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Spoilers lie ahead for the October 30 episode of Chicago P.D. on NBC, called "False Positive."
Chicago P.D. didn't waste any time in going for the emotional gut punch in "False Positive," which started with Halstead helping Trudy volunteer to help kids in a rough neighborhood and quickly turned into Halstead discovering two kids who had been shot in the head while playing video games. Halstead wasn't handling the case well, and Voight ultimately had to step in and fight dirty to protect him, and this may mean that Halstead lost the high ground or perspective to counter some of Voight's darker instincts.
Here's what happened. Shaken by finding the bodies of two murdered kids, Halstead went all out to try and find the killer. When Crawford insisted that Intelligence take advantage of a beta (and still off-the-books) version of an advanced facial recognition system, the tech provided a name with almost 100% certainty: Marcus West. When Marcus refused to confess, Halstead threw him into county jail rather than keep him in the 21st District, to try and loosen his tongue.
Unfortunately, Halstead found out that Crawford hadn't shared that the facial rec technology was often faulty on people with darker skin, and the tech screwed up identifying the killer in this particular case. Nobody found this out in time to save the wrongfully accused Marcus, however, and he was killed in jail after everybody in the murdered boys' neighborhood thought he had committed the crimes.
Intelligence did figure out who the real killer was, but the death of Marcus West likely meant that Halstead was going to lose his job, at the very best. Basically, Jay was in a lot of trouble on top of all the guilt he was feeling that an innocent man had died due to his actions, even if he wasn't the one who set the wheels in motion with the facial rec tech.
Well, Voight wasn't ready to let Crawford take down Halstead for the mess, especially since Crawford was the one who pushed so hard for Intelligence to use the tech to track down the killer, but saving Jay involved fighting dirty. Rather than arrest the man who actually killed the kids, Voight gave his name to the neighborhood gang leader, whose nephew had been one of the slain. The killer was beaten to death in retribution.
As if that wasn't enough of a line to cross, Voight and Crawford allowed Marcus West to take the blame for the murders, since there was no way he could exonerate himself, and Marcus as the killer would keep Halstead's name clean in the CPD. While Halstead himself wasn't involved in Voight handing the killer over for street justice or Marcus being officially named as the killer, he clearly knew what Voight had done... for him.
Jesse Lee Soffer, who plays Halstead on Chicago P.D., weighed in on Halstead stepping in as Voight's conscience following the departure of Antonio, saying this to CinemaBlend's Adrienne Jones at the One Chicago press day:
I think somebody's gotta do it. In the first episode, Voight's up for a murder charge, Ruzek doesn't have his badge... There's a fine line between right and wrong and we always walk that line and sometimes Voight does some really wrong stuff to get the job done, even if it's justified because he's [trying eventually to do] something right. And, I think Jay [feels] someone has to be the voice of reason and reel him back in and make sure that he doesn't go too far, because I think Voight would always go too far if someone wasn't watching his back.
Well, Halstead did start out Season 7 trying to be Voight's "voice of reason," although Voight wasn't a big fan of how Halstead went about it in the premiere. He was doing a passable job, though. The question is whether Halstead feels he lost his ability to make sure Voight doesn't go too far, now that Voight went too far on Halstead's behalf.
The resolution of the case clearly wasn't sitting well with Halstead by the end of the episode, but when Voight told him to "Just let it be," Halstead didn't push any further, and they shared a drink in Voight's office. While Chicago P.D. may be a procedural, I don't see Halstead shaking this off and just moving on as usual.
Will Halstead be more willing to bend the rules, since he let Voight's actions slide in "False Positive" to save his own career? Or will he flounder, feeling that he lost the ability or perhaps even right to stop Voight from going too far? Or will the guilt be too much for him?
Halstead has a history of not handling emotional blows very well, and viewers may want to worry about him in the coming episodes. Whether or not he starts up a romance with Upton may not be the important thing to focus on for now! Maybe Halstead would benefit from a visit with Antonio sooner rather than later. If Gabby Dawson can come back to Fire this season, why can't Antonio Dawson come back to P.D.? He wasn't exactly written off in what had to be a permanent way!
For any fans who thought that Ruzek would be the only one broken in Season 7, "False Positive" may have come as a surprise. Now that P.D. is coming up on the midseason finale, we may want to count on Halstead's issues getting more complicated a lot sooner than they'll get better.
For now, you can find out what's next for Halstead when new episodes of Chicago P.D. air Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on NBC as the third hour of the One Chicago block, starting with Chicago Med at 8 p.m. ET and continuing with Fire at 9 p.m. ET before wrapping with P.D.