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Steven Culp on "The Chicago Code"

Episode: Black Sox

Following a murder that appears to be a hate crime, Teresa risks tipping Gibbons off to her big-picture plan by boldly taking on the Chicago Police Department's corrupt "meritorious" promotion system. Meanwhile, Jarek is forced to face his own reality when Vonda receives an anonymous package that reveals more about the Wysocki family.

"The Chicago Code" Promotion Picture featuring Steven Culp

Detailed summary:

This week's The Chicago Code touches a subject I know all too well: hate crimes. When Lance Dolan, a prominent gay man, is murdered, it's a firestorm of a case. As tough as the idea is to tackle, the writers handle the material with class, and it's another solid episode from a show that's hardly missed a beat all season.

An episode about a hate crime contains sensitive subject matter by its very nature, and this one is no exception. Dolan's companion, who survived the attack, is a married man with a kid who's resistant to testify and risk destroying his family. In fact, that's what led him to commit the murder. A little obvious, perhaps, but does it make sense? Absolutely. I can understand why it played out that way, and that's what matters to me. As I've been a victim of hate crimes myself, it means a lot to me that this episode treats the material with respect and doesn't sensationalize it.

The Chicago Code has always done a fine job reminding us that the ongoing war never stops regardless of the battles being fought. Teresa enlists the help of Dennis Mahoney from the mayor's office (did I mention yet how much I love Steven Culp?) to debunk Gibbons' candidate for commander of the CPD's gang unit - who would be in prime position to interfere with their campaign against him. "You're not the only one who has concerns over the stranglehold Ronin Gibbons has," Dennis tells her. I really hope that line means that we're going to see more of him in the future. It would certainly be interesting for Teresa to have a political ally in addition to having Jarek on the streets.

On the personal front, it's the anniversary of Vincent Wysocki's death, and Vonda receives a random package containing his watch. She traces it to a woman and infers from the subsequent conversation that her father was having an affair. Jarek doesn't want to, but he admits to her that her father's personal life was much more fractured than she knew, a reveal which is doubly painful because he's in the same position himself. This leads Jarek to tell Dina that he wants to reconcile. I am in love with this moment so much, because it needed to be done. He makes the choice he needs to make, and the show has put me in his head enough to understand why he wants his family back. Yet because I feel like I know the character so well, I can also understand why Dina doesn't want him back. Not to mention, Jarek has to suffer the wrath of his fiancee, which he absolutely deserves. It's all handled in a fair, mature fashion. It all makes sense. Painful sense, but I'm satisfied with the resolution. In fact, I was crying through the last five minutes, despite my expressed dislike with the subplot to begin with. Taking me from disgust to anguish? Well played, show.

There are also quite a few little things which work in this episode. I adore Jarek's implying that Caleb is gay in order to keep them on the case, not necessarily because it's funny but because it reminds me of a real-life situation involving the Baltimore Police Department (and later used in the show Homicide: Life on the Street) where one detective claimed his partner had a sex change in order to escort a female prisoner. I also enjoyed this week's car chase, partly because I know it's Jason Clarke doing his own driving and because footage from it is used in the opening credits. Yes, I'm a nerd.

Things which are awkward and perhaps a bit tired: Jarek and his fiancee mingling with his ex-wife and the new boyfriend she is obviously not serious about. It makes sense given later events, but it's been done. Vonda meeting her father's mistress has been done before, too, but at least that allows Jarek (and the audience) to reconsider his behavior yet again. The only concern I have is that Vonda and Isaac continue to not quite fit into the plot. While her subplot this episode does contribute something meaningful, it's more about Jarek than her, and Isaac is pretty much just the supportive boyfriend. I appreciate that the show wants the two characters around every episode (being that they are credited as regulars), but I don't mind if they're not around if there really isn't good material for them. They're good characters and I want to see them at their best, not just accounted for.

It's clear that this episode is one which is a turning point for several characters. Teresa and Gibbons pretty much declare open war on each other without actually doing it. Jarek's personal issues get the resolution that they needed before they lapsed into melodrama. Sometimes, episodes like this one seem like filler, because a certain amount of time has to be spent on wrapping up plot points. I didn't get that feeling this week. I never noticed the slowness because I knew this was a journey we needed to take. I knew this was the right time to say goodbye to certain plot points and characters. At the same time, I never lost that feeling of excitement for what comes next. This is how great television is done. (c) Review by Brittany Frederick @

Detailed summary:

While watching his son J.J.'s rock band performing in a club, detective Jarek Wysocki - his fiancée, Elena, his ex-wife, Dina, and Dina's boyfriend, Roger, are all there, too - is called to investigate a homicide.

