‘Chicago PD’ exclusive: Marina Squerciati on key ‘Justice’ episode, devastating season 3 finale

Justice -Wednesday night’s new episode of “Chicago PD” is going to be an event that is in many ways unparalleled. This episode called “Justice” is the launching pad to a potential new series, and while there is no confirmation that it is going to get the order just yet, all signs are positive. NBC and Dick Wolf have certainly found a powerful way to launch it given that this story will put Burgess at the center of a devastating case that will change her and also have huge public ramifications.

The drama for Burgess begins in this episode when a hooded man fires away at her and Roman’s patrol car, which leaves him hurt and her intent on capturing the shooter. She chases after him, loses sight of him briefly, but then fires when she seemingly sees him moving in her direction with something that looks like silver in his hand. The tragic twist here is that no gun is found at the crime scene, and the suspected shooter who Burgess fired at is a teenage honor student who may never walk again. This has her sent into the courts, where Assistant State Attorney Peter Stone (Philip Winchester, one of the leads of “Chicago Justice”) works to defend her. Carl Weathers plays State Attorney Mark Jefferies, and will also be a part of the series.

We recently had a chance to interview Marina Squerciati not only about this key episode, but about getting herself in the position to play Burgess in this sort of horrified state. She also touches on the new relationship with Roman, and offers a brief tease for the upcoming season 3 finale.

CarterMatt – Take me through what your reaction was when you first saw this script and realized just what sort of story you would be telling.

Marina Squerciati – I think it’s so important that ‘Chicago PD’ touches on the Black Lives Matter movement. It’s something that we were all hoping would happen, and then we were just waiting for the right time and I think we found it. It’s exciting that we as artists are able to bring this very real problem and address it on the show.

For Burgess, when I realized that I was the one who was to shoot the unarmed black teenager, that’s not so great. It’s such a great thing to have happen as an actor; Dick Wolf said to me ‘I want to see a Burgess that we’ve never seen before. I want to see her full of rage and anger.’ The idea that your boss wants you to tow outside the lines a little bit is really amazing.

Given the nature of the subject matter, was there anything different about the way you tackled or prepared to tell this story?

That’s really interesting. I think the circumstances of how we got into shooting were different. There was a Philadelphia [incident] where two cops were just sitting in a car, and they were kind of just shot up. I watched a couple of videos [of various incidents that were] amazing but tragic. Watching those helped, but also when you watch cops in a shootout, in a fight, you expect that someone is going to get hurt. Your adrenaline’s up, and you’re ready for that. When you are sitting in a car in the middle of a conversation and you hear these bullets, and you see your partner go down in a pool of blood, I think yeah, you react differently than you would when you’re ready and your senses are heightened. You go from zero to sixty, instead of ramping up.

We started to see this relationship between Burgess and Roman build before this episode. How much of that factors into the investigation, and if their relationship played a role in her decision-making?

That’s kind of what ‘Justice’ revolves around, when Peter Stone, the main character, finds out about this incident. Burgess doesn’t bring up [the relationship]. It’s what the case revolves around, whether or not she was acting with her head or her heart. They put it in cruder terms, but that’s exactly what’s happening. When she gets out of the car and she is running after this kid, who she loses sight of for a second, would cooler heads have prevailed if she wasn’t in a relationship with Roman, or is that her cop training? Burgess has an opinion; I don’t know if my opinion is the same.

What was your reaction when you found out about this romantic direction for Burgess and Roman?

I was shocked! I think I had done some interviews where I’d said ‘nothing would ever happen with Roman. They’re just friends!’ (Laughs.) So you put your foot in your mouth and you realize that you should never commit to anything in an interview.

I think it’s really fascinating how it evolved, and it was almost important in interviews that I didn’t realize it because Burgess was in a committed relationship, and she would definitely not stray. She didn’t see that, and once that relationship was over she was able to look at her partner, who she spends twelve hours a day talking to, and he’s put his life on the line for her and vice-versa. That’s very seductive and interesting. She was able to see outside of him.

I would imagine that while all of this is going on, Ruzek is going to have a hard time because I’m sure there’s still a big part of him that really cares for her.

I think Ruzek’s still confused as to why it ended, which is the reason why they’re not together. He needs to understand what went wrong before they can get back together.

I also think Patty (a.k.a. Patrick John Flueger) takes things really personally too, and I think he’s very upset. (Laughs.) He’s like ‘we’re perfect together, why are you with Roman?’

What was the experience like working with the ‘Justice’ cast given that it had to feel in some ways like the first day of school working with people like Philip Winchester and Carl Weathers?

Yeah, it’s like the first day for their school. We’re there like ‘oh don’t worry, Chicago winters are bad but the food is awesome’ (laughs); we help them make the transition. Also, you’re sussing each other out, and they were such a lovely team to work with. I never got to work with Carl Weathers and I’m still upset about that. I’m hoping to if and when ‘Justice’ gets picked up.

There also must be something nice that ‘Justice’ seems more like a natural fit alongside ‘PD’…

Yeah, that’s exactly right. So ‘Med’ and ‘Fire’ go hand-in-hand. They’re twins, and it’s like we got our own twin. ‘Justice’ and ‘PD’ roll naturally into each other. That’s kind of a perfect fit.

How do you think this story carries over for Burgess the rest of the season?

Yeah, I think when you go to a place you’ve never been before, it’s hard to come back to neutral. She now knows that rage exists in her, and I don’t think she’ll be the same person. I don’t think she’ll be completely different, but there are definitely moments she’ll react differently to now. I don’t think she will come back being the Burgess from the first three seasons in season 4.

What did you think about the finale when you were first checking that out? I’ve read there’s a big Voight story coming up.

Once we read ‘Justice’ we were like ‘what else can they do,’ but then they figured it out! It’s such a tragic, tragic ending, and in a way that is so unlike any TV ending. It’s so horrible. It will really shock everyone.

Okay so last thing: Do you think we’re done now with spin-offs? Could we see more?

Like I said, the last time I did an interview I said ‘Roman and I would never be a couple!’ I can’t put anything down because it will drastically change.

Thanks to Marina for her time, and as always you can head over here to get some other news right now when it comes to “Chicago PD.” Also, sign up over here in the event you want to secure some other TV news on all we cover, sent right over to you via our official CarterMatt Newsletter. (Photo: NBC.)

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