The Chicago Code Review: "Gillis, Chase and Baby Face"
It's an old saying, but also a valid one: the key to a good story is its antagonist.
Give viewers a well-written, layered, intelligent villain, one that can match wits with his/her enemy and keep fans guessing about what comes next, and you're often in for a fascinating ride.
Through the first two episodes of The Chicago Code, we didn't know much about Alderman Ronin Gibbon. He seemed shady and Teresa was convinced he was polluting the city, but we hadn't really seen the man in action. But that changed on "Gillis, Chase and Baby Face."
In two different examples, we saw how Gibbons operates, always remaining one move ahead of anyone who threatens him, unafraid to take extreme, child pornographic steps when in need of leverage.
For The Chicago Code to give us a true feel for the power play at work in the area, we needed an episode that focused on Gibbons and the Irish Mob. Which side is really in charge? Who, exactly, should Colvin and Wysocki be going after?
The answer is clearly Gibbons, someone who now feels like more than just a shadowy figure in his office, making moves on his secretary and blindly accepting bribes. He didn't get to the position in which he's in via mere greed. And he also didn't help elevate Teresa to Superintendent without a backup plan. I initially shook my head over the notion that we were in for a 24-like situation when the Chief of Staff offered up his mole services to Gibbons, but I should have known better.
Shawn Ryan isn't one to ever go such an obvious route. But we got a double dose of trickery to close this episode, as Gibbons thinks he's pulled one over on Teresa. Viewers know better, however, and thank goodness for that. Again, the concept of moles has been done so many times before and makes for such an easy storytelling device - one side reveals a vital piece of information, cut to said mole, looking shifty! - that it's refreshing to see the series resisting the urge to go there.
Elsewhere, the dynamic that Wysocki's assignment has created for him and Caleb creates an interesting catch-22.
As Caleb explained, there are 10,000 policemen in Chicago. If they represent the best of the city, and he and Jarek are considered outsiders among this family, what are they actually doing? Saving people who begrudge their mission in the first place. There's a type of martyrdom at play here, helping to make the show in general feel different than any other cop procedural on TV.
I'll end this review with my favorite scene of the first three episodes. I was shocked and fascinated by Jarek's reaction to shooting that perp. No officer will ever be presented with a more clear cut kill. Wysocki saved an innocent man's life and took down a criminal who was spraying bullets in the street. But he only sees murder as a last resort.
If the rules had simply been followed, if his fellow members of the CPD had simply been as focused on their jobs as he is everyday, Wysocki would not have any blood on his hands. He didn't hesitate at the time, and he'd do it again, but I can't think of any other fictional cop who would react in such a way to a by-the-books incident. It's just another example of what makes The Chicago Code feel so fresh.