Chicago P.D.'s Tracy Spiridakos Explains Upton's Journey To Becoming 'Fully' Happy And Finding Family

Chicago P.D. delivered a case that was quite chilling for Hailey Upton, both personally as she dealt with guilt and very literally as she dealt with hypothermia after a February dip in the Chicago River. The episode showed how Upton is trying to become the best version of herself, but working in Intelligence means tracking down the worst of the worst criminals in the city, and that can take a toll. Actress Tracy Spiridakos spoke with CinemaBlend about the big episode and the aftermath for Upton as she tries to move on. 

“Still Water” was a rough episode, but also illustrated that Upton is recovering from the darkness of where she was with Voight in Season 8 and early Season 9, including saving the bad guy instead of letting him drown and not totally shutting Halstead down when he showed concern for her. Tracy Spiridakos explained how Upton is healing in the second half of Season 9: 

I think she's trying. I think she's really trying. I think she wants to be – like we were saying – the best version of herself. And so I think she's really, really trying and I think at the end of the episode... what happened in this story sits with her, as I think everything has. And so as much as there's a moment being around everybody, and she's enjoying being around everybody and the people that she loves, she just can't quite fully be happy in that moment, and I think we'll see her continue to try and figure that out.

Upton has officially made progress! She let Platt throw her the party in honor of ten years on the job at CPD, and even managed to smile despite the difficult case, but she hadn’t yet healed to the place of letting herself “fully be happy.” Still, who could blame her in this episode? Hypothermia alone could rattle anybody, on top of the guilt and stress she felt for accidentally saving a criminal over his victim. But Upton toward the end of Season 8 might have handled things differently, and it seems she is healing… in her own time. 

It doesn’t seem to hurt that Intelligence is more supportive at this point, with no huge secrets being kept and no pressure from Voight pushing her to the point of panic attacks and scratching herself bloody. When I noted that it was nice to see Upton catch a little bit of a break with some of the others in the episode, Tracy Spiridakos said:

Yeah, for sure. I also really liked at the beginning, having a funny moment, some levity at the beginning, with Atwater and her. We don't really get to see the two of them play together very often. And so that was fun, with Platt, that whole sequence, I really, really liked.

Tracy Spiridakos doesn’t often get to share scenes with LaRoyce Hawkins that don’t involve Upton and Atwater investigating a case, let alone having a chat with Platt about party planning. Sure, the levity in the opening minutes of “Still Water” made it inevitable that something was going to go wrong for poor Hailey, but it was a nice start to an episode that would go on to get pretty dark. And wet, for Tracy Spiridakos and her stunt double! 

After the two water sequences for Upton (including an element in her pool save that viewers probably missed), she had a celebratory ending with her friends, her husband, and the woman who had inspired her to become a cop in the first place. Tracy Spiridakos weighed in on the importance of Upton having her found family with the Intelligence team vs. the complicated (and mostly off-screen) situation with her actual family:

I think it means everything to her. I think it's really cool to see how she's grown from the time that she's come here, where she had come to Intelligence, to where she is now. Where she first kind of came on, and she didn't really go out of her way to befriend anybody. She kind of kept to herself. You know, Jay a little bit, and that was it. And now we've gotten to see all these different relationships and how it's really grown to be her family. I think that is absolutely [true]. I think she would consider them her family more than her own family.

As for whether or not Chicago P.D. will ever shed more light on Upton’s history with her family, only time will tell. Her journey to truly becoming fully happy might actually go a lot smoother if she can focus on her CPD family over her past with her father. For now, we can at least hope that Upton doesn’t wind up diving into Lake Michigan to make a save anytime soon! That job belongs to Severide and Squad 3 over on Chicago Fire

Find out what happens next with new episodes of Chicago P.D. on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on NBC to close out a full night of One Chicago action, following Chicago Fire at 9 p.m. and Chicago Med at 8 p.m. The 2022 TV schedule is packed with even more options as well, including no fewer than six other shows that share the same TV universe with One Chicago.

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 and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).