Chicago P.D. 3×19 “If We Were Normal” Recap

Spoilers Ahead

Case Summary: When a disheveled female is found hiding out from a man she attempted to stab, the Intelligence unit learns she was held captive and sexually assaulted. When they eventually find the man responsible, they also learn he’s married to a woman who’d gone missing years ago with a different identity and he’s murdered another. After finally convincing Madison that she’s actually Jamie Lynne, she agrees to testify against the man she believed was her husband, and Ruby, who’s now pregnant with Drew’s child decides to keep him/her in order to have one good thing come from her horrifying experiences.

Review | Analysis: The Intelligence unit and specifically Olinsky once again prove to be some of the most empathetic officers on television. Chicago P.D. has some of the most compelling ensemble casts on television and as viewers, we constantly find ourselves missing our favorites. Thankfully for me, there’s not a single character whose centric episodes I don’t appreciate, and thereby, I often find myself grateful for whatever we’ve gotten. It was beautiful to be reminded of the kind of father Alvin Olinsky truly is — not only to his own girls, and the unit but to the victims. Elias Koteas exudes such warmth in his performances, it’s no wonder people tend to feel safer around Olinsky.

To be quite honest, I’m still trying to figure out if “If We Were Normal” is a proper episode title because it doesn’t seem to fit with everything that went on. In fact, some of the subplots, despite the fact that they were entertaining, didn’t belong in the episode either.

For the most part, Chicago P.D. is great at delivering a consistent, prominent theme in each episode, but “If We Were Normal,” as mentioned above has me in a state of confusion for it’s not as easy to tie the characters into the case. That said, instead of going off of a theme in this week’s review, we’ll simply be looking into the important, somewhat game-changing moments.

Alvin Olinsky is a special character in this series. I’ve said it before, but he’s even more of a father figure than Voight — giving people chances to not only grow as better versions of themselves but being there for them when they fall. No matter how many times we see scenes like this, they’re appreciated. And I apologize if it bores readers to constantly read it, but praising the characters that continuously take care of people is necessary. It was lovely of him to stay behind with Ruby, and the moment she mentioned losing her father at a young age, it became perfectly clear that the reason she feels safe around Olinsky, is because he reminds her of the man she lost. (This case wasn’t an easy one to watch, but it’s no surprise that this series has a way of breaking hearts with gut-wrenching cases.) Was anyone else reminded of Room (2015)? If you haven’t seen this film, I highly recommend it — it’s heart-shattering, but filled with some of the most groundbreaking performances. Brie Larson’s Oscar was indeed well deserved. Ruby’s choice to keep the baby wasn’t something I expected, but because of it, it felt a lot similar to the film and thereby, giving the episode a positive end. It’s not easy for women to keep babies when the father sexually assaulted them, and either choice they make is understandable. Also, I didn’t expect Olinsky to give Ruby the bullet he wore around his neck for years, but the choice to do so said more than words ever could.

When it comes to clichés, because we hear them so often, they often lose their power. However, in the wake of tragedies especially, nothing rings louder than “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” And that’s what the bullet was meant to symbolize. Olinsky’s triumph all these years. A triumph he’s choosing to pass down to a woman who’s been given a second chance. Eight hours in my workplace is way too much for me and it’s the reason why I often go outside during my last break. I don’t think any of us can even begin to process what it’s like to be stuck in a windowless, small room for days, let alone months. Ruby’s experience is anything but easy, and very few could survive, however with the justice she’s gotten, and the future that’s in front of her, she isn’t just a survivor, she’s a conqueror. And when you experience something so horrifying, a stranger’s kindness could do wonders. Henceforth, the kindness Olinsky displayed is something she’ll undoubtedly carry with her for years to come.

I’m all for female/female friendships. I’ve been saying we needed more scenes with Kim and Erin from the very beginning, but what would’ve been nice is if their interactions actually passed the Bechdel test. The few times they’ve actually bonded, their conversations have been about men. And that’s pretty frustrating. Chicago P.D. is great when it comes to writing about real women, but when it comes to their friendships, the only extraordinary one was ruined by death. Here’s to hoping this is the start of their friendship and the next time they have lunch, it has nothing to do with the men in their lives.

And while we’re on the topic of men, I don’t often say I dislike a couple because I try desperately hard to respect the stories writers are trying to tell. As all love triangles, in the words of Jay Halstead, this sounds like a horror movie.

I’m genuinely tired of saying this, but the way Adam and Kim’s breakup was handled is one of the worst things I’ve ever seen. As mentioned 187 times already, if the two were simply dating, it would’ve been fine, but they were engaged. Engaged. E n g a g e d. It’s huge. They’d made the choice to spend the rest of their lives together, but within a minute, it was over and done with without a fight. And the most frustrating part is watching Adam trampled on as though he’s the world’s worst human being. It’s unfair.

Truly, to see him in such a frazzled state is frustrating because while Roman was right to question the whereabouts of the laptop, if things were handled properly, he probably wouldn’t be as agitated. Adam and Kim needed proper closure. They were good together. They were freakin’ awesome together. They deserved better. They needed to lay it all on the line before jumping to a break. They needed to fight for their relationship. Here’s the thing, I like Roman. A lot. And especially after what he did for Andrew, my respect for the man is through the roof, but I can’t stand his meddling. It doesn’t feel authentic. And the bottom line is, it’s wrong. Anytime we make an assumption, no matter how small, we’re wrong. And the reality is, no two people are ever the same. If we buy into this argument that a man willing to postpone his wedding equates to his inability to commit, then we should also believe the “all men are the same” shenanigans. And thereby, because one is capable of something as vicious as rape, then they all are. How ridiculous does that sound? Completely. And that’s exactly why I can’t get behind Roman and Burgess as a couple. It feels incredibly forced. Not to mention the fact that the comparison to Jay and Erin was pretty insulting.

