'Chicago P.D.' Boss Discusses Linstead's Rekindled Romance: "It Was the Right Time"

"It feels new and fresh," showrunner Matt Olmstead tells THR about the decision to put Lindsay and Halstead back together.
Matt Dinerstein/NBC

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Wednesday's special two-hour episode of Chicago P.D.]

Chicago P.D.'s most beloved couple is officially back on, and it's all thanks to … a couch. After many teases from executive producer Derek Haas about the "#LinsteadCouch" — which sparked much fan enthusiasm and even a Twitter handle of the same name — Lindsay (Sophia Bush) and Halstead (Jesse Lee Soffer) acted on their feelings for one another on Wednesday's episode in the midst of helping move Lindsay's furniture (hence, the couch).

However, the couch proved to be only the beginning. In the second part of the two-hour episode, the duo took their recoupling public when Halstead kissed Lindsay at Molly's not once but twice. "They would have never done that before. So it's their acknowledgment of, we don’t really care what other people think, not that anybody would care, and, primarily, we don't care what Voight thinks," showrunner Matt Olmstead tells The Hollywood Reporter. "They do what they want to do."

So why was now the right time to put the fan favorites back together after their brief affair last season? And what's next for the will-they-or-won't-they couple? THR speaks with Olmstead about all that and more.

You said you liked what pairing Lindsay and Halstead brought to the show, but what made you decide that now was the right time to dive back into that relationship?

It's just about keeping your finger on the pulse of the show, really, and knowing when to not make it too breezy and glib and happy and also not making it too dark. One of the great things about the show, certainly from a writing standpoint, is that we hit all those notes. At the end of last season, instead of the Nadia character dying and then the next episode acting like it never happened, we addressed it, and we put Lindsay in a dark place, as she should be. It gave us some really great drama, great performances from Sophia, and it affected everybody. It gave us really everything we hoped to get and then some. But you just keep an eye on the big picture and realize that, at a certain point, we have to bring her back toward the other side. It was the right time. We never had any intention of her having her chin on her chest and depressed for the whole season. We just wanted to find the right time to normalize her a little bit, and this is the place to do it. It's just fun. Then we started having these scenes in the coffee room where, like in episode five, when she's reaching out to him because she's going to get new furniture in her apartment, the flirtation back between those two characters was really great to see. But it's earned, and hopefully it's at the right time.

After putting them together last year and breaking them up and now putting them together again, do you feel there's a finite amount of times you can do that before toying with the fans? Before they possibly start to get frustrated with the back and forth of it all?

Maybe. I think that before they get tired, we get tired of writing it, and hopefully we'd be ahead of that curve. But again, having her kind of reject his help, go down the drain last season and begin this season — it feels new and fresh to revisit that relationship. If you're always hitting the same notes in every episode, kind of like Moonlighting style, I could see how that could get tiresome. There's a sameness to that dynamic. But we've certainly played all sides of it. For now, it feels great. Certainly, we'll make a choice, and the characters will make a choice down the road: Are they going to keep this going and fully commit? Are they going to dance as a couple, or is this going to fall apart? We don't know yet because right now, we're just enjoying the first blush of a relationship.

What's next for Linstead?

Just being who they are, they're not going to be too showy or make it a distraction for other people. The intimacy is back, and where it goes, we'll see, but we like very much having them back and in that groove of being flirtatious, caring, heated. We're going to keep it there for awhile.

The show explored a Linstead relationship, albeit briefly, last season. How will their relationship be different this time?

It reflects what they've been through on the show, in particular her loss with Nadia. Not only the kind of devastation she felt, but she went through it without Halstead. She rejected him wholesale and the ol' adage of, 'You don't know what you got till it's gone' — she appreciates him as a friend, as a partner and as a boyfriend. She's not really, nor is he, ready to jump the broom, so to speak. But in terms of just being there for each other, we haven't had it on the show for awhile because of what she's been through and what he's been through, so it's nice to revisit it.

You use the term 'boyfriend,' so will we see dates or things like that? How serious is this?

