Episode Title: "O’Leary’s Cow"
Writer: Davey Holmes
Director: Billy Gierhart
Previously on "The Chicago Code":
Detective Jarek Wysocki (Jason Clarke) and his new partner, Detective Caleb Evans (Matt Lauria) were recruited by Chicago PD Superintendent Teresa Colvin (Jennifer Beals) for an unofficial task force to bring down a corrupt Alderman, Ronin Gibbons (Delroy Lindo). However, Gibbons has remained consistently several steps ahead of them.
Teresa’s secret weapon against Gibbons was an undercover cop, Liam Hennessey (Billy Lush), who spent a year building his cover in the Irish mob. At Jarek’s insistence, Liam volunteered to be a part of the mob’s arson scam targeting empty houses. But after Liam set his first fire, he discovered that there was someone left in the building who died as a result of his actions.
Jarek has a nightmare about encountering a bulletproof criminal who proceeds to kill him. When he wakes up, Jarek is in bed with his ex-wife, Deena (Amy Price-Francis)
and he gets out of there as quietly as possible. But his son, A.J. initially thinks that Jarek is an intruder and confronts him with a baseball bat. However, when he sees that it’s his dad, he’s not pleased to see that his parents are sleeping together and he assumes that they’re getting back together. Later, Teresa tells Jarek and Caleb that a major drug lord named Daniel Romero (José Zúñiga) is in town for a big deal. And together they plan to catch him in the act.
When the police execute the raid, Romero tries to escape by diving into the water. But the cops easily catch him and discover a large amount of cash and guns on his boat. As the team brings Romero back to the station, Liam instigates a confrontation with Jarek to get a minute alone with him. He tells Jarek that he’s haunted by the man he accidentally killed in the fire and that he wants to get out of his undercover assignment. Jarek essentially tells him to grow a pair and deal with it. Federal agents soon show up looking for Romero, but Caleb notices that Romero’s wife seems unusually worried about their son.
Caleb and Jarek trick Romero’s wife into revealing that their son is being held for ransom. They then delay the FBI by trying to hand over the wrong prisoner while getting Romero to agree to a sting to get his son back from the kidnappers. Meanwhile, Alderman Gibbons calls Liam into his office to serve as his driver for the day. He has Liam take him to the homes of several recently deceased constituents, including the family of the man that Liam accidentally killed. Gibbons seems to subtly use that death as a way to blackmail and control Liam.
At the exchange for Romero’s son, Jarek notices two gunmen on the roof waiting for them. The kidnappers show up without Romero’s son and bullets start flying, striking Romero in the arm and his bulletproof vest. The men on the roof turn out to be Romero’s own goons (sent by his lawyer) and the cops manage to catch the kidnappers as well. After a quick review of the kidnappers’ cell phones, Jarek traces the plot back to one of Romero’s lieutenants and strong arms him into revealing the location of the boy. Romero is reunited with his son and wife, but he reluctantly agrees to send them into witness protection and to take a life sentence to protect them.
Later, Liam meets with Teresa and says that Gibbons seems to know everything about the arson incident, which makes Liam even more determined to stay under and take him down. Elsewhere, Jarek and Deena try to define their relationship during a talk with their son, but Deena realizes that Jarek can’t commit to her or his 27 year old fiancée, Elena (Camille Guaty). She tells Jarek that she’s going to start seeing other people and he goes home to his wife-to-be, seemingly numb to what his life has become.
While "The Chicago Code" has done a lot to build up Jarek’s reputation as a cop, it’s also been peppering in subtle clues about his failure as a man to maintain his marriage or be faithful to his fiancée. And this episode brings those failings even more to light as we see that Jarek is wearing himself out by trying to handle the constant demands of his life. Jarek’s addiction to energy drinks was humorously noted by Caleb, but it’s his self-destructive way of dealing with his lack of sleep and his need to keep moving before the weight of what he’s doing overtakes him.
It’s this chink in his armor that makes Jarek even more compelling. He’s such a great cop that he’d be too perfect if everything in his life was completely in order as well. The thing is that I can see why Jarek is drawn back to his ex-wife. He clearly loves her and his son. It’s a little harder to understand his relationship with Elena because she’s so rarely seen in the show. For most of the series to date, she’s been defined by her age rather than her actual character and we know almost nothing about her. I’m curious as to why she’s marrying a much older man who doesn’t seem to be able to make much time for her.
Liam’s assignment with Alderman Gibbons was initially hard to swallow. Would someone as important and well connected as Gibbons really want a driver who wasn’t dressed professionally? But Gibbons’ use of the family’s grief to solidify his standing in the community and blackmail Liam is part of what makes him such a fantastic villain. Gibbons is never outright evil and he’s been very subtle when dealing with people directly. We’ve already heard about him ordering the murder of a woman in the pilot by lightly suggesting that she was a problem to one of his associates. It’s a rare antagonist who values the economy of words.
Teresa was barely in this episode and it actually flowed a lot better without shoehorning her into every scene. I think she’s a compelling character as well, but we’ve definitely been getting a Teresa overload in the last few episodes and it was nice to take a step back from that. There’s a strong ensemble cast in place here and more than enough room for everyone to share the spotlight. Though I think Caleb is overdue for a showcase episode of his own.
"The Chicago Code" hasn’t had a bad episode yet and it’s still one of the best new dramas of this year. If Fox renews this show, I’m going to be a very happy man.
Crave Online Rating: 8 out of 10.