The Chicago Code Review: "Cabrini-Green"

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The Chicago Code spent so much time on exposition this week that it seriously slowed down what could have been a great episode.

"Cabrini-Green" certainly had the makings of one: a deeper looks into Gibbons' past, a mad bomber scaring half the city, the always-enjoyable Jeff Perry as a guest star. But multiple conversations felt stilted and wasted, as if the show was still trying to grab new viewers and ensure they understand the overall set-up.

The Life of Gibbons

Did we really need two conversations between Colvin and Wysocki that so clearly spelled out how they had to keep secrets from Chief of Staff Kelly? Did we need the hospital scene at the elevator, where they once again mentioned the goal of bringing Gibbons down and how Wysocki is the right man to do it?

Most importantly, we really did not need the scene between Colvin and Liam, where the latter revealed obvious information - has Colvin really been tracking Gibbons for months and had no idea on her own that there were various gang beefs related to his treatment of the Irish Mob? - in a stoic, bland manner. Liam has the potential to be a fascinating character, struggling with what he is exposed to on a daily basis.

But we've seen very little of him through four episodes, and every time he shows up, it doesn't give us a feel for life undercover. It just serves to move the plot along. It's been more of a storytelling crutch than a character study so far.

For the second week in a row, at least, the opposite has been true regarding Gibbons. We still don't know much about Wysocki (maybe we'll actually meet his fiancee at some point), except that he believes in following the rule of law at all times.

But Gibbons is coming into focus. I still can't see the constant use of narration as anything other than a cheap gimmick, but I've accepted it as part of the show and it shed interesting light on the Alderman here. He grew up in the projects, he watched his father get screwed by the government and it motivated him to take action.

Such layers to the character raise interesting questions: did he have Lilttle Monster killed simply in retaliation? Just to remain in control of the streets? Or might he also be inspired to sincerely help a boy such as Blake, taking out those who poison teens growing up in similar surroundings to the ones in which he was raised?

I'm very happy with what we've learned about Gibbons over the last couple episodes, but action over on the CPD side of things has to change a bit. Do Jarek and Teresa seriously think they'll bring down Gibbons in one motion, via one major case? Have they learned nothing from The Wire? This duo's constant frustration with how they can expose the Alderman already feels stale. We can't have them trying and failing to crack a significant investigation every week.

Instead, I'd like to see the police working a number of angles, building a case, arresting smaller players, flipping them, bringing each domino down one by one. Come on, who doesn't love the use of crime family tree? A white board that has the giant fish on top and a number of lines connecting him to those down the evil food chain? That's the only way to bring down a man as powerful as Gibbons. Perhaps I'll send the team the box set of The Wire so they fully understand.

Overall, the weakest of the first four episodes. None have been terrible, but none have been especially great, either. I'm still waiting for the installment that gives us a significant twist and really revs The Chicago Code into motion.


Editor Rating: 3.8 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.9 / 5.0 (21 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.


I agree!! Cabrini Green had a ton of potential however we are still waiting for the ONE.. So far though Gibbons is the one that has captivated me. Delroy Lindo is a beautiful actor to watch i love what he is doing with his character. I can't wait for him to have a "real" confrontation with Jennifer Beals... right now everyone is still playing nice .. it's the calm before the storm the best is yet to come.. I think... I hope... :-)


It was ok. Definitely all over the place. Who was the actor that played Lil Monster?


I fear for the direction of this show. Fox clearly does not want to be roped into a show that quickly pushes us into a complicated mythology (or even a relatively uncomplicated one) so we are treated to scenes like where Colvin swears that Gibbons will make a mistake and "we'll be there to take him down when he does" - smacks of a scene that will never truly come. Creator Ryan of course made his bones doing exactly that with the complicated mythology "The Shield" - and he and the writer for this EP, Tim Minear, come to us from the king of mythological television, Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel). More than too much network oversight (a Fox trademark) - I fear even more the hubris of Ryan himself. This deal with the voice-over is telling: I was hoping he was using it as a joke (as when the character VO stops mid-way because the character doing the VO gets killed) - but no. It's a stilted conceit and it breaks my concentration every time it's used. But this ep, on just about every level felt contrived and ordinary. Gritty on-location Chicago can only go so far to keeping it real.


I think this episode was a good one to follow it seems the show is very into showing the past of Chicago not just the present. Not only as far as Gibbons goes but the town overall like the past coming back with the bombs being placed all over in memory of the past bombings by the son of one of the jailed bombers grown children it is building some ground but we need to be in today also and not have today just be about being after corruption in the goverent it has to stick with fresh cases and getting to know the players in the game not coast over them, don't get me wrong I liked the show even before the first show the peviews showed a great show now they just have to keep the fans they had from the first airing cause of we get bored a few new comers are not going to replace their base group keep the stories current while still giving an eye to the past not entire shows about it


Easily the best show for Men on Monday Nights. The standard has been raised and then some. Cabrini-Green I enjoyed the episode immensely, especially the time capsule shots of Gibbons. However, Matt I do agree with you about the writing. They should treat it like tug of war not hopscotch. Reward the viewers that are on board, more so than those jumping in. Aside from this greed we get great entertainment..

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