Chicago PD season 5, episode 21 recap: Allegiance

CHICAGO P.D. -- "Allegiance" Episode 521 -- Pictured: Patrick John Flueger as Adam Ruzek -- (Photo by: Parrish Lewis/NBC)
CHICAGO P.D. -- "Allegiance" Episode 521 -- Pictured: Patrick John Flueger as Adam Ruzek -- (Photo by: Parrish Lewis/NBC) /

Chicago PD put the screws to the Intelligence Unit and put Olinsky in jail this week. Here’s what happened in Chicago PD season 5, episode 21.

This week’s Chicago PD was put up or shut up time for our heroes, as Alvin Olinsky went on the block for a crime he didn’t commit—and everyone else had to stop a crime from happening.

Wednesday’s episode is called “Allegiance” and it kicks off with Kevin Atwater (LaRoyce Hawkins) working undercover, brokering a deal in an Irish pub—which is hilariously awkward.

When they get to the back room, there’s Jay Halstead (Jesse Lee Soffer) on the other side of the table. One guy’s snippy mouth derails the arrangement to move several assault rifles, and so our two cops argue over whose side’s fault it was.

How do they fix the problem? Hank Voight (Jason Beghe) orders the duo to keep working the case, just before Alvin Olinsky (Elias Koteas) Is arrested for murder right in front of everyone.

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It’s clear that Voight has run out of time, and it’s Olinsky who’s paying the price.

Some time later, Olinsky is arraigned and sent to jail awaiting trial. Sitting in the gallery, Denny Woods (Mykelti Williamson) asks Voight who really killed Bingham; Voight doesn’t answer.

Woods: Olinsky flips or he rots in prison.

It’s time for another Voight-Olinsky huddle, which is the same discussion they’ve had at least three times before: Olinsky says they can beat this, Voight says he’s going to do something about it, etc.

The “something” this time is approaching his old friend Judge Tommy Wells (John Pankow, reprising his role from “Monster”) and telling him to make sure Olinsky makes bail—or Voight might just expose that Wells killed his daughter’s drug dealer in the midseason finale.

The news of Olinsky’s arrest has the rest of the Intelligence Unit eyeing the floor until Atwater convinces his side to go back to the table over the objection of the mouthy gang member, Malik. You just know Malik is going to ruin something later in this episode.

Atwater puts Malik’s boss Wes in touch with his contact, which brings Halstead back into the picture. But when he goes to pick up the guns, the guy holding them has been murdered, which naturally casts suspicion on Atwater’s gang.

Intelligence now has to balance its weapons case with a murder rap—and speaking of a murder case, Chicago PD cuts back to Olinsky in lockup where he gets the standard speech about how cops are not well-liked behind bars.

As he contemplates what could be the rest of his life, then takes out his frustration on a prisoner who threatens Meredith, Wells informs Voight that he’s worked his way into taking over Olinsky’s bail hearing:

"Wells: I’ve got something on everybody. Just like you."

Meredith (Melissa Carlson) subsequently visits Olinsky to try and convince him to turn on Voight and save himself, but he says she doesn’t understand him and that he’s “gonna beat it the right way.” Wouldn’t the right way be telling the truth? As she’s leaving, Meredith runs into Voight and makes very clear what she thinks of him, which isn’t much.

Back on the case, Atwater learns that the only way the weapons deal will move forward is if Malik is killed by his own older brother Shabazz to “even out” the body count. Atwater passes that news on to Voight, adding that if Shabazz doesn’t do the crime, his boss will. Voight doesn’t seem to see the problem, in a “for the greater good” kind of way. Atwater literally scoffs at the notion:

"Atwater: He’s just a cat from the hood that got caught up doing the wrong thing. He’s not a killer."

He and Adam Ruzek (Patrick John Flueger) show up at Shabazz’s place to find out that he’s also been shot; he says it was his boss that shot him, after Shabazz refused to kill Malik. Atwater stays with Shabazz as he dies, but Voight still doesn’t want to make a move until he gets the guns.

Based on a new tip from Halstead, Intelligence sets up at a warehouse an hour later. But everyone is shocked, somehow, to see Malik arrive—and to watch him find out about his brother’s death in the middle of the meet. Naturally this sets him off again, and our heroes are forced to go in early before they can secure the cargo.

Antonio Dawson (Jon Seda) and Kim Burgess (Marina Squerciati) get their one big scene of the night when they chase down the van with the assault rifles, and Ruzek has to shoot the driver before he shoots them. Atwater tells Malik this whole thing is his fault, wrapping up the case in time for Olinsky’s bail hearing with the whole team in attendance.

Voight expects that Judge Wells will be letting Olinsky out as per their agreement, but there’s a whole new judge on the bench, meaning all bets are off. ASA James Osha (recurring guest star Michael McGrady) successfully orders for remand—the exact opposite of what Voight wanted.

He demands an answer from Wells, who explains that a call directly from the Mayor kept him from fulfilling their agreement. It’s another string being pulled by Woods. Voight just repeats to the rest of the team that Olinsky will be out of there, which leads to Antonio calling BS and Voight shoving Antonio. But can you blame Dawson when it’s the same line again?

Voight slams his office door and pours himself a drink so he can brood over the picture of himself and Olinsky on his desk. But Chicago PD isn’t done yet, and sees Voight go to Woods’ door, saying he wants to “set things straight” only if the rest of his squad goes completely free.

Unfortunately, he’s a few minutes too late as Olinsky gets stabbed repeatedly in prison.

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There’s just one more Chicago PD episode left this season, so the whole point of “Allegiance” is to ramp up excitement for the season finale. In that sense, the case of the week is secondary to the season-long subplot.

The problem is, the whole first half of this episode is filled with scenes we’ve seen before. Voight and Olinsky talk about their mutual problem. Olinsky insists he’s going to be fine, despite being not fine at all. Voight tries to strong-arm someone into helping. At this point, it feels like we’re going in circles, like they haven’t learned much from the last few episodes. When do they realize that their way of doing things isn’t working anymore?

Maybe that’s the point Chicago PD is trying to make, but it has parts of this episode feeling like we’ve seen them before (because we have). We can appreciate Olinsky’s loyalty, but it passed the point of no return back in…well, “Breaking Point.” Now it just seems like the definition of insanity. At least Voight seems to realize that.

“Allegiance” does give some good screen time to LaRoyce Hawkins, who’s always there to provide an ‘on the street’ perspective of what some of these cases do to communities and families. Voight has such tunnel vision that Atwater gets largely shut out here, but it’s always nice to see Atwater bring up that the job is about more than making arrests.

But everyone else largely sits on the sidelines. And as far as setting the table for the Chicago PD season 5 finale, it doesn’t gain steam until the final ten minutes. But it’s pretty much the point of no return now, so is this a hole we can’t get out of?

Next: Meet Chicago PD's new prosecutor Michael McGrady

What did you think of this week’s Chicago PD episode? Leave your reaction to “Allegiance” in the comments.

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