Why Chicago P.D. Giving Upstead Some Issues Is A Good Thing For Upton And Halstead


Warning: big spoilers ahead for Episode 4 of Chicago P.D. Season 8, called "Unforgiven."

In case there were any Chicago P.D. fans who had any doubts after the end of the previous episode, the first minutes of "Unforgiven" proved that the One Chicago show is going full steam ahead with the good ship Upstead. That said, this is still Chicago P.D. we're talking about, and neither Upton nor Halstead come without any baggage, so I doubt many viewers were too surprised that some issues popped up early on. Nevertheless, "Unforgiven" not only allayed some of my concerns about P.D. getting the partners together, but proved that giving Upstead issues is good for the characters.

Upton's history with her dad reared its ugly head in "Unforgiven" when she got the news that he'd been hospitalized, which in turn activated some of Halstead's regrets about what happened when his dad died. In his attempts to help her, he pushed a little bit too hard for her taste. Still, it seemed like he got through to her when she went to visit her dad... only to leave without talking to him, then lie to Halstead and say that she had.

Now, on the surface, I can admit that Upton lying to Halstead right after they made the jump from platonic to romantic probably wasn't the best move for their future, but my biggest concern about Chicago P.D. hooking up another pair of partners was that they would lose some of their individuality and their dynamic as friends in the process. And their characters can be pretty layered at best and messy at worst -- the story wouldn't work if they suddenly didn't have any issues individually or together.

The episode opening with them in bed together showed that a big change had come to P.D., but pretty much everything else established that Upton and Halstead are still Upton and Halstead, and Chicago P.D. is still Chicago P.D.. They're still able to be partners and do their jobs, they're still friends, and they weren't awkward straight out of the gate or bending over backwards to accommodate each other in any way they wouldn't have before.

Upton lying wasn't great, but Upton also more or less broke bad last season to show that she's not always open, and she made the point in "Unforgiven" that just because Halstead knows some of what she went through with her dad doesn't mean he knows everything. She didn't magically become ready to open up about her past after their night together. Besides, at least she didn't go and get herself shot twice while dealing with emotions brought up by her dad, and I can't say the same for Halstead!

As for Halstead, "Unforgiven" arguably went a long way in building his side of the Upstead attraction. Chicago P.D. mostly showed the slow burn heating up from Upton's side of the equation ever since that other time Halstead went and got himself shot, and even going for the big kiss in the previous episode really only happened once Upton gave him pretty much every signal to do something. This episode showed more from his side to put them on even footing when it comes to this new element of their relationship.

Normally Chicago P.D. wouldn't be the One Chicago show to go heavy on relationships or romance, but Upstead is one that really needed to have a firm foundation set on screen. My concerns that the show might have moved too quickly with them and skipped some of the good stuff proved pretty unnecessary, since it also means that P.D. skipped what could have been some needless melodrama. The sky is not falling because they hooked up early in Season 8.

For a show that focuses so much on plot, the character beats and relationships need to be solid in general, and I'm optimistic about what P.D. is doing with Upton and Halstead so far. Considering they make up two of the five current cops in Voight's unit, it would not bode well for the rest of Season 8 if P.D. was sloppy with them. Fortunately, the P.D. character work looks like it will continue with the next new episode, although the focus will seemingly shift to Burgess in a revisit of the plot that saw her bond with a traumatized little girl.

See what happens next for the cops of the Intelligence unit with the next episode of Chicago P.D. on Wednesday, February 3 at 10 p.m. ET on NBC, following the latest installments of Chicago Fire at 9 p.m. ET and Chicago Med at 8 p.m. ET. Fire delivered a surprise (albeit mini) crossover on the latest One Chicago Wednesday with Trudy stopping by Firehouse 51, so the three shows are still very much connected despite the shortage of crossovers.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).