Chicago P.D. Showrunner Talks Upton's Obsession With Sean And Obstacles For Intelligence In The Fall Finale

Season 10 of Chicago P.D. is set to end 2022 with the cops of the Intelligence Unit doing everything in their power to gather enough evidence to put Sean O’Neal behind bars, despite the fact that the trafficker is also the son of the CPD chief. After Burgess and Upton managed to chase down a lead to find a body, the team actually has a shot at connecting him to the crimes in the fall finale. According to showrunner Gwen Sigan, however, Intelligence will run into some obstacles that definitely won’t go over well with Upton in particular, and this won't be a repeat of the fall finale of Season 9.

It’s thanks to Upton that Intelligence even began connecting the dots that tied Sean O’Neal to trafficking. Her suspicions about him led to an obsession, with no Halstead to try and talk her down… or at least bring her home for a good night’s sleep. For better or worse, her obsession may get a very bad man off the streets. When Chicago P.D. boss Gwen Sigan spoke with CinemaBlend about the fall finale that airs on December 7, she shared how hard the case is hitting Upton now that she and Burgess found some actual (although not necessarily enough) evidence against Sean: 

She is monomaniacal about this man. She's so obsessed with the case. She's not going home. She's staying at the district all hours, she has gotten into his head so much. She knows everything about him up at that point. At the end of [Episode 8], we saw that she's just been staying in that room, right? Looking at that board and piecing together his entire life, so she is fully committed to taking this man down. Now that we have a shred of real evidence, physical evidence, not just circumstantial, it's even more so. She's just a woman on fire, ‘Let's get him,’ [and] not going to be happy about the obstacles that are going to stand in her way in Episode 9.

The ninth episode is the fall finale, so Upton will have to overcome these obstacles if she wants a chance at nailing Sean for his crimes before Season 10 heads into winter hiatus. It’s possible that she’ll have to go by the book more now that their investigation involves evidence rather than her instincts, but it’s also hard to imagine that she would pull back if she believes she can save lives and put a prolific criminal behind bars. 

Gwen Sigan didn’t reveal exactly what obstacles will be in the way to cause problems for Upton, although the description for the episode – called “Proof of Burden” – reveals that Chief O’Neal will hire a lawyer as he tries to keep his son out of prison. On the bright(er) side, Upton isn’t standing alone in trying to catch Sean. All the cops of Intelligence are involved now (and Burgess is the one whose breakthrough led to the evidence). Gwen Sigan previewed how they’ll all be dealing with the case: 

It's definitely all hands on deck. I think they’re all incredibly invested in a case like this, especially a long-term investigation like this with minors as the victims. Of course everybody is going to have quite an investment in it. All of them will be just gunning as much as they can to get through these obstacles.

All of the cops of Intelligence gunning for the same person is usually very bad news for the bad guy, but Chicago P.D. already proved that having to work the case while keeping it away from Chief O’Neal caused some problems. In fact, the chief’s involvement will be one of the obstacles, as Gwen Sigan continued:

A lot of it is the fact that this is the chief's son, so there's a lot of resources behind it, and the chief is wanting to protect him at any cost. So there's a lot of obstacles that they're going to face, and everybody's invested equally. I think it's now about how do we outsmart them? How do we outsmart this man? And how do we make this case even though everything's stacked against us?

There are a lot of unknowns heading into ”Proof of Burden,” not the least of which is whether or not the year will end with a cliffhanger for the cops of Chicago P.D. Fans will remember that the fall finale of Season 7 ended with Halstead shot and his fate unknown in a bloody cliffhanger. On the other hand, the fall finale of Season 9 last year ended with some closure… and a wedding for Upton and Halstead, plus a new dynamic with Voight

There’s not much that’s up with Upstead nowadays due to Jesse Lee Soffer's departure, but the timing made me wonder: how will the show’s Season 10 fall finale compare to the Season 9 fall finale in 2021, with Upton and Halstead tying the knot? Showrunner Gwen Sigan had an answer for that very question, saying:

Very different! That was very dark too, though. I mean, it was a wedding. It was a connection, but it was so based on her instinctually needing something to hold on to, because all of this awful stuff had just happened to her. So I think this one [is] definitely just as dark, but I think in a hopeful way. We just found evidence, you know, and this is huge evidence. This is something that we can use to hopefully take this guy down. So in a way, it's a hopeful discovery that is adrenalized, even though it is disgusting and dark, and all the nasty things of CPD. [laughs]

Well, Chicago P.D. hasn’t earned its reputation as the darkest of the three One Chicago shows for nothing, if “hopeful” can be used to describe the discovery of a body! Tracy Spiridakos and Jesse Lee Soffer spoke about the Upstead wedding scene (and what changed) back in 2021; combined with Gwen Sigan’s comments, it’s safe to say that the final episode of 2022 will go in some extremely different directions. 

As for everything else that will happen in “Proof of Burden,” you’ll have to tune in to NBC on Wednesday, December 7 at 10 p.m. ET for the fall finale of Chicago P.D. as part of a full night of Windy City action on the network. Chicago Fire closes out 2022 at 9 p.m. with some consequences (and a sky-high stunt) for Severide, and Chicago Med will say goodbye to Ethan for what could be an extremely happy ending

Check out our 2023 TV premiere schedule for when One Chicago and more major shows will return in the new year, and take advantage of a Peacock subscription over the break if you need a fix of Med, Fire, and/or P.D..

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.