On a scale of one to 10, how heartbroken are our readers right now?
Case Summary: When a young girl is found locked up in a secluded area, the Intelligence unit must track down the man who placed the Craigslist ad to lure her. Olinsky returns to work. Jay’s ex-wife (?!?!) returns.
Review | Analysis: Chicago P.D. is far from perfect, in fact, its lack of continuity and the decision to ignore significant parts of a character’s life that were previously established never fails to make my blood boil. And the fact that the series makes me angrier than anything else probably triggers the good ol’ frequently asked question: why do you continue to watch and review it? Because my love for these characters knows no bounds. I care way too much about them to give up. And sometimes, I wonder if the writers think about the characters as much as fans do after an episode. Essentially, “Remember the Devil” is one of those episodes that legitimately makes me question a lot of things.
I won’t be doing a performer and an exquisite scene this week as there’s a lot to focus on in regard to the series as a whole. I hope that’s okay with our readers.
Burdens — we’ve all got them. Stories that are perhaps too dark to share. Wounds we may never be ready to cut open. Band-Aids that we may permanently keep on. But the truth is, as human beings, we’ll never rise to our highest potential if we don’t. And frankly, there will never come a time when we’re fully ready, but we must take these leaps in life for us, and those who love us. The thing is, exploration of real human emotions is something Chicago P.D. is great at, especially if they choose to fully dig into it. That’s why Jay Halstead’s story has endless potential to be one of the strongest developments on TV right now. (One can hope this may actually happen this time, right?)
That said, it’s no surprise that countless viewers have wanted to know more about Jay’s past and we sort of got that. Only in a way that I found myself ridiculously disappointed and laughing like a hyena at because I couldn’t believe what I was actually watching. But nevertheless, I found myself pleased as the episode progressed, and the only way I see that state of mind remaining is if what’s promised is actually delivered.
Here’s the thing, there was absolutely no reason for Jay’s ex to be his ex-wife. And how it never came up isn’t merited especially given the show’s track record of writing its male characters as though they’re not fully committed to the relationships they’re in by keeping secrets. Now although Jay and Adam are completely different, the storyline and the choice to repeat the cycle is the same. I can understand the fact that neither believed it was relevant to share but that’s all the more reason to share. “Oh yeah, I’ve been in a 24-hour marriage, it was a dark time in my life, there was a funeral, and it meant nothing, but I’m not really ready to talk about who I was back then.” That could have worked. And that’s what makes me frustrated as a viewer because perhaps if it hadn’t happened in a similar sense before, it wouldn’t be something that’d triggered my eyes to roll. I mean really, this isn’t a soap opera — it’s a cop show drama. It’s pretty darn serious, but this trope, this trope should go into some forsaken vault where no writer could ever dig it up again. I’m all for the demons that Abby’s visit brought back but she could have just been an ex and it would’ve had the same outcome. What next, he has an 8-year-old he’s never known. We’ve been down that same road once before, too. The point is, in order to bring up Jay’s past, we’ve had plenty of instances in the past where something could’ve triggered a bigger breakdown. (Terry’s death anyone? Mouse going back?) The ex-wife makes zero sense to me.
There are parallels and then there’s what I’d painfully call lazy writing. If we take a series like Once Upon A Time, for instance, its core couples share similar meetings and journeys, but at the end of the day, the stories are unique and the parallels only serve as a reminder of what True Love is. Point is, no more surprises in an attempt to pass down ridiculous torches amongst the characters that are ill-fitted and weak. Couples can be happy with constant makeup and breakups. (Refer to Madam Secretary as a prime paradigm of perfection.)
And now that said, this storyline has the potential to be superb with thorough execution. Jay and Erin are easily one of the most fascinating pairs because of how fervently they love in spite of how broken they are. Manifesting their resolute admiration for each other has often been the innate desire to carry the other through the dark times, even with the absence of details, what’s been left to the imagination has been enough. They’ve known how to make the other feel safe. But the thing that makes Jay and Erin an intriguing duo is a fact that they’ve continuously made an effort to respect the other’s agency until it gets to a point where they know it’s best for them not to. And the conscious effort to give them a choice showcases the very depth of the adoration they have for one another. However, there comes a point where in spite of how much you respect someone, as their partner, you must step in. It’s what Jay’s tirelessly done in the past when Erin’s demons have attempted to get the better of her, and where people have attempted to wrongfully use her.
