Chicago PD’s Jesse Lee Soffer on season 8 finale: ‘How far are people willing to go?’

CHICAGO P.D. -- "The Other Side" Episode 816 -- Pictured: Jesse Lee Soffer as Jay Halstead -- (Photo by: Lori Allen/NBC)
CHICAGO P.D. -- "The Other Side" Episode 816 -- Pictured: Jesse Lee Soffer as Jay Halstead -- (Photo by: Lori Allen/NBC) /

The Chicago PD season 8 finale airs tomorrow, but fans are already up in arms wondering if the Intelligence Unit will be able to rescue Kim Burgess. And if so, what will they have to do to get her back?

Jesse Lee Soffer dropped by One Chicago Center to tell us what he could about the cliffhanger, and explained why he compares it to Captain America: Civil War.

Plus, he gives us the latest update on Upstead after their recent disagreement—and provides his thoughts on why Jay’s previous relationship with Erin Lindsay hasn’t been mentioned while he and Upton continue navigating workplace romance.

Don’t miss the Chicago PD season 8 finale Wednesday at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.

More from One Chicago Center

One Chicago Center: Obviously you can’t reveal what happens to Burgess, but you were the star of a similar cliffhanger when Jay was shot in season 7. What’s it like to play one of these stories?

Jesse Lee Soffer: As a cast, we don’t know [what happens]. Because it’s a season finale, you read the script and for Burgess and for Marina [Squerciati], you go, “This is crazy, how do we come back from this?” All I do know is that I think season 9, the first episode is going to pick up right where we left off. It’s five minutes later or it’s a couple of days later. So your guess is as good as mine.

But so much happens in that [season 8 finale] episode. There’s so much infighting amongst the unit and the team, as far as how they view the problem. Burgess is missing, and we’ve got to get her back, and how far are people are willing to go to do that? Some people think that the way other people in the unit are going about things is wrong, morally, ethically. You’re going to see conflict from Ruzek and Atwater (Patrick John Flueger and LaRoyce Hawkins), and Jay and Voight (Jason Beghe), and Upton is kind of caught in the middle of all this.

There’s great performances. Tracy gives an incredible performance. Marina gives an incredible performance. Everybody is so strong in it. It’s going to be a really intense episode for the fans; I just don’t know how they’re going to react. It’s one of those ones where you can’t take your eyes away from it. You might just be stressed out and pissed off at the same time, but need to know what happens next.

OCC: If anybody would stand up and keep people in check, it would be Jay Halstead. Is that the role that he plays in the Chicago PD finale?

JLS: That is what ends up happening. It’s Jay and Atwater and Burgess on one side of things, and then Upton and Ruzek and Voight on the other. Then Burgess goes missing, and it’s like, “Well, whose side gets to dictate how we’re going to do this? What’s right and wrong, and where’re the lines?” That’s why it’s going to be so cool. I’ve been making the joke today, it’s like Captain America: Civil War.

OCC: A few seasons back, Voight and Halstead had that talk about Jay potentially taking over Intelligence someday. With the way the unit has changed since, and how policing has changed overall, do you think Jay would still want that job? Or what’s his attitude about where he stands in the unit now?

JLS: I don’t think that Jay is thinking about promotion. He’s more about being good at his job. I just don’t know that that’s on his radar. If that were to happen, or if someone were to say, “Take the sergeant’s test, and do this,” he’d go, “All right, sure,” but that’s not his priority.

I think in the unit, the priority is the people around him that he loves. As much as he has conflict with Voight, I think he loves Voight, and I think he knows that he can save Voight from Voight sometimes. I think that he makes Voight better, and Voight makes him better. There’s balance, there’s an interesting foil between the two characters, and I love playing that.

OCC: We have yet to see the fallout between Jay and Hailey after the events of “Safe.” One thing from that episode is her saying that a workplace relationship is confusing to her, and Jay has all the experience in that area because of his past relationship with Erin Lindsay. Do you think that Chicago PD will ever have Jay bring that up, even if it’s just to help Upton navigate things?

JLS: That’s a good question, and an interesting one. The truth is it’s a TV show, it’s drama, so you have to compartmentalize and separate things your character has done before, even a couple episodes earlier, to make the episode that you’re currently working in work. The show is the star, so we’re trying to do an arc, we’re trying to convey a theme, or a story, or something from the news. Maybe something you said two episodes ago conflicts with your point of view in the episode you’re shooting.

You kind of have to separate those two things and go, okay, this is my job this week. It’s the same with full seasons—where even though Jay has those experiences, and that’s part of who he is, and that’s part of the growth of the character, for the sake of the season you almost pretend that didn’t happen a little bit. We’re here right now; let’s be present with what’s going on right now.

OCC: What was the experience of filming Chicago PD season 8 like? As your character headed in new directions, the unit did, and the world is obviously very different than it was a season ago.

JLS: It was a difficult season. It was one of our most stressful to work on, even though it was a short season, just with COVID and all the protocols. Some people were getting sick, and having to sit out for a couple of weeks, and stuff like that. It added a lot of stress, but I just give a ton of credit to the writers, and the crew, and the cast. We worked really hard this season, and the final product is something to be really proud of.

The last couple of episodes are phenomenal. We tackled some really intense issues, “ripped from the headlines” stuff this year that I don’t think a lot of shows are tackling. We did it in a really great way, and the writers thread a bunch of needles, so I give them a ton of credit.

Next. Which Chicago PD star is returning to TV?. dark

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.