Delroy Lindo in THE CHICAGO CODE - Season 1 - "Mike Royko's Revenge" | ©2011 Fox/Jeffrey Garland

Delroy Lindo in THE CHICAGO CODE - Season 1 - "Mike Royko's Revenge" | ©2011 Fox/Jeffrey Garland

Stars: Delroy Lindo, Billy Lush, Matt Lauria, Jennifer Beals, Jason Clarke, Devin Kelley and Todd Williams
Writer: Shawn Ryan,
Director: Lesli Linka Glatter
Network: Fox, airs Monday nights
Original Telecast: May 23, 2011

With the news last week that THE CHICAGO CODE was canceled, it didn’t bode well for how the season and now series final “Mike Royko’s Revenge” was going to wrap up.

Would it be a cliffhanger or would everything get tied up in a neat little bow? Were the producers prepared for a conclusion in the off-chance it didn’t get renewed?

And strangely, it ended, exactly how it should end – like one, big movie.

The thirteen episodes of THE CHICAGO CODE’s first and now, only season, has felt cinematic from the beginning. It’s been a sprawling, complex arc dealing with Superintendent Colvin (Jennifer Beals) trying to find a way to take down the massively corrupt Alderman Gibbons (Delroy Gibbons). She’s been aided by trusted cop (and former partner) Wysocki (Jason Clarke) and his new partner Evers (Matt Lauria).

It’s been a very twisted ride to get to this finish line, and while only two of the thirteen episodes felt a little too conventional for such an ambitiously unique story, as a whole it still adds up to one of the best series on network television during the 2010-2011 season.

And it couldn’t have ended better.

The episode is essentially the second part of the events that took place in “Greylord and Gambat.” The secret Grand Jury case into Alderman Gibbons is heating up with a Irish mobster Hugh Killian (Patrick St. Esprit) turning on Gibbons for immunity.

With this piece of the puzzle and undercover cop Liam (Billy Lush) surviving the gunshot battle with Killian’s daughter (Shannon Lucio) – everything is locking into place in order to catch Gibbons at his own game.

Of course, things aren’t going to be that easy.

Gibbons, deciding to play Wysocki (Jason Clarke) and divert his attentions away from him, delivers a photograph of Killian with Wysocki’s brother (an undercover cop who was shot in the line of duty).

While Colvin wants Wysocki to stay focused, Wysocki has been spending the entire season trying to uncover who shot his brother and why. What he discovers though is the “why” is more significant than the “who.”

In one of the biggest twists, Wysocki discovers his brother was a dirty cop. He was taking money from the Irish mob in order to leak information about the Russian mob (who he was undercover with). He also discovers an evidence tag that leads to all of his brother’s evidence collected while he was undercover. It was his last saving grace to clear his conscious and his name in the event something happened to him.

And surprise, the information also includes a huge file on Gibbons from fifteen years ago when he was much sloppier when it came to his dirty dealings.

Many other things happen during the course of the episode, including Colvin realizing she can’t have a relationship because people will perceive her as weak, and, of course, Gibbons trying to pry Colvin from her position before she pries him.

Yet, by the end, Gibbons is arrested and we’re to assume, by the last frame, that Colvin and Wysocki have succeeded.

It’s hard to create genuine emotion on network television, especially with only a handful of episodes available to create and delve into the personal lives of its primary characters, but “Mike Royko’s Revenge” succeeds and then some.

There are two, really heart-wrenching moments that cements THE CHICAGO CODE as great television. The first is Wysocki watching a videotape of his brother that was hidden in evidence. Here, he admits to being dirty – something that rips Wysocki to his core. Then there’s a small little bit at the end of the tape – his brother’s young daughter Vonda wakes up from a nightmare and needs comforting. He turns the tape off to deal with family. She, of course, is now a rookie cop (Devin Kelley) and she carries on the Wysocki name (with morals intact).

The second piece of this emotional roller coaster ride happens when Wysocki decides to tell his father and Vonda the truth – since it’s going to come out anyway during the grand jury investigation. This is the whopper – a super-charged scene that ends with Wysocki comforting Vonda and Vonda realizing her uncle had to do what he did.

Character has been at the forefront of why THE CHICAGO CODE has been so good, and every pairing on the show gets an ample spotlight in its final hour. The growing trust between Wysocki and Evers deepens, Colvin reveals to a special agent (Adam Arkin) why they can’t consummate their attraction to each other and even Gibbons and his love interest/aid have one last moment. It all makes for a well-rounded episode and a wholly complete season one. Actually, make that a complete series.

I’ve grown to love all the characters and actors on THE CHICAGO CODE, that it’s painful to think the series will not continue. I understand Fox’s decision to not go out on a limb for a second season given the borderline ratings, but I also think they probably made a huge mistake as well. THE CHICAGO CODE is a critical and creative success. It’s the kind of television that sneaks in below the radar ever so often, and chances are, once the complete DVD set came out, more people would have discovered its magic and would have likely arrived for Season 2 in bigger droves if there was a Season 2.

The price tag for THE CHICAGO CODE can’t be cheap either, which is probably why a cable outlet will not save the series from its cancellation. Then again, with thirteen episodes that tells one big story, tells it well, and concludes it in a cinematic style – maybe it’s best to leave well enough alone. The rule of thumb is to leave the audience wanting more, and as much as I’ve been a fan of the series from Day One, I also respect that like any good movie, I’ve been taken on a journey and once it’s over, no matter how much I could have handled another hour or two, I still feel satisfied.

For fans of great television who missed THE CHICAGO CODE, I’m sure the DVDs won’t be too far behind and once they come out, check out the show. Support it. Embrace it. It doesn’t get any better than this, and it’s going to be a very long time before a series this perfect (and this smart) sneaks onto a network schedule again.

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Click on link for AX’s exclusive interview with CHICAGO CODE star Jason Clarke

Click on link for AX’s exclusive interviews with CHICAGO CODE stars Devin Kelley, Todd Williams and Billy Lush

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

CLICK HERE for more exclusive CHICAGO CODE reviews and news

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