Thereby, with every finger crossed I’m hoping she does the same for him. And though I disagree with the fact that he wasn’t planning on telling her, I understood his choice to walk out. An understanding I easily made based upon the exquisite performances Jesse Lee Soffer and Sophia Bush put on for us. I’ve frequently said that one of the reasons why they’re one of my favorite couples to write about is because of the gorgeous work Soffer and Bush do in silence. It’s the sole reason why “Life is Fluid” is one of my favorite episodes to date. (Give me all the profound, silent conversations!) And in that final scene, the two crushed my heart with the groundwork they laid bare for us. Jay and Erin adore one another ardently. They’ve found a place of serenity with one another and though it’s been interrupted, they reminded one another of the fact that their love hasn’t wavered. It’s the lingering embrace that gorgeously exhibited just how deep their adoration runs — for a moment, in stillness, they reiterated the promise they’d once made to always have each other’s back. And for a moment, before he apologized, it was just the two of them again — no secrets, no walls, no burdens, just them. In spite of the pain left in the room, they could be serene.
There’s nothing they’d prefer then to be together — to be one. His love for her and the heartache he faces knowing his actions hurt her simply contribute to the crosses he’s carrying. Of all the people in his life, Erin Lindsay is the last person he’d want to hurt. And at this moment, he has no idea how not to, for his fears were stronger than ever. Walking away was best for him.
On another note, Erin knows Jay’s heart, and I appreciated the fact that she wasn’t angry at him. It not only showcases the immense faith she has in her boyfriend, but it reveals the fact that she knows him better than anyone else. And while she may not know details about his life with the Rangers per se, it doesn’t change the fact that she understands him in a way no one else has. Sometimes, understanding someone doesn’t mean knowing everything about them, but it’s knowing enough to learn what fuels or breaks them. And while none of us really know details about the darkness in Jay’s life, we know enough to understand it’s where his kindness and empathy come from. When it comes to opening up, the two have generally shied away from it because of how difficult revisiting those moments have been, but recently, it’s been easier for Erin. It’s been easier because when she did run, when she dug up holes for herself, Jay was around to ceaselessly remind her of the fact that she isn’t alone. And for a kid who’s lived the kind of life Erin Lindsay has, a steadfast figure who’d love her in spite of all the flaws is precisely what she’s needed. But that ability to trust came from the fact that she felt safe enough to open up old wounds, and no two people deal with something in the same way.
The reality is, in order to stand where she does, it’s taken Erin time, and Jay deserves that time as well. I loved the fact that she states she can handle whatever he’s dealing with because it leaves him with a sense of hope. When he himself figures out how to dig up the darkness, it’ll be easier to let her in. And that’s essentially what I hope the series does because learning more about the characters we’ve grown to love is what makes it so easy to fall in love with the series/film. In the same way that Jay fought to make sure Erin knows he has her back, I hope we’re given the chance to see Erin do the same. The truth is, this is the first time Jay’s been vulnerable enough to admit defeat. If we take a look back at all the times he’s fallen in the past, to truly showcase that he’s burdened and broken, we’ve seen him break down on his own while attempting to hide the pain by telling everyone he’s okay. Yes, Jay’s been vulnerable before, but nothing’s ever forced him to revisit the dark days quite like this. And it’s never been to a point where he’s needed to involve Erin. But because there’s another woman in the picture theoretically standing in their way, it forces him to question everything out of shame, heartache, and self-hatred. Abby isn’t a threat to their relationship, but the man Jay Halstead was in her presence eight years ago isn’t the man worthy of being Erin Lindsay’s partner. In order to be the very best version of himself, he needs to confront the demons he’s hidden from. He needs to feel safe enough to fall and that’s a choice he himself needs to make. Erin’s choice to want to work things out in spite of the fact that he kept this secret from her illuminates the very depth of her adoration perfectly. It’s all Jay will need to understand that when he’s ready, she’ll catch him. When she said she’d have his back, she meant always.
