Look back at where Chicago Justice began this summer. Read our retrospective as we rewatch Chicago Justice season 1, episode 3.
Over the One Chicago summer break, we’re looking back at where it all began by rewatching the first seasons of our shows—and today we’re revisiting Chicago Justice season 1, episode 3.
“See Something” is an interesting episode on a number of levels. For one, it quite possibly was the first episode originally. And if it had been, it would’ve struck a different tone for the show, as there are a few things in here that are unique to this episode.
The action starts in media res, with Peter Stone (Philip Winchester) already prosecuting one man for the murder of a Muslim grad student.
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So the natural assumption on the part of the audience is well, this must be some kind of hate crime and we’re going to talk about that, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Chicago Justice starts the readers down one path that does bring up a valid issue, but then goes for a whole other equally valid issue instead—the idea of domestic terrorism, and does it change the picture when it’s another Muslim on trial?
That’s a bit similar to “Uncertainty Principle” where we saw how the police brutality issue had an added layer of complication because it was an African-American suspect who had been allegedly hurt by an African-American officer, Kevin Atwater (LaRoyce Hawkins).
But “See Something” cranks it up to another level. Because in “Uncertainty Principle,” both parties involved were still part of the community. In this episode, the invocation of the word terrorist and the fact that both parties are Muslim both create the prejudgment that the involved characters are not part of the community. They’re outsiders.
And this episode shows us just how dangerous that prejudgment can be.
The defendant’s entire defense strategy is to prey on the jury’s fear and distrust. The word terrorist understandably scares a lot of people, and from that place of fear have come certain prejudgments about people of certain religions and ethnic backgrounds.
The defense plays into that, claiming that the victim was plotting some kind of domestic terrorist attack, and the defendant was not only justified in murdering him—but that he’s a hero for doing it. It’s saving the defendant’s skin by assassinating the character of the victim, who obviously isn’t able to defend himself.
And this Chicago Justice script doesn’t make it easy for the audience to decide what’s actually true or not. Does what the victim was looking at on his computer point toward his guilt? Or, as Stone is quick to notice, does the fact that no one found the supplies he allegedly purchased for his attack prove his innocence?
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This is a moral dilemma that Chicago PD would also try to tackle with their episode “The Thing About Heroes” but Chicago Justice does it better because it does less. PD gave us an answer and Justice never definitively said whether or not the victim was a terrorist-in-waiting. It forced the audience to think for themselves, and that’s what made this such a brilliant episode and this such a brilliant show.
With strong performances throughout and a moral quandary that everyone needs to experience, “See Something” is a fantastic episode. Watch it one more time on iTunes and DVD.
Join us every Sunday this summer for our Chicago Justice season 1 review. For more Chicago Justice related news, follow the Chicago Justice category at One Chicago Center.