Atwater is a beast... and quite possibly my favorite character.
He's also a damn good cop, which is why as intense as Chicago PD Season 5 Episode 12 may have gotten, you knew that Atwater had it handled.
Mad props to LaRoyce Hawkins for being able to convince me that everything was fine while also making me so anxious I bit off all my nails. I need to take a few pointers from him on how to stay cool, calm and collected.
I wouldn't mind if this became the season of Atwater because Hawkins displayed so much versatility as an actor.
It was one of the most harrowing situations, yet he handled it in stride, strategically pulling out every play from his arsenal to make it out alive.
Strength. Determination. Action.
Very rarely does the show isolate one of the team members and force them to not only figure it out but also to confront their demons and sins.
Yet what makes Atwater a hero in our book also makes him an enemy in Joe's book.
In the midst of all the gun-wielding chaos, the series found a way to make us invested in Joe's (guest star Mekhi Phifer) story.
Joe was a man who held a grudge against Atwater for killing his son. Atwater was in the right because Ronnie robbed a store, killed the clerk and ran from the cops. But you try telling a parent that their son did something wrong. It's almost never successful.
Voight: Why not call the police?
Michelle: I did. The car never showed. They get here fast to arrest us, not so much when we need help.
So, not only was Kevin dealing with dudes who wanted payback for their missing cocaine — really? Shooting and drilling two dudes over some dope? He also dealt with a scorned parent who confessed to envisioning different ways of killing him as a substitute for counting sheep.
It's definitely not a situation anyone wants to find themselves in on a Friday night when the crew is out celebrating Trudy's birthday and she's singing karaoke!
It's harder to play the "a cop killed my black son" card on a cop who's actually black. Cops, in general, get a bad rap, but Atwater understands that side of it; He grew up on the Southside, and he was one of those guys.
The difference is he didn't let him define it. He channeled all of that into making himself a champion for his people. And while that sometimes makes him the enemy, it doesn't allow him to forget.
Atwater: But none of this is on you, huh?
Atwater: I knew Ronnie. He wasn't a bad kid. Until he started imitating his gangbanger daddy.
Joe: I was teaching him how to be a man.
Atwater: You was teaching him how to die.
Similar to how Burgess and Upton said that every death stays with them, every African American boy that Atwater shoots or puts behind bars stays with him. He thinks about Ronnie, but he also thinks about the clerk whose life was taken from him. Technically, he was one of them too.
At first, I thought that Atwater was a target because of his siblings, specifically Jordan, who was involved in quite the mess earlier this season.
Even though he sent them away, the people that he wronged are still out there.
But this was just a case of wrong place, wrong time. Or I guess wrong place, right time because if Atwater weren't there, Joe would not have made it out alive.
While Atwater did most of the heavy lifting here, his team also didn't let him down. Without much to go by, they were able to narrow down just the right people to talk to based on one tattoo and even figure out that it was a church based on the windows.
Since Atwater and Ruzek are the closest, it was a given that he would be his one call.
It was also the best decision. Ruzek's performance was filled with so much pain and emotion; I was in shambles.
The tension between him and Antonio was palpable, but Antonio laid it straight out; if he didn't shoot the suspect, the suspect would have shot Burgess.
And that's the only person Ruzek cares about more than Atwater.
It's also a testament to Atwater's skills that at every turn we expected him to get rescued by the cops but it never happened, nor was it necessary.
Even in the end, when Joe had him at gunpoint, Ruzek's presence barely made a difference.
By the end, even Joe knew that Atwater was a stand-up guy merely acting in the name of justice.
And while you'd expect being kidnapped to be the worst thing he experienced, it was harder to forgive Kevin and admit he was to blame for his son's death.
As far as emotional reunions go, Kevin's apology to Trudy about not making it to her birthday after going through his own personal hell was the greatest.
All in all, this episode proved that the writers need to keep giving Atwater and Ruzek grade-A storylines because they do more than just handle it, they own it.
Thoughts? You can watch Chicago PD online and comment below!