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Major spoilers below for the Season 5 finale of Chicago P.D.
In the penultimate episode of Chicago P.D.'s fifth season, Kevin Bingham's murder case took a swift turn as Olinsky was charged with the crime, despite only having moved the body after the fact. That episode set up the finale's shocker when Olinsky was stabbed several times by a fellow inmate, and though many fans probably thought he would pull through, "Homecoming" confirmed pretty early on that Olinsky died from his injuries. Executive producer Rick Eid revealed how and why he and the other writers decided to cap Season 5 off by taking out a major player.
He didn't have to die. It was one of the things that just evolved from the storytelling this season. It was one of those ideas that the writers, after pitching, once that Woods-Voight-Olinsky story line really became front and center and we started thinking of ways to dramatize it and play it through to its honest conclusion, it was an idea that just kept coming up. From a dramatic point of view, we all thought it was really interesting. From a human in real life point of view and a business point of view, we all thought it was really difficult and horrible. It was just a tough thing.
To say that justice was served in all of this mess would be stretching the truth a bit, but it does seem like Voight might actually be fully in the clear now. The investigation into Olinsky's stabbing revealed it to be about revenge -- go figure -- and Voight ended up killing the person who called for the prison hit. It was obviously important for Voight to tie up any and all loose ends, even if that witness-surrounded shooting might come back to bite him, and his name was eventually cleared for Bingham's murder. (Though he had to get Denny eyed for witness tampering to do so, after already getting too talky with him.) Beyond his own self-preservation, though, Voight definitely owed Olinsky for knowingly taking the fall there.
And as Rick Eid put it to EW, they thought it was an interesting way to take things, and having loyalty serve as a foundation for a death is certainly a memorable way to take out a main character on a show like this. In Eid's words:
We were like, "Wow. This feels real. It feels like Voight is finally paying for what he did to this Bingham character." It was an interesting way for Olinsky to exit. We kept talking about him. He'd be dying on the mantle of his own loyalty. . . . Ultimately, the final decision is just really hard because everybody loves Elias, and he's a great actor and a great person. It's hard. That's honestly how it all came about.
Elias Koteas, who also made cameos on Chicago M.D. over the years, first appeared as Alvin Olinsky in Chicago Fire's second season, and he's been a part of the P.D. unit since it first hit NBC in 2014. And given that all three Chicago shows were given renewals ahead of the finale, it seemed likely that Olinsky would still be healing from his injuries when Season 6 kicked off. But even though Rick Eid says he and the creative team pitched every possible outcome and iteration for how this story could end, Olinsky's death inevitably felt like the best call.
Head to the next page to see what Rick Eid has to say about how the finale's tragic moments could affect Season 6.
While Voight technically did get away with his own vengeful murder, "Homecoming" proved that if you try to sweep too much under the rug, the rug won't be able to cover it all. And when Rick Eid was asked if the writers knew that Voight was going to end up paying for his crimes one way or another, here's what he said.
We try to think about every angle and what is the most real and honest version of it all. I think that it's a little too neat and tidy to have Voight always have his cake and eat it too. So we felt that he needed to, to the extent that he wins against Woods, he needs to lose against something else. The weight of all this, I think, will be interesting how it impacts going Voight going forward and effects the team.
Voight isn't a guy who moves on from situations very easily. Even though his job is mostly done as far as Bingham and Olinsky go, I will assume he had to build an entirely new closet to hold all these additional skeletons.
How will this all affect the Chicago P.D. team as a whole? In Eid's words:
Yeah, possibly. It's all interesting fertile territory to explore. We haven't convened the writers' room for next season yet. So who knows where it will all go? Everybody's impacted, and everybody has their own point of view. We saw some of that with Antonio and Voight in the finale and in Episode 21 as well. This was a big thing, him being arrested was a big thing, and certainly, him being attacked and killed was a big thing. I'm sure it'll play out in some fashion in Season 6. . . . I think [Olinsky's death] will definitely affect everyone in a meaningful way. I think it will manifest in different ways for different characters. I think Ruzek will be really impacted by that, Antonio. Al was a beloved figure in that unit, and some people are going to blame Voight. I'm pretty sure Voight's going to blame Voight. It'll be interesting, hopefully.
For now, Chicago P.D. is on its hiatus, so fans will have to mourn Olinsky's death while watching reruns and waiting for Season 6 to show up this fall. (Hopefully the show doesn't lose more cast members soon.) In the meantime, our summer premiere schedule will clue you in on shows that can take your mind off Chicago P.D.'s shocking conclusion.