Chicago P.D. 3×07 “A Dead Kid, a Notebook, and a Lot of Maybes” Recap

Spoilers Ahead

This episode featured some of the best performances we’ve seen all season leaving me completely enamored while reminding me why I love this series so much.

Episode Summary: When Colin’s body is found next to a homemade bomb the team believes it’s a suicide, but when they’re given his journal of personal drawings pointing to a revenge scheme, they’re led to another kid, Ethan Jones, who reveals a lot more than any of them imagined. Jay’s connection with Ethan allows him to open up about his past. Adam and Kim’s date night is crashed by Olinsky and Michelle who need to place to stay. And Roman is understandably taking Andrew’s death hard.

Review | Analysis: I’ve always said that the cases closely involving members of the Intelligence unit end up being the most riveting. Frankly, if there’s one thing that’ll always keep me coming back to Chicago P.D. it’s the unbelievably talented group of actors and actresses that continuously leave me floored. Jesse Lee Soffer was at the top of his game this week — we’ve seen him do some commendable work, but in “A Dead Kid, a Notebook and a Lot of Maybes”, Soffer’s work is indescribable. This week’s episode also gave us some great developments between other members of the units and it’s always intriguing to see the differences in relationships in the series.

It’s fantastic that the episode’s theme once again focused on protecting children reminding us that sometimes, a hero can be anyone. And if that’s not enough, what most characters have done this week is given their all to make sure someone else feels safe enough to lean on them.

First of all, I’ve not voiced many concerns with the storyline between Olinsky and Michelle because up until this moment, it has not felt forced. However, it continues to make me wonder that something’s bound to happen to her that’s going to set a lot of things in motion. This can’t all be for the sake of dividing Olinsky and his family again. We’ve been there and it’d be redundant. Olinsky signing the paperwork makes complete sense — his heart is enormous, and he’d never leave her out on the streets or in a foster home that could potentially harm her. Nevertheless, I do feel that he could’ve fought harder with his wife. Elias Koteas puts on some of the most beautiful performances and I wanted to see more of that fight. If we are to believe he cares this deeply for a girl he’s only known for a while, then we need to see him try to get through to Lexi as well. He needs to fight for her as well and remind not only the audience but his family that she too means a great deal to him. That said, while I’m glad he feels comfortable enough to confide in Adam this way, I’m not exactly on board with this particular storyline at the moment. I keep saying there has to be something more because there’s way too much focus on her.

Speaking of Adam, I’m so ridiculously fond of him when he’s showcasing just how deeply infatuated he is with Kim. It’s what makes it so easy to love them. He reveals this side of him at the most inappropriate times sometimes, but if he didn’t, he wouldn’t exactly be Adam. His timing’s got to be a tad off for it to make sense. It was lovely to see him try to persuade her to come over so he’d cook for her — it’s almost as though they’re still dating, still falling for each other, and still in the first steps of developing a romance. And it’s exactly what makes them so interesting to watch because even though they’re engaged, there’s still a deep adoration between them that almost makes them seem like kids falling in love for the first time. It’s what’s essentially so heartbreaking because I cannot imagine what the series is about to do with them for the sake of “drama”, but I’m such a fan of their moments in the locker room. It’s where they’ve comforted one another numerous times, made out like they were in hiding, gotten engaged, and shared some hilarious moments establishing them so uniquely as a couple.

While we’re on the topic of locker rooms, I’m so thrilled we got to hear Erin talk about Nadia again. She chose to reach out and comfort Roman reminding him that even though he doesn’t want to talk about it at the moment, he has people he can lean on. She knows what it’s like to stay quiet after a death that’s hit hard, and she knows that it can lead to a dangerous place thereby, having her be the one to reach out to him this way felt fitting. It’s exactly what the audience needed to understand more of her struggle — sometimes, talking about things like death is what makes it real. It’s almost as though if you ignore it and push it aside, it hasn’t happened. You can forget about it. You can choose not to feel. And she knows what doing that is like and doesn’t want to see anyone else go through that pain of isolation and heartache that’s not easy to recover from. Reminding him of the fact that they’re all there for him is exactly what he needs to feel safe enough to grieve properly. He needs to know that when he falls, he’s got an entire group willing to lend him a shoulder. And sometimes reminding someone that they aren’t alone is the most important thing you can do for them.

It was also nice to see Erin bond with Atwater because that’s something we’ve seen too often, but ever since she’s returned she’s slowly made her way around being there for her fellow detectives. It’s interesting that she was there to talk to him about Voight and his faith in detectives, but what’s even more interesting is that I don’t exactly feel Atwater’s ties with Captain Whitaker will go as smoothly as they appear to be in the end.

Ultimately, tonight’s episode was exclusively about this group of individuals showcasing their selfless hearts by giving someone their sincere attention in order to help them come to terms with what’s hurting them inside. And while the little moments we got with other characters were wonderful, Jay Halstead takes the crown this week.

