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'Chicago P.D.': Get to know the key characters

Have you been following Chicago P.D. this season? This spinoff of Chicago Fire debuted in January with some of the characters we met on that series. Here’s a look at the key players in District 21 and its two divisions: the beat cops and, more prominently, the Intelligence Unit, led by Sergeant Hank Voight (Jason Beghe).

Voight has been strategically planted to help Internal Affairs get their most wanted — the big offenders, like drug traffickers and organized crime syndicates. The IA’s most wanted aren’t necessarily the same criminals Voight is interested in bringing down, and that’s the internal conflict that fuels his volatile character. While it’s an interesting premise given his past, it’s not necessarily going to work in the long run.

Beghe plays the part of Voight much differently than he did on Chicago Fire. There, he showed little humanity. Here, he bristles with it. His humanity and desire to save those unable to save themselves drive him to brutal measures, like using an attacker’s own methods on him to get information.

In one episode, Voight stands on a high rise overlooking the Chicago skyline and tells his IA handler that this is his town — and he means it. He’s going to do whatever it takes to bring dirtbags to justice, and he knows he’s perilously closer to becoming one himself with every case he solves.

Beghe does a fantastic job of reminding us of where Voight’s been and who he wants to be. The IA characters who pop in every other episode tend to antagonize and annoy, rather than add meaningful layers to an already well-drawn character. When the handler pulls Voight off of a case to attend to what they consider more important needs, it’s difficult as viewers to even consider IA might be right when Voight is actively trying to save the lives of three missing girls with stomachs full of heroin baggies.

Voight’s team knows enough to learn from him without emulating his behavior. They follow orders to the extent they are comfortable and no further, and he doesn’t push them beyond their boundaries.

Detective Antonio Dawson (Jon Seda)

Detective Dawson also frequented Chicago Fire, as the brother of Gabriela Dawson (Monica Raymund). He helped his sister and her friends navigate the department waters when Voight was personally attacking and terrorizing a firefighter and his girlfriend while attempting to keep evidence about his son from coming to light after he paralyzed a teen while driving drunk.

Despite the red flags, when given the opportunity to be Voight’s second in command in the Intelligence Unit, Dawson takes it. He’s uniquely skilled to advise the others on how to follow Voight without becoming him. His moral compass never wavers.

Detective Jay Halstead (Jesse Lee Soffer)

Detective Halstead was working undercover when he met Gabriela and they started dating. She had no idea he was a cop, and it put her in an uncomfortable position when she discovered the truth through the help of her cousin. Dawson is the one who encourages Voight to accept Halstead into the Intelligence Unit.

Halstead is bright and brimming with enthusiasm in his new gig. He’s toeing the line but questions how much he should be adopting from Voight’s lessons. He’s also interested in his partner, who has a unique relationship with Voight.

Detective Erin Lindsay (Sophia Bush)

Halstead’s partner is Detective Lindsay, a former street kid turned criminal informant for Voight. Halstead and his wife took her in and showed her compassion for the first time[TC: Is this what you mean?] in her 16 years — something that was missing from her junkie mother and imprisoned father. She’s tough and formidable, but finds it difficult to form meaningful relationships. Voight is concerned about her getting too close to her partner — not because he thinks she’ll be hurt, but because she might crush any man who gets too close. Lindsay knows a lot about Voight, but she always wants to know more.

Undercover Agent Detective Alvin Olinsky (Elias Koteas)

Detective Olinsky is seasoned and patient. He has a long working history with Voight, and there is a mutual admiration and trust between the two. Olinsky is prepared to do whatever it takes to gain intelligence in an operation, even if it means donning a pair of Depends adult diapers so he doesn’t leave his post and miss his mark coming into frame.

Detective Kyle Ruzek (Patrick John Fleuger)

Olinsky’s hard-edged tactics and demanding personality don’t scare his new partner, rookie detective Ruzek. For most of the season, Ruzek lies to his fiancée about his job because he’s afraid of what she might think.

After he botches an operation because his wedding planning interfered with his ability to concentrate, and barges into a crime scene with no forethought, he finally starts to listen to Olinsky and learn from his years of experience, instead of thinking he has it all figured out straight out of the academy.

Rounding out the team are Detective Sheldon Jin (Archie Cho), who runs IT and surveillance, and two beat cops who are always at the mercy of everyone else: Officer Kim Burgess (Marina Squerciati), who is aching to be on the Intelligence Unit, and her partner, Kevin Atwater (LaRoyce Hawkins). Atwater and Burgess seem to find themselves involved in a lot of lighter incidents that take some weight off of the more troublesome crimes the team investigates.

Recently,  Atwater and Burgess have both had the opportunity to go undercover on operations with Intelligence, and Ruzek worked with Burgess on the beat. Until then, Ruzek is certain that making detective puts him above street cops. But after a day on the beat, he shows a new appreciation for their work and an attachment to Burgess that may compromise his engagement.

Have you found a favorite character on Chicago P.D.? Hit the comments and let us know whose shoes you’d like to step into. Be sure to follow along each week and share your thoughts on the episodes, the relationships between these unique figures, and how they handle the cases that come up.