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[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Wednesday’s episode of Chicago P.D., “In a Duffle Bag.”]
Chicago P.D.left viewers hanging for more than a month about what would happen between beat cops and partners Burgess (Marina Squerciati) and Roman (Brian Geraghty) after she kissed him at the end of March.
Although Wednesday’s long awaited return, the first of four new episodes, took some time to address the will-they-or-won’t-they question, the final scene of the episode tackled it head-on when the two hit the sack after a particularly tough case.
“It’s almost like, ‘Wait, did that actually happen? Did she kiss him? Is this going to coalesce into something? Or is it going to wither on the vine?'” Squerciati tells The Hollywood Reporter. “And then I read the last page and I was like, ‘Oh, OK, there it is!'”
However, their romantic entanglement – already complicated by their working relationship – is about to get messier next week. In the next episode, a hooded man open fires on their patrol car, Roman is injured and Burgess ends up shooting an a seemingly unarmed honor student, for which she must stand trial.
The episode is not only a showcase for a possible Chicago Justice spinoff, but also a showcase for Squerciati, a series regular from the get-go who has become a fan-favorite thanks to her humorous exchanges with Sgt. Platt (Amy Morton), her now-former romantic relationship with Ruzek (Patrick John Flueger) and her budding friendship with Lindsay (Sophia Bush).
THR spoke with the actress about working with executive producer Dick Wolf on the big episode, Burgess’ “test of faith” and the “terrifying” season finale that will “change the show.”
When we spoke back in January, you were just starting to learn about a possible romance for Roman and Burgess and you were a little surprised by it. How did you wrap your head around this closeness between them?
I think its great when you, as an actor, and your character are in the same place. It’s really great to be able to be there, and I think for Burgess, there was no way to see the Roman thing [coming]. A lot of people saw writing on the wall and I think its good that she didn’t because she’s not a person that would… she’s very loyal and she loved Ruzek and she wouldn’t look the other way at Roman. But as soon as it was over, both me and Burgess could be like, ‘Here’s this amazing person that I sit in the car with 12 hours a day. He put his life on the line for me. He’s so good to me. There’s something to that that has to be explored.’ I had no idea it was coming (Laughs.) In several interviews, I was like, ‘There’s no way!’
This episode saw them take things to the next step. What pushes them to further explore this relationship?
We saw Burgess kiss Roman and then it was left to wither and you don’t know Roman feels about that. … What’s interesting is when I read this script is it’s not addressed. They’re just partners and that was very interesting to me because, it’s like, They’re putting work first. It’s this thing that happened and they’re not going to let it affect their work which is great because that’s what you need to do,’ and then I read the last page and I was like, ‘Oh, OK, there it is.’ I think the audience will be watching all along, and it’s almost like, ‘Wait, did that actually happen? Did she kiss him? Is this going to coalesce into something? Or is it going to wither on the vine?’
Burgess was engaged not that long ago, but she seems to really be over him by this point – why do you think that is?
I think it would have been tougher if Ruzek had made some motions to get me back. But as it stands, his character hasn’t really done anything. I broke it off and he did nothing to win me back or change. So I think ultimately if Ruzek and Burgess are supposed to be together, both of them – but especially Ruzek – need to grow up a little bit and hopefully that will happen in the course of the seasons coming.
Next week, Ruzek finds out about their burgeoning relationship so how does burgess handle that?
Burgess is in a moment where she’s not allowed to react when he finds out but it is a heartbreaking moment. Both Paddy and I take our characters maybe a little too seriously and what’s happening with them. So paddy, his face was so heartbroken, he was having a really hard time with it. He really loves Burgess and Ruzek together and he still doesn’t really understand why they broke up, which I guess Ruzek doesn’t either, and it was very hard for him. To watch his heartbreak was bad for me.
I will say, though, everyone is so upset that we’re apart. At the same time, if you feel like you’re being disrespected as a woman, you need to correct that, which I think that’s what burgess did. Whether people agree with that or not, she’s trying to respect herself.
Next week is a big episode for your character. Did you get any heads up from the writers about what was coming up? what was it like diving into that script?
I’m sitting down at a dinner with Dick Wolf. He always has a big dinner for all the casts. He goes to me, “Marina, come here.” I feel like I was coming to the Don’s table. He goes, “Marina, when you read episode 21, which is ‘Justice,’ you’re going to die.” And I was like, “What?!” He goes, “No, no, no, I didn’t mean like that. I mean like that its going to be so awesome. I was like, “Don’t ever you use ‘you’re going to die’ in any phrase to any actor ever especially on a show with guns. Like come on! He was really involved with this one, more involved than he has been in other episodes. He said he wanted to see a Burgess that we’ve never seen before. I said, “What does that mean?” He said, “I want to see such rage and such anger,” and tapping into that was really interesting and difficult and hard and fun. I think that Burgess that we see in season four will not be the same Burgess we’ve seen before.