“A Dead Kid, a Notebook and a Lot of Maybes” finally gave viewers the opportunity to understand some of the horrors that layer Halstead — reminding us of why this job means so much to him and why cases like this essentially break him the most. When we first see Ethan in the interrogation room, Jay begins to deconstruct his character revealing that he too used to be just like him: a loner and perhaps at that time even bullied. At this point, it’s no surprise that Jay’s especially sensitive when it comes to cases dealing with sexual abuse. And although he didn’t know Ethan as well, it doesn’t change the fact that he was not only able to empathize with him, but he was able to make him feel safe enough to open up about what really happened. Heroic acts are in my opinion at least, anything that’s done out of selflessness. It’s what Jay’s done with Ethan, and it’s what Ethan’s done by speaking up.

I love that the chief theme of this week’s episode showcases the importance of attentively and compassionately reminding lost souls of the courage that’s inside of them. Falling into a hopeless, fearful, or heartbroken state is inevitable — it happens to even the toughest people, but it’s essential to note that sometimes, having someone be strong for you isn’t a sign of weakness but rather a spectacle of heroism. Ethan had to be brave enough to tell the truth in order to save other kids from the same fate he faced. Jay had to be brave enough to stay patient and kindhearted in order to make Ethan feel safe enough to be honest. Jay also had to be brave enough to open up about his past in order to reveal that no matter how alone Ethan feels, he understands, and he’s willing to listen without passing any judgment. I’ve said it countless times by now, but when it comes to delivering raw emotional scenes, Jesse Lee Soffer is at his strongest. The heartrending reactions and sheer vulnerability visible clearly in his expressiveness have left me astounded. Both Soffer and Elijah Marcano did excellent work in the interrogation room selling the emotions they were feeling at that moment remarkably. It’s not often young actors do such a prestigious job of delivering emotional scenes like this, and while it was undoubtedly heartbreaking, it’s what made the scene that much more realistic.

It’s necessary to point out that Jay’s choice to treat Ethan like an adult was an excellent decision because it’s what gave him the encouragement to open up and feel safe. Sometimes when we treat people younger than us as though they’re somehow inferior, it makes them feel less significant and it makes them doubt themselves, their versatilities, and their emotions. Perhaps it is understanding the lasting effects being bullied leaves on a person, but Jay’s choice to comfort him as somewhat of an equal shows great wisdom on his behalf. When a person’s at their weakest, the most important thing that can be done is to remember that there’s no age or gender when speaking to someone about their innermost struggles. And Jay’s tendency to always project compassion toward those who need it most is truly heroic.

I was recently reminded of the fact that while some soldiers can speak up about the experiences they’ve had, others have a much more difficult time doing so. And because we haven’t seen Jay open up in the past, it’s safe to presume it’s not the easiest thing for him to talk about. However, it took a great deal of courage to tell Ethan about the fact that he was a soldier — he’s seen indescribable terrors that have undeniably scarred him and made him the man he is today. And when Ethan asked if he’d lost friends, Jay’s response about having lost many followed by sharing his coping mechanism was perhaps the loveliest moment. It’s never easy losing someone, but Jay telling Ethan he’s able to move forward knowing that in doing so he honors the courageous sacrifice his friends made is a gorgeous way of helping Ethan grieve for his father. You never stop missing those who’ve passed, but there comes a point where you remind yourself that they’d want you to be happy, free, and living the life they couldn’t. And that almost always becomes the key to helping us move forward.

One of my favorite things to write about whether it’s for Chicago P.D. or any of the other series I review, it’s the fact that vulnerability requires tremendous strength. There’s a misconception out there that when humans are in a vulnerable state, then they’re weak, but what isn’t taken into consideration is the fact that it takes admirable strength to be open. In order to let our walls down, we have to be brave enough to show a side of ourselves that may be judged wrongfully by some. Because that’ll always happen — someone will always mistake your vulnerability for either a sign of weakness or a plea for attention. The reality, however, is that when a person’s in a susceptible state, their walls are not only down but their heart is completely bare, and that requires a kind of strength that’s not nearly as praised enough as it should be. Jay’s not afraid of being vulnerable, but he’s also not someone who shows that side of him freely. and his choice to reveal parts of his past with both Voight and Erin this week said a great deal about how much this case has distraught him. Anyone who’s served has seen traumatizing events some of us can’t even bear to imagine, and even though he doesn’t speak about his past often, this is something everyone’s fully aware of. However, telling them about a time in his childhood when he felt out of place felt so incredibly sincere at that moment because as Jay’s looking through the glass, Soffer makes it clear that Jay’s been mentally and emotionally transported back to a time in his childhood. And I loved how Voight too was given the chance to see a part of Halstead that’s yet to be revealed.

