Chicago PD Season 10 Episode 6 Review: Sympathetic Reflex


Kevin Atwater is too good for this world, too pure, and we don’t deserve him, but thank goodness we have him.

Kevin-centrics rarely miss because, as evidenced by Chicago PD Season 10 Episode 6, LaRoyce Hawkins is effortlessly one of the strongest and most underrated actors in this series.

The man can hold your undivided attention, and when they’re not frustratingly shoving him in the background with a line or two, he delivers, he always delivers!

Whenever we get a Kevin-centric installment, it’s like a little treat. You can guarantee we’ll get one of the season’s best performances, and you’ll be enthralled from start to finish.

It’s the magic of this universally lovable character combined with a charismatic and talented actor bringing the stories to life.

As a result, Kevin-centrics are simultaneously among the series’ best and most frustrating episodes. It’s not even that the writing never rises to the character and actor, who can sell the viewer on anything at all times.

The writing itself can be pretty strong, but the choices and some of the redundancy can be irritating when you have this capable actor who is a fascinating character who deserves the world all the time and rarely seems to get it.

Typically, Kevin’s episodes revolve around the same Black vs. Blue narrative, emphasizing this man’s particular struggles as a Black police officer, which often, in this society, especially in a place like Chicago, seems like the most contradictory thing ever.

But this time, they gave us more of a  Black and Blue storyline for a bit of razzle-dazzle.

The plot putting Kevin, their only Black character, the most honorable, good-hearted, well-intentioned, and morally sound character of the bunch with the least amount of f*ckery in the position where he could get railroaded and scapegoated in some “ACAB” wrongful death storyline is insanity.

It’s not even the first time that the series has come this close to screwing him over. We don’t even mention the time he was on trial for murder because what was that madness?

When you walk out into the air, take your empathy with you.


So yeah, it’s safe to say that Kevin’s storylines when they finally spotlight him as they should get redundant, and there is way too much-untapped potential to explore to justify the repetitiveness of these types of plots for him.

And while one very much appreciates that they opt to tell stories that incorporate his race because it would be unrealistic not to, it’s not the only factor about him that they have to focus on all the time.

Dear, Chicago PD writers, I promise we’ll never forget the only Black main character in this series is Black. I also assure you that being Black doesn’t consume every moment of our day, and it’s totally okay to not reference it on occasion or focus on other things.

They weren’t browbeating us with the racial component of things as they typically do, but the whole bit of this case was to take the typical stories of white officers killing unarmed Black people and flip it.

And so we had wealthy White parents who had to emphasize that they were civil rights activists who work closely with the N.A.A.C.P, ready to bury a Black officer to make an example out of him and prove a point in the name of equality and justice.

And the chief was a bit too eager to throw Kevin to the wolves to appease these people, something that doesn’t typically and easily happen, and Kevin definitely took note of it by the end.

Johnny’s father laying down his threats to Kevin, claiming that by the time he was done with him, he wouldn’t even be able to walk down the street, was particularly charged. It gave off the vibe that perhaps all his civil rights activist stuff was more performative than anything else.

It was all a lot. It’s things like that which can put you on edge.

Despite the questionable nature of the storylines, the direction they go in, or how they too often exclusively use Kevin for these heavily race-based storylines and not much else, most of the execution and the cast’s performances are strong enough where they’re always great installments.

Atwater: Second one today, Sarge.
Voight: Yeah, it’s one of those days.

The hour again reestablished that Kevin is the moral center of the series and arguably the best of them all. He’s the light — the clearest depiction of “good police” they have. I’d even argue he’s the heart of the series.

His advice to the rookies was simple yet profound, the type of thing you’d hope recruits carry with them regularly as they head into the streets and interact with the public.

He encouraged them to breathe, leave the tension, and whatever has them on edge at the door because if they carry that with them into the field, it will make them ineffective at the job and cause more problems than solutions.

And most importantly, he encouraged them to lead with empathy and let that guide them in all they do. His pearls of wisdom were among the best lines of the hour and set the tone for it too.

Because Kevin practices what he preaches, it suited the hour that he began giving that advice to the future of policing and ended up exercising it with Johnny’s mother.

I loved the full-circle nature of that, as end caps.

Kevin’s final scene with Johnny’s mother was among the series’ most powerful moments. He went above and beyond to offer solace to this woman who lost so much.

She needed to know that her kid was everything she knew and raised him to be. She had to have answers, and Kevin gave them to her. The moment he could do that, she could let go, sob, grieve, and start the process of healing from all of this.

It was heartbreaking to hear that Johnny was a good kid who got caught up in a messy situation because he was trying to help his friend. As if his death weren’t tragic enough, it hurt even more.

It was such a strong scene executed well by both actors. The scene was everything that policing should be, yes, but a perfect representation of who and what Kevin is as a person.

Even as he got into that unfortunate situation with Johnny that resulted in the poor boy’s death, Kevin led with empathy.

