Stars: Delroy Lindo, Billy Lush, Matt Lauria, Jennifer Beals, Jason Clarke, Devin Kelley and Todd Williams
Writers: Tim Minear, Jon Worley
Director: Jean de Segonzac
Network: Fox, airs Monday nights
Original Telecast: February 28, 2011
Think of THE CHICAGO CODE episode “Cabrini-Green” as a superb mini-movie masquerading as an episode of network television.
The latest installment of Fox’s impressive new series is damn good, exploring the numerous shades of gray and corruption in the city particularly with Alderman Gibbons (Delroy Lindo), the show’s Big Bad.
Superintendent Teresa Colvin (Jennifer Beals) has been doing everything she can to take Gibbons down, and this episode she sees how smart, cunning and invisible he is when it comes to handling business his way.
With every character at some point getting a voiceover, it’s about time Gibbons had his opportunity four episodes in, and the wait was worth it, as we understand a little bit more about where Gibbons came from and why is the way he is.
Essentially, he and his family grew up in the controversial Cabrini-Green apartments that started off as an oasis in the projects and soon became a self-made prison. Gibbons vowed to find a way out of the projects and worked his way up to Alderman. One of his big missions as Alderman is to tear down Cabrini-Green, which he succeeded in doing.
While getting his hair cut in the projects, Gibbons becomes the target of a young African-American teen who was hired to shoot him. Gibbons fights back first, and then befriends the kid, trying to bribe him in finding out who ordered the hit.
The writing in this episode is incredible, and it ends up making a very potent point that as much as Gibbons didn’t get caught up in gang-life, he made a commitment to a different type of gang – one in which he’s got the law (and his position) behind him to do illegal things.
The ending of the episode is another strong end-point, something THE CHICAGO CODE is getting real good at.
The other story follows Jarek Wysocki (Jason Clarke) and his partner Caleb (Matt Lauria) searching out a bomber blowing up various targets throughout the city. The mystery that unravels with this plot is just as good as the one with Gibbons, and even shows, once again, why Wysocki, for all his bad temperament and cockiness, is the solid moral center of the show.
I sincerely hope Fox realizes what an amazing show it has on its hands. Each week, I’m amazed at the writing and direction, but also how incorporates Chicago into the stories, instead of merely making it a backdrop for mundane cop antics. The city itself is the biggest story, and with writers Tim Minear and Jon Worley using Cabrini-Green as a centerpiece for this episode, it just shows the commitment they have to keeping the series focused in that way.
Performance-wise, Lindo is stunning. He exudes sliminess, but we also get a glimpse into why he’s this way. It’s great to see a villain, who has to play things close-to-the-vest and internally, versus showcasing all-out evil externally.
I’ve said it before, I’ll continue to say it – THE CHICAGO CODE is the best new network series this year. Period.
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CLICK HERE for AX’s exclusive interview with CHICAGO CODE star Delroy Lindo