THE CHICAGO CODE 1.08 ‘Wild Onions’

Caleb makes a promise to a grieving son that he may not be able to keep while Liam gets in deeper with Alderman Gibbons.

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

Episode Title: "Wild Onions"
Writer: Virgil Williams
Director: Adam Arkin
Previously on "The Chicago Code":

Detective Jarek Wysocki (Jason Clarke) and his ex-wife, Deena (Amy Price-Francis) were finally forced to come clean about their clandestine relationship with their son. However, Jarek wasn't able to commit to either Deena or his current fiancee, Elena (Camille Guaty). Therefore, Deena broke it off with him. Meanwhile, Jarek's partner Detective Caleb Evans (Matt Lauria) noticed the toll that his personal life was taking on him.

Elsewhere, undercover cop, Liam Hennessey (Billy Lush) was tricked into committing a fatal arson and contemplated abandoning his assignment. However, Alderman, Ronin Gibbons (Delroy Lindo) summoned him to his service for a day and broadly hinted that he knew what Liam had done as way to control him. In response, Liam told Chicago PD Superintendent Teresa Colvin (Jennifer Beals) that he would stay undercover for a chance to bring Gibbons down.

On the morning of the hottest day in years, Teresa finally picks her new driver/bodyguard from three finalists… none of whom back down when she reminds them that her last driver died defending her. She then names Officer Bidwell as her choice, but she oddly refuses to shake his hand. Elsewhere, Liam and his Irish mob friend are roped into working for Gibbons for the day at a local community center. On the streets, Jarek and Caleb corner a young teen named Carlos who is covered with blood. Through tears, he tells them that his father was murdered while selling ice cream.

Jarek alienates Lassiter, the officer on the scene despite knowing that his father is a captain. For his part, Caleb is incredibly shaken by Carlos' ordeal and thoughtlessly promises to catch the man responsible before realizing that he may not be able to keep it. Jarek also feels sympathy for the boy and calls in a favor from one of his best criminal informants, Big Sexy. After a plate of shrimp, Big Sexy points the detectives towards Johnny Pavich, a Russian arms dealer who likely sold the weapon to the killer of Carlos' father.

Bidwell's first day as Teresa's driver starts off on an interesting note when she insists upon taking a robbery call and talking down the armed suspect. Meanwhile, Caleb and Jarek track Pavich down in a bar and arrest him for having a concealed weapon. Because of the weapons found in his car, they are able to leverage him into identifying the suspect who shot Carlos' father. Back at the community center, Liam and his friend are given water and a list of people to visit by Gibbons, who tells them that he wants all of his constituents to be taken care of during the heat wave.

Later, Teresa lays into Jarek for throwing his weight around with Lassiter and insists that the young beat cop get the credit for busting the killer as a political move. With Lassiter and his partner as backup, Caleb and Jarek locate and subdue the killer. As night falls, Vonda Wysocki (Devin Kelley) and Isaac Joiner (Todd Williams) have a tense encounter with some armed youths over a fire hydrant. When shots break out, Vonda briefly fears the worst for Isaac's safety until she finds him wrapping up the shooter. Back at the police station, Carlos IDs the killer, but because he has no other family he is taken into foster care.

But before Carlos is led away, Caleb gives him his card and urges him to call if he needs anything. Meanwhile, Liam and his buddy find an old woman passed out from the heat. And Liam's buddy becomes highly suspicious when Liam knows just how to save her life. But Gibbons is impressed and offers Liam a potential "no show" job with the city as a reward. At Vonda's apartment, Isaac briefly teases her for worrying about him before apologizing and thanking her. She soon joins him in the shower as they get romantically involved.

Finally, Bidwell tells Teresa that he knows that he was only chosen because he isn't married, but he insists that he didn't survive two tours in Iraq to die on a Chicago street. He stays on as her overnight security as well and when she wakes up the next day, he's still waiting for her outside.

"The Chicago Code" presents me with a slight problem.

When nearly every episode of a series is great, how do you classify an episode that's just really good? Because there is nothing wrong here and almost everything to like. It just didn't reach the level of quality as some of the earlier episodes.

But it did have a tremendous amount of heart. The story of Carlos and his lost father was very affecting and Caleb's reaction to that gave him a little more depth than he previously had. It would have been a little too easy, but I half expected Caleb to adopt this kid. And I can see Caleb wanting to stick around in his life as a big brother figure. Even Jarek was moved to go above and beyond on this case.

The chemistry between Jarek and Caleb is really starting to come together on screen. Jarek is still riding the younger man about the small things, but the subtle jokes at his expense for being a Cubs fan were pretty funny. I especially liked the way Jarek offered Caleb a chance to "convert" into a White Sox fan.

This episode was also the first time I really cared about Vonda and Isaac. They've been glorified extras for the most part, despite sucking up story time in previous episodes. However, Vonda's fears about her partner were well played and very compelling. The director kept most of that scene focused on her and her uncertainty to great effect. And when she and Isaac finally took the step to become lovers, it was sweet and it didn't feel out of place. Although, I was kind of surprised that they hadn't gone in that direction already.

Aside from Mags Bennett on "Justified," Alderman Gibbons is my favorite new villain of the year. What I find really interesting about Gibbons is that he truly appears to be a great leader and he does seem to really care about the people in his district… even to the point of using his campaign money to make sure that they came through the heat wave intact. Even Liam is starting to buy into that idea, but it's not clear how much of it is an act on Gibbons' part. Personally, I think that Gibbons is somewhat sincere about his affection for the city, but he's still as corrupt as they come.

The Liam storyline is also getting very intriguing as he's now not only much closer to Gibbons, his friend now looks to be very suspicious about him. Liam is definitely on the verge of blowing his cover with the Irish mob, but I'd like to see more of that storyline before he finally gets outed. The slow buildup has really made for some tense scenes and it would be a shame to lose a character like Liam. Even if Liam makes it out alive and becomes a regular cop on the force, it couldn't match the story that he's in now.

I'm not sure if Bidwell is going to remain on board as a regular, but his character was a welcome addition to this show. Without someone to play off of regularly (and no, Jarek doesn't count), Teresa usually comes off as harsh and somewhat unlikable. Giving her someone like Bidwell does a lot to soften her edge so that she can still be strong without alienating the viewer.

Looking back on this episode one last time, I still can't find anything wrong with it. This show is as solid as they come and if you like cop dramas, this is the best one on TV.

Crave Online Rating: 8.5 out of 10.