In order to understand why he did what he did, we must remember that Jay’s confidence and lighthearted approach to things have often made it seem as though he’s always in a good place even while he was suffering. We all know that those who tend to meet the needs of others are the ones crumbling within. The saddest people smile the brightest. And instead of dealing with his demons, Jay’s masked them. While at one point in his life he’s used alcohol as an escape, today he’s put all his energy into helping others. But where his relationship is concerned, he can no longer hide the demons. Where the darkness has fully resurfaced, he can no longer hide without facing it. Because of the fact that Jay’s often been an armor in the lives of those he cares for, it’s easy to forget the immense pain he carries. He fights with unbridled fervency because history repeating itself would tarnish him. I’ve always said that Jay’s PTSD was never a result of what he went through but rather the darkness he’s faced watching those he cares for, suffer. And while we’ve never really explored Jay’s survivor’s guilt, I’m hoping this storyline changes that.
That’s why when Jay tells Erin that he doesn’t know, Soffer exhibits an entire battlefield in his expression. The man who stood tall as her backbone, her armor, is now a fallen hero unsure of how to cope with the fact that there’s a part of him he isn’t proud of. The struggles he faced were one thing, but the person he became attempting to grieve isn’t someone he’s able to remember. And because Erin’s been the constant in his life, Jay will undoubtedly do whatever he can to find a way to overcome the pain. And part of that will be learning how to share the burdens.
Although I cannot state this as a fact, based on what we’ve seen, no one’s been around for Jay in the way he has for others. Will’s past isn’t all that grand, and Mouse needed to mend as well. But Erin’s presence thus far has been the anchor he’s unknowingly relied on. It takes us back to the promise that they’ll always have each other’s back — a promise which they’ve never once given up on. A promise that’ll make for a gorgeous spectacle when it’s strengthened after this trial. Although he’s always been broken in the process, much like Erin, Jay’s done everything in his power to pick others up. But right now, in this very moment, it’s easier to walk away from the one person who has the ability to help him because the fear of losing someone is often greatest when they’re the most loved.
On a side note, I loved the fact that Sophia Bush played on Erin’s vulnerabilities with such profound expressiveness. When she states that she can handle whatever it is, Erin’s desperation to help Jay felt like a visceral punch to the guts. That’s where my heart broke most for the two of them.
Given the series’ track record on dealing with human emotions properly, I’m not entirely hopeful that this will be given the attention it deserves, but I’m not hopeless. And that’s a better state, right? “Remember the Devil” was a solid episode for these two, and while the case didn’t blend with the storyline as it generally does, I’m okay with that as exploring characters is a lot more intriguing. I’m okay with the fact that Jay needed to walk away because the idea of hurting Erin more than he already has isn’t something he can bear. It works.
- If I were to stick to my usual review style, for this week’s most exquisite moment, I’d have picked Adam hugging Alvin. Adam’s awkwardness is something I’ve easily appreciated and in this moment, it felt so right that he wouldn’t know what to say, but would ask if he could hug him instead. It’s never easy for people to console those who are grieving thereby, the scene was an accurate display of how it’s actually played out in real life. Sometimes, a hug is everything. And sometimes, people tend to ask you a lot of questions. (No but seriously, I had friends asking if they could call me after my dad passed away.) It was such an innocent, awkward hug, too that everything felt right for a moment.
- I could also understand Olinsky coming to work in order to keep himself busy but I really hope we get more glimpses into his grief and how coping becomes different every day. Seriously though, I can’t be the only one that wants to see all this play out right?
- Okay but seriously who waits eight years to tell a guy they’re still married to that they love them? If there was one thing that made me roll my eyes the hardest, it was Abby’s choice to state that she never signed the papers and that she’s still in love with him.
- I also couldn’t stop laughing at the fact that Ruzek and Atwater had a feeling there was trouble in paradise.
What are your thoughts on this week’s episode? Remember if there’s anything you’d like us to discuss let us know in the comments below. As mentioned before, we can’t discuss in-depth analysis on our Tumblr or Twitter.
Fantastic detailed review that explored Erin and Jay’s characters to their very soul. Thank you.
What a lovely and insightful review + analysis. I always felt that Jay’s reluctance to talk about his military experience and everything that came with it was due to his desire to protect the people he cares about. If you think back to past episodes the only people he has even mentioned or given a slightest bit of insight into his deployments or military service are all veterans (Al & Mouse + Dr. Choi from Med). Erin is tough and says she can handle it but she may find herself in unknown territory because she has no experience in dealing with PTSD and returning combat veterans.