Spoilers ahead for Episode 5 of Chicago PD Season 9, called “Burnside”.
The first four episodes of Chicago PD Season 9 was primarily about dealing with the aftermath of how season 8 ended, and “Burnside” finally moved on by delivering an episode centered on The Royce Hawkins Atwater who found him once again pulled in two directions due to his status as a black cop in Chicago. Atwater was the intelligence unit’s biggest supporter investigating so much by law and as narrow as possible, but he had to work in shades of gray for the greater good in “Burnside”. Moreover, he ultimately has a love interest! Hawkins nailed “Burnside” so much that the emotional ending of the episode leaves me ready for more Atwater-centric episodes.
The episode started off well for Atwater, which probably should have been the first clue he was going get down seriously for him. It is Chicago PD, after all! Still, he had a great time meeting and then returning home with Celestial, which strives to give a safe space for art to young black children in need of a safe haven. The art she posted made it pretty clear that her feelings for the police meant that she probably wouldn’t have brought Atwater home if she had known he was a cop, but they made a fun pair with some chemistry. crackling right off the bat… except Atwater didn’t drop the news of his job and lied about it.
But again, it’s Chicago PD There was bound to be a lie! The plot thickened after a shootout, with the gunman and driver both being children of Celeste’s class. Atwater finally told one of the kids he was a cop, but only so he could talk at 15 Lewis through how to avoid the worst accusations for his role in driving the car.
Sadly, there was evidence to prove Lewis was lying, and he was sent to jail after being indicted as an adult, only to be shot on the way to jail. Atwater bent the rules to try to do the best thing for Lewis, only to have Lewis killed in the same car as him and another cop.
The good news for Atwater is that Intelligence eventually solved the case and caught the man who made the boys commit their crimes, but it wasn’t an easy episode for him. Do everything right didn’t work in time to save Lewis, although it did work to save Burgess at the end of Season 8. And bending the rules wasn’t enough to save Lewis either.
Atwater seemed to feel as lost as Celeste by the end of the episode, and their shared experience of what happened bound them. And Atwater was about to tell her the truth that he’s a cop, but she cut him off, and he refrained from confessing, ending “Burnside” on an emotional cliffhanger. And while it was a rough cliffhanger for Atwater, it capped off a pretty excellent episode that even delivered a new, multi-dimensional love interest that will apparently last longer than a single episode.
And as fishy as it may be for Atwater to hide that he’s a cop when the truth will inevitably emerge, it’s not as fishy as what the others in Intelligence have done. It’s not even in the same stage as when Halstead was fighting his way through a secret relationship with Camila in the days before Upstead. Atwater does almost everything almost exactly right, and it was so interesting to watch. It’s hard to fault Atwater for lying because of the way the actor sold him, and it’s easy to see why Celeste is so convinced he’s a good man even though he doesn’t know him. not for a long time.
LaRoyce Hawkins ticked all the boxes, from intense moments to emotional moments to Atwater’s fun times with Celeste whenever they had a moment when something wasn’t terribly wrong. In fact, his performance after Lewis’ death was one of his best works in the whole series, in my book, and I really hope that Chicago PD hasn’t closed the book on Atwater’s relationship with Celeste means more Atwater-centric episodes are on the way.
Chicago PD changes showrunners, so the future of how stories are told is more uncertain than ever, but I keep my fingers crossed that the show continues to explore what was put together so well by LaRoyce Hawkins in “Burnside “. And i’m always ready for Atwater to make a detective!
Find out with new episodes of Chicago PD Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on NBC, after Chicago fire (who just turned the game around with Casey) at 9 p.m. ET and Chicago Med at 8 p.m. ET. The three shows are among the biggest TV hits of the fall season so far, so keep tuning!