Spoilers lie ahead for the ninth episode of Chicago P.D. Season 8, called "Impossible Dream."
After nine episodes of the eighth season, Chicago P.D. has finally bumped the count of officers in the Intelligence Unit back up to six working under Voight. The extra set of hands may mean that the team can split up into partner duos more often now that there's an even number, and Cleveland Berto's first full episode as Andre Cooper indicates that he'll be a solid addition to the show. That said, I can't help but feel that "Impossible Dream" missed a big opportunity when introducing Cooper as the new Intelligence officer, and that opportunity involves the officer that Cooper is replacing.
Lisseth Chavez's Vanessa Rojas was written out of Chicago P.D. over hiatus and was nowhere to be seen when Season 8 picked up back in November 2020, but her departure had been announced over the summer, and this wouldn't have been the first time that P.D. wrote out a character without bringing them back for a last hurrah.
Unlike the case with Sophia Bush's Erin Lindsay (who almost certainly will never return to P.D.) and Jon Seda's Antonio Dawson (who the showrunner originally wanted back), however, Chicago P.D. hasn't even included an offhand comment about where Rojas is. Wouldn't the episode introducing her replacement have been the perfect opportunity to at least drop a line about what happened to her?
Whether or not you were a fan of Rojas, I think a lot of viewers can probably agree that it's just plain weird at this point that Chicago P.D. has gone for a full nine episodes without acknowledging Rojas' absence and explaining where she is. It's not like there weren't openings well before I started hoping that the arrival of Cooper would finally mean answers about Rojas. Anybody could have taken a quick moment to bring her up and simply say "while Rojas is deep undercover" or "since Rojas quit CPD" or "since Rojas was abducted by aliens and taken to Vancouver" or any other way that would explain her absence, if nothing more in-depth was going to be included.
And P.D. revealed that Upton no longer lives in the apartment she shared with Rojas, so one of the scenes set at her new place could have worked for a mention. After Chicago P.D. Season 8 got into gear with new cases without mentioning her, and after P.D. showed off Upton's new apartment after she and Halstead made their huge step forward (which Rojas probably would have loved) without mentioning her, I figured that the introduction of Cooper was the last opportunity that P.D. had to organically bring her up in a way that wouldn't make it super weird that she never came up before, whenever somebody gets around to mentioning her.
If anything, it might be less weird if P.D. just never brings her up again at this point, although I certainly hope that's not the case. We lost the possibility of a closer relationship between Rojas and Atwater, and we lost more development on Rojas' promising story. Can't we just have some answers about the who, what, when, and where of her fate since disappearing between Season 7 and Season 8? If nothing happens soon, I might have to go into the new season of Legends of Tomorrow and just pretend that Rojas is working deep undercover as a time traveler on a CW superhero TV show with Lisseth Chavez's new role.
See what happens next now that Intelligence is back up to six cops working under Voight with the next new episode of Chicago P.D. on Wednesday, March 31 at 10 p.m. ET on NBC, following Chicago Fire at 9 p.m. and Chicago Med at 8 p.m. One Chicago will be back just before the next show in the Dick Wolf universe premieres on April 1, as Elliot Stabler is returning with Law & Order: Organized Crime in the second half of a crossover with Law & Order: SVU.