The cruel fate of The Chicago Code hasn’t dampened my goodwill towards it. Possibly because this show was written and wrapped months ago, there’s no sign of giving up or backing down.
I’ve mentioned previously how much I appreciate that this show hits the ground running, and it does: after giving us a quick, efficient catch-up on the events of last week’s episode, we find out that Teresa’s star witness has gone missing just before he’s scheduled to testify, and Gibbons is now aware of the existence of a mole, though he doesn’t know that it’s Liam, who’s being blatantly hit on by Killian’s daughter (Shannon Lucio), whom we met the week before that. All of this happens in the first ten minutes. I’m impressed by how Virgil Williams throws all that very important information at us in such a short time, but keeps it from sounding like a “previously on” and from getting muddled. That’s talent.
The hour’s a battle between the police and the Irish mob to see who can find the missing witness first, which puts Jarek and Liam in direct opposition. Jarek is his usual tenacious self; I love that he does attention-grabbing things because that’s the right play, not because the writers are trying to make him cool, which is an easy trap many TV cops have fallen into. Pardon my language, but Jarek is a badass because he’s not trying to be a badass, nor is he written that way. He’s just good police. Having Gibbons show up at his desk in the middle of the night: yowza. Especially when Gibbons offers him the identity of his brother’s killer. Yet Jarek’s resolve never wavers. That’s why I’ve come to embrace him as a hero.
It’s Liam that has the more compelling arc, though; we know he’s got emotional scars from the arson he set, and now he’s asked to commit outright murder. Unwilling to cross that last line, he stabs his cohort instead, and knowing his time is running out, makes one last play to deliver the fatal blow to the bad guys. It’s tragic but perfectly in character that doing so gets him shot; we’ve seen ever since the arson episode that he was willing to put himself in harm’s way for justice, and that belief finally caught up to him. There’s almost a sense of beauty in it, because we know he wouldn’t be bothered by how it all turned out.
Even among the supporting characters, there are refreshing touches of depth. Lieutenant Kelly, who’s Teresa’s chief of staff but in Gibbons’ pocket, initially resists the alderman’s idea of outing an undercover cop to the Irish mob. He might be on the wrong side of the fight but he’s still a cop. He caves when Gibbons threatens his family, but it’s nice to see he’s not a one-dimensional corrupt cop. We also finally see some merit come out of Gibbons’ relationship with his assistant; up until now I’d thought it was just a throwaway subplot, but I should have known better. There’s no such thing with The Chicago Code.
Each episode of this show reveals to me something I appreciate that goes beyond its content – something that’s technically superior. This week, we were treated to how nothing in its world is black and white…but neither is it that muddled, unsatisfying mess that many shows think passes for grey. It’s not what we think is ambiguous; it really is ambiguous. I suppose the best way that I can describe it is that The Chicago Code is remarkably human. That’s a rarity I haven’t seen in a television series in a long time, and it’s a shame that it looks like I won’t see it again.