After the strong performance by Amy Morton last week Chicago PD Season 4 Episode 4 had a high bar to get up to. "Big Friends Big Enemies" succeeds by turning to the left and giving some well-deserved screen time to LaRoyce Hawkins as Atwater has both work problems and family problems.
Hawkins begins to shine right from the teaser. As CPD responds to a shooting after a rap concert, it's Atwater who finds teen rapper TK Ice wounded next to a dumpster. Atwater stays with him until medical help arrives, assuring the kid that he's not going to die. It's just a few moments but the scene really resonates.
It's a good thing that Chicago PD doesn't waste too much time chasing the terrorism angle so it can focus the bulk of the episode on the actual details of the case. Too many shows set up a red herring and don't actually get to their real plot until halfway through leaving the real story underdeveloped.
Fans following along were probably not surprised that the answer to this week's whodunit was "none of the above." And in fact, this episode had certain elements of deja vu.
How many scenes can we have of neighborhood residents distrusting the police? That also just happened on Chicago PD Season 4 Episode 2. And as in that episode, we're reminded that some of the so-called "bad guys" are in fact just people who will do the right thing when called on it by Voight et al.
That ain't youth. That's hate.Voight
But what propels "Big Friends, Big Enemies" is the sadly relatable story. Audiences know that teenagers do get swept up in gangs and gang violence for a variety of reasons. It's even a common topic for TV; Chicago PD's direct competitor Code Black had its own story about a teenage mother jumped into a gang.
This is a plot that everyone can at least get their brain around and maybe, just maybe it made you hug your children or young siblings a little bit tighter.
Obviously the biggest part of that is the presence of Jordan Atwater. Kudos to Chicago PD for not going the cliche route and having him be the shooter or somehow connected to the crime. Yet you hope he learns from this.
All you should be saying to me right now is 'I'm sorry, I screwed up.'Burgess
Marina Squerciati is great as Burgess finds Jordan and gives him the lecture, but it's Hawkins who really steals the show. The case already hits a nerve with Atwater because of his past and his brother being too close is just the bitter icing on the crime cake.
Whether it's Atwater frustrated at being unable to get any usable information or his explosion at Chicago Med, Hawkins is so genuine in all his scenes. It's not just that he's emotional it's that you understand why, which lends Atwater's actions real significance.
Speaking of emotion, was that a hint toward Antonio's departure when he reflects on the shootings, since Jon Seda is moving from Chicago PD to Chicago Justice when that show premieres?
I've seen too much of this.Antonio
The story in "Big Friends, Big Enemies" moves along at a good clip and is tied up neatly at the end. As far as cases of the week go, this is the second best episode of Season 4 so far behind the last episode, and we even get the shots of a happy neighborhood as Atwater drives home.
It also helps that it's very focused. There are no side stories about Halstead moving into Lindsay's apartment, or anybody's romantic relationship, or anything else other than Atwater's brother drama. The episode stays on mission and that makes it more intense and more interesting to follow.
There are some minor quibbles. It would have been interesting to see some hint of what Platt went through when she turned up this week, but given that she was only in one scene of the episode, there just wasn't time or space.
Given that Chicago PD is as much a procedural as they come it feels unlikely that it will have any sort of lasting effects for Platt (Amy Morton even said as much in our interview) but c'mon, she did just have her father murdered and she could've died. At least hopefully someone gave her another hug.
Or wait - this is Platt - maybe skip the hugs.
You can learn from my mistakes.Ruzek
Also, let's hope we've seen the first and last appearance of Jenny. Is there some TV rule that every technology or science expert on a procedural must be some quirky character who talks too fast or too much or both?
It would be fantastic if we could just have someone who's like any other character, and just shows up, delivers the information and gets out so that the detectives can move on with their work.
But overall this is an episode that does the job, and some meaty material for LaRoyce Hawkins is always welcome. He doesn't quite get enough credit for what he brings to the show but he really is great when given the chance.
If you want to re-watch "Big Friends, Big Enemies" or catch up on any of Chicago PD Season 4, you can watch Chicago PD online. The series is pre-empted next week for the Presidential debate but returns the week after with Chicago PD Season 4 Episode 5 "A War Zone." That episode airs Wednesday, Oct. 26 at 10/9c on NBC.
In the meanwhile, what did you think of this week's episode? Did you enjoy seeing more of Atwater? Are you doing shots for every time Voight threatens someone with a gun this season? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
Brittany Frederick is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.