‘The Chicago Code’ – ‘St. Valentine’s Day Massacre’: No confidence?

Senior Television Writer
04.18.11 24 Comments


A review of tonight’s “The Chicago Code” coming up just as soon as I wear a bullet-proof vest as a fashion statement…

“Justice first, and then my job.” -Teresa

“St. Valentine’s Day Massacre” was the second of this season’s two episodes to not feature Delroy Lindo, and it was a potent reminder that Teresa Colvin’s job carries many more headaches beyond whatever Alderman Gibbons is up to.

The episode did a very good job of illustrating the fishbowl Teresa works in, and then what happens when someone lights a fire under that bowl. Her opponents here aren’t corrupt; they’re just reactionary, or stubborn or, in the case of John Heard as Mayor McGinnis, unwilling to risk themselves politically. The call to Mancow’s show comes from a rank-and-file cop who doesn’t sound much different from the Commander of Mops and Brooms from the pilot, and once Teresa has to bail out on the show before she can rebut him – and then once the reason for her bailing out turns out to be such a hot-button case – it’s like the union, the press, and the mayor can smell blood in the water. Suddenly, everyone who hasn’t liked the way Teresa has been running things has cover under which they can attack her, or refuse to defend her, and things go from bad to worse when they try to stage a perp walk for a man in a coma.

All of that material was very well-handled, I thought, save for Jarek and Caleb’s argument in the car, which illustrated how stubborn Jarek himself can be but which was also a phony conflict, since we know Caleb has the super’s back as part of their unofficial four-person anti-Gibbons task force. And the massacre case itself was one of the better examples in a while of a situation where it absolutely makes sense for Teresa to have a detective she trusts who can parachute into any case in the city. The profile’s so high, and the stakes for her job so big, that of course she’d want Jarek on it.

I don’t know that the massacre plot itself was that effectively told, though. Aldis Hodge (Hardison from “Leverage”) had a nice moment where Deion absorbs the news about his father’s injury, but he and the writers never really sold Deion as the great imbecile Jarek and the other cops kept insisting that he was. And after setting up Bernadette as both the smart one in the family and a woman who knew how to take advantage of her position in a liberal judge’s office, I can’t imagine that she wouldn’t have lawyered up the second she was placed under arrest.

I didn’t think Teresa’s speech at the union meeting was that fantastic, but I also don’t think it was supposed to be. There’s that moment halfway through where she can tell she’s not getting through to anyone, and though the shift into more personal territory is an improvement, it still only barely gets her a win in a vote she might have won anyway after closing the massacre case. Jennifer Beals pretty clearly lost her voice at some point during the filming of this one, and aside from the way it came and went during the episode (because episodic TV tends to film out of sequence), it really helped her performance in showing just how much this day, and this job, wears on Teresa. I’d like to see some more stories, though, in which she’s not quite so saintly or wise. Her intentions are always going to be good, but just as Jarek sometimes pisses people off with his attitude, there should be times where Teresa’s inexperience in the job and/or her own sense of self-righteousness, winds up causing collateral damage. She’s upset people, but outside of the Mops and Brooms scene from the pilot, we haven’t gotten much of a sense of how and why, nor any suggestion at all that in some cases the anger might be deserved.

With so much happening with Teresa and Jarek this week, there wasn’t much time for the B-story with Vonda and Isaac going up against “The Annaconda,” played by Shawn Ryan’s wife Cathy Cahlin Ryan (aka Vic Mackey’s wife Corrine). Not sure if it would have been better at an expanded length or if I’m glad it was as brief as it was. Ryan had fun in her role – like Maury Levy on “The Wire,” Anna is hateful but very smart and very good at what she does – but it’s been a while since I’ve seen an interesting variation on the old “Rashomon” gimmick of seeing the same story from multiple viewpoints, and this wasn’t it. This is the first time we see Isaac and Vonda’s new relationship cause them a problem on the job, and I imagine it won’t be the last, but this was predictable filler.

Where “The Shield” and “Terriers” both came out of the gate fully-formed (as, for the most part, did “The Unit,” for what it was trying to do), “The Chicago Code” is a show that’s still finding itself at this point. The good parts are very, very good – and I imagine they’ll be even better the rest of the season, now that we’ll get an uninterrupted string of Delroy Lindo – and the problematic parts all seem fixable. I’d like to see it stick around long enough to iron out the remaining kinks.

What did everybody else think?

Around The Web