As stated above, it’s always been evident that cases like this make his blood boil the most, but the team has yet to see him resonate with someone as closely as he did with Ethan. This was his chance to not only keep history from repeating itself but the opportunity to make sure a kid feels safe in the world again. Batman said it best in The Dark Knight Rises when he tells Det. Gordon: “A hero can be anyone. Even a man doing something as simple and reassuring as putting a coat around a young boy’s shoulders to let him know his world hadn’t ended.” Police officers do this constantly. Roman’s done it with Andrew. Erin’s done it for Nadia. Voight’s done it for Erin. Jay’s done it numerous times as well, but the courage he showcased this week by opening up a part of himself he probably never imagined he’d have to is beautifully admirable and worth commending more than once. I was so effortlessly moved by Soffer’s meticulous acting choices this week — placing his hand on Ethan to show him both physical and emotional security showcased that not everyone would hurt him. He certainly wouldn’t and thereby, this made it easier for Ethan to open up and feel safe with Jay. It’s why he wanted Jay to be the one to tell his mom because the character he’s shown has not only inspired Ethan, but it’s what has made him trust in another male figure after everything he’s been through. That’s anything but easy to do after a traumatic experience trusting in someone who took advantage of your situation and character, but Jay’s sincerity restored humanity back into Ethan deeming him a hero in more ways than one. Jay’s choice to tell him that his father would not only be proud of his bravery to speak up but because it’s all over now made for the perfect ending. It gave Ethan something bold to hold onto and the strength to move forward knowing justice has been rightfully served. And when a hero thinks you’re a hero, well, there’s no praise quite as higher. Jay’s perpetually changed and inspired Ethan revealing once more that he’s without a doubt the most honorable. At least in my book.

Jay and Erin’s ridiculous banter will always be entertaining and a huge part of what makes them special, but nothing fortifies a couple’s bond the way they comfort one another in times of sheer vulnerability. Throughout the episode, Sophia Bush did an exquisite job of subtly exhibiting the apprehension Erin feels because of what Jay’s going through. The occasional glances towards him as they listened to the interrogations happening followed by pulling him aside to make sure he’s okay were fantastic moments of development for the two. We’ve seen her in positions of complete vulnerability around him, and it’s always been evident she’s the only person he feels comfortable with to show a side of him not many see. It’s why he wanted her to be the one who came down when he was kidnapped. There’s no need to wear armor around one another and now that they’re officially together, it’s even easier to lean on each other in times of despondency. I write about it so often in other reviews, and it brings me great joy to finally be able to talk about it with Erin and Jay: love is strength. And though the two haven’t exchanged those words yet, the feelings that have been growing from the very beginning are strong enough to be considered a form of adoration. Nevertheless, the most incomparable part about having a partner to go through life with is the fact that being with your best friend makes every part of the day easier. It’s what Jay and Erin have always been for each other: strength. Their partnership has always extended outside of the field, but it took them a while to get to a place where they can explore their true feelings for one another.

They’ve been each other’s strength numerous times before in the past, but because they’re now together, it’s easier to give everything they’ve got. Whether physically or emotionally, it’s easier to be open. And gentle physical gestures are always a beautiful exhibition of adoration. Sometimes all it takes to really comfort someone is a hand on the shoulder — just as Jay’s done with Ethan, Erin’s done the same for Jay. It’s anything but easy for Jay to be vulnerable, but at this moment, it’s comforting to be. It then becomes simpler for him to ask Erin for a favor because even that takes great strength; leaning on someone else and asking for help requires a great deal of bravery. Assuring him that she’s got him was perhaps one of the most incredible things she’s said because while I’ve said before, we’ve always known where Jay’s heart has been, but Erin’s has been more closed off. She’s not shown her feelings as evidently. Although they’ve each had relationships in the past, anything we’ve seen with Erin hasn’t appeared to have been something that’s made her believe in the possibility of lasting love. She’s never known someone who wouldn’t give up on her until Jay came along. This was her moment to remind him of the fact that just as he’s shown time and time again that he’s by her side through it all, she can be the strength he needs in this moment of absolute frustration, anger, and heartache. The English nerd in me that often geeks out over word choices is having an absolute ball with “I got you.” He’s hers, and she does a gorgeous job of assuring him that he’s safe with her. She’s got him mentally, physically, and emotionally thereby, giving him the courage to move forward knowing he’s not enduring all of this on his own — his heart’s not only in good hands, but his girl is by his side in case he comes undone.

Sharing burdens is just as important as sharing moments of pure bliss, and when two people are able to do both, then their relationship is in a solid place. That’s what Erin’s done gorgeously throughout the episode — she’s shown him in every way she could that he doesn’t have to carry the weight on his shoulder alone. She’s bearing it all with him just as he’s done for her in the past and will continue to do in the future when needed. I’ll gladly take a hundred moments like this one for the rest of the season because they’re often what illuminates just how deeply adoration connects two people. When one of them is hurting, the other is aching just as badly, but because it’s important to remain strong for one another, a true partnership requires selflessness. A relationship is all about carrying each other through life. It’s about being there for the good, the bad, and the ugly all while ceaselessly supporting and adoring each other.

What are your thoughts on this week’s episode? Remember if there’s anything you’d like us to discuss regarding agreements/disagreements let us know in the comments section below and we’ll get right back to you. As always, we welcome opposing opinions as long as we can be adults in our discussion but hateful comments will be blocked and ignored.

One comment

  1. Your reviews are phenomenal. Always look forward to reading them. I love how you explain the characters especially linstead. Thank you for taking the time to do this every week.

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