Chicago Justice Season 1 Episode 3 Review: See Something

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Chicago Justice has already proven it's not afraid to take on controversial subjects.

Chicago Justice Season 1 Episode 2 dealt with racism among police.

Soon afterward,  Chicago Justice Season 1 Episode 3 dared to take on the complicated issues of terrorism, acceptance, and Islamophobia.

Once again, it offered a fresh perspective, one that may not be comfortable for viewers to sit with, but one that is definitely worth thinking about.

Sharing a Drink - Chicago Justice

Taking on controversial issues is always risky. Not only will viewers have strong opinions one way or the other, but if not handled properly these kinds of stories can turn into propaganda for the writers' point of view.

Nothing gets viewers to change the channel more quickly than agenda-laced writing. Fortunately, Chicago Justice avoided this pitfall by allowing its strong characters with their diverse viewpoints drive the action rather than pushing characters in any particular way to make a point.

Addie: I'm sure that Byron didn't kill Danny.
Antonio: Because he read the Quran?
Addie: Because he was with me. All night.
Antonio: He's about to go on trial for murder. You didn't think to tell someone?
Addie: My father doesn't know about Byron and me.

From the beginning of the hour, it was clear this was not going to be a typical story about a hate crime against a Muslim person.

The white defendant accused of killing his Muslim classmate was quickly proven to be innocent. As an added bonus, his alibi was his Muslim girlfriend, who had been keeping the relationship secret because she feared her father's disapproval. 

While it wasn't said outright, it was implied that part of that disapproval would likely come from the fact that the girl was dating a non-Muslim. 

It's little moments like these that make me fall in love with this show, and "See Something" had plenty of them. The writers could have easily left out Addie's admission that she wasn't supposed to be having sex or dating a non-Muslim, just like it could have skipped Laura's comments about Muslims while searching Byron's room.

Neither of these exchanges really drove the story forward, but they added layers to the conflict and allowed viewers to think about the complexity of the issue.

Laura: His brother was killed in Kabul. There's our motive.
Antonio: You've seen one Muslim...
Laura: I'm not saying that I agree with those assholes out there, but we do seem to go out of our way to make them comfortable.

Laura's comment was particularly interesting because it introduced a theme that was brought up over and over again throughout the hour. Everyone, from Laura to O'Boyle to Jaffar suggested that people were afraid to stand up to Muslims about anything whatsoever because they didn't want to be labeled as intolerant.

This was an interesting point, and one I haven't seen addressed on television before. Most crime dramas create clear villains and heroes. Muslims on TV are generally either terrorists or refugees from terror, with little room for shades of gray. 

The discussions about fear of being labeled a bigot are important ones that add to the multiple factors surrounding this issue, and it was brave to bring them up rather than going for an easier type of story.

Valdez: The tape with his Muslim girlfriend is time stamped 12:33. Before that, he was with his buddies from 9 to 11.
Stone: It still leaves a gap.
Valdez: So he murders someone and then makes a sex tape with his girlfriend?
Stone: I once knew a guy whose bookie cut off his arm and he went out like nothing happened.
Valdez: Yeah, but that was about money. This is about... I don't know what.

While "See Something" was an intensely political hour of television, it never lost sight of the fact that it was supposed to be entertainment. The courtroom scenes were particularly strong.

O'Boyle's character was fascinating. He came across as a soft spoken, simple man, the kind of guy more likely to be found knocking a beer back with the locals than in a suit and tie in front of a courtroom.

Some of his comments to the young woman who testified wearing a niqab were cringe-worthy.

He seemed to be embodying the stereotypical Islamophobe who has no respect for the religion whatsoever, and when he asked the witness if she knew that sunlight was a source of Vitamin D, I thought he was suggesting that Muslims don't know science.

And then he turned that line of questioning into a brilliant discrediting of the woman's ability to be an eyewitness because she had diabetes.

Although there were flaws in that argument (Stone exploited one when he asked when the woman was diagnosed), it might have convinced a jury that is unfamiliar with either Muslim head coverings or the chances of preserving your eyesight if diabetes is managed properly.

No wonder Stone was unnerved by that whole exchange.

O'Boyle's closing was also nothing short of brilliant, drawing on his ability to act like one of the locals to tell a story about his nephew who is fighting in the Middle East and pull on people's heartstrings.

O'Boyle was clearly not as simple-minded as he made himself out to be, and he turned out to be a formidable opponent. That's why it was even more impressive that he and Stone could chalk their serious differences in viewpoint to being part of the job and share a drink together at the end of the hour.

Americans always complain that moderate Muslims do nothing, but when we do we aren't taken seriously. Like the Orlando shooter. The FBI knew he was dangerous. His first wife as much as told them so. But they did nothing. I did something. I was a good American and I killed him.

Jaffar

In between O'Boyle's two strong showings at court, of course, there was a fascinating case. Chicago Justice was smart to eschew the usual white suspect vs. Muslim victim dynamic in favor of another Muslim being tried for and eventually confessing to the murder.

Jaffar's explanation of his crime was interesting, particularly the fact that he linked being an American hero with killing a Muslim believed to be a terrorist. This wasn't far removed from the sentiments of some who engage in hate crimes against Muslims, except that Jaffar was Muslim too.

Did he really think he was saving America from a terrorist? Had he internalized hatred against Muslims? Was this murder really necessary?

We will never know the answer to those questions. Jaffar was found guilty and I have no doubt that's the right verdict. Even suspected terrorists have rights, or they should, anyway. Yet I will always wonder if Jaffar was telling the truth.

What did you think of "See Something"? Did you get caught up in the story or was it too much of a reminder of current events? Were you as impressed with the level of research the writers engaged in as I was? And what the heck do you think was up with Valdez?

Weigh in below, and don't forget you can always watch Chicago Justice online to catch up if you missed anything.

See Something Review

Editor Rating: 4.9 / 5.0
  • 4.9 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (27 Votes)

Jack Ori is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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Chicago Justice Season 1 Episode 3 Quotes

Laura: His brother was killed in Kabul. There's our motive.
Antonio: You've seen one Muslim...
Laura: I'm not saying that I agree with those assholes out there, but we do seem to go out of our way to make them comfortable.

Mother: Danny was a scholar. He was studying for his PhD in physics.
Stone: I know how difficult this has to be for you.
Mother: Usually we walked him to the bus stop. But I was too tired -
Father: They know this already.
Mother: And you had your game.
[Byron comes over]
Byron: Mr. and Mrs. Moseri, I'm so sorry about what happened to Danny.
Father: Get away from me!
Byron: Dude! I'm just trying to tell you, I didn't kill your son.