Chicago PD season 8 premiere takeaways: Fighting Ghosts

Chicago PD season 8, episode 1 breakdown.

What did One Chicago fans learn from the latest Chicago PD episode? Here’s what we took away from this week’s installment, “Fighting Ghosts.”

“Fighting Ghosts” featured Hank Voight (Jason Beghe) chafing against attempts to change the way Intelligence operates, while Kevin Atwater (LaRoyce Hawkins) continued to be targeted by other cops after he refused to recant his story about the Shawn Paige shooting from season 7.

If you missed any of this week’s episode or just want a refresher on the events that we’re about to discuss, you can catch up with our Chicago PD recap.

Below are our takeaways from this week’s episode:

1) LaRoyce Hawkins is fantastic

“Fighting Ghosts” may have somewhat pushed Atwater’s story to the side as it tried to discuss police reform, but when he was on screen, LaRoyce Hawkins was once again brilliant in this episode. It feels like this gets said every season, but he’s incredible and deserves a lot more screen time than he gets.

This episode is going to be remembered for the shouting match between Atwater and Voight, and LaRoyce delivered everything that moment needed to have. Not to mention, everything that’s been missing from Chicago PD since the exit of Jon Seda. Atwater pushed Voight and he said all that’s been on many fans’ minds as we’ve sometimes questioned Voight’s methods.

The big question is if that’s going to make any difference. Voight may have told Atwater to get another job, but the promo for the next episode shows them talking to each other, so clearly he didn’t go anywhere or get kicked out of Intelligence. Let’s hope he keeps pushing when it’s appropriate during the rest of season 8.

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2) Is Voight actually going to change?

This episode depicted Hank Voight as someone who’s not only struggling to change but totally disinterested in change. His comments about no one “[having] the guts” to stand up for police, and his remarks to Atwater about how (once again) this is his unit made him come off as a very unsympathetic character. It would’ve been one thing if Chicago PD had shown him thinking about his methods and just not being able to make it work, but instead, Voight dug his heels in.

The thing is, though, that’s down to the writers. “Fighting Ghosts” set up a storyline where ultimately we’re supposed to see that Voight is still right after all, because the murderer walked free—the implication being he might not have if Voight had gotten to beat a confession out of him. Therefore, the show is taking the position that Voight is right, because they’re showing us the bad ending that happens when he’s not allowed to do what he wants to do.

It’s a hard thing to figure out, because you don’t know if that’s the message the writers were trying to send specifically, or were they just going with the most dramatic ending? The whole One Chicago franchise likes those kinds of conclusions, so it could just be as simple as they chose what would have the most punch (or not, relatively speaking). But as we talked about last season, what they’re going for and the impression they actually leave can be two different things.

So is the show going to have an actual discussion about police reform? Or is the idea of reform just being used for dramatic effect and nothing will really affect Voight? It’s too soon to call. We’ll have to see what happens in later episodes.

3) The lack of Rojas’ exit was disturbing

Star Wars joke aside, it was strange that Chicago PD not only didn’t explain why Vanessa Rojas (Lisseth Chavez) was no longer with the unit, but didn’t even mention her. She was supposed to be Atwater’s partner, so with Atwater going through all this stuff, one quick reference to him not having Rojas there to back him up would have made sense.

Showrunner Rick Eid has said in interviews that the writers are still working on explaining Rojas’ departure, so they didn’t put it in the premiere. But the producers are the ones who decided not to continue with the character, and they don’t need to make a big deal of it since she was only on the show for one season, so it’s surprising that they weren’t able to come up with something. By the time they do get around to explaining where she went, is the audience going to care?

For the latest Chicago PD season 8 spoilers and news, plus more on the entire series, follow the Chicago PD category at One Chicago Center.