Chicago P.D. “In the Dark” Spoilers Ahead
Hello, Chicago P.D., long time no see. I didn’t plan on ever returning to this sphere, though we all know how much I used to (and still) care about Jay Halstead. I don’t even know Hailey Upton that well, but damn I care about her too. And I care about this relationship. And maybe, just maybe I’ll return to this place if Hank Voight leaves the show for good.
After watching Chicago P.D. “In the Dark” take Hailey Upton (Tracy Spiridakos) through a horrific journey acutely portraying the claws of deep-seated trauma, I couldn’t keep quiet. And watching Jay Halstead finally call out and punch Voight for everything he’s done in since the show’s beginning has has been one of the most satisfying moments on television this year.
Again, I don’t know much about Hailey. I stopped watching Chicago P.D. at the end of season four when it became painfully clear the series valued plot more than its characters. But I’m around in the social spheres and thus, everything I’ve seen with Hailey during the Chicago Fire crossovers made it clear she’s someone to adore. She’s someone who cares and she’s someone who loves fiercely.
And Spiridakos’ performance in Chicago P.D.’s “In the Dark” is one of the strongest bits of acting I’ve seen from a procedural show (and the entirety of this show). Spiridakos took the audience through the kind of anxiety-evoking hurdle that was so hard to watch for me, I can’t imagine having emotional ties to the character like long-time fans would. It was so gut-wrenching to watch at times, I was physically and emotionally exhausted with her. It’s not easy to convey a panic attack, but it’s something that looks so different on all of us, and Hailey’s left me so heartbroken.
In short, what Spiridakos did is make it painfully clear that Hailey Upton is carrying something that’s crushing her, it’s consuming her and it’s taking her through the type of darkness she has no control over—the type of darkness that requires help. And thankfully, Jay Halstead has always been an observant man, which has been one of the things about his character I’ve deeply appreciated and hoped Chicago P.D. would show more.
Thus, during Chicago P.D.’s “In the Dark” that happens. I would not have pushed through this episode without knowing that the aftermath would be worth it and now I have to push through until I know Hailey will overcome this pain. Jay not only notices that something is off with Hailey beyond the inability to sleep, but he pieces together the fact that Hank Voight is part of the equation.
The problem with a show like Chicago P.D. has always been the detail that it was comprised of an extremely talented cast with immense potential and yet, characters were constantly sidelined. Then there’s Hank Voight, the one with the most screen time, and the one puppeteering most of the terrible sh!t that happens within the unit. A corrupt man like him should not be a sergeant. Period.
It’s 2021 and there’s so much that can be said about how procedurals glorify police work, but that’s for another time. In this scenario, it’s the fact that a corrupt detective whose actions directly harm everyone else, the women especially, shouldn’t hold any rank. And sure, Hank Voight was always good to Erin Lindsay (Sophia Bush), but there’s also a plethora that can be said about how his means of operation negatively impacted her as well in addition to the detail that her own biological family was damaging from the start.
Hank Voight clearly hasn’t changed or grown in the past nine years whereas it seems everyone else has. And because of how much heart Chicago Fire is written with, I know this show has a lot of potential. I stuck with it for as long as I did because I cared about the characters, but when I realized asking for growth was asking too much, I gave up.
Trauma cannot be glossed over—it demands to be dealt with, both in the real world and the fictional one. The second characters take a backseat to the plot, the show is no longer telling stories that matter, and the Chicago P.D. characters deserve more than that.
Hailey Upton especially deserves more than that, which in a sense, I’m glad we’re given the chance to see her deal with the aftermath as opposed to pretending like she’s fine. And I hope next week’s episode continues sending her toward a path of recovery while maybe, just maybe, demoting Voight in the process.