Episode Title: "Cabrini-Green"
Writers: Tim Minear & Jon Worley
Director: Jean de Segonzac
Previously on "The Chicago Code":
Detective Jarek Wysocki (Jason Clarke) and his new partner, Detective Caleb Evans (Matt Lauria) were recruited to lead an unofficial task force to instigate Alderman Ronin Gibbons (Delroy Lindo) by Jarek’s former partner, Chicago PD Superintendent Teresa Colvin (Jennifer Beals). While the team began to link Gibbons to the Irish mob with the help of an uncover cop named Liam (Billy Lush), Gibbons has proven to be elusive.
Not only did Gibbons blackmail his Irish mob partner on faked kiddie porn charges, he also struck Teresa a major setback when he exposed the efforts of her Chief of Staff to solicit a bribe in order to spy on her. Humiliated, Teresa was forced to take on a new Chief of Staff, Lieutenant Kelly and openly tell Jarek that their investigation of Gibbons is over. But privately she recants that and lets Jarek know that Kelly is Gibbons’ new spy in her office; which she plans to use against him in the future.
The police are already on the scene when Jarek and Caleb arrive at a Biomedical building, where a bomb is set to go off within minutes. The bomb specialist recognizes the design and the eight sticks of dynamite, but he isn’t able to disarm it in time. Jarek narrowly saves a pedestrian as the bomb goes off and blows out the floor. Elsewhere, Gibbons pays a visit to his local barber shop where he is treated like a dignitary. An armed teenager named Blake enters the shop and demands the clerks handover the money.
But Blake’s attention seems focused on Gibbons, who tries to talk him down. Blake balks and Gibbons shoots him in the leg with a concealed weapon. When they hear what happened, Jarek and Teresa race to the scene where Gibbons has already turned it into a PR win by portraying himself as a hero. He even promises to pay for Blake’s medical bills. Across town, another bombing is narrowly averted and Caleb theorizes that the targets were not chosen randomly. Later, Gibbons visits Blake in the hospital bearing gifts before running into Blake’s angry mom. Gibbons quickly calms her down and says that he will help Blake stay out of jail.
While investigating the bombings, Jarek and his team recognize the pattern from the radical Chicago Liberation Army of the ’70s, whose former leader David Argyle is in town to pick up an educational award. At a book signing, Jarek and Caleb arrive just in time to see a young man throw paint on Argyle for planning a bombing that killed his father; which Argyle denies. Jarek questions his lack of involvement in the CLA’s violent plans, but lets him go anyway. Jarek and Caleb tail him to another spot in the city and eventually find him bloodied and near a third bomb.
With his attorney present, Argyle claims that he got a call warning him about the bomb before he was attacked. And in a desire to help the police, he tells them that the bombing pattern matches an old CLA plan that was never acted upon and gives them the last two targets. Caleb later points out that this is the first time that Argyle has admitted to being a part of the bomb planning phase of the CLA. Back at the hospital, Gibbons plays video games with Blake and gets him to admit who sent him to attack him at the barbershop: the leader of a local gang called "Little Monster."
Through his proxy, Gibbons meets with "Little Monster" and learns that the man wants the same deal and protection that the Irish mob gets from him. Meanwhile, Jarek and Caleb track the bombs back to Trey Stein, the son of two CLA members who went to jail after Argyle escaped punishment. He takes Argyle hostage with a bomb at his hotel, but Jarek enters the room with Trey’s mother on the phone from prison. But instead of dissuading her son, she tells him to go ahead with the final bombing before Jarek and Caleb subdue him.
Later, Jarek and Caleb arrive at Argyle’s awards dinner and arrest him in front of the crowd for his CLA activities. Stunned, Argyle says he was only trying to help them, which Jarek says he appreciates. But he still conspired to commit murder and basically admitted it in front of his lawyer. On TV, Teresa watches Gibbons congratulate himself for the destruction of the Cabrini-Green projects building in which he grew up. And finally, a pair of beat find the body of "Little Monster" in his gang territory.
"The Chicago Code" is continuing to create a world just as intriguing as "The Shield," if not necessarily as gritty. Delroy Lindo is electrifying as Alderman Gibbons, one of the best new villains to pop up in a long while. And it isn’t that Gibbons is just a horrible, evil man. He’s more complex than that and this episode did a lot to flesh out his backstory. Thorough his voiceover flashback, we learn that he was raised in poverty while living in the Chicago housing project and that he first became an Alderman out of a desire to serve his community.
Somewhere along the way, he essentially became the crooked official that’s the real power behind Chicago’s underworld. But what I find so fascinating about him is how easily he turns his enemies’ actions against themselves and the way that he acts indirectly to insulate himself from any charges. He’s also great at making himself look good to the general public, both in his speech outside the barber’s shop and last week during the press conference. Gibbons uses words as just another weapon in his arsenal.
There was an undercurrent throughout his scenes with Blake that Gibbons would kill the young man, which Blake even voiced his concern about. Gibbons definitely has that quiet menace about him and he clearly won’t be brought down easily.
On the other side, Jarek is a refreshingly clear hero. In his personal life, he’s got his flaws (cheating on his fiancée with his ex, for one), but there’s no moral ambiguity to his approach to the job. I loved his brief speech to Argyle as he took him away. He can’t let anyone get away with murder or other major crimes. He’s also very compassionate for the victims of crime and he seems to be a very stand up guy. However, it’s getting a little ridiculous that there’s always a single pedestrian nearby when danger strikes that Jarek has to run over and personally save. That’s two weeks in a row now, so there needs to be some change up in that formula.
Teresa had a nice moment with Jarek near the end when she expressed her admiration for him. But she herself needs more to do on this series. She’s actually on camera quite a bit during her on the job moments. But we know almost nothing about her personal life and sometimes her frigidness makes her off-putting. I want to like her more and she’s making it hard to do so.
The show also seems to be straining to find ways to work Liam, Vonda and Isaac into every episode. Rather than give them little more than cameos, they should be on the bench unless the story really calls for them to be there. Jarek and Teresa are the main characters on this series and it tends to lose focus when it cuts away from them or Alderman Gibbons.
But those are relatively minor complaints for what’s fast becoming the most entertaining cop show on TV. The acting and the writing have been very impressive so far and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.
Crave Online Rating: 8 out of 10.