So that was quite the experience.
It's not about the type of boat, but the motion in the ocean, and our boy Ocean was certainly getting those moves in by the end of Chicago PD Season 11 Episode 4.
Before we unpack Dante Torres tacking a stab, um, falling into, wait, partaking in a storyline that feels eerily reminiscent of not one but TWO of his Intelligence mentors, can we just celebrate his return?
We haven't had the pleasure (I'm really trying here, guys; they keep sliding out, dammit, nevermind) of Torres gracing our scenes since Chicago PD season 10 Episode 21).
And he was MISSED.
We dove into (you know what? Ahem) a Torres-centric with some fascinating elements that aligned quite well with this more personalized and intimate tone that the season delivers thus far with our primary characters.
More than ever before, each case throughout Chicago PD Season 11 has these little tie-ins to one character or another, and it feels like we're getting more intimate peeks into the characters' lives as they work cases that hit close to home for them.
We've had these characters for a while, and it's genuinely refreshing to feel as if we're peeling back layers with some of them and exploring things that we haven't done before or in different ways.
The intimacy of the season is one of its strongest suits. It tends to clash and pose the occasional issue when it spills into redundant storytelling or some of the other subtle issues come into play.
For one, the pacing this season is just weird. There's something distinctly off about it, and some installments are more glaring than others.
The same can be said about the editing as well.
Torres: I can get under.
Voight: Tough play.
Torres. I know. But I know these guys. I am these guys. I can get under.
Also, the rotating cast situation is one of those things where they're trying to mask it behind centric episodes, but it's still noticeable and feels weird.
For example, Marina Squerciati absolutely slayed Chicago PD Season 11 Episode 3, but it still didn't change the fact that the rest of the cast getting sidelined didn't stand out.
Even the character-focused episodes haven't entirely distracted us from the fact that crucial cast members take turns missing during episodes.
The most glaring and frustrating was not having Benjamin Levy Aguilar appear until a quarter of the way through the season. Yes, that's where we are!
It made this hour a highly anticipated one as we more than welcomed the return of this instant fan-favorite character.
I sure as heck was excited about his return, and they indeed produced a fascinating hour that delivered on things that I'm fond of, like an overarching case.
The hour felt disjointed.
But there were a few stylistic choices that I genuinely loved about this installment. One of the first things was the car montage used to depict time changing and passing.
Torres: He's got your life in his fist. Get out.
Gloria: I don't want it this way.
Torres: The way doesn't matter.
Gloria: It matters to me.
At this point, it has become a Chicago PD staple and works every single time. I appreciate the subtle ways they nod at how long the stakeout and reconnaissance process can be.
It feels more realistic that way.
I also loved so many of the shots of Torres because he's such a profoundly intriguing and complex character, but he does not wear his heart out on his sleeve.
So much of this character's heavy lifting and work lies in non-verbal cues.
His facial expression in that elevator and Eric telling him to close his eyes told a story in and of itself. It took all of his willpower to close his eyes in this stranger's face because he's not someone who trusts people at all.
But he's also the guy who will go to great lengths for the sake of the case, so you could visibly see his need to override his baser instincts to get the job done.
Benjamin Aguilar Levy does some great work with his expressions and body language, which I continue to appreciate about his portrayal of this character.
Another standout scene was how the camera framed his face in the sideview mirror while he was in the car with Gloria.
I didn't realize you were a cop. It didn't fit. You're not like them. You're different.Gloria
We were getting a reflection of him rather than who he is, which is such a lovely cue for his character in which so much of who he is within the series revolves around his sense of identity.
His past isn't actually in the rearview mirror for him; it still surfaces and isn't something he can shake. We also saw how he lost it when he slipped quickly into enforcer mode and had to be snapped out.
Torres's past isn't behind him; it's with him. He carries it into everything he does, and there's no shaking or getting rid of it, no matter how much he tries to maintain this carefully curated facade and keep himself in check.
He's impressive at undercover work primarily because he's slipping into something familiar to him and dancing on the line of what he's capable of being and may have been.
His darkness is easily accessible to him, brimming beneath the surface.
If it's an asset for him in the field when he goes on undercover missions like that with the Perez organization, then, like a true double-edged sword, it can also become detrimental when someone like Gloria "sees" him.
The same goes for Dante Torres' natural intuitive nature with women. He exuded a level of compassion and respect that is notable because, sadly, the bar is in hell in the world that we live in regarding men's perception and treatment of women.
It's one of those things that's as crucial to him and his characterization as his trademark white tee-shirts.
We're led to believe that so much of how he regards women is due to his admiration and protectiveness when it comes to his mother. It was intentional on their part that we opened with Torres and his mother, and she was referenced throughout the hour.
But his compassion and reverence for women, one of his strengths, can also be a flaw that proves detrimental to him, especially if he brings it into the job in the wrong way, and that's what we saw with Gloria.
We saw him telling the dancer at the club that he couldn't and wouldn't be with a woman who was being forced to do something.
He mentioned that he doesn't "use" women, which we can presume is true.
Torres: I saw how your husband treated you yesterday.
Gloria: Is that so?
Torres: Same way my stepdad treated my ma.
Gloria: You don't know me.
But then he quickly falls into this toxic dynamic with Gloria that questions power dynamics, whether or not one or both are taking advantage of one another or using each other.
