Chicago P.D. 4×16 “Emotional Proximity” Recap

Spoilers Ahead


Case Summary: When a warehouse hosting a rave burns down critically injuring some and killing 39 — Fire, Med, P.D., and Justice must do everything they can to put the right culprit behind bars. As it tragically turns out, one of the injured is Olinsky’s daughter Lexi, who later succumbs to her injuries.

Review | Analysis: To say that this crossover was brutal would be an understatement, and it wasn’t my favorite episode. I’ll never revisit it. “Emotional Proximity” along with the other series’ episodes served as solid, seamlessly moving storytelling, but the ramifications of it aren’t entirely great. At its peak, this series gives us a glimpse into the lives of the characters we’ve grown to love, but sometimes, it wrongs them, too. I’ve often said that death on TV could be merited if it’s handled properly, and thus far, on Chicago P.D. it hasn’t been. From Nadia Decotis to Justin Voight, and now Lexi Olinsky, it comes across as an attempt to inflict shock rather than to tell bigger stories. Because let’s look at shows like Game of Thrones for example, as much as it pains me, The Red Wedding was completely merited. It effortlessly contributed to allowing the remaining Starks to fight harder for Winterfell. But where continuity is often lacking in Chicago P.D., we don’t see the storylines move forward in the way they deserve. Because the grieving process is glossed over as opposed to diligently explored, it leaves very little room for the general audience to experience the changes alongside the characters. It leaves very little room for us to see growth.

On another note, if there’s one thing “Emotional Proximity” did perfectly, it showed off Elias Koteas’ skills as an actor. And I’m always here for excellent performances.

Most Noteworthy Performer: Unsurprisingly, Elias Koteas is the noteworthy performer again this week, but really could you blame us? Koteas took us on an emotional journey with heart-wrenching agony on full display from the moment he learned Lexi was at the rave, too. And that horrified, wearied expressiveness was carried all throughout the episodes until her passing where his voice brought to life grief evocatively. Koteas is great at keeping the audience engaged with his character because the full range of emotions makes it hard to look away, but in “Emotional Proximity”, it was almost easy to look away. It was easy to look away because Koteas made sure you could feel every little beat of Olinsky’s pain. And anyone who watched the episode could understand that this man had just lost someone who’d meant the world to him. This man had lost a part of him — a reason he lived for.

Most Exquisite Moment: There really wasn’t a moment this week to make me feel great or leave me awe-struck in the usual enjoyable way I prefer, but the most evocative and unexpected scene was Voight’s interrogation with Dylan Oates. Voight talked about how much he adored Lexi, and Jason Beghe’s delivery of the scene with the right amount of restraint and vulnerability was beautiful. It felt right that he’d be the one interrogating him. It felt right that he’d do the talking for Olinsky, but when he shows up and the men argue for a moment, it also felt right for Olinsky to call him out on the hypocrisy. Voight and Olinsky are incredibly similar so to have them stand side by side at this moment paid homage to the fact that they’re essentially the father figures of the unit. And at this moment, no one could understand each other more. No one could feel the depth of that pain as achingly.

Generally, crossovers don’t always seem to make sense, but this one, in particular, had a great flow and kept me engaged with everyone. But the reality is that this death was unnecessary. And with Chicago P.D.’s track record, I don’t have hope in the fact that we’ll see how this will change Olinsky’s life. Heck, Voight’s situation with Justin lasted a hot second. It’s so easy to forget he’s dead because he isn’t a presence in his father’s life. If death is going to happen, it needs to be dealt with properly. It needs to be remembered. A character is just as important dead as they were alive, and TV series tend to forget this concept when they’ve killed someone off. Let’s look at This is Us as a prime example of a series that tackles death perfectly — without spoiling anything for those who don’t watch, a deceased character is just as present in their family’s lives today, as they were alive. There’s no difference. Grief doesn’t take two days or a week. Grief lasts a lifetime. I lost my dad 10-years-ago, and yet I still talk about him as often as I can. He’s still a part of my life in every way as long as I breathe. But with this show and a lot of other TV series, death isn’t handled properly. And honestly, here’s to hoping I’m wrong because I want to come back here saying I was, but as of right now, I’m more disappointed.

“Emotional Proximity” was one of the most difficult episodes to watch but without a doubt one of the most beautiful. When Lindsay took Lexi’s picture and tearfully moved it to the board of deceased kids, my heart shattered. That quiet, evocative scene where everyone watched her as they held back tears was Chicago P.D. at its best. Sophia Bush was riveting at that moment. It exhibited the team’s closeness in such a pure, heartwarming way — the pain they all felt was the pain we felt. So while Lexi’s death was cheap and unnecessary, the execution was breathtaking because these performers know their art. And they know how to make us feel every ounce of what they feel.

Worth Mentioning: 

  • I know the performance segment of the review is short, but I didn’t want to say too much in order to talk about Elias Koteas for our weekend reviews. So expect something about it on Sunday.
  • I loved watching Kim comfort Olinsky. It broke my heart to see this take such a drastic turn, but it was beautiful to have her stand by his side. And in the same way, when Antonio talked about wanting to grab a hold of him to tell him it’ll be okay, I lost it.
  • And I loved the togetherness between Olinsky and his wife. If there was tension there or some sort of discomfort, Lexi’s death would’ve been much, much worse. But their closeness in handling everything like partners was a lovely showcase of what they once had.
  • I also loved that little bit with Olinsky telling Jay to thank his brother for him because he knows he tried his hardest. But what hurt the most with Olinsky’s character was when he told Will he didn’t need to sugarcoat it for him. You know this man’s delivered a lot of heart-wrenching news, but you never imagined that someone would one day have to do the same regarding his 19-year-old daughter.
  • It’s also really nice to Adam and Kim work together as partners. I didn’t expect that to happen as quickly, but it was refreshing.
  • And speaking of partners, Lindsay asking Halstead if he’s okay through the walkies was a gorgeous display of their attentiveness towards one another. The sheer momentary silence was anxiety-inducing, but the ring of the words was sublime.

What are your thoughts on this week’s episode? Let us know in the comments below.

Leave a Reply