The Chicago Code certainly doesn’t start soft. This week, we’re thrown right into a bank robbery, onto a train and led to the dead body of one of the perpss, all within the first four minutes. This is before we revisit the political demands of Teresa’s job and Liam’s undercover pressures. Seven minutes in, a guy’s getting beaten. I, for one, love this kind of show, the type that forces the audience to hit the ground running and hang on for the ride. We clamor for smarter television every day; well, here it is. Now watch it.
Jarek brings Teresa another bit of information from Liam: a construction company with dubious motivations and a fat city contract. Given last week, however, she’s skeptical to immediately tie the situation to Alderman Gibbons, so she asks for some legwork before they arrive at any conclusions. Yet when Gibbons mentions the company to Teresa in a meeting, it makes her raise an eyebrow and resolve to push harder. Her chief of staff is the first person to suspect that she may be at odds with Gibbons; it’s great to see that her actions aren’t going unnoticed, and she’s not impervious to criticism simply because she’s one of our protagonists. We see her being willing to shut down a construction site and put the squeeze on the company’s boss, but we also see that such bold actions have consequences, not just for her but even for Alderman Gibbons. For the first time, we see him under pressure and realize that he isn’t necessarily always the top of the food chain. The ongoing story is far-reaching, complex and so far, it’s never gone the way I think it’s going to; for every series that thinks it wants or needs a mythology, The Chicago Code should stand as an example of how to do such a thing right.
Meanwhile, the quest to unravel the bank robbery and its aftermath sees Jarek and Caleb shot at with a submachine gun, while their backup conveniently doesn’t arrive. Jarek is not the kind of man to take this quietly, and when he finds out that the freeze-out is the suggestion of another detective, he sets out on the warpath amongst the very people he should be able to trust most. Again, it’s great to see that Jarek’s alliance with Teresa isn’t quite so secret anymore, and it’s not surprising at all that several cops have an adverse reaction to it; shaking things up is realistically going to have effects all the way down to street level. The show is exploring pretty much every story possibility that’s out there. The concluding scenes are appropriately arresting, showing us that when there is sound and fury, there will be payoff.
The writing on this show is top-notch, but of course, great writing is only truly successful if brought to life by equally competent acting. Delroy Lindo owns the episode with his performance as Gibbons sees himself in both positions of power and of weakness this week; he’s equally convincing in both situations, and that only serves to give further nuance to his character. By episode’s end we see just why he’s such a force to be reckoned with; anyone can be ruthless, but he’s equally as smart. Jason Clarke continues to play Jarek Wysocki as someone I would never want angry at me; I’m intimidated just watching him. Jennifer Beals is equally as fascinating as the both of them. The three main roles on this series are perfectly cast, and that raises the game of a capable supporting cast who grow with every episode.
Putting together great writing with impressive acting, it’s no wonder why this show is can’t miss TV. It’s smart, unflinching, mature television made for a serious audience; the kind that is few and far between. Now I just hope that the audience is there; we can’t complain that we want better TV, and not watch when it’s right here in front of us.
For more on The Chicago Code, check out the show category at my blog, DigitalAirwaves.net.
(c)2011 Brittany Frederick/Digital Airwaves. All rights reserved.