Why Chicago P.D. Needed Upton's Horrifying New Case After Losing Halstead (And It's Not Over Yet)

Tracy Spiridakos as Hailey Upton in Chicago P.D. Season 10
(Image credit: NBC)

Spoilers ahead for Episode 5 of Chicago P.D. Season 10, called “Pink Cloud.”

Chicago P.D. Season 10 has been eventful (to say the very least) so far, saying goodbye to Jesse Lee Soffer’s Jay Halstead after only three episodes and then centering the action on Benjamin Levy Aguilar’s Dante Torres. “Pink Cloud” shifted the focus to Hailey Upton, with Tracy Spiridakos’ character quietly working through the pain of her husband leaving with barely any warning… with an emphasis on “working.” After devoting her nights to working overtime, Upton stumbled on a case that quickly proved to be horrifying, yet also what P.D. needed after losing Halstead. And showrunner Gwen Sigan has already previewed that the story will continue. So, why was the horror a good thing for the show?

Well, Upton was moonlighting with another unit when she found a girl who was being held captive, and had just enough time to radio for an ambulance before an attacker hit her from behind and knocked her out. This was enough to get Intelligence on the case, and the missing teenage girl turned out to be part of a sex trafficking operation. It was a pretty gruesome case that came at a time when Upton was already having a hard time without her husband and partner, and didn’t even have a happy ending. Just when Upton found Abby and was on the same roof with her to save her, she unknowingly said the wrong thing, and Abby chose to jump to her death. 

Abby’s death was just another blow for Upton, so why do I think that “Pink Cloud” was the right move for the character after saying goodbye to Halstead? For as much as Upton was dealing with her loss in the episode, she didn’t dwell on it or wallow in it. Instead, she doggedly pursued lead after lead, chasing down clues and pretty much making the case herself with some assists from the rest of the unit. She clearly even would have talked Abby down if she hadn’t mentioned Sean, the son of Chief O’Neal who claimed to be running a safe place for troubled teens. Upton's head was in the game, even if she was heartsick personally. 

Upton and Sean clashed from the start, with Chief O’Neal blatantly taking his son’s side and dismissing Upton following her instincts. Despite the clash, she believed that Sean was who he said he was… until she realized that Abby jumped after she mentioned his name, which prompted her to pull an all-nighter of research into him. She discovered that far more teenage girls than just Abby had gone missing when he was supposed to be helping them, and suspects that they didn’t all just fall through the cracks.

It was some impressive investigative work that Chicago P.D. needed to showcase for Upton at this difficult time. She was a capable cop before her major plots were connected to Halstead’s, and an important character independent of her relationship and then marriage to him. Sure, there were enough Upstead moments that I was able to compile a whole list of favorites in honor of Jesse Lee Soffer leaving, but Upton is much more than Upstead, and “Pink Cloud” was a reminder that she can hold her own without him. 

Her biggest storylines in Season 10 to this point more or less involved her reacting to Halstead spiraling and Voight’s messiness; this episode was a reminder of what she can do when she’s not revolving around anybody else. Would it have been nice to have Halstead on hand to support her in “Pink Cloud” when the horrifying case managed to get even worse? Absolutely, but Upton may have caught on to a terrifying criminal who has been operating in plain sight by following her own instincts. 

And this storyline definitely isn’t over, based on what the Chicago P.D. showrunner shared with CinemaBlend earlier in the fall. Gwen Sigan opened up about serialized storytelling in Season 10 and revealed that Michael Gaston and Jefferson White would be “recurring through the first nine” episodes as Chief O’Neal and Sean, and fans will see “quite a bit” of them. With only four episodes left of the first nine, it’s safe to say that P.D. will continue this storyline sooner rather than later. 

The next episode looks to be Atwater-centric, however, which should be interesting in the aftermath of the big Torres episode that showcased Atwater as a guide to the rookie cop. Benjamin Levy Aguilar shared how Atwater compares to Halstead as a mentor; perhaps the next episode will feature more of Torres and Atwater as a duo. Tune in to NBC on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET for new episodes of Chicago P.D. in the 2022 TV schedule, and revisit past episodes streaming with a Peacock subscription

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).