'Chicago P.D.' Boss on Linstead's "Spark," a "Heartbroken" Voight and 'Fire' Overlap

"When we find her, she's absolutely at a low point," showrunner Matt Olmstead tells THR of the fallout from Lindsay's decision to leave the force.
Matt Dinerstein/NBC

The Intelligence Unit is down one when Chicago P.D. returns for season three on Wednesday. But it won't stay that way for long. After shocking her surrogate father figure and boss Voight (Jason Beghe) and viewers everywhere with her sudden decision to leave the Intelligence Unit in the season two finale, Lindsay (Sophia Bush) must return in the premiere to save her partner (and sometimes love interest) Halstead (Jesse Lee Soffer). But will she stick around after for the long haul?

The Hollywood Reporter spoke with showrunner Matt Olmstead about Voight's "requirements" for Lindsay, her possibly reignited "spark" with Halstead and what to expect from newly engaged couple Ruzek (Patrick John Flueger) and Burgess (Marina Squerciati).

That was a huge last scene for Lindsay in the season two finale. How long after that does the premiere pick up?

We pick up a couple weeks after that. Everybody's looking at an empty desk. They're looking to have to replace her and when we find her, she's absolutely at a low point. Still out there partying till daybreak, still with her mom, has thus far successfully distanced herself from dealing with the grief and guilt of Nadia's death, which sent her down this hole to begin with. There's a scene where Halstead, who still believes she can be reclaimed more than anybody else, finds her coming out of a bar because he wants to her to tell him face-to-face [that she's] walking away from this. She tells him and he says, "I don’t know who you are but if you ever see Lindsay, tell her that she made me a better cop," and leaves. But she still can't do it. She's not one to come back. There are complications in the investigation in the first episode, including one of the characters being in harm's way which kind of rings her bell and she comes back just to help out initially. Eventually, trying to get her job or wanting to get her job back requires a whole other list of requirements from Voight that she's going to meet or not meet.

What is their relationship going to look like this season after everything they went through?

Voight is heartbroken when she's not there. In fact, when the whole thing went sideways with the investigation and one of the members gets in harm's way, he's like, "I can't help but thinking if you were there, this wouldn’t have happened." So she has to work her way back. He privately tells Halstead, who once upon a time he said no in-house romances, considering the gravity of what’s going on, he says, "I don’t care about romances. I got to play her a certain way. You keep an eye on her," so he's given him the green light not for romance, but to provide her solace or comfort or whatever. What really drives the first three episodes is this odd triangle of Voight, Lindsay and her mom because Bunny has successfully gotten Lindsay back in her clutches. She can be the mom again and in her mind, the only way to really do it is to party with her, but she's more than happy to do it. It's really insidious how she'll do anything to keep her. She'll play any card to lay the guilt and keep Lindsay destabilized. Ultimately when she makes the decision to try and give it a go back there, it's the ultimate betrayal for Bunny, because Hank Voight has once again come in and pried Lindsay away from her. She'll do anything to get back at Voight, including bringing up parts of the past that could jam him up professionally. It's a very volatile triangle of Lindsay having to now negotiate between the two of them, distance herself from her mom successfully and Voight realizing that he gets the business end of Bunny.

Will Halstead and Lindsay last longer this time than it did last time? What does that look like?

Potentially, because at the beginning of the season, his only concern is getting her to live. Forget romances and all that kind of stuff. And once, in his mind, she's able to get stabilized, then does it open itself up to, will she ever be back? And if she is back, will there be that spark again? I can tell you that there probably will be a spark between the two of them. 

You're putting Casey and Dawson together basically for good this upcoming season. Do you think that you'll eventually do that with Lindsay and Halstead as well?

Possibly, they're different characters though. Lindsay is super independent, has been through way more than Dawson has. What resonates for me, and I think with the audience in terms of the two of them is with Lindsay and Halstead, there's more of a friendship there that, privately, they can be intimate as opposed to just this traditional couple that you want to see them nest and procreate and the whole thing. But seeing them give each other shit, and flirt – that's the money, really, and hopefully she can get back to it if she can get her stuff together.

Another big moment in the finale was Ruzek and Burgess getting engaged. What is next for them?

We have a lot of fun with it. What's going on with Burgess is a growing suspicion that Ruzek might just be more into being engaged than married because he was engaged when he met her, and he's the guy who just likes when you go to the bar, they send over shots for the engagement, show 'em the ring. You're intoxicated by the buzz of the engagement as opposed to the practicality of sitting down and saying "OK, who are we going to invite?" That stuff he's not really that into, which begins to resonate with her, like is he a serial fiancée as opposed to the day-in, day-out of a husband? So that's something she will realize and that's something that he either has to confront and dismiss or cop to.

Last season, there were a few storylines that happened on both shows (the engagements, Severide and Lindsay each lost someone close to them, Mouch and Olinsky each discovered they had teenage daughters they didn't know they had). Is that a concern at all about repeating stories? How much do you factor that in when figuring out plots?

We're aware and all those that you mentioned, we definitely looked at before we went forward. For us, there were little differences to them to make them not identical. There have been others that have been brought up that we had to nix because it was just too similar to something that was going on on the other show. There was a storyline that was going to come up for one of the characters about a distant father and it was looking a little too much like the Severide-Benny dynamic so that was an example. There's some that we've not done, but we also don't want to hamstring either show individually by not exploring something. Because the whole thing with Olinsky's daughter – and believe me we talked about whether it was too similar – but having seen where we're going with that, I'd rather take the risk of inviting comparisons then not do it at all because it's giving us so much for that actor and that character.

Chicago P.D. returns Wednesday at 10 p.m. on NBC.

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