The following contains MAJOR spoilers from Chicago P.D.’s Season 11 premiere. Proceed accordingly.
After Ruzek was shot at close range and Halstead stopped returning Upton’s calls in Season 10, there was plenty to unpack in Chicago P.D.’s Season 11 premiere on Wednesday.
Within the first few minutes of the hour, aptly titled “Unpacking,” we learned that both Halstead and Upton signed divorce papers, but Upton had yet to mail them in and put an official end to their strained marriage.
The breakup had taken its toll on Upton, who overlooked a major clue during Intelligence’s latest case and nearly pinned the wrong guy for murder. The cracks in her mental health continued to show later as she sat in her disheveled apartment — still littered with moving boxes despite having lived there for six months — and stared at a photo of Halstead. This spurred an emotional outburst, with the rattled detective cutting her hand on broken glass and confessing to Voight how upset she’d been feeling.
Showrunner Gwen Sigan tells TVLine that Upton’s visceral reaction was “very honest.”
“She knows she feels angry. She knows she’s not herself. She knows she’s not moving on. She knows it doesn’t feel healthy, but she doesn’t understand what is going on and how to fix it,” the Chicago P.D.
The bulk of Upton’s journey this season will be getting to the root of the issue. “We’re going to see her figure what’s going on, and also ways to get out of it and ways to feel better and to get to something else,” Sigan says.
But Upton wasn’t the only member of Intelligence struggling in the Season 11 opener. It’s been six months since Ruzek was shot and he has yet to return to his post. Although Voight has not filled the vacancy in Intelligence, Ruzek’s inability to pass his physicals puts him in a precarious position and that’s something the show will get into in Episode 2.
“We really dive into Ruzek and what it’s been like for him,” the EP notes.
Six months is a long time to be off the job for a guy like Ruzek, who loves the adrenaline of chasing the bad guys, and so it’s “an interesting story in Episode 2 to find him still in that almost purgatory of… he hasn’t passed, he hasn’t failed,” Sigan shares. “He’s waiting now, and he’s not waiting well. We get to see what that means for him and what that means for the family unit and how they how they deal with issues now that they are together.”
As you’ll recall, Burgess and Ruzek reignited their romance towards the end of Season 10 following a breakthrough in Burgess’ therapy session. With Ruzek now grappling with being unable to perform the job he loves, Burgess will be there to “support him as long as he lets her,” Sigan says, “and that’s a new place for their relationship to go.”
“It’s a new place for vulnerability and being willing to let somebody see you at your worst and help you through it and know that they’re not going to leave,” she adds. “It’s a good growth for the pair of them.”
How are you feeling after Chicago P.D.’s Season 11 premiere? Grade the episode below, and then share your thoughts in the comments.