Chicago PD season 5, episode 19 takeaways: Payback

CHICAGO P.D. -- "Payback" Episode 519 -- Pictured: Marina Squerciati as Kim Burgess -- (Photo by: Matt Dinerstein/NBC)
CHICAGO P.D. -- "Payback" Episode 519 -- Pictured: Marina Squerciati as Kim Burgess -- (Photo by: Matt Dinerstein/NBC) /

Did Chicago PD make Alvin Olinsky unlikeable? Could Antonio Dawson run the unit? Here are our Chicago PD season 5, episode 19 takeaways.

Last night’s Chicago PD had questionable behavior on all sides, so how do we interpret the events of the most recent episode?

Wednesday’s episode was called “Payback” and involved Alvin Olinsky (Elias Koteas) going to very desperate lengths to keep himself out of prison. Meanwhile, Adam Ruzek (Patrick John Flueger) had to face a former cop who had turned to the dark side.

If you missed any of this Chicago PD episode or just want a refresher on the events that we’re discussing, you can catch up with our “Payback” recap.

Here are our Chicago PD season 5, episode 19 takeaways:

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1) Olinsky needs a time-out

Kudos to Chicago PD for not taking the obvious way out in “Payback,” but it subverted expectations by making Alvin Olinsky completely unlikeable.

Given the official description of this episode, it felt like a given that Hank Voight (Jason Beghe) would just go intimidated the witness against Olinsky and they’d all escape the problem, just like they always do.

“Payback” didn’t do that; instead, it was implied that Olinsky planted drugs on the witness, leading to his arrest through an “anonymous tip.” At least, Olinsky was outside the guy’s house when he was arrested, so connect the dots.

The Intelligence Unit gets away with a lot, but this is pretty much morally indefensible. To plant drugs on a witness, especially a guy who’s been clean for over a year and who’s got a wife and daughter to worry about? Ruben wasn’t doing anything wrong, but Olinsky has now ruined this guy’s life for his own benefit.

It’s not that we can’t logically understand why he did it. Olinsky is desperate to protect himself, and he does the only thing he can. But just because the action is understandable doesn’t make it excusable, even by Chicago PD standards. Olinsky’s actions make logical sense but they make him look incredibly bad, and you never want to make the audience come to dislike a character they’re supposed to root for.

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2) Ruzek still has issues

Ruzek went through the wringer this episode, having to deal with a former cop turned CI who had a grudge against Ruzek for his downfall, and then discovering that the guy was dirty, and then he almost had to kill him. Really, “Payback” couldn’t have been any worse for Adam.

In the big picture sense, this episode showed us that Ruzek still has some stuff he needs to figure out, too. We saw more flashes of his temper, as he nearly choked out a suspect during one of the two interrogation scenes. And he was understandably upset at Ray (guest star Demetrius Grosse).

Ruzek hasn’t really been the same since coming back from his undercover operation last season, but Chicago PD has yet to explain what the heck he was doing, so we can’t really figure out if he had something happen to him or not. It doesn’t seem like the show is going to tell us that story anytime soon, either; it took PD most of the season to reveal what happened to Hailey Upton.

But if the writers are inclined, there could be a very cool subplot about Ruzek needing to sort out his anger issues and whatever secrets he might be hiding. At least, based on this episode, we can tell Patrick John Flueger would knock something like that out of the park.

3) Antonio makes a good boss

Antonio Dawson (Jon Seda) is briefly left in charge of Intelligence in “Payback” while Voight is off on his Ruben-related errand, which only validates Voight’s opinion that Antonio could run his own team. We’ve seen that in the past, and that’s one of the reasons that was given when Antonio was moving over to Chicago Justice, but it was nice to see it reaffirmed—and possibly important, as if something does happen to Voight by the end of the season we might need a new boss.

Plus, where is Antonio’s character supposed to go from here, anyway? He’s not going to leave the unit to take a promotion, or he could’ve theoretically stayed at the State’s Attorney’s Office. He’s basically committed to Intelligence now, so either he’s going to be content as a detective for the rest of his career (a possibility) or he’s going to take over from Voight. Which would require that Voight isn’t in charge, which…well, could still happen. Stay tuned.

Next: Read our interview with Chicago PD's Tracy Spiridakos

What did you take away from this week’s Chicago PD episode? Leave your thoughts on “Payback” in the comments.

Chicago PD airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on NBC.