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Chicago P.D. Star LaRoyce Hawkins Breaks Down Atwater's 'Authentic' Undercover Relationships And Major Decision

Spoilers ahead for the January 12 episode of Chicago P.D. Season 9, called “Lies.”

Chicago P.D. lived up to its episode title of “Lies” by putting Atwater through the wringer in the latest installment on NBC. Not only did Atwater have to build and then exploit a relationship with an unwitting CI, but he had to make a big decision about his relationship with Celeste, which had been going very well. After the death of his CI and his choice to come clean to Celeste about all his lies, Atwater’s future is looking a little more bleak and unbalanced than it did before this episode. Actor LaRoyce Hawkins spoke with CinemaBlend about the authenticity of his relationships that were ruined in “Lies,” as well as his major decision with Celeste. 

Atwater built such a strong relationship with Jimmy by the time “Lies” picked up that he even had a bond with Jimmy’s brother, and spoke about his own brother. It was proof not only that Atwater is one of the best undercover cops of the whole show, but also that the CI going from unwitting to aware of Atwater’s decision wasn’t going to go well. When I spoke with LaRoyce Hawkins about the episode, he shared his thoughts on Atwater’s undercover work and whether it will affect him moving forward:

Man, it's hard for me to answer that question without shouting out Brian Marc, first and foremost. Me and Brian Marc had a lot of fun with these characters' stories. So I'm grateful for the energy that he brought to that character, because I think it allowed us to really examine how deep these undercover relationships can be. You know, how deep they can feel, you know, how real they can feel. How authentic you honestly have to be either to that world or in that atmosphere in order for you to gain the trust of somebody that can in a lot of ways consider you a friend.

Brian Marc played Jimmy, and his performance combined with LaRoyce Hawkins’ managed to present a relationship that was brand new to Chicago P.D. but felt like it had been developed off-screen for quite some time. As the actor noted, Atwater had to be at least somewhat authentic to Jimmy to really build what seemed like a friendship to him, and Atwater did try to help him out as much as he could… by the letter of the law. Wanting Jimmy’s boss and trying to help him didn’t quite extend to covering up the murder of Tovar. Hawkins continued on the topic of betrayal between cop and CI, as well as with Celeste:

And so when a friend is betrayed… You know, I think this is one of the first times we get to examine in long form how that affects the CI that doesn't know he's a CI. I think for one of the first times we almost get to relate and really take sides – you know, depending on where you come from, who you are – with the CI in a situation that was the victim of an undercover relationship. You know what I'm saying? And that translates and transpires into the undercover relationship that he also has with Celeste, because we learn in this episode that – I mean, Ruzek knows what's going on more than anything – but, you know, the script is called ‘Lies’ for a reason.

Although Jimmy ultimately made the wrong choice and is presumably going to pay for it for a very long time, if not the rest of his life, he was certainly sympathetic in how he reeled from the reveal of Atwater’s deception. After all, he felt a strong enough bond with the undercover cop that he tried to give Atwater a head start from the cops when it seemed like they were both going to be arrested. Atwater may not have done anything wrong with how he handled the case as a skilled undercover officer, but it backfired in this episode! 

As for whether or not Atwater would have chosen differently regarding Jimmy asking him to claim the execution was in self-defense or his big choice to come clean to Celeste that he’s a cop, LaRoyce Hawkins shared his thoughts on whether part of Atwater considered covering for Jimmy: 

Yeah, there's a big part of Atwater that wanted to, and that would have been the same Atwater that would have continued to lie to Celeste.... I think he was close to that edge, hopefully the audience can see that. Hopefully, the audience can get an understanding of that struggle. That's a struggle, you know what I'm saying, it's a war where we know Atwater typically to be the kind of cat that really has integrity. So when it comes between what's right and wrong, he's always gonna do his best. Because that's that cop part of the story that you have to tell with integrity, because there are cops out there that have integrity. This story represents those cops. But this story also represents that Black man, or that man that's close to the system, close enough to the system to understand both sides. So he does his best to add balance. And hopefully they get to see that balance and how sometimes it can get unbalanced. It's weird, but it's a story we're gonna keep telling.

Atwater struggled, but ultimately made the choices that demonstrated the integrity that makes him arguably the cop in Intelligence who sticks the closest to the straight and narrow. (Certainly more closely than Voight, Upton, and Halstead after what went down in the first half of Season 9!) Unfortunately, the man who was all smiles at the beginning of the episode with Celeste, his new building, and commissioning a young artist to paint a mural was certainly not grinning after breaking the news to Celeste. 

Unless Celeste returns, fans (and possibly Atwater) can only wonder if she was being honest that she wouldn’t have had a problem with him being a cop, and only had issues with the police system as a whole. For now, I just hope that Atwater catches a break one of these days. Maybe he’ll finally make detective! Find out what’s next with new episodes of Chicago P.D. on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on NBC as the final hour of the hit One Chicago block of primetime.

Laura Hurley

Resident of One Chicago, Bachelor Nation, and Cleveland. Has opinions about crossovers, Star Wars, and superheroes. Will not time travel.