The reason Jay and Erin are such an impeccable duo is that they’re best friends. Although we don’t know their beginning, we know that it’s always been easy to be vulnerable with each other. It’s easy to laugh together. It’s easy to fight together. And most importantly, it’s easy to be together. From the very beginning, Jay’s agenda has always been protecting Erin — not because she needed it, but because she deserved it. They weren’t just partners on the field, they were each other’s strength at desperate times. Despite how often we’d actually see it on screen, in 1×05 it becomes clear that the two have always been a shoulder for one another. Their relationship developed from an effortless friendship.

It was particularly delightful to see their banter at Molly’s because the reality is, it was much more than that. When it comes to Jay and Erin, Jesse Lee Soffer and Sophia Bush do an exceptional job of baring it all (and sometimes, literally #Skinstead). Though Erin states that the hardest part of dating is keeping their relationship professional at work, there’s a moment where that difficulty is reflected in her expressiveness. It’s not just about stunning outfits waiting for them back at home as they tease each other, it’s the inability to display affection that can mend their overwhelmed spirits when cases become too much. And while I’m absolutely no fan of PDA, it’s understandable that needing to be extra cautious can get irritating. But for  Jay and Erin, this relationship is about healing — whether it’s a simple embrace or an intimate night at home, together, they’re able to unwind in irreplaceable ways. They’re great together because they’re able to have fun together and it’s little things like this that showcase just how far they’ve come.

That’s the difference with Jay and Erin, their relationship developed from a solid friendship. And that friendship is the force that drives their relationship, whatever emotion they’re carrying, they put one another first. And whatever they’re dealing with, together, it’s easier.

What are your thoughts on this week’s episode? There may be a change in format for these reviews as it’s becoming difficult to write about the episodes as a whole due to the lack of follow-up from past episodes. Remember if there’s anything you’d like us to discuss, concerns, questions, etc. let us know in the comments below, and I will get to it as soon as possible.


  1. I thought bringing in the notion of rape just because Roman gave advice from his “guy perspective” is horrible and so far-fetched, I had a hard time reading that paragraph seriously. I have a guy friend who tells me his problems with his girlfriend and I try to translate “girl talk” to him. That’s what friends do. Let’s not forget that when Ruzek was acting all weird for that girl he met when he was undercover and shut Burgess out, Roman was the one who brought Burgess back to earth and he was the one who reassured Burgess that Ruzek loved her. Notice the irony there. It was Roman who she talked to and it was Roman who was trying to reassure her. Burgess and Ruzek never really got good at communicating with each other. Ruzek forgot to mention he was engaged 2x before he met Burgess? He explains himself via text? The truth is that Burgess was growing closer to Roman the whole time she was with Adam. For whatever reason, she was able to open up to Roman and he was always there for her.

    In this third season, they’re much closer as friends and that’s where his advice starts to shift. Like some of us viewers, he’s worried that she’s not being treated the way she should be. I felt so horrible for her when she was blindsided by the mystery fiancee. It felt like she was way more invested than he was. Roman is closest to her and again, Roman is the one who sees her doubt and worry. It’s a problem when Roman is the one to know her that well and not Ruzek. Honestly, I would have been as worried if it was my friend.

    Two people can really like each other, they can love each other, but a relationship takes work and it takes communication. For whatever reason, Ruzek and Burgess were never good at that. I love Ruzek. I think he honestly loved Burgess but maybe, just not enough. Maybe if they met five years down the line, things would have been different.

    1. I will admit that perhaps the comparison was a bit harsh, and I’m sorry if you or anyone was offended by it. I don’t often get upset with this show. And to be frank, I’m not really a hardcore “Burzek” shipper either. I thought they were adorable, but if the situation was handled differently, the breakup would’ve felt okay. This is a storyline that’s genuinely upsetting to me for a number of reasons. It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. If I were in this situation, I wouldn’t make an assumption. There are all types of different guys and girls, but I would encourage talking not testing. And that’s why I made the harsh analogy I did. I’m a firm believer in the fact that we should never, ever make assumptions. It almost always leads to something much worse. Above all, to test a lover is something that feels so wrong to me. That’s not how adult relationships are handled. I would never test my boyfriend. If I was having a problem with him, and I confided in someone, I’d hope they’d encourage me to talk things through first. Especially in this situation where no other person is really involved. It’s not like she needed to check if he’d cheat on her or something. It was a commitment issue. If Ruzek and Kim were just dating, I wouldn’t be so irritated with the way the series handled it. And I would’ve easily been able to see the relationship with Roman as organic. Roman kept insisting that he’s probably not ready and the test is the only answer. And if she felt that maybe he was right, she should’ve asked him. As a friend, I’d prompt honesty. I agree 110% that Ruzek forgetting to mention the first engagement was stupid. I was livid with him then. And I’d be incredibly angry if he were my fiance. I don’t know if I can be okay with that, but to just end things the way they have with 0 conversation and no proper closure is where my problem lies.

      The reality of this situation unfortunately comes down to the writing. And not real life. Because I agree with you, I’d be just as worried if this was my friend. I’d be looking it at through the same set of eyes. However, the series never gave us proper communication between the two. They never showed us Kim confronting Adam privately. A situation like this deserves way more than 2 minutes of screen time. And I’m looking at all this through a writer’s perspective. It feels sloppy in the sense that we only got one end of the spectrum. We saw her confide in Roman more than she tried to work the situation out. I hope you can understand the analytical approach that I took here. It’s difficult to have an ensemble cast, and it’s even more difficult to balance the time, but that’s the key: balance. I would’ve been fine with the storyline if it was handled gracefully. If time between confronting and venting was distributed evenly.

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