Movie Reviews

Chicago PD Focusing On One Character An Episode Isn't Working Anymore

Chicago PD’s one-character episode focus isn’t working anymore, and it needs to do something to change it. Chicago PD used to be very good at incorporating all the characters into the storylines in their early seasons. With Burgess and Atwater riding patrol, screen time was more evenly distributed, as the story kept shifting to them throughout the episode. Despite personal ties to the cases, character arcs were a couple of episodes long at most in the beginning and didn’t take up the entire season. For example, Lindsay’s Yates storyline began around season 2, episode 20, and despite the severity of the case, was pretty much wrapped up by season 3, episode 4.

Then the show switched up the known format. The temporary change of pace was welcome at first, as it usually is with procedural TV shows, where the rigid format of the episodes can get tedious after a couple of seasons. But on the latest season of Chicago PD, the heartbreaking arc of Halstead and Upton in season 10 meant the focus fell primarily on them. This only served to highlight the problem the show’s been having since around season 7.

RELATED: Chicago PD Season 9 Finale Makes Upton A Big Hypocrite

At its core, Chicago PD is an ensemble, but for the last couple of seasons, the creators forgot how important it is to split focus between characters. The one-episode character emphasis meant many important storylines got less attention and resolved too quickly. An occasional episode concentrated on a specific character didn’t leave much room for character growth and exploration.

Burgess and Atwater have been around since season 1 and deserve quality storytelling just as much as the newer characters. If a character does get a vital storyline, it’s to unnecessarily ruin the character, like Chicago PD‘s Halstead in season 10. Chicago PD’s writers are notorious for putting their characters through an incredible amount of personal trauma when they feel they don’t know what to do with them. This might be a sign to take the show in another direction.

Chicago PD needs to return to the format that made everyone love the show so much in the first place. The show could still incorporate other characters during significant individual character storylines. For example, the first seasons were already heavily focused on the Intelligence unit. Yet, the patrol officers and characters like Platt and Nadia got a fair amount of screen time.

And though Upton’s problematic character arc in season 10 did call for a storyline spanning several episodes, it was ridiculous to have it take up half of the season. There have also been several complaints about the show’s continuity problems. Discontent is evident from the show’s rating, which has been dropping steadily since season 8. But despite this, the show is still among the most watched on television. Unless the writers are given a serious reason to worry about Chicago PD‘s future, these complaints will likely have little to no effect on how the story unfolds.

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