Chicago PD just summed itself up with latest season 7 episode

CHICAGO P.D. -- "Before the Fall" Episode 717 -- Pictured: Jason Beghe as Hank Voight -- (Photo by: Matt Dinerstein/NBC)
CHICAGO P.D. -- "Before the Fall" Episode 717 -- Pictured: Jason Beghe as Hank Voight -- (Photo by: Matt Dinerstein/NBC) /

Chicago PD’s latest episode Before The Fall concluded with an excellent example of how the Intelligence Unit, and the entire series, operates.

One Chicago fans who need to explain the premise—and the mantra—of Chicago PD to anyone can simply point to this week’s episode and explain everything.

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

In “Before The Fall,” the Intelligence Unit was forced to work with Homicide detective Paul Staples (guest star Stephen Louis Grush), who repeatedly ran afoul of Hank Voight (Jason Beghe) through the episode.

After Staples made a bad judgement call that resulted in the likely death of Voight’s confidential informant and old friend, the two had it out in the middle of the Intelligence bullpen, in front of the whole team.

Staples insisted his actions were “by the book,” to which Voight angrily retorted, “Not my book.” And that, viewers, is Chicago PD in a nutshell.

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The whole hook of the series is that Voight does things by his own rules, not those of the Chicago Police Department. Since he first appeared on Chicago Fire, he did things his own way—and Chicago PD has not only continued to let him do that, but normalized it.

Voight is the leader of the Intelligence Unit, and part of being a leader is setting the tone and the ground rules for the people who work under you. He decides how they operate, so it’s no surprise that everyone else on the team does things his way.

But Voight also takes it one step further. It’s not just that people are supposed to follow him because of the chain of command, he demands that they do as he would do—or get out. He’s said as much multiple times, most recently to Jay Halstead (Jesse Lee Soffer) in the Chicago PD season 7 premiere “Doubt.”

In “Before The Fall,” we get not just another example of Voight being Voight, but the Chicago PD writers reinforcing that Voight is almost always right.

The person challenging him is the outsider—in this case, from another department—and also depicted as a difficult, antagonistic character who fans are supposed to not like. And he’s proven to be emphatically wrong, as the actions that Staples takes lead to Frank’s severe injury, and as Voight himself says, likely death.

The thing is, Staples is not technically wrong. He points out that he did things according to the CPD rules, and to an extent, it makes sense to want to intervene when you know that a civilian is being assaulted and another cop is also in potential danger.

It was a big risk to go in and blow the whole operation, but let’s assume he’d done as Voight said—how would Atwater or the rest of Intelligence been able to de-escalate the situation? Frank was still being hurt; would they just have let Lamar and his friends keep assaulting him and hope that Atwater could get them to stop or that they’d stop themselves? It’s a big grey area, so you can’t entirely fault either side.

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Except, as Voight says in that final scene, he gave Staples an order. He expected Staples to do things by his book. And so, too, did Chicago PD, because Paul Staples ended up bleeding on the floor of the Intelligence bullpen and being held responsible for an innocent man’s death. This episode reinforced the show’s biggest rule—cross Hank Voight at your own risk.

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