‘Chicago P.D.’s Premiere Sets up a Divided Intelligence in Season 8

LaRoyce Hawkins Chicago PD Season 8 Premiere Kevin Atwater
Matt Dinerstein/NBC

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the Season 8 premiere of Chicago P.D., “Fighting Ghosts.”]

Change is coming to Chicago P.D. and Intelligence in the new season, but exactly how much?

Deputy Superintendent Miller’s (Nicole Ari Parker) new police-reform agenda and comments divide the unit a bit: Jay Halstead (Jesse Lee Soffer) says she’s telling them what they know, that police need to work on de-escalation, while Hailey Upton (Tracy Spiridakos) thinks she’s being disrespectful. But Kevin Atwater (LaRoyce Hawkins) thinks they need to do better. It’s the unit’s boss, Sergeant Voight (Jason Beghe), who really needs to worry because as Miller warns him, “If you keep running your unit the way you’ve been doing the past seven years, you’re going to be out of a job by Christmas.”

But when their case takes a turn — a 5-year-old is hit with a stray bullet and dies — Voight is more than eager to use his usual ways (the cage) to get a confession from the man they all know did it. “You sure that’s a good idea?” Ruzek (Patrick John Flueger) asks. “Things are different now. I’ll do what you need me to do…” But he’s hesitant, and Atwater says they’re “done with all of that,” referring to their (now?) old ways: The days of throwing suspects into the cage because of what they may know or have done “are over.”

“You don’t like the way I do business? I’m not woke enough for you? You feel free to get the hell out,” Voight says. “Things are definitely changed. That means we need to change, too,” Atwater warns as he walks out (and Ruzek follows). “In my unit, we do what we gotta do to put bad guys away!” Voight yells after them. “Whatever it takes.” But even though he seems poised to do what he thinks it takes — gun in hand, eyes on the suspect — he stops himself.

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'I guess we feel this sense of responsibility to address these issues,' star Jason Beghe said.

Still, neither Voight nor Atwater can take back what they said, and chances are they’re going to continue to clash, especially since the latter is also dealing with the continued fallout of informing Internal Affairs about Doyle, a racist cop, in last season’s finale. (Doyle and an innocent man were killed as a result of the former’s profiling.) In the premiere, Doyle’s friends in the CPD try to catch Atwater driving around with drugs they planted in his car, but the Intelligence officer finds them beforehand and tosses them.

“The Blue Wall is a tricky thing,” Voight warns Atwater. “It’s a code. You never really see it. It’s there, but it’s not there. … It’s like trying to fight a ghost, Kevin.” But Atwater is determined to do it his way, and that includes not telling his boss about the drugs until after he was pulled over. It also means he snaps at his teammates, because he also knows, as he tells Ruzek, “cops are still blue, I’m still Black.”

But at the end of the premiere, Atwater is attacked outside his home, right where he was standing when Doyle’s cop friends intimidated him in the finale. They were wearing masks, but does the location suggest they’re the same guys?

Ruzek Atwater Intelligence Chicago PD Season 8 Premiere

(Matt Dinerstein/NBC)

Given where we saw the members of Intelligence in the premiere with regard to the new police reforms, chances are we’ll continue to see them butting heads. It’s hard to imagine Voight giving up his ways so easily, but there is a ticking clock now with Miller’s warning. Jay wants to make the necessary changes, and Atwater wants to see real change in the world (though he notes that even with the recent protests, nothing has). Meanwhile, Upton (who was being very Voight-ish last season) seems to lean more towards her boss’ side. And Ruzek may have just firmly planted himself on Atwater’s, given he walked out after him during the fight with Voight.

The premiere didn’t address what happened to Rojas (Lisseth Chavez has a new gig on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow) but there is a hole to fill. Might we see someone new at CPD to clash with some of the members of Intelligence as a result of the changes Miller’s looking to enforce?

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Chicago P.D., Wednesdays, 10/9c, NBC