The on-scene officer tells Jarek and partner Caleb Evers that the victim is Lance Dolan, a gay community leader and real estate developer. The officer reports that Dolan was stabbed at a gay cruising spot, adding that Leviticus 18.22 was written in blood on his car's windshield. Caleb notices that the pattern of bloodstains indicate there was a second person wounded.

When police superintendent Teresa Colvin arrives, the local alderman demands that this hate crime be solved quickly -or the gay community will mobilize against her.

Back in her office, Colvin tells Jarek's old boss, Lt. Reardon, that she'll recommend his promotion to commander of the gang investigations unit.

Jarek and Caleb interview Dolan's executive assistant, Kyle, who says that Dolan received lots of hate mail, which - viewing it as a badge of honor - he didn't report. But he did hire a private investigator to check out a pair of brothers who were deemed harmless.

Meanwhile, Alderman Gibbons' aide reports that the Irish mob is worried about Colvin's investigating their construction businesses; they question Gibbons' commitment to their protection. Gibbons replies that he has a plan to deal with all this.

Gibbons then tells Colvin that he wants his choices to fill two police commander positions, including Lt. Davis' promotion to commander of gang investigations. Gibbons notes that aldermen and the mayor have influence in these matters, and he reminds Colvin that he recently procured overtime money for her department.

As officers Vonda Wysocki and Isaac Joiner enter the station, she receives a courier's package that contains her late father Vincent's wristwatch. It's the anniversary of the day he was killed in the line of duty.

When Jarek, Caleb, and back-up officers roll up on the two brothers' workplace, the elder, Scotty, runs and gets handcuffed. The younger also takes off - hijacking a car, which he crashes - and then is arrested.

Jarek and Caleb interrogate Scotty, who admits hating to Dolan but denies killing him. Scotty then demands an attorney. Afterward, Vonda asks Jarek if he sent the watch - after all, Vincent was Jarek's brother - which he denies.

At a hospital, Jarek and Caleb question Aaron Fash, who'd waited a day to have a neck wound treated. Fash claims that he was mugged elsewhere, but Caleb notes his blood was found in Dolan's car. As Jarek and Caleb watch Fash's wife and daughter arrive, Fash admits that he and Dolan were attacked, but he escaped because the target was Dolan.

Citing a neck tattoo, Fash picks Scotty out of a lineup, claiming that he's the attacker. But Fash, refusing to come out to his wife and daughter, won't provide eyewitness testimony. The local alderman wants to out Fash, but Colvin refuses. She orders Jarek to tell the brothers the police have an eyewitness, hoping that one will inform on the other. When they do, Scotty's lawyer says that he'll prove Scotty was elsewhere.

Colvin also tells Jarek about Gibbons wanting his say over two commander positions, including Davis' promotion to commander of the gang unit. They fear that Davis would provide Gibbons information about the current grand jury investigation, but Colvin has no reason to deny Davis' promotion.

After reviewing station security video and questioning the courier, Vonda and Isaac visit the woman, Karen, who sent Vincent's wristwatch. Karen claims that Vincent saved her from an attempted rape and murder. Afterward, they'd stayed in contact, and one day he'd left his watch, so she'd finally returned it. Vonda, realizing Vincent slept with Karen, gets angry.

Colvin tells Gibbons that she'll submit Davis' promotion to the mayor's office. Colvin wants Davis to become the mayor's head of security so he can't fill the gang commander position, with an explanation that it was a last-minute decision and her hands are tied. Unhappy about Gibbons' two-commander power grab, the alderman who put the heat on in the Dolan case agrees to help Colvin now.

A prostitute tells Jarek and Caleb that Scotty was with her when Dolan was murdered, and a desk clerk and maid will corroborate this.

Vonda accuses Jarek of concealing Vincent's infidelity - and she tells him that Isaac is her boyfriend. Jarek cites safety reasons for his unhappiness with the latter, but he admits knowledge of his brother's affair. He tells her that Vincent planned to divorce Vonda's mother, who knew all about it; the news leaves Vonda in tears.

Jarek and Caleb raid Fash's home, prevent him from shooting himself, and arrest him. Fash admits to having been intimate with Dolan for several months. Dolan showed him the hate mail from Scotty that enabled Fash to identify him. When Dolan said he didn't love him, he stabbed him, and tried to cut his own throat because he was sick of living a dual life.

Jarek visits Dina and asks her to take him back, but she's unwilling.

After Gibbons' aide tells the alderman that Davis wasn't promoted, Gibbons encounters Colvin in a restaurant; she explains that it was the mayor's decision. Knowing he was outmaneuvered, Gibbons meets with cronies in the back room, saying he hasn't done enough about the Colvin problem.

Jarek arrives at Elena's and tells her that their wedding is off, adding that he'd been sleeping with Dina for the last couple of months. Elena is shattered, then leaves Jarek ... alone. (c)

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