This is obviously going to be a high-profile case so how does she handle the media coverage and the trial she has to stand?
I feel like she knows she’s a good cop and that is part of something that means a lot to her, like, are you a good person? She would answer yes, and when the whole city of Chicago is telling you you’re not, and screaming “murderer” at you… I had to walk through a gauntlet of people screaming at me “murderer, murderer!” – that’s horrible as an actor, but for Burgess who has a love for Chicago and the Chicago people – that is really a test of faith. That’s really painful for her, I think. There’s no way that she can be the same after that.
Going forward as a cop, does that make her think twice? How does that change her?
I think it does. How could it not? That’s a real problem, unfortunately, with all this horrible stuff that’s going on with #BlackLivesMatter. Everyone is reacting in a way that they don’t want to react. It’s sad, but it’s really great that we can talk about it in art right now because it’s really important that Chicago, which is having a lot of problems with the police force and the citizens of the city, that we talk about it and it’s not just this hidden thing in the news.
Obviously, you’re shooting in Chicago while all these things are going on in the real world and you play a cop on TV. How much have you paid attention to that dialogue while you’ve been in the city? How much do you think that influenced you? What research did you do?
The show starts out with two cops in Philadelphia who were sitting ducks in a car and someone comes up and shoots up their car. There’s no video of that, but there is a street cam video of a cop getting shot in the car and it’s pretty brutal to watch, and he walks out and his one arm is damaged. So I [watched] that, and I did talk to some cops about changing attitudes and how they’re dealing with it. I’m in a unique position in a dinner table conversation because I really do feel for the cops but I also understand the other point of view as a citizen of the world. It’s a difficult line to straddle; it’s very polarizing, but I think its important to voice my opinion, which is seeing both sides.
Did you that make you intimidated to do this episode or make you more excited to tackle this subject?
We can’t avoid this issue and I think Dick Wolf picked the perfect time to do it with the “Justice” episode. We were all just waiting for it. How can you not? We’re in Chicago, in the epicenter of where a lot of this is happening. I think at first, I was a bit scared. It’s scary to have your character, who I think a lot of people like and relate to, be the person that ends up shooting an unarmed African-American student. That’s hard. Like, ‘Oh my God, I hate me. Is everyone going to hate me?’ It was a very difficult thing, but I’m glad we tackled it though.
Your character is very much out and about on the show as a beat cop and this episode we see her in the courtroom, how was that adjustment for you?
Unlike in a Law & Order show, I’ve never been in the court cases. … So I was actually allowed those nerves when your cast and crew is sitting there watching you on the stand. I had never been there so it actually influenced my character being really nervous as well. (Laughs.) And also, there’s a booklet about this and a lot of websites about how to react – as a cop especially – when you’re first on the stand. Like I’m not supposed to cross my legs, look to the jury so they relate to you, don’t take too harsh a tone. Things that are instinctive but things you forget when you’re nervous.
You said Dick was very involved in this episode and you’re a big part of this episode so how did that change your working relationship with him?
I love Dick. He’s a wonderful man. I have a really good working relationship with him. It is nerve-wracking when you’re doing a scene knowing he’s there because he wants this episode to be friggin‘ phenomenal. There’s some pressure. (Laughs.) But he was great and when he saw something that needed to be tweaked, he’s a master at this and he tweaked it. When Roman is shot, I’m standing over him and I have to be screaming and yelling and [Dick] came out from his trailer and he was like, “That’s exactly what I wanted,” and there’s no greater feeling than Dick Wolf saying, “That’s exactly what I wanted.”
Looking ahead, what can you say about the season finale?
I think sometimes finales, between us girls, you’re trying to find this big finale that will work, that will hook and I have to say with all honesty, this is not forced. It is so terrifying and so different and it’s going to change the show. It’s such a dramatic, crazy ending. I cannot speak highly of it enough. It’s really going to test everyone in the unit. It’s so exciting. I can’t wait for people to see it. I can’t live-tweet it because I’ll be in Thailand, but I’m going to check in when I get service. (Laughs.)
Looking further ahead to season four, have you heard anything from the writers about what is in store for Burgess? Or is there anything you’ve said you’d like to see for your character?
No, no, you don’t say that. (Laughs.) I give an interview and say what I want and hopefully they read it.
So what would you like to for Burgess in season four?
I would really love to go undercover again. I think it’s really fun as an actor, but also I just think its fun to explore as a cop. I talked to this cop who goes undercover all the time and she said really interesting things like she always uses her confirmation name because if she gets nervous, she doesn’t want to forget the name that she told them. There are such cool things that you can explore when you’re undercover. So [executive producers] Matt [Olmstead], Peter [Jankowski], Dick, if you’re reading this, I would like to go undercover.
Chicago P.D. airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on NBC.
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Robert De Niro