The return of Chicago P.D. for the second half of Season 7 could mean big changes for the Intelligence Unit. The winter finale ended on a bloody cliffhanger for Jay Halstead that left his future very uncertain, and there are big reasons to wonder if Upton will be getting a new partner sooner rather than later. Even if Halstead survives more or less unscathed, there's the question of his future at CPD, and a new promo photo for the second half of Season 7 reveals Upton in action with somebody else.
As a quick recap of where the fall finale left off: Halstead spent most of the episode trapped in a basement with Angela, a.k.a. the widow of the misidentified man who died after being thrown in prison as part of Halstead's attempt to get him to confess to brutal crimes he didn't actually commit. Halstead ultimately confessed what he'd done to Angela, prompting Angela to shoot Halstead right after Upton found them.
The episode ended on the bloody cliffhanger of Halstead's life in very serious jeopardy, and Jesse Lee Soffer's comments about the possible "end for Jay" weren't exactly comforting to fans facing more than a month of hiatus! Chicago P.D. hasn't revealed an up-and-at-'em Halstead in any trailers or promotional images to this point, so there's a pretty tight lid on spoilers about his fate and therefore the state of his dynamic with Upton.
For her part, Upton is looking emotional in images from the winter premiere, and she's partnered with somebody else in pics from the next episode. Take a look:
Yes, Upton and Ruzek will be partnered up -- although presumably not like they were during Season 6, considering the Burzek situation and Upton's wake-up call about Halstead -- for at least part of the second Chicago P.D. episode of 2020, called "43rd and Normal." The description of the episode doesn't actually mention Upton (or Halstead), and the only mention of Ruzek is that "Ruzek and Burgess’s secret begins to have severe implications for their police work."
If Ruzek wants to protect Burgess now that she has a bun in the oven, then it would make sense for him to try and keep her out of the field. With no Halstead to be seen, wouldn't it track for Ruzek and Upton to partner up? Of course, it's possible Ruzek will be totally fine with Burgess staying in the field, but my money is on the opposite. Actress Marina Squerciati has already revealed who the next person who learns the secret will be, and it won't be the boss who would bench her. So: Upton and Ruzek without Halstead around?
As much as we shouldn't predict everything that happens in an episode based on the bare-bones description and promotional pics, it's within reason that Halstead wouldn't be in the mix for this episode. While most P.D. fans probably think -- or at least hope -- that Halstead is going to survive being shot (again), Halstead could be in very big trouble even if he does live.
First, let's assume that he survives without any permanent damage. Even if the bullet wound doesn't kill him, he could be in for a long recovery. A lot could depend on if P.D. goes for a time jump after the winter premiere, and just how much of a time jump it is. If it's a matter of weeks rather than months, Halstead physically might not be fit for duty any time soon.
So, Upton would need somebody to partner with, and Ruzek could be a good fit. Since Atwater is the next to find out about the pregnancy, he could wind up on Burgess' side. And does newcomer Rojas really deserve the baggage that would come with partnering Upton after her partner got shot again or Ruzek while his coworker/longtime on-again-off-again love interest is secretly pregnant with his child?
In all seriousness, there is a potential reason other than death, recovery, and/or spoiler prevention that Halstead might not be around to appear in the episode description or any of the promo pics. From an Intelligence standpoint, Halstead did something very unintelligent when he told Angela about what really happened to her husband.
Morally, he arguably did the right thing, but the moral decisions are more suited to Chicago Med and Fire than the Intelligence cops on P.D. If Angela does spread the word about what Halstead did or it gets out another way, the story could be enough to ruin Halstead's career. Voight isn't one to give up on his people just because the brass put a target on their backs, but there might not be much of a choice but to lose Halstead if the truth gets out.
In this potential scenario, Halstead could face some serious consequences for doing what he saw as the right thing. And a suspended/fired Halstead = Upton needing a new partner.
Now, if we want to be optimistic and assume that Halstead doesn't die, doesn't need months of recovery, and doesn't face professional consequences for his decision, could it be possible that Upton requests a new partner? She was a wreck after Halstead went missing in the fall finale. A functional, badass wreck who still managed to work the case and whose arrival undoubtedly saves Halstead's life if he survives, but a wreck all the same.
Could she decide that she's too close to Halstead for them to work as effective partners? Voight did credit her judgment earlier in Season 7 by temporarily assigning her to work with newbie Rojas, and Chicago P.D. showrunner Rick Eid didn't rule out a romance between Halstead and Upton.
All of this said, maybe Halstead is fine, Upton is cool with everything, and the only drama in the foreseeable future is courtesy of Burgess' pregnancy and how Ruzek deals with it. A two-part crossover between Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D. is coming up that will bring back an old P.D. character as part of a compelling case, which may require all hands on deck from both shows.
See what happens next for Upton, Halstead, and the rest of the crew when Chicago P.D. returns on Wednesday, January 8 at 10 p.m. ET on NBC, following the Chicago Fire return at 9 p.m. ET and the Chicago Med return at 8 p.m. ET.