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Chicago PD Season 11 Episode 2 Review: Retread

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The Intelligence Unit shares one brain cell, and only Kevin Atwater has primary possession.


The good news is that we mostly got a reprieve from Hailey during Chicago PD Season 11 Episode 2.


However, the bad news is that Ruzek opted to be equally as hardheaded throughout the installment. Is it the Intelligence Unit or the Anti-Intelligence Unit? Because bless their hearts, some of our beloved squad members are stuck on stupid sometimes.


The second installment was stronger than Chicago PD Season 11 Episode 1. It also was evident that the two should’ve been reversed — this episode would’ve been an easier transition into the new season, focusing on Ruzek as he struggled with sitting out of the job.


While it wasn’t a particularly compelling piece of television, it would’ve flowed better if we had first seen this one.


But it was still a tough sell, mainly because the series has become so redundant that most of what they’re presenting is predictable.


While the action is still there, and there’s a darkness and intensity that can keep you glued to the screen, it’s not enough to distract from the fact that they’re recycling the same general concepts and ideas.


We had to watch Adam Ruzek behave recklessly, refuse to listen to anyone, and endanger his job and future because of his involvement in a case he shouldn’t have been part of.


And we had to watch Voight for the umpteenth time, cover for one of his own.


Is it a reprieve from Hailey Upton getting entangled in a plotline that involves a coverup? Sure.


However, it’s still the same storyline, and it’s time to put it to bed.


How often can we watch one of the unit members do something they have no business doing while Voight swoops in to cover their tracks?


We’ve seen this a million times. There’s no salvaging this particular plot point or revitalizing it in an exciting way. The horse is bloodied and dead.


The hour also ended as we would’ve expected, too. Nothing good derives from becoming a confidential informant for the Intelligence Unit.


One of the cardinal rules of Chicago PD is that confidential informants must die.


Zaco didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of surviving the moment we learned he was Ruzek’s CI, and the deeper emboiled he was in the case, the more apparent it was.


It’s because of these things that the hour was lacking.

Adam, if you stay there, the only thing you’re doing is ending your career.

Voight


Nevertheless, it was still nice to check in on Adam Ruzek post-shooting. And as expected, he wasn’t doing wholly well.


The installment gifted us with some great Burzek moments and the domesticated life they have with one another. It was probably a thrill for the ‘shippers, who can rest assured that they are going strong and seem at the healthiest they’ve ever been as a couple.


It’s a relief to know that Burzek is solid as a pairing, especially considering how disastrously things went with the other ship in this series.


Ruzek’s life was out of balance, though. While things were great at home, and he was happy to be a loving and supportive spouse and dad who contently sat through adorable family meals together, not having the job to return to was eating away at him.


We’ve known for some time that Ruzek sees the job as his sense of purpose, and he hasn’t even considered a world where he isn’t a cop.


Ruzek, without the job, is like losing a limb, and he can’t process it.


The long retread process of returning to the field was taking a toll on him. And when you had jackasses like that, the cop who ran the examination, it didn’t help matters.


It wasn’t surprising that Ruzek was the sort who appeared to struggle with the test-taking portion of the retread process. He’s always been a man of instinct and action.


Related: Chicago PD: Hailey Upton’s Eventual Departure is a Blessing In Disguise


His approach to the job is about feelings and a natural inclination for it. It isn’t this thing that he had to learn and study, but rather something that came naturally to him.


But we learned that without the job, Ruzek is inclined to fill the void that it leaves with dangerous things.


It was disconcerting when he rolled out of bed for a poker game in the middle of the night. But it was even worse when he showed up at this seedy bar with a bunch of criminals and hoodlums for some illegal gambling.


The ripoff just as he won was an exciting scene, especially when bullets started flying, resulting in two bodies.


It was also clear from how the Bala brothers ran inside that it had to be an inside job.


It’s not uncommon for unit members to catch cases in their off time, but this got out of hand when Ruzek couldn’t turn his cop instincts off long enough to avoid firing his service weapon at the scene and chasing after the perps.


Ruzek put himself in the worst possible position seconds into the episode, and that pattern continued. It was generally frustrating to watch.


If they knew that the bar was a place that was frequently on the radar for VICE and others, he shouldn’t have been there. It was so unbelievably reckless and felt like character regression for a man who has worked hard to shed his hotheaded and impulsive nature.

Zaco: I guess this is what Ruzek’s promises look like.
Burgess: What promises?
Zaco: That I wouldn’t be dragged into any of this. That he would protect me.


But at least we could hopefully chalk this up to Ruzek not being at his best after the shooting and needing to be on the job to be at his best.


They took a different approach to Ruzek recovering from his shooting, so fortunately, he wasn’t battling PTSD, and it wasn’t more of the same as it was for Kim.


And that’s a relief because everyone handles things like that differently, and it’s great to see all those sides explored.


It also shows that a guy like Ruzek wouldn’t face the level of PTSD that Kim Burgess did and could get through a shooting without the mental and emotional toll — likely because of his penchant for recklessness.


But some of his more frustrating traits were intensified because of all of this.


The hour was ironically funny in many ways. Voight getting that phone call was hilarious because there isn’t a single moment when he doesn’t have to cover for some team member.


Between Hailey, Jay, and Ruzek alone, it’s no wonder his hair hasn’t gone entirely white, and that’s not to account for all he does on his own.


At this point, Hank Voight is starting to feel like a single dad with many unruly kids who find trouble at every conceivable turn (not unfamiliar territory for him, given his experiences with Justin and Erin).


But he can’t even get upset about any of it because they basically got it from him, right?


