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Warning: spoilers ahead for the episode description and trailer for Chicago P.D.'s Season 7 fall finale.
Chicago P.D. is primed to end the first half of Season 7 on an intense note with a fall finale featuring a bloody Jay Halstead in a whole lot of danger which, according to P.D.'s Jesse Lee Soffer, means consequences for Jay, a 'wake-up call' for Hailey Upton, and more. Soffer has played Jay from the very beginning of the series (and even before, thanks to Chicago Fire), and he spoke to CinemaBlend about what's in store for the character next.
The official description for the fall finale, called "Absolution," revealed that Jay will wind up in jeopardy due to his "secret ongoing relationship" with a woman with connections to another case. Previously, this seemed to indicate that Jay was involved in another ill-advised secret romance, but Jesse Lee Soffer explained the real nature of Jay's relationship and why Jay felt the need to keep it quiet:
It's not that he's keeping secrets. He was kind of omitting that he was helping out this family because the repercussions would be negative for the whole team. It's kind of a complicated story. They used facial recognition software to get Marcus West, who's the guy that Jay locks up, and it turns out that the software didn't work and the guy was innocent. So when he's murdered, there's a big cover up, and it goes all the way up to the superintendent of police, and that's why the case needs to be kind of swept under the rug. Because it could spell the end of the unit. But Jay, being the Boy Scout that he is, he can't let it go. And that's why he's playing it close to the vest. He doesn't want to involve the other members, he doesn't want to involve Hailey, but he's trying to do what he thinks is right.
Yes, "Absolution" will tie back to the case that left Jay seriously shaken up about how CPD, Voight, and the new superintendent handled the death of an innocent man. At the end of that episode, Voight advised Jay to let it go; Jay clearly did not follow that advice, and not even Hailey knows what he's up to ahead of the fall finale despite their solid partnership.
Well, he wouldn't be Jay Halstead if he didn't try to do the right thing by as many people as possible! His good heart and intentions to protect the rest of Intelligence by keeping them out of his plan will seemingly result in some serious danger for himself, and the trailer for the fall finale revealed that Hailey is going to fight to get her partner back.
Of course, the nature of that partnership has been somewhat difficult to define. Chicago P.D. showrunner Rick Eid teased the possibility of an Upstead romance, and they do gaze at each other a little more than necessary for coworkers, but they've seemingly stayed safely close to the platonic end of the relationship spectrum.
When I asked Jesse Lee Soffer what makes Jay and Hailey's bond so strong as partners on Chicago P.D., he said this:
I think both of them are really good cops that take it a little too far. They take the job home with them a lot and they're always trying to do what's right, and it finds them in these really harrowing situations and they've had to rely on each other a lot. So they trust each other and they've both saved each other's life so many times, so there's a mutual respect and a trust there, and they care about each other. So when this goes down and Jay finds himself in this life or death situation, it's gonna be really intense for Hailey, and I think it's gonna be a wake-up call to how much she really cares about him. Whether or not they discuss that moving forward, we'll see. We don't even know if Jay's gonna make it out alive, so who knows.
Jesse Lee Soffer's comments about their mutual respect and trust suggest that the foundation of Jay and Hailey's bond is solid enough to survive however the relationship does or does not change. Assuming Jay doesn't die in a fall finale cliffhanger, anyway!
On top of the immediate tragedy of the death of such a huge character, it would be devastating to see Hailey experience a wake-up call about how much she cares about her partner, only to be unable to save his life this time around. Let's just all cross our fingers that Intelligence makes it to Jay in time to save him!
Luckily, Jesse Lee Soffer did share his thoughts about how the Upstead dynamic could evolve on Chicago P.D. if Jay does survive:
The writers have done a really good job of doing slow burns with the two of them. You know, Ruzek and Burgess are pregnant right now. We have the new character played by Lisseth [Chavez], and she and Atwater have a good bond, so there's a lot of relationship dynamics being played with on the show, and I think Jay and Hailey, there's such a love there between the two of them. And I don't know where the writers want to take that and what it looks like and how those two may or may not come together. So I'm okay with them sprinkling things in as they go and we'll just see. Because I'm finding out with you guys. We don't really know where the season's going. We get the scripts, sometimes the night before we start shooting them.
It sounds like fans might want to prepare for a slow burn on the potential Upstead relationship front, but Jesse Lee Soffer did confirm that Jay and Hailey have "such a love" between them, so any kind of burn should enhance P.D. in some great ways. And he certainly does have a point about a lot going on with relationships in Intelligence at the moment!
There's already the question of how Burgess' pregnancy will impact Ruzek and the rest of the unit, as well as whether it means Intelligence losing another cop after Antonio in Season 7. Throw in the potential Rowater relationship between Atwater and newcomer Rojas, which LaRoyce Hawkins suggested could be "something very different," and surely there's no need for Jay and Hailey to hit the gas on a romance any time too soon.
Find out what happens to Jay, how it impacts Hailey, and how Chicago P.D. intends to leave fans hanging into a winter hiatus with the fall finale on Wednesday, November 20 at 10 p.m. ET on NBC, following the fall finale of Chicago Med (which could be a big deal for One Chicago's other Halstead brother) at 8 p.m. ET and the Dawson-tastic fall finale of Chicago Fire at 9 p.m. ET. One Chicago's fall finale night will also deliver an update on P.D.'s Antonio Dawson, so be sure to tune in!