show lacks in complete originality it attempts to make up in genuine characters and flashy presentation. As it stands, aside from Jarek the characters are well-drawn outlines that need to be filled in as we get further into the show. There are a lot of characters here, with more introduced in every scene, so it’s easy to lose the undercover cop, the alderman’s henchmen, or even the seemingly major characters like Jarek’s partner Evers.

    We’ve settled in on the structure of an episode of The Chicago Code to where we know it focuses on Jarek and his relationship with Colvin, Evers, Alderman Gibbons, his niece, his ex-wife and his cop buddies, while other characters are granted the ability to break the fourth wall in voiceover flashbacks to tell their story. In this episode, Isaac gets to tell his story as a kid on the South Side who looked up to cops and then became one because of the power he watched them wield. He’s moving up the ranks doing good police work, but it’s clear that his partner, Jarek’s niece, isn’t ready to make the leaps he’s taking in their work.

    Speaking of Jarek, we get more of him filled in just as he becomes more mysterious. In solving the attempted assassination on Superintendent Colvin, he reveals to Evers that he’s a part of an invite-only club made up of officers, firefighters and other city officials. It’s an old boy’s club, a big part of the group that doesn’t like how Colvin is choosing to change things around the city. We also see a rather stereotypical church scene at the end of the episode, where Jarek visits Sister Paul, a teacher from his youth, and in prayer reveals he still wants to hunt down his brother’s killer and exact revenge. These details, along with the fact that he has a 27-year-old fiancée and is still sleeping with his ex-wife, makes for a rather complicated mess going forward. We know a lot about Jarek, but not as much about the supporting players, especially Evers, who for a kid that grew up on the North Side seems to know very little about the city he grew up in. I assume that in subsequent episodes, things will focus a little less on Jarek and fill in the other characters, which is a perfectly fine angle for the show to take.

    There’s a lot of story for the show to mine for in these first two episodes, but with a shortened season, it’ll be interesting to see how quickly things pick up, how much we’re filled in on the side characters, and just exactly what creator Shawn Ryan wants to use Chicago police and politics to say about our government and law enforcement.

    Other Notes:

  • We get a theme song this time, by Chicagoland’s own Billy Corgan. Not sure if it really fits the bill just yet, but give it some time.
  • Chicago sighting: the Kinzie Street bridge — also made famous by High Fidelity — featuring quite possibly my favorite view of the city.
  • Jarek tells a former teacher, who is also a nun, that he doesn’t attend mass, is divorced, cheating on his fiancée with his ex-wife and intends to find and kill the man who killed his brother.
  • The show is like a cross between the darkness of The Shield and the shimmery cross-cutting of CSI and CSI: Miami, but having the show set in Chicago does wonders for it not going over the top. Chicago just isn’t that kind of town.
  • The final shots of the episode are long shots at the skyscrapers in the Loop, but from a large distance, placing the viewers and the characters on the force in a very different Chicago setting than the business-centric districts of the city. Very well done.
  • Final Grade: A-


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