We do. … They're not dating other people, but when you do have a loose interpretation of a relationship — which is great in a lot of ways — what are the boundaries? What are we doing? If someone else is knocking on the door, what does that mean? We've played, at different parts, Halstead pining for her and she for him. This is actual equal footing right now. Conversely, right now, we're going to be playing the disintegration of the Burgess-Ruzek relationship.

They are more public this time with their relationship, so how does the unit react? Especially when, as you said, another couple is on the outs. What kind of impact does that have on the unit?

Eventually there is going to be more of a friendship between Lindsay and Burgess. We've kind of played them in separate orbits. Lindsay is going to see, in her mind, what Burgess is going through in terms of the Ruzek of it all, so can she reach out to having been there just as a friend? That affects her and Ruzek, who work together full-time, in terms of, perhaps she has an opinion about how Ruzek is handling this whole thing. So Burgess and Ruzek are more the fly in the ointment because no one really cares what Lindsay and Halstead go through, as long as they're happy. Especially, again, seeing that she almost went off a cliff; she's back, and she's getting along with someone. As long as they’re not the lock horns at work or if it's affecting their work negatively, nobody is going to care. Especially at a job like that, where you see stuff that matters every day, conversely, it isn't that big of a deal.

How will they figure out the balance between their romantic relationship and their working relationship, since their job is so demanding?

I think it's relatable. When you meet somebody, especially at work, at a certain point, there's an expectation of, "OK, where is this going?" Rarely can it just exist in this kind of cool place where we're not seeing anybody else, we're not super affectionate in front of other people at work, but that is by no means an indictment of our relationship or some kind of statement about my inability to show affection to you. Because they're both in the same boat. They're both cut from the same cloth, which is why they get along. They're both used to being private people. They both really value their jobs. So you don't have either one of them breaking the other person's balls over, "Well, you could put your arm around me when we're around people." Neither one of them is asking that of the other person. So this is really in both of their wheelhouses and what they want. We'll see how long it goes. Eventually, those relationships are untenable. They eventually have to go somewhere. For the most part, relationships need a definition sooner rather than later, but they would actually like it later rather than sooner.

Obviously, Voight gave Halstead somewhat of a free pass earlier this season. As time goes on, how does he react to their relationship?

Because of the severity of her situation and the fact that he did go to Halstead and say, "Hey, just look out for her" — he's not going to go back on that. Whatever happens with she and him is their business at this point. If it did affect work, he would move in.

A big problem at the beginning of the season was Lindsay's mom, Bunny. What will be her next move to get back at Voight and Lindsay?

Jumping ahead, we're going to play, ultimately, Lindsay beginning to think about finding her dad. We played it earlier in the season when Dr. Charles, played by Oliver Platt on Chicago Med, was enlisted by Voight to help talk to her, and he did so in a manner that enables her to open up a little bit. She came to him at the end of the episode, and he asks about her dad. She says, "I have no idea. Albuquerque, maybe? In and out of jail?" She's been living with that perception, and going forward, really having seen what Olinsky went through — because Olinsky had a daughter he didn't know about that came out of nowhere — and seeing how he reacted to it and ultimately how fulfilling that was unexpectedly, she begins to ask him about what he went through. Seeing how favorable the whole thing ended up being, it starts to bang around in her a little bit. So she starts to look into it and ultimately goes to Bunny when she really wants to have answers. Bunny tells her some things that she maybe doesn't want to hear.

There was a scene where Halstead's brother was talking to Lindsay about him, and he's about to say something. Is that something that will be revealed or revisited in time?

Once in a while, we light a little fuse in terms of Halstead's background as it relates to his military background and specifically also his relationship with Mouse, who works there, because they were over there together. We dig into it a little bit more in episode seven, when he really focuses on a kid who's been victimized and whose father was killed in active duty, and when Halstead's with him, he opens up a little bit more — more so than he's told anybody else. There are these little windows that we open just briefly in terms of his past because it's something he's not in a hurry to talk about. The reference from Will is just one of those little indicators to what he's been through.

Chicago P.D. airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on NBC.

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