Warning: spoilers ahead for Episode 6 of Chicago P.D. Season 8, called "Equal Justice."
Chicago P.D. delivered a Halstead-centric episode with "Equal Justice," and a few key moments from the hour may indicate that the longest-running Intelligence detective is finally heading toward a big promotion. That said, since this is Chicago P.D. and Chicago P.D. isn't exactly known for going easy on the cops of Intelligence, "Equal Justice" may have also indicated that Halstead is in for something far darker than a move up the ladder at CPD.
"Equal Justice" saw Intelligence accidentally stumble on a murder case while trying to investigate a heroin dealer, and Halstead wound up sympathizing with a man who lost his son to the point that he was willing to bend the rules to let him get away with literal murder. He went about it in a way that keeps his hands a lot cleaner than Voight might have done and Upton really did in some cases in Season 7 before getting straightened out on FBI.
So, let's dig into why the events of "Equal Justice" could point to a promotion or something worse for Halstead.
Why Halstead Might Be In For A Promotion
As much as Chicago P.D. follows a unit that operated under Voight, Halstead was very much in charge for a lot of the episode, and I don't think it's a coincidence that the case was closed pretty satisfactorily after he spent the hour calling shots. He also got a lot of leeway from Voight in how he handled the case, with Voight giving broad advice more often than direct orders.
Did Halstead kinda sorta bend the rules when he dropped details about the case on Latrell and went out of his way to make sure that CPD didn't have any more evidence on him than the traffic cam footage of Latrell's getaway car? Sure, but the man can't have spent the better part of a decade in Intelligence without developing a knack for going rogue, and he was actually much smarter about going rogue to help Latrell than when he got himself shot for trying to help Angela in Season 7.
Plus, I haven't forgotten Voight's comment at the end of Season 6 that the Intelligence Unit would be Halstead's one day. With Chicago P.D. already renewed for another two seasons after the current Season 8, I can see the show moving forward with bumping Halstead up the ladder. Besides, Halstead hasn't really had a big ongoing story of his own since getting shot by Angela last season, and I think he deserves to be the center of a potentially game-changing plot rather than support.
There's also the point that a promotion would mean that he no longer holds the same rank as Upton, which could throw a very Chicago P.D. wrench in their relationship. Not that they need more complications, and it would be nice for these two characters to actually get to be happy together, but it would be very P.D.. And there is another cop coming to Intelligence this season.
That said, there are two sticky wickets that keep me from going all-in on the promotion theory for Halstead, and the first is that I don't exactly see Chicago P.D. pursuing a plot that pushes Halstead into the position of sergeant unless either Jesse Lee Soffer or Jason Beghe is planning to leave Chicago P.D., or he doesn't hold the rank for long. Intelligence surely can't have two sergeants, and sergeant is the next rank above detective. It's the same reason that I have my doubts about how Chicago Fire will handle Kidd's pursuit of becoming a lieutenant when Firehouse 51 doesn't have any lieutenant vacancies.
Personally, I have an easier time imagining Voight leaving than Halstead, from a purely character perspective. Voight has put in his time and lost a lot of people during his years at CPD. Even if he doesn't want to willingly retire, he could take the fall for the unit or one of the cops working under him. It would bring him full circle from how he debuted as a very dirty cop on Chicago Fire back in the pre-P.D. days. From a show perspective, though, I can imagine Chicago P.D. not wanting to lose Jason Beghe unless saying goodbye to Voight is part of the plan to adapt to police reform.
As for the second sticky wicket, it's really based on one tense moment from this latest episode.
Why Halstead Might Be In For Something Worse
No, I'm not considering the possibility of something bad happening instead of a promotion just because this is Chicago P.D. and I'm still not over what P.D. did to Burgess last season to ruin her happiness when she was excited about becoming a mom. When Halstead was coming clean to Voight that he'd dropped some details on Latrell that led him to connecting the dots and killing a man, he raised a somewhat troubling point:
But Latrell is a good guy. He loved his kid. More than anything. He just couldn't let it go. He couldn't find closure. So he just went and he did what he thought he had to do. Which is something that I might do. Something that I'm thinking you might do too.
While Chicago P.D. may not always be much on the foreshadowing, that little speech strikes me as something that could definitely come back. Halstead doesn't have a kid, but he definitely has people he loves. Will over on Chicago Med is Halstead's last surviving immediate family member, and something happening to Will could bring a vengeful side out of his brother.
That said, Will is a major character over on Chicago Med with a storyline of his own (that just delivered a twist that could take him out of the ED), so I'm not confident that P.D. could do something to him that might bring a murderous side out of Halstead. More likely, in my book? Upton.
Sure, he hasn't said that he loves Upton on screen just yet, but I don't think there can be any doubt at this point (and Jesse Lee Soffer dropped some telling comments last season). And as Marina Squerciati told CinemaBlend, Upton's trauma has meant that he's really the only one she has let in to become close to her. Unlike Will, Upton is very much a P.D. character who is very much in danger on a regular basis, and she wouldn't have to literally die for Halstead to cross a line.
Then again, Halstead is all heart sometimes, so he could go rogue for pretty much anybody if he's pushed far enough. Plus, Halstead doing what he admits that he might do would take care of the question of how Chicago P.D. could keep both Jesse Lee Soffer and Jason Beghe on board by not promoting Halstead to sergeant and keeping him in Intelligence. I'm not ready to 100% commit to either theory at this point, although it's technically possible that P.D. could promote Halstead, Halstead could cross a line, and then be demoted back to detective.
For now, we can only wait and hope that Chicago P.D. delivers some answers sooner rather than later. Let us know in the poll below what your thoughts are on Halstead's future! New episodes air on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET following Chicago Fire at 9 p.m. ET and Chicago Med at 8 p.m. ET on NBC, with all three series streaming in full on Peacock now as well.