The season three finale of Chicago P.D. left viewers torn on multiple levels. First, there was the question of whether Voight (Jason Beghe) really killed the man who murdered his son. Second, there was the deeper question of whether Voight was right to do so. However, the head of Intelligence himself is not quite so beaten up about it when the NBC drama returns Wednesday for season four.
"He's completely un-conflicted about what happened at the end of the previous season," showrunner Matt Olmstead tells The Hollywood Reporter. "We pick up like a week, week and a half afterwards. Voight's basically already back at work to the surprise of a few people encouraging him to take more time to go through the proper mourning process of losing his son."
The same cannot be said, however, for Lindsay (Sophia Bush). Olmstead spoke with THR about Lindsay's "journey" in the first episodes of the season, how it will change her relationships with Voight as well as Halstead (Jesse Lee Soffer), Burgess' new partner and more.
You're coming out of a huge finale. How does the premiere deal with the aftermath of those events?
Where this all starts to land conflict-wise is on Lindsay because she's the one who went there at the end of last season to the Silos to try and dissuade him from doing it. … She doesn't want Voight to go down the tubes because of this. Commander Crowley starts to set her sights on Lindsay. Voight's never going to talk but maybe Lindsay will, and so she really goes after Lindsay: 'You agree with what happened? Are you basically Voight, Jr.? Are you not your own person? Not your own cop? What about doing the right thing in terms of your department and your career, and it starts to resonate with Lindsay.
Through the first episode, we really show this journey that she goes through in terms of, what's the right thing? Now's the time to chart my own course and if I do that, it might be a betrayal to Voight. She's really put through the wringer in the first episode, and compared to that, Voight is having to stand back a little bit and watch her go through it. He doesn't want to pressure her either way or beg her to keep her mouth shut or support his story or lie. But also to do all that, would be to kind of sully the memory of not only Justin but what he did to avenge Justin's death. He realizes it all goes through Lindsay and either she's going to bury him or not, career-wise, and so she's kind of between a rock and a hard place in the first episode.
What kind of longer term effects will that have not only on Voight but their dynamic?
The relationship has to evolve and certainly these events have to have an impact on that relationship. it can't just be like," OK, we're cool." What we have in the episode and what we have going forward for Lindsay, what she does and doesn't do for Voight, in her mind, it's balancing the scales a little bit with Voight as articulates to him. She would have been dead at 15 years old - there's not a doubt in her mind unless Voight had brought her in. She's always wanted to return the favor essentially to save his life. In her mind, if she's able to pay that debt, it also enables her to kind of leave the nest. When she leaves the nest, you have also - and it's dramatized - Halstead there waiting for her like, 'Maybe we can start our lives together now, finally. … So she does. She takes a lot of that currency that she has put towards Voight, loyalty, worrying about him, taking care of him, being led by him, and starts transferring that over to an adult relationship with Halstead.
And so there's a little bit of heartbreak for Voight. There's a lot going on and it leaks over to Halstead, who at one point is telling her, 'Don't go down the tubes with Voight.' His loyalties are very clear. He's respectful of what he went through, and the loss he suffered, but what he did, once it starts affecting other people, then you have to make a decision of what you're going to do and what you're not going to do.
What can you then for them as a couple long-term?
He wants her to move in with him. Because as he says, "Jobs come and go, cases come and go, bosses come and go, I don't want you to come and go." That actually knocks her back on her heels a little bit because, with all the stuff that she's dealing with, to have that kind of offer which represents the future for her, is very meaningful.
How with Voight deal with that loss and that change in his relationship with Lindsay?
He has to let her go. They still work together and down the road, I'm sure there's going to be a part of their relationship that can be mended. It's not acrimonious, but he knows he has to let her be her own woman as well as her own cop. But the one time Voight breaks in the episode is when he confesses to her that, "You're all I have left." So he's also dealing with the realization that she's really the only blood left, and he considers her blood. And so that complicates matters with her. He doesn't do it to manipulate her decision, whatever she's going to do in terms of the investigation, but it's a very open, vulnerable admission. … So he's not heartbroken going forward - the character's too smart for that and has seen too much, he wants too much for her, so she's going to go on her little walkabout, and if she returns in any form back to him, great, and if not, then it wasn't meant to be.
For the last few seasons, Voight tried to keep things on the straight and narrow - at least by his own definition - but he obviously went off the rails in the finale. Does that make him more susceptible to going back to the dark side again? What's the likelihood of Voight taking a turn like this in the near future?
I don't think so. That's not our goal going forward. And what was great about last season, the finale, is we pitched to Dick [Wolf], "This is a little bit kind of going back and then some for Voight, but if the guy who kills his son ends up in a ditch…," and he was all for it. He completely supported it - it was a pretty dark turn for a lead of a show. The network as well loved it and went forward with it, which was really reassuring to us and to the writing staff in terms of the support of knowing we can go there. And we need to because if you've established a character with that kind of backstory, you can't just whitewash that it never happened. So we really got what we needed in terms of juice at the end of the season. Then going forward, next season, it's less of a, "I start to go further into the shadows and I don't trust people and the world doesn't make sense." He lost someone, he dealt with it how he dealt with it, and he's moving forward. The job means a lot to him. I think what it comes to determining innocence or guilt, or getting justice, he might be a little more quick to do that going forward. When you outlive a kid, a son or daughter, imagine all the things that you'd go through. One of them is you could kind of care less about certain things in terms of complications and the ramifications of, are you going to get caught? Are you going to yelled at? Are you going to get hand-slapped? Those things don't mean much anymore when you're going through that. So he comes out of it really wanting more than ever to keep his job. He realizes it's the best job in the city. He wants to keep on grooming people who are under him. But the grief he experiences isn't something that can be identified and addressed in one episode so it will happen down the line when he doesn't see it coming.