He did everything he possibly could to de-escalate the situation with the guys. He desperately tried to save Johnny and keep him alive, and even as the boy lunged at him, Kevin still wasn’t making a move to shoot him.

But none of that mattered when the result was the same, a dead teenager. It was painful to see, especially on the heels of the tragic death at the beginning of the hour of one of the carjacking victims.

Kevin was not having the best day or time with this case, and Chicago PD has gotten incredibly dark these days.

The situation played out exactly how he said it did, but he didn’t have any proof. A witch hunt began as Johnny’s parents intended to use all their money, power, and influence to take Kevin down and anyone else.

They were grieving parents who wanted someone to pay for the death of their son. And therein lies the wisdom Kevin shared about empathy.

As much as we love Kevin, hated the situation, and wanted him to be okay, the parents were sympathetic. If anyone were in their shoes, you could understand where they came from and why they’d do whatever they could to get justice for their son.

As awful as the father came across, grief is a hell of a thing, and his anger and pain fuel him. If this were any other situation with any other person, the father’s actions wouldn’t be so out there.

But watching all of this fall at Kevin’s feet was difficult because he didn’t deserve it. He’s as good as good police can get on the series. He proved that the whole way through when he wanted the truth to prevail, stood by that, and risked his livelihood and future by sticking to his guns.

You can always trust that Kevin will air on the side of what’s right, even when it could cost him. He refused to cop to the sympathetic reflex argument because it would be untrue.

You shot that white boy like he was an unarmed Black man. Whoo. Finally. One for us. My man.


He’s also smart enough to know that it would fundamentally change the rest of his career the second he copped to something like that.

And he wasn’t willing to give into Oscar’s negotiations despite Kevin knowing that the video would clear his name once and for all.

The plan to have someone or Torres go undercover to get information out of Oscar wasn’t particularly inspired. But it got the job done.

Torres has probably gone undercover more than anyone else this season, and he’s a master at it, even if he’s consistently playing similar roles. It was nice to see him outside in that white-t-shirt and damn near sans shirt for that brief moment.

The connection that he’s forged with Kevin already is one of the highlights of the season. He was prepared to do whatever he could to help Kevin out of this situation. Hell, he even took a hit to sell the act for the sake of Kevin.

The OceanWater content is too delicious for words, and not only did they deliver on that, but they gave us that old-school Ruzwater, too.

One thing we can always count on is Ruzek having Kevin’s back, and he was steady with it. The high-speed chase was a prime example, and his jumping between Kevin and Johnny’s father was another.

Ruzek will lowkey deck someone for Kevin; damn the rules. They are brothers like that.

I won’t lie. We’ll find another way.


They were the type of moments that showed the team rallying around Kevin. It was a pretty strong showcase of that, which was refreshing.

Voight even seemed genuinely proud of Kevin for sticking by his morals and not giving into the sympathetic reflex plea, and he loved that Kevin wasn’t giving into the chief or tripping over himself when things panned out. The chief gave his cheap congrats as if he wasn’t prepared to hang Kevin out to dry.

It’s hard not to count down the moments until the chief learns what his son is into. Of course, that assumes he doesn’t know about it already.

He’s a tough read, but he’s also not coming across as the best person.

Hailey is still super-focused on Sean and this case. We all know her hunch is right, but they need more to build up a case and look into this.

Nothing is wrong with that, but it was annoying that Voight told her they must keep it between them.

It’s irritating when they keep things from the other characters. One of the worst aspects of storylines like the Roy one was the constant thing that had Voight, Jay, and Hailey keeping things from the others; having this whole separate storyline drew a frustrating line among the team.

Nothing good comes from the secrecy, and it’s not fun to watch Voight and Hailey having whole side storylines from the rest of the team. Voight can often disappear in the show and plot as it is.

And Hailey is often the most isolated character because, until recently, they acted as if she could only interact with Jay and Voight and no one else.

They’ve done much better at making the team feel like a team and giving us different dynamics. It would suck if they regressed because of this storyline.

Additional Notes:

  • The young man dying at the top of the hour practically had me in tears five minutes into the episode. It was brutal.
  • The collective hotness of Adam, Kevin, and Dante in one scene together was too much to bear. The eye candy is absolutely delicious, and I thought I would spontaneously combust, but they’re also an exciting trio, and I want more of it.
  • And again, I ask, when will Kevin Atwater make detective? It’s long overdue.
  • Oscar was too chatty in that cell, and it’s crazy that he didn’t notice that huge camera.
  • Did anyone catch that moment when Voight said “Ben” instead of Torres?
  • Freaking Trudy Platt is a gift. Thank goodness they’re back to utiliing her more. I cannot wait until Torres gets some one-on-one Trudy time, so he fully understands why she’s the real boss that runs everything, and they’re forever at her mercy.
  • Did I mention how amazing LaRoyce Hawkins is? If it’s not abundantly clear by now, he’s incredible every single time.

What did you think of the latest Kevin-centric? Should Hailey and Voight keep things from the rest of the team? Sound off below with your thoguhts.

You can watch Chicago PD online here via TV Fanatic.

Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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