Chicago PD season 8, episode 1 recap – “Fighting Ghosts”

November 15, 2020
Jonathon Wilson 0
TV Recaps
3.5

Summary

“Fighting Ghosts” finds policing even more difficult than usual with more scrutiny than ever on the CPD and racial tensions flaring up between not just the officers and the public but the officers themselves.

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3.5

Summary

“Fighting Ghosts” finds policing even more difficult than usual with more scrutiny than ever on the CPD and racial tensions flaring up between not just the officers and the public but the officers themselves.

This recap of Chicago PD season 8, episode 1, “Fighting Ghosts”, contains spoilers.


One of the best things about network procedurals is how they’re able to tackle real-life events, socio-political issues, and prevailing cultural trends, and Dick Wolf’s clutch of Chicago-based offerings are able to do that within the context of America’s most essential and treasured institutions. The eighth season premiere of Chicago PD, “Fighting Ghosts”, is clear about its desire to tackle the current national distrust around the police, especially across racial lines, making explicit reference to the George Floyd murder and the animus among the public.

But the CPD isn’t just dealing with criminals and an incensed public, but each other. Atwater refuses to modify his testimony implicating his colleagues in a case of unnecessary brutality, so he believes himself to have been targeted by Doyle and his fellow cops – and he’s correct. The Blue Wall is resistant to being toppled, and without a trial and conviction to satiate their desire for payback, Atwater is especially at risk, even if he’s technically correct in his assessment that the offenders, irrespective of their prior record, weren’t actually offending at the time.

With all the increased public attention around potential police reform, the presence of the new deputy superintendent Samantha Miller (Nicole Ari Parker) splits everyone down the middle; Atwater for, Upton against. Miller especially butts head with Voight, who is used to a form of policing that isn’t going to survive any degree of scrutiny, no matter how noble his intentions.

This conflict forms the bulk of Chicago PD season 8, episode 1, “Fighting Ghosts”, as Voight tries to get to the bottom of who accidentally shot a five-year-old girl in a way that is acceptable to Miller, his team, and the public, including recalcitrant witnesses who have been emboldened by the abundance of anti-police sentiment in recent times. This manifests as both simple exchanges – Ruzek wants to tackle a witness who throws a bottle at him, but Burgess isn’t willing to risk her career by roughing him up on camera – and in major plot turns, with Atwater discovering drugs planted in his car and later getting into a noisy argument with Voight about his apparent wokeness – and Voight’s apparent lack of it.

But the situation isn’t as simple as that. As Atwater himself puts it, “Cops are still blue, and I’m still Black.” That’s always going to be the case, and traditions – especially those ingrained in institutions – don’t disappear overnight, especially with staunch traditionalists keeping them going. The second part of the plan to frame Atwater for dealing drugs comes to fruition later, with him being pulled over at night, ostensibly for running a stop sign, but once he pulls his badge – at gunpoint – he learns there was an anonymous tip about drugs being dealt to a dirty cop. This confrontation is very tense, and “Fighting Ghosts” smartly has Atwater be pulled over by both a white and a Black cop, which makes it less clear-cut. “Is this really what you want to do, Black man?” he asks of the much older fellow cop. Turns out it isn’t. But it’s touch and go for a while.

As Vought contemplates taking the law into his own hands, Atwater is attacked outside his home by people who have evidently already made the same decision.


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