What can you say for the rest of the unit, and how they're impacted by the finale?
They're in a tough spot, and it's addressed in that first episode. On the one hand, they're sensitive to, and feel for their commanding officer who lost his son, and like any workplace environment, your heart goes out to them. They're also aware of the fact that at the end of last season, they were sent across town on what turned out to be a goose chase because Voight was on the other side of town doing what he needed to do. So they realized he actually kind of sealed them off and protected them from seeing anything or hearing anything, except for Lindsay, who figured it out. They don't have much to say to investigators, other than, we went across town and that's the last we heard of it. So they're kind of back to business, but they're looking at this little whirlpool going on at a desk nearby which is Lindsay, who has a relationship with Voight, has a relationship with Halstead. Antonio in particular is the one saying, "Hey, we got to get back to work."
It's come out that Antonio is going to become romantically involved with Brett from Chicago Fire. What can you say about that relationship?
It really kicked off for the Brett of it all when we were in the Fire room end of last season talking about storylines. You go through which characters are available for a relationship and what would that relationship look like. What's worked for us before is when we can cross-pollinate with another show. We did it with Severide and Lindsay, which worked. It was kind of untenable because of their schedules and the whole thing, but it felt right to revisit that. So Antonio's single and Brett's single. Was there a non-gimmicky, organic way to do it where there could be a little bit of a romance between Brett and Antonio? And it began to make sense with us because Brett is somewhat innocent and is looking for a real man, and Antonio thinks, 'I'm too damaged. I've got too much baggage,' but he sees in her a good woman. Within that obviously, we have Brett partnering with Dawson on Fire, who happens to be his sister, so it gave us a nice triangle to play.
You also have a new actor coming in, Lil Jun Li, who plays Burgess' new partner, Tay. What can you say about their dynamic?
We wanted someone who would hit the ground running with Burgess in terms of chemistry and those two actresses definitely have that. We're giving a story to her that we're dealing with over the next couple of episodes that was a story relayed to me by a friend, a retired female cop. When she was a young officer, she was courted briefly by, and dated briefly, a commanding officer until she realizes this isn't the one for me, and tried to extricate herself from that relationship and this guy became a very vindictive. Back then, a female cop and a commander, he can do what he wants and she was put through the grinder in terms of being bounced around to one of the worst jobs, one after another, and it's a story that makes your stomach turn a little bit. So she comes in off the worst beat in Chicago, everyone wants to know why, what'd you do to get sent there, and her story comes out. She rebuffed the advancements of a male commander and he, right away, started moving her around the city, and it became a journey for her: 'I'm not going to quit. I'm not going to let him win, but meanwhile, I'm writing parking tickets out in front of the courthouse.'
We've established in her backstory that Platt met her, heard her story and brought her to 21st. Whether that's enough juice to keep her there, that's what we play out in the next couple of episodes because this guy still is on a war path to make her life miserable. So you have a really good cop who just crossed paths with the wrong guy, unfortunately, and she's been suffering the consequences. Can the people she works with -- Platt, Voight, Burgess -- free her from that?
Her role was originally a three-episode arc. Will she be appearing in more episodes?
We have plans for more. … We have high hopes for sure.
What can you say about Burgess' love life going forward?
We wanted to have her do a little reset. As she explains to her new partner, she's in a vow of celibacy because she had a little fling with Roman that went public at the wrong time, she was engaged to Ruzek obviously. She's looking back kind of kicking herself a little bit that, 'I dated in-house twice, that doesn't make me look really good.' And she has big aspirations. She wants to be in Intelligence one day or a similar department, so she expresses this resolve to not date anybody, and solely focus on work. How long she can pull that off? We'll see. But that's her goal right now to just focus on being the best cop she can.
Justice launches midseason. Are there certain characters from the spinoff that we'll see during the first half of P.D.?
We have the Stone character, Philip Winchester, appear a couple of times. In fact, one of the storylines we're going to do before Justice airs is a key witness, the only witness to a crime that he's about ready to go to trial on, is found dead, and he goes to Intelligence to basically solve the crime because unless they tie the death of the eyewitness to the guy who was up on trial, the case [falls apart]. We have him in the very first episode and he's one of the guys who gives Lindsay some advice. He tells her, "I hear there are a lot of things going on at your district," and she - who's been getting knocked around by everybody here - somewhat sharply says, "Well, that's really not your department." And he reminds her that it absolutely is his department. If Voight's found to be dirty, cases get tossed that he's got convictions on.
Are there any other storylines that you're excited about coming up?
We're doing an episode coming up where Platt's leaving her dad's - the dad we've established she thought was rich, he blew all his money, now he's dating someone younger, she's about had it - she goes to her car and gets attacked and beaten within an inch of her life. Having just read the script that came in from Mike Weiss, who's one of our top writers and has been on the show since the second season -- it's really fantastic. It's great for Amy. We've all along wanted to do something like this for her and we were just waiting for the right time, so it's basically who almost killed Platt? Did it have to do with her dad? And, ultimately, when she founds out who did it, ironically, she has the same impulse that Voight did, which is to take matters into her own hands. And is that something that Voight would actively try to dissuade her from doing?
Chicago P.D. returns Wednesday at 10 p.m. on NBC.