Stars: Delroy Lindo, Billy Lush, Matt Lauria, Jennifer Beals, Jason Clarke, Devin Kelley and Todd Williams
Writers:  Davey Holmes
Director:  Billy Gierhart
Network: Fox, airs Monday nights
Original Telecast: March 21, 2011

Grade: B+

Whereas last week’s episode of THE CHICAGO CODE felt a little too conventional for its own good, this week’s “Black Hand and the Shotgun Man” finds the show back on solid footing.

A drug kingpin is caught by the police who soon discover the reason he had a bag full of cash was to pay a ransom on his 7-year old son who was kidnapped.

From the beginning, this episode plays on the traditional cop formula and continues to twist it around into a really intriguing storyline (something “The Gold Coin Kid” struggled to do successfully).

Reflecting the love the kingpin has for his seven-year-old is a great B-story of detective Wysocki (Jason Clarke) who is still sleeping with his ex-wife even though he’s engaged to a hottie half his age.

It’s clever that the mistress happens to be the cop’s ex-wife and adding even more layers to the drama is Wysocki’s teenage son realizing his mom and dad are still sleeping together. This is fascinating drama, and Clark continually plays Wysocki perfectly rattled in his own personal life – and completely focused on his day job.

Meanwhile, undercover cop Liam (Billy Lush) is still traumatized by accidentally killing an innocent man in a house he burned down, is called in to chauffeur Alderman Gibbons (Delroy Lindo). Soon he’s given a crash course in how devilish the man is. He sucks Liam into the “family” through blackmail and now Liam has an even bigger reason to stick around and take down Gibbons.

“Black Hand and the Shotgun Man” is another strong episode of THE CHICAGO CODE and continues to explore the stories and big moments in atypical ways. The characters are so well thought out and designed that they literally pop both in their professional lives, but also during their personal ones.

All of the scenes with Wysocki and his wife are priceless, especially when she asks him what exactly is their relationship. It’s also interesting to see Wysocki at home with his new fiancée and see the differences in his relationship between her and his wife.

Superintendent Colvin (Jennifer Beals) also sheds a little light into why she’s not married – especially when an F.B.I. agent takes a shine to her.

Forget being a great cop show, THE CHICAGO CODE is also superb drama with well-defined characters and expertly plotted storylines. It’s rare to have all those things combined into one show, but this Fox series has the goods and delivers each week with flying colors.

AGREE? DISAGREE? Let us know what you think – leave your comment below.

CLICK HERE for AX’s exclusive interview with CHICAGO CODE star Delroy Lindo

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