How Chicago PD’s Marina Squerciati delivered a triumphant performance

CHICAGO P.D. -- "I Was Here" Episode 713 -- Pictured: Marina Squerciati as Officer Kim Burgess -- (Photo by: Elizabeth Sisson/NBC)
CHICAGO P.D. -- "I Was Here" Episode 713 -- Pictured: Marina Squerciati as Officer Kim Burgess -- (Photo by: Elizabeth Sisson/NBC) /

Chicago PD star Marina Squerciati gave an incredible performance in this week’s Chicago PD season 7 episode, and it’s time she received more acclaim.

Everyone is still talking about the latest Chicago PD, and it’s because of Marina Squerciati.

Squerciati was front and center in Wednesday’s episode “I Was Here,” which saw her character Kim Burgess receive a harrowing 911 call that pulled her into the investigation of a violent sex-trafficking ring.

SPOILER ALERT: The remainder of this article contains spoilers for the most recent episode of Chicago PD. If you haven’t seen the episode, you can catch up with our recap here.

Burgess stumbled upon a violent criminal wanted in multiple states and by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Intelligence quickly moved to track him down. It was Kim, however, who closed the case and made the biggest sacrifice—she was first on the scene and with backup still too far away, personally took on Daniel Lopez alone.

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While she saved his latest victim and ultimately shot Lopez dead, Burgess’s breakthrough came with a very high price. The brutal fight they engaged in caused Kim to miscarry the baby that she was expecting with former fiance Adam Ruzek (Patrick John Flueger).

“I Was Here” was a powerful episode, and the best of Chicago PD season 7 so far. But the single biggest reason why it worked was Marina Squerciati’s performance.

As many fans have pointed out since, the episode’s shocking ending—with Burgess being told about her miscarriage—wasn’t really that shocking.

A number of viewers had predicted it from the time Burgess’s pregnancy was revealed earlier this season, not only given Chicago PD‘s dark tone and the difficulty that would come with fitting a baby into the show, but because the One Chicago universe has a history of telling this story. Gabriela Dawson on Chicago Fire and April Sexton on Chicago Med also lost unborn children in prior seasons.

So while the script was well-written, it wasn’t novel. What made the episode white-knuckle TV was watching Squerciati take Burgess on an emotional journey from bystander, to investigator, to making an incredible sacrifice for a total stranger.

In the first half of the episode, Squerciati did a lot with what was relatively little, given that Kim was not in the field with Intelligence. She communicated her emotions well, whether it was her interaction with the mystery victim over the phone in the 911 dispatch center, or her reactions while Burgess sat at her desk listening to her colleagues at work. While her character may not have physically been in the action, we still understood everything she was thinking and feeling.

Then as the plot unwound, Chicago PD asked more and more of the actress, culminating in the most intense fight scene Burgess has ever had on the show (and possibly the most violent in the show’s seven-season history). It was incredible to watch, and clear that there was a tremendous amount of effort put in all the way around—in our interview, Marina Squerciati herself described it as “brutal” and “painful.” There were moments where, as a viewer, you genuinely weren’t sure that Burgess was going to survive.

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And it wasn’t just the physicality of the scene that made it stand out. It was the emotion of it, because Burgess wasn’t just fighting for herself, but she was fighting for that girl in the bathtub and in a way, all the other girls Daniel Lopez had attacked. This was Kim Burgess at her most raw, her most determined, and Squerciati told a story through that fight sequence.

That made her choices more interesting in Chicago PD‘s final scene. Burgess didn’t break down and cry, even though no one would have blamed her if she did. She didn’t open up to Ruzek and have some massive emotional moment. She was simply numb to the pain, after all of the physical pain and incredible emotion she’d already experienced in the episode.

That was the perfect end point for Marina Squerciati’s unbelievable performance—she could dig deep and pull out all of these intense and difficult emotions, but she also knew when it was best to literally not say anything at all, too. She demonstrated both wonderful range and incredible restraint, and always carried her character with dignity.

She should be everyone’s performer of the week, and she just gave the performance of the season.

What Marina Squerciati thought of this episode. dark. Next

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