But the lack of communication is the worst thing to happen routinely.


Given that they caught the case, he would’ve done better telling the team upfront what was happening. It wouldn’t have changed anything since they would have happily covered for Ruzek.


But it took him until Burgess kept noticing things on her own and pressing him for Voight to tell her the truth because it could potentially affect her family.


Related: Chicago PD Season 11 Wishlist


And neither he nor Kim Burgess bothered to tell the rest of the unit what was happening even when they all could piece things together.


Hailey having the unmitigated gall to press on the issue was hilarious, considering she NEVER tells the other team members about any of the laundry list of coverups and crap she and Voight are always up to.


While Hailey was right for wanting honesty, something that should always be a thing, it was rich coming from her, of all people, to push this issue, and thus, it was annoying.


Ruzek couldn’t stay in the house and lay low for anything.

Kim, I’m no good without the job.

Ruzek


There were some amusing aspects of that — the transition between Kim busting down the Balas’ door while Ruzek was pushing a cart in the grocery store was worth a chuckle.


And all his little domestic chores at the house while he desperately tried to stay tapped into the case was funny.


But the guy wasn’t tracking down leads on his own and generally endangering himself and making a bigger mess.


Voight was actively trying to ensure he wasn’t brought into this investigation and fending off Internal Affairs. Ruzek showed up at crime scenes with neighbors describing him and Hailey identifying his jeep.


We got an insightful moment amid all this when he got vulnerable with Voight about why he’s been struggling so much.


He genuinely fears ending up like his father, which you can understand since his complex relationship with the man has popped up within the series a few times.


Ruzek lives for the job as much as his father did, and the prospect of losing his purpose and becoming as much of a disappointment as his father without it scared Ruzek.


The gambling was a sure enough sign that it was a valid concern for Ruzek.

Kim: I’ve got you.
Adam: Of course.


I loved that moment between Ruzek and Voight. It has been a long time since they’ve connected in that way, and it’s nice to see Voight’s paternal take with some of the other characters.


It was also lovely to see Voight interacting with Burgess more. We rarely see that pairing working together or partnered up.


We got some Burgess and Kevin Atwater, too, which is always a blast, except this time, it felt out of character that Burgess would lie to Kevin about Zaco and everything going on with Ruzek.


The three of them are far too close-knit for that to be believable. Both members of Burzek confide in Kevin about everything, and if it comes down to covering for one another or helping one another out of a bind, those three are the definition of ride-or-die.


Kim and Voight taking Zaco to the cage was befitting of an hour that revolved around them covering for Ruzek. It brought back some of the old-school vibe of them crossing lines.


Zaco was an intelligent kid, and when you have the unit pushing boundaries the way they do, it works better when they have people of interest who can give as good as they get.


Zaco called them out for everything, knew they were trying to protect Ruzek, and arranged a way to benefit them.


But the second he put on that wire, he was a dead man.

Voight: Whatever is going on in your head because you got shot–
Ruzek: I don’t have PTSD. It’s the job, I miss the job.


Arben knew something was up the second he came face-to-face with Zaco. If Zaco didn’t get into that car, Arben would’ve found another way to shoot him.


The whole scenario of the unit losing Zaco and the feeds was contrived. But Ruzek got to show off his tech skills, and he got to play hero, too.


It was important to see that he isn’t someone with reservations about the job or putting himself in danger. He didn’t hesitate to track Arben even if he was going into a tense situation without backup in the immediate vicinity or clearing to be on the job.


Despite his desire to return to duty, he risked it all to save Zaco. It shows you that Ruzek will always be a cop, even if he isn’t cleared to be one.


It’s not an occupation for him; it’s a calling.


I loved Kim’s reassurances throughout the hour. She genuinely supported him even when she was frustrated with his actions and the risks he was taking.


We have a more evolved Kim, and it’s evident that therapy and time have worked wonders for her.


And while it was never called into question that she wouldn’t support and love Adam through anything, she’s gotten infinitely better at showing and voicing it. Hence, there’s no room for misinterpretation.

Voight: I was just about to call Adam.
Burgess: How bad is it?


Even if he never got cleared and couldn’t be a cop again, she knew that they’d be okay — things would be fine, and they’d get through it as long as they did so together.


Thankfully, that day won’t happen, and we won’t have to worry about what other trouble Ruzek would get into without the job.


He got his clearance, and the unit won’t have to be short-staffed.


But hopefully, he won’t internalize guilt over Zaco’s death. And the same goes for Kim after watching Arben die.


Related: Chicago Fire Review: He’ll Always Be Mouch to Us


It was such a needlessly awful scene, but alas, this show loves to sprinkle trauma into a Kim storyline for some razzle-dazzle, like glitter.


The season may be taking a more personal approach with the storylines, which doesn’t have to be bad.


However, hopefully, we’ll get stronger cases that don’t feel redundant.


And since Hailey and Ruzek were already in timeout, maybe we can prevent the others from doing stupid and questionable things in the foreseeable future.


Over to you, Chicago PD Fanatics.


Were you yelling at Ruzek the entire time? Are you loving these paternal Voight moments? What are your thoughts on the season so far?


Chicago PD airs on Wednesdays at 10/9c on NBC. It streams on Peacock the following day.

Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. She is an insomniac who spends late nights and early mornings binge-watching way too many shows and binge-drinking way too much tea. Her eclectic taste makes her an unpredictable viewer with an appreciation for complex characters, diverse representation, dynamic duos, compelling stories, and guilty pleasures. You’ll definitely find her obsessively live-tweeting, waxing poetic, and chatting up fellow Fanatics and readers. Follow her on X.



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