I finally got around to watching the second episode of The Chicago Code last night. The opening titles and music were different, which confirms that the first episode was a true pilot, created long before the next episode. Otherwise, my impression is about the same: It’s not great, but I could get used to it, and they do a great job of filming my home town.
The story is still shaping up to be Superintendent Colvin’s fight to clean up Chicago and especially to expose Alderman Ronin Gibbons’ ties to the largely mythical Chicago Irish mob. They’re going to have to introduce us to a lot more of those guys if they want to make it believable, because right now they’re making it look like Gibbons is a big shot in the mob, and that’s just silly. We’ve had Alderman connected to the mob, but they’re not actually part of it. They just do favors and get favors (and bags full of cash) in return.
Once again, there’s some good acting in this episode, but not from Jennifer Beals. I can’t quite put my finger on what’s wrong, but I have a theory. I think Beals is just the least talented at covering up for the awkward dialog.
That’s not the only problem with the writing. Let me give you a few examples (minor spoilers coming):
The cops are trying to catch the cop killer from last week. He shot at Colvin, killing her police bodyguard instead, and then jumped into a waiting getaway car. Colvin shot at the car as it sped away. Thanks to a citizen’s tip, they’ve found the getaway car abandoned in an alley, with blood all over the driver’s seat, indicating that Colvin hit him.
Caleb Evers, the less experienced cop, suggests calling out the crime lab to sample the blood and run it for DNA. The show’s supercop, Derek Wysocki, has a different plan. He gives a misleading statement to the press in which he gives an incorrect description of the getaway car, which he hopes will make the offenders feel safe enough to come out and move it. Sure enough, a little while later a young woman comes to get the car. It turns out she’s the car’s owner, and she’s come to pick it up after lending it to her boyfriend. In other words, the cops have just used guile and trickery to discover something that they could have gotten hours earlier by running the car’s license plate.
Then there’s the whole business with the bulletproof vest. You see, Colvin’s bodyguard was a young officer who had known her for years. On the night of the shooting, after she received a threat, he insisted that she wear his vest for protection. Then he got shot and died.
I don’t pretend to know much about Chicago cops, but I’m pretty sure about this: A lot of street cops do not trust the people in command to do the right thing by them. From their point of view, it would look like the Superintendent took a vest off an officer to protect herself, and it got him killed. End of story. It doesn’t matter how close Colvin was to her bodyguard or how strongly he insisted she wear the vest. She was in command. It was her decision that got him killed. Street cops would be grumbling about this incident for the rest of her career.
Finally, there’s the scene near the end where the dead officer’s mother tells Colvin she’s filed a lawsuit. Colvin responds by lecturing her: “I understand that you are upset, but this is not the way to handle this. You understand me? This is not the way to handle this.”
That might be correct–involving lawyers tends to gum things up–but that line makes Colvin sound like a self-important tone-deaf bitch, and I don’t think that’s what the producers have in mind for the character.
Still, I love seeing the city, and there are bits and pieces of the show that work for me. I think they either need to pay a little more attention to the details, write the Colvin character’s dialog to better fit Beals’s acting style, and move the main plot mythology forward a little more in each episode. It could still be a pretty good show. I’m gonna give it a few more episodes.