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Spoilers ahead for the second episode of Chicago P.D. Season 7, called "Assets."
The first episode of Chicago P.D. Season 7 had a lot of loose ends to tie off from the end of Season 6, ranging from the case of who murdered Mayor Kelton to what happened to Antonio, but the second episode was able to introduce an exciting new character by the name of Vanessa Rojas, played by Lisseth Chavez. Could she fill the empty slot in Intelligence with Antonio gone?
Vanessa was first introduced as an undercover bartender working for crime boss Darius Walker, and it wasn't until Intelligence tried to arrest Vanessa in a cop-on-cop drug bust that she was identified as one of the good guys. Although she wasn't officially part of Intelligence by the end of "Assets," she will work with the team moving forward, and her undercover adventures with Atwater prove that she works well with him at least.
Chicago P.D. showrunner Rick Eid spoke with CinemaBlend about "Assets," and he said this when asked how Vanessa would fit into the dynamic of the Intelligence Unit, which is moving forward without Antonio:
It's going to be a hard transition for her. She has no formal training. She was plucked out of the academy, given an undercover assignment. So she's got all this amazing street smarts and guile and instincts, but she's never really had to work within a team before. So the question is can she adapt to being part of a team and do things a certain within a certain structure. The character grew up pretty hard, tough. She spends a lot of time in foster care, so she's developed a certain skill set and a certain way of thinking and living. The question is will she be able to fit into the unit? I think she wants to, I think she's desperately looking to be part of this family.
While Vanessa was great in helping close the case and catch Darius Walker in "Assets," working with Intelligence is bound to be very different from her undercover work. The cops of Intelligence have become family to each other, and not just because a bunch of them have dated (or will date) within the unit.
In all seriousness, the cops of Intelligence rarely go into the field alone unless it's an undercover assignment, and even then there's often a partner ready to race in with an assist. Vanessa won't have had the same experiences as the others in Intelligence, and although she's bound to bring a lot to the team with her own perspective and instincts, the transition won't be easy on her.
At this point, I have to wonder if Ruzek could be helpful to Vanessa as she makes her transition. He was originally pulled out of the academy and straight into Intelligence. While that was obviously many years ago, he might have the perspective she could really use. Besides, he may need something to focus on that doesn't involve acting out, considering the short leash he's on now, and lending an ear (and hand) to Vanessa could do the trick.
Fans shouldn't start speculating that a Ruzek/Vanessa love connection is in the works just because they both started from similar places before teaming up with Intelligence, though. Rick Eid teased a romance for Atwater in Season 7, and when I asked if Vanessa will be involved, Eid had a very simple answer: "Yes."
Atwater is the only current member of Intelligence who hasn't dated somebody else on the team, so now his time has seemingly come! He and Vanessa made for a good team in "Assets," and I for one am interested in seeing how that dynamic develops. Will this be the only romance in Intelligence this season? Rick Eid did hint that there could be some developments on the Halstead/Upton front as well.
At this point, my biggest question is how Vanessa will mix up the established dynamic of Intelligence. The previous duos were Halstead/Upton, Atwater/Ruzek, and Burgess/Dawson. Antonio is out now, but Intelligence generally only partners women with each other for certain missions. Will it be as simple as Vanessa stepping into Antonio's vacant slot as Burgess' partner, or will there be a partner shuffle once there are three women in Intelligence?