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The Chicago trilogy is going somewhere it’s never gone before for its three-show crossover: the courtroom.
“When you do new things, you get butterflies. Your initial reaction is, ‘Whoa, we haven’t done that. How do you do it?’ Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D. showrunner Matt Olmstead tells The Hollywood Reporter. “Then you realize that it was a blessing because it takes you out of your comfort zone and you’re doing new things, flexing new muscles. Working on the trial aspect of it was different and refreshing.”
Although the Chicago P.D. team endured the trial of serial killer Greg Yates (Dallas Roberts) in an April episode of Law & Order: SVU, this was the first time the writers on P.D. tackled the legal world themselves. Thankfully, Olmstead and his writers had two important resources to help guide them: a Chicago-area attorney and Law & Order creator (and Chicago trilogy executive producer) Dick Wolf.
“The framework was presented very quickly and clearly from Dick,” Olmstead says. “So we embraced it.”
The three-show, two-night event featuring Chicago Fire, Chicago Med and Chicago P.D. first kicks off with Fire when Herrmann (David Eigenberg) is brought into Chicago Medical after getting stabbed and left to bleed out on the floor of Molly’s by Cruz’s friend, Freddie.
“When we open with Fire, the immediate concern, obviously, is what happened to Herrmann and getting him to Med to hopefully save his life,” Olmstead says. “There’s a natural handoff within that episode where we start to tee off the story of the three-way crossover in terms of this doctor, but the immediate concern is Herrmann.”
(Olmstead promises that the Herrmann cliffhanger will be resolved during the course of the crossover.)
This doctor, it’s soon discovered, has allegedly been administrating excessive amounts of chemotherapy to patients who don’t have cancer. “The challenge was: ‘How do we make that into a ticking clock three-hour crossover?’ ” says Olmstead. “We had to get pretty ambitious about it and one of the keys to solving it — which also came from Dick — was midway through the P.D. episode, which is the last episode, to have the case go to trial.”
The stakes during the trial are particularly high for the Intelligence Unit because of Voight’s personal connection to the doctor put on trial through his late wife, Camille. “He realizes that the doctor who they ultimately try and prosecute is the one who was the last doctor that saw his wife saw before she passed away,” Olmstead says. “He’s looking for answers: Was she misdiagnosed? He wasn’t the only doctor that she saw but he was the last doctor she saw. Was he instrumental anyway or complicit in an early death for her? He wants those answers.”
Voight not only serves as the key witness in the case but also the “emotional core” of the episode, according to Olmstead. “We’ve always had, in the mythology of the show, the fact that Voight’s wife passed away and that Lindsay knew her. It’s the one pure thing in his life,” he says. “He’s essentially defending his late wife and her memory.”
Although Olmstead admits he had initial hesitations about venturing away from P.D.‘s tried-and-true formula, in the end it paid off. “It’s the first time we’ve jumped ahead in time a little bit but the case warranted that; you really wanted to see what the end result of it all was,” Olmstead adds. “Looking at it, it was really the right move to make because they really play. You can get conditioned into thinking, ‘Well, on P.D, it’s more an accelerated, action-y show but it doesn’t have to be all the time.”
Coincidentally — or not? — the move into legal waters comes right as rumors about a possible fourth Chicago spinoff, Chicago Law, have begun. But Olmstead downplayed that possibility, at least for the time being.
“I have no idea. And I’m not being coy. There haven’t been any conversations about that,” he says. “There’s been no effort towards a fourth show. Not to say that there wouldn’t or couldn’t be. I’m looking right now at a framed photo of all three Chicago shows and all three casts, and its humbling to see what’s happened and all the people that it employs in Chicago and just the cast members and how they transfer from show to show and creatively how rewarding it is for me and for everybody involved. To think of one more right now, we’ve got our hands full.”
The three-show crossover kicks off Tuesday at 9 p.m. on Chicago Fire, continues on Chicago Med at 10 p.m. and concludes Wednesday at 10 p.m. on Chicago P.D.
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