[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Wednesday’s episode of Chicago P.D., “Justice.”]
Not long ago, it was Chicago Fire paving the way for Chicago P.D. with a backdoor pilot at the end of the flagship firefighter drama’s first season. But on Wednesday night, Chicago P.D. picked up that baton and opened its doors to a new potential member of the ‘One Chicago’ franchise with the backdoor pilot for Chicago Justice.
Unlike previous spinoffs, which also include Chicago Med, there were no early introductions for the team members at the Cook’s County State’s Attorney office – a little bit of déjà vu for those viewers who are also fans of The Good Wife. However, it did not take for the team to make themselves at home.
The episode began with a bang — literally — when beat cops Burgess (Marina Squerciati) and Roman (Brian Geraghty) came under fire from a mysterious teenager walking by their cop car. Roman was shot and Burgess, uninjured, ran around the corner to get the shooter. However, she lost sight of the teen momentarily and the kid she shot down claimed it wasn’t him who shot Roman.
Enter, assistant state’s attorney Peter Stone (Strike Back‘s Philip Winchester), who was the one to send Sgt. Voight (Jason Beghe) to prison all those years ago. (Are there any other Law & Order fans out there wondering if this ASA Stone is at all related to ADA Ben Stone, played by Michael Moriarty for the first four seasons of the Emmy-winning series?)
Despite his rocky past with Voight, Stone puts all his resources on the investigation into the incident in an attempt to clear Burgess’ name. This includes team members Nazneen Contractor Joelle Carter, Ryan-James Hatanaka and their demanding boss Mark Jeffries (Rocky‘s Carl Weathers).
Although the episode isn’t technically billed as a supersized crossover event, it might as well be. The Intelligence Unit from Chicago P.D. also investigates the alleged shooter to help Burgess, Severide (Taylor Kinney) and Cruz (Joe Minoso) from Chicago Fire shows up to help search for the gun used in the shooting from the bottom of a nearby lake. Even Maggie (Marlyne Barrett) from Chicago Med plays a role as she controls the chaos at the hospital when both Roman and the injured alleged shooter are brought into the ER.
However, the pressure is really on the Justice team as they must deal with protestors outside District 21 shouting “hands up, don’t shoot” — a nod to the real-world shootings of unarmed African-Americans that has continued to gain traction in the news cycle since the death of Trayvon Martin in 2012.
“That kid is not getting convicted by a jury in this city. Maybe two years ago. Not today,” defense attorney Shambala Green (Lorraine Toussaint reprising her Law & Order role) tells Stone. The outdoor scene, showing the steps of the courthouse and the Chicago skyline, is also reminiscent of Law & Order, during which the legal team spent so much time on the steps of the New York courthouse.
And just like Law & Order, particularly the post-Adam Schiff years, such a politically charged case raises questions about Jeffries’ reelection come November. Especially since the state’s attorney himself is an African-American.
After further digging, the investigators learn the real reason an honors student with an unblemished criminal record shot at Roman and Burgess — his aunt’s longtime boyfriend was beaten by a racist cop six years ago. Not only that, but he was sentenced to prison time and then denied parole several times, until he took his own life the day before Roman was shot.
The twist is a way to clear Burgess’ name without completely backpedaling on the importance and the larger ramifications at hand. In the end, Green offers a plea deal of aggravated battery with a sentence to be served as a juvenile. Afraid of an acquittal or a hung jury, Stone goes to Burgess and Roman to decide whether they should take it, with a healing Roman making the final call. “We’re all sleeping in our own beds tonight,” Roman says calmly. “Let the city sleep too.”
So what did you think of Chicago P.D.‘s backdoor pilot for Chicago Justice? Sound off in the comments below.
Chicago P.D. airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on NBC.