It's dangerous. Let's not forget that it is redundant as it feels like a combination of Halstead's relationship when he was undercover and Atwater getting involved with a woman who was part of their investigation.
It's easily one of the worst decisions the rookie has made thus far.
When Torres walked out the door, he took his empathy with him, just like that fantastic Atwater quote.
But he also took his past and his traumas with him as well. And Gloria embodied everything he could identify with as someone who knew what it was like to need to escape a dangerous life desperately.
He also connected with her through his experiences with his mother, recognizing her as an abuse survivor who needed an escape and being more than willing to serve as that lifeline for her.
The chemistry between them was instant. You could feel their unspoken connection with each other with each passing second they spent sharing the screen.
Aguilar and Yara Martinez were fantastic together, and the latter delivered an incredible performance overall as the complex woman.
Torres was smart enough to realize that she was the key to closing this case and taking down one of the biggest heavy hitters in the city.
But he underestimated the draw they had to one another and how messy things could get.
He could bank on her desire to escape. But there's an unpredictability to Gloria that you question whether or not she would warn her husband or sell the cops out at every conceivable turn.
And that's large because, for a woman in her situation, self-preservation overrides everything else. If, for any moment, she feels that catering to her husband rather than turning on him is her best shot, she'll take that.
It's disheartening, but it's also something with which Torres seems familiar, which is why he oscillated well between his genuine desire to protect and save her and a natural distrust of her.
But Gloria also had a way of getting past some of his defenses, which is intriguing for the audience, who gets to eat up every nugget they drop about this mysterious character we've grown to love, but is potentially alarming for him.
It's worrisome that Torres could very well be on Perez's radar and that he poses a risk to Gloria and Torres.
Things can only get more complicated because of this relationship between Torres and Gloria.
The tension between the two had been building since they first crossed paths. It's an odd oedipal component, as so much of his initial connection to Gloria was seeing his mother in her.
No amount of dope is worth a life.Voight
But he sees himself in her as well.
And we know that no matter how much work Torres puts in, he consistently faces issues with "fitting in" with his peers on the force.
He always feels like an outcast in that regard, which Gloria recognized in him instantly. There's nothing more human than someone making poor decisions and colossal mistakes because they finally feel "seen" and "knowable."
Gloria has gotten under his skin in a way that he's likely unaccustomed to, and thus, we've seen this character who works hard to maintain a certain level of control crack in response to her.
They were genuinely fascinating to watch together in that way that feels like a trainwreck is coming, but you cannot turn away from it.
Sex in an alley when the team is potentially in earshot because of mics is just jaw-dropping messiness.
Torres crossed a line he can't come back from with that move, regardless of the callbacks to Halstead and Kevin Atwater's misdeeds before.
And with the level of danger that Gloria is in and this huge cartel operation that they still haven't been able to take down, this hour had shades of Chicago PD Season 9's Voight and Anna arc, too.
I only hope that Gloria meets a better fate than Anna did.
Right there. You're trying to hide it, but you can't. You're just like me.Gloria
Following Anna's mention, Voight's approach to falling back when the near-sting went awry felt like a subtle connection to the Anna arc and how Voight has fundamentally changed since then.
We've seen this version of Voight that doesn't take as much risk, especially with people's lives, not to mention his more paternal approach with the team that's sprouted up since Anna's death.
I'm itching for a more direct acknowledgment of her death's impact on Voight. It feels like something they've been building up in the background, so maybe a Voight-centered hour will bring that to the surface.
The hour took a jarring turn by the end of the hour. But I'm morbidly curious as to how this arc will play out.
Thoughts and Things:
- Atwater gossiping about his "siblings" getting engaged was hilarious, especially since he must've given Torres the full Burzek rundown. It was the only reference to Kim Burgess and the engagement. I wish we could've seen Ruzek telling Kevin about it, though.
- I continue to love how they incorporate Spanish into Torres episodes. Everything about how he and his mother interact feels so real and natural.
- Respectfully, there is no way that Eric should have easily bought that Torres and the dead runner were middle school classmates.
- We know there's significance to why Torres wears the white t-shirts, but it felt more integral than ever in an episode that really prodded at his identity conflicts.
- Admittedly, I couldn't quite grasp what was happening with half the case.
- The Torres scenes made the most sense, but everything else beyond that from an investigatory standpoint wasn't clicking for me.
- Upwater partnering up is great content. They also look adorable standing next to each other because of their height difference.
- That Oceanwater car chase was EPIC.
- I was both unprepared for that sex scene and shallowly appreciating the pretty people in that sex scene. But seriously, Torres, mi amor, WTF are you doing?!!! Besides Gloria, obviously.
- Voight's moment of expressing concern about Mama Torres made me smile.
Over to you, Chicago PD Fanatics.
Were you excited about Torres's big return? What's your interpretation of his relationship with Gloria? In what direction do you anticipate this storyline going?
Chicago PD returns Wednesday, February 21, at 10/9c on NBC.
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. She is an insomniac who spends late nights and early mornings binge-watching way too many shows and binge-drinking way too much tea. Her eclectic taste makes her an unpredictable viewer with an appreciation for complex characters, diverse representation, dynamic duos, compelling stories, and guilty pleasures. You'll definitely find her obsessively live-tweeting, waxing poetic, and chatting up fellow Fanatics and readers. Follow her on X.