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When viewers last left Lindsay (Sophia Bush) in the final moments of Chicago P.D.‘s second season, she was a shadow of her former self. Grief-stricken and defeated, she had crawled back to her manipulating mom (Markie Post) and a life of non-stop partying, and told Hank (Jason Beghe) she was done with the Intelligence Unit. However, it’s only a matter of time before Lindsay picks up her badge when the new season premieres.
“There are consequences, and there are new rules for her,” Bush tells The Hollywood Reporter. “But at the end of the day, she is who she is and this is the one good thing that she’s good at.”
So just how will Lindsay be lured back to the unit? And how will things change upon her return? And what will her mom have to say about it? Bush answered THR‘s burning questions about what’s ahead for Lindsay in season three.
The premiere will have picked up several weeks after Lindsay quit the unit. How much has she changed in those weeks since quitting her job?
It’s been about three weeks and when you’re going on a bender, three weeks is a very long time. You can get into some serious trouble. Bunny has really re-inserted herself into Lindsay’s life and we know what a negative influence she is. She’s doing whatever she can to numb the pain and none of it’s good.
Now that a little more time has passed since the death, and now that she’s not working, how is her grieving different than at the end of last season?
She started taking painkillers almost a month ago. She’s not in a good place. She’s not spending time with anyone who can get close to her. She’s acting out in ways that I can only describe as emotional cutting. It’s dark.
Where will that dynamic with her mom go this season?
Her mom is the serpent in her life who’s really wound herself around Lindsay’s neck and is whispering every wrong thing that she can into her ears to try to assert a little control and a little connection. Erin knows that it isn’t healthy, but it’s a distraction and – because she’s so headstrong – there’s nothing that could happen to her that could shake her. It really requires something terrible happening to someone in the unit, and as circumstance would have it, Erin is literally the only person who can fix it. So she shows up and basically says, “Look, I know that I don’t work here anymore but let me do this so that we don’t lose someone and tomorrow I’ll be gone again.” The day that she comes back to help is a hell of a day, and it’s the first time even though it’s not what she thinks she wants, it’s the first time since Nadia’s death that she’s felt at her center again, and that makes her question what she’s been doing and why she’s given up.
At the end of last season, you said you wanted it to take “a couple of episodes” for Lindsay to want to go back to the unit. So what comes after her realization?
I pitched a six or seven-episode arc, but at the end of the day, I’m not one of the most successful producers in television. I don’t win those battles, but I do put all of my trust in Dick [Wolf] and Matt [Olmstead] and our team and they just said, “Listen, we can’t have you gone for that long. The show doesn’t work like that. We tried to have you leave for an arc last season and the fans hated it so much that an eight-episode arc became a two-episode storyline.” I went, “Ah, you’re right.” It is wrapped up more quickly than I had hoped it would be, but it’s not clean, and that’s what I like about our show. It’s much more serialized. It’s much more spread out as far as what the characters are going through. We’re not a procedural show that’s just about a case. We really look at who these people are.
Looking at the team, what is it like for her coming back about quitting so abruptly? What is her relationship like with everyone?
These are the people who know her the best in the world. Hank and Olinsky have known her since she was 15, and she’s the longest standing member of the Intelligence Unit with Antonio under Hank and Alvin, so that’s her home. And there are a lot of people who look to her for that sort of grounding. So at the end of the day, you can have terrible things happen in your family. A husband and wife can be having a knock-down, drag-out fight and the minute one of the kids gets hurt, the fight is over and it’s about the family. I think more than anything, people just want her back and they want her healthy.
How is she different when she comes back, given everything she’s gone through?
Everything’s different. When you suffer a loss like that, there is before the death and after the death – those become your two existences and your two realities. People suffer how they suffer, they process how they process, but we know what a good cop she is, and she’s still that same person.
Once she knows she wants to go back to the unit, how will she distance herself from her mother who has been so manipulative?
That will get very unpleasant. She will think she has handled it and then Bunny does something that jeopardizes all of them, and it’s bad.
Lindsay and Voight went through the ringer at the end of last season. How does that relationship evolve?
That’s something Jason and I had a lot of conversations about. He said something that I really think is spot-on: Voight knows Lindsay even when she doesn’t know herself. He knows that the Erin who is suffering, quitting, lashing out isn’t who she is. That’s a by-product of pain. So he knows, I think better than anybody, when she decides she’s ready, he knows she means it.
Her relationship with Halstead has also been through a lot. Are they going to be partners again?
Yeah, it’s been through a lot, but at the end of the day, they’re partners. They have a simpatico and they have a connection that is really meaningful. What’s interesting about the unit is everyone has a partner, but because it’s a small group, we change it up and we work in different pairings a lot depending on whose skill set is appropriate for something. As she’s coming back, she’s going to have to put in time with each of the people in her unit to prove that she’s showing up in the right ways.
Is there someone she has to prove herself to the most? Someone who is the most skeptical about her coming back?
That was toyed with, and the person that was supposed to play that storyline just said, “Why would I do that? After all the years I’ve worked with her, she lost a friend, her protégé in the most brutal way. Yeah, she went off the deep end but I’m going to punish her for that?” I was like, “Alright, well, sure.” It’s funny because I think the love that exists between all of us on the show in the unit is so similar to the way we feel about each other in real life. I was watching these guys defend my character so strongly and vehemently and I was like, “Aw, guys, thanks!” It was sweet.
What else are you interested to explore this season?
I want to make sure that Lindsay having to process this and having to check in with herself and figure out what this means to her over time happens. Even if it’s every couple of episodes, there’s a conversation or a lesson or a realization. It doesn’t have to be some kicking-a-dead-horse major thing. I love the seesaw between hero and fragile human, and I want to keep riding it. … That stuff doesn’t go away.
Chicago P.D.‘s new season premieres Sept. 30 at 10 p.m. on NBC.
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