I said last week that I thought I was getting addicted to The Chicago Code. Having seen this episode, I can say it for sure: I am in love with this show.
As much as it is possible to have a crush on a fictional character, I think I have one when it comes to Jarek, who has time in his morning to give Teresa a perfect rant about the need for better police radios, and without missing a beat, goes out to bust the bad guys with a smile on his face. He's not happy when Teresa pulls him off a drug bust to talk to a philanthropist who'd like to know who sold her son the illegal substances that put him into a coma. It's not long before they find the kid's girlfriend beaten to death in his car, which is in the river.
This is leads to Jarek and Caleb looking massively out of place at a local nightclub, which they quickly peg as ground zero for high-end prostitutes. They're able to strongarm the girlfriend's roommate and fellow hooker into helping them, which is to say that she reveals that said girlfriend recorded several of her encounters with prominent people - including "coma boy's" father. To close their case, our heroes get to bust open a brothel. This salacious story is nothing new, but it doesn't stop Jason Clarke and Matt Lauria from chewing the scenery. Jarek refers to himself as "an equal opportunity SOB," while Caleb gets tetchy with the roomie. Both actors pop this episode; every scene crackles in some way. Clarke is one of those actors that when he starts talking, I just shut up and listen to him. He's a force of nature, not unlike his character. They're really a perfect fit.
Tension between the partners also begins to build, as Jarek has looked into Caleb's file through dubious means, and doesn't like what he finds there. In turn, Caleb refuses to let Jarek dump him, saying if their partnership ends, "it's because of who you are." By episode's end, Caleb calls Jarek out on having an affair with his ex-wife, leaving the veteran cop almost speechless. I'd call it Lauria's best scene to date, and it's a curveball; one figures that the subplot was going to be exposed, but I never wouldve pegged it for so soon, or for Caleb to be the one to figure it out. (Yet now that I think on it, I should've figured he'd be the one; that's a sign of a good character, when revelations make perfect sense.) I applaud both the actor and the writers for not making Caleb just another fresh-faced, naive new cop. We now know a lot more about his backstory, and we know he came to play. It's got to be tough holding one's own against someone with such gravity as Jason Clarke, but Matt Lauria is doing more than fine in that department.
Teresa locks horns with Dennis, the mayor's chief of staff (the always-amazing Steven Culp of Desperate Housewives, 24, JAG et cetera, who also always seems to be playing a jerk these days), first over the radios and then over the investigation. Teresa tells Caleb and Jarek in front of Dennis to drop the investigation, but already we know her character well enough to know that she's playing for her audience. Though our boys take suspensions, Teresa is quite pleased with what they uncover, and I'd expect nothing less from her. Already, I know what to expect from her; again, that's credit to both the actor and the writer. I feel like this show has three leads who are really entrenched in their characters, and who are always better than they were the week before. That is something most TV shows would kill for, and I feel lucky to know that I can see three great performances week after week.
Isaac and Vonda roll out with Moose (Brad William Henke, who's been doing double duty between this and Justified awhile now) and the task force again, but things go wrong when the guy they're transporting pulls a gun and nearly shoots them both. Vonda takes the rap for failing to frisk the suspect, covering for Moose to keep her spot on the team. We can see that Vonda has her uncle's wiles about her; the question is if that'll get her in trouble, and if it does, if she can get out of it.
We also get to hear from Jarek's 27-year-old fiancee, Elena. If there's one thing about him that drives me nuts, it's how he's cheating on his fiancee with his ex-wife. That makes me want to slap him every time it comes up. But it's one flaw in a character I love, and maybe now that he's been called out on it, he'll sort that out sooner rather than later. And it wouldn't matter so much if I didn't already care so strongly about his character.
It's an accomplishment that only six episodes into the entire series, I feel like I'm in the hearts and minds of all the characters in The Chicago Code. I'm not just invested in them from a dramatic standpoint; I understand why they act the way they do, and I'm feeling more and more each week like they're people. This is the first episode where I found myself talking to my television; not that I thought they could hear me but because these characters are engaging me. While I love the point-of-view voiceovers, I could go without them and still feel like I know these people. I even miss the ones that aren't in the episode (okay, Gibbons not so much, but maybe a little). To me, this whole universe feels like it's filled out and it's alive, and we're only six episodes in. That's really amazing, to be able to start from scratch and build a world that quickly.
Most shows take entire seasons to find their characters, let alone all the smaller things like feel and tone. The Chicago Code found itself early on, and every week I see it grow somehow. It's obvious how much heart and soul goes into this show every week, and knowing that, it's impossible for me not to love it in return.
For more The Chicago Code, check out the show category at my blog, DigitalAirwaves.net.