On Wednesday night (at 10:00 p.m. Eastern time), the new season of Chicago PD will officially arrive on NBC. What will season 5 bring us? Police reform is meant to be at the heart of the show this year, as you will see the entire Intelligence Unit come to grips with what it truly means to be a cop in 2017. To go along with that, there is also a spirit of change within the show — Sophia Bush is gone, Jon Seda is back, and Tracy Spiridakos is now a full-time cast member.
There is a lot to discuss regarding this pivotal new season, and we were very fortunate to have a chance to discuss it with incoming showrunner Rick Eid. Check out our full exclusive interview with him below to learn more about his thoughts on storylines, potential crossovers, and a whole lot more!
CarterMatt – There have been a lot of changes for this new season, and one of the big ones is you coming on board. What was the process like for you navigating over from SVU last season to Chicago PD this time?
Rick Eid – It was really pretty easy. Dick asked if I was interested in taking over Chicago PD and I said yes, so that’s how it came to pass. SVU is a great show and I had a great time there, but I’m really excited about jumping into Chicago PD. It was a great opportunity to do a different kind of show with different types of characters and cases. I was excited when he asked me to do it and so far, it’s been great.
At the time that you signed on, were you aware that there was a possibility of Sophia [Bush] leaving?
There was talk, but at the end of any season there is talk that certain people may come back or not come back. I was pretty removed from all of that, and I was just ready to make a great show with whoever was coming back.
Will the story of Lindsay be wrapped up in the premiere, or is that something that you’re going to take your time to work through? What was your objective there?
I think ultimately we’ll do what feels right and organic for the characters. We do address it in the season premiere, so from there we’ll just address it based on what feels right.
When did you start to get a sense that Jon Seda could be coming back?
There was some talk early on about him possibly coming back, so when it was official it was exciting. He’s a great character, great actor, and a great guy so everyone was thrilled he was back. He’s a great addition.
Is there a plan in place for how he’s coming back to Intelligence?
He comes back in the first episode in what we hope is an organic way. There’s a need for a detective and Voight reaches out to him, so he enters the show that way and decides to stay. He’s a valuable guy in Voight’s mind, especially in this new Chicago climate where there’s a lot of reform and the rules are changing. Voight feels good about having him around, so he offers him the chance to come back.
As a showrunner, do you tend to think in terms of the larger themes you want to explore in a season-long arc, or do you prefer to think in terms of episodes or arcs, allowing the story to evolve over time?
I think a little of all of that. We try to think of the overall arc of the season and what we want to accomplish, and then we look at a thematic level and go in there character by character and episode by episode. Things take on a life of their own as they go along. We went into this season thinking about what life is like in Chicago in 2017 and how do we make that part of our show? With that, the writers have been working with this idea of reform and what is going on in the city of Chicago. They’re in the process of trying to reform the police department, so we took that as the theme and ran with that as a general thematic template.
You’re coming over from a show that is very attuned to what is going on in terms of headlines, and Chicago PD has been fairly similar to that. The world’s not a happy place right now in some ways. Do you think in terms of reflecting some of these events on the show?
I definitely like the shows that speak to what is going on in society — Law & Order: SVU has certainly done that tremendously for years. I think a little of that in Chicago PD is great, as well. The questions are about what’s the issue, what’s the topic, and how that can involve particular characters?
Rick, people would be very angry at me if I didn’t ask — have you tooled around with the idea of a new SVU / PD crossover so far?
I think the idea of crossovers in the Dick Wolf universe are always a possibility. Nothing specific has been planned, but it’s always a possibility. I think it’d be fun.
Is there any consideration with doing anything major with Chicago Med characters? I’m sure there’s a struggle there given that show isn’t coming back for a little while.
Nothing [major] has been planned, but it’s always possible. The fans love it, so it’s one of those things that down the road could very well happen. (Note: After our interview it was announced that Nick Gehlfuss will appear in the PD premiere, but it’s not a major crossover between the two shows.)
Burgess was gone for the end of season 4, so where is she going to be when season 5 picks up?
In Intelligence, in the unit and ready to go.
Tracy Spiridakos is coming back full-time, so is it exciting to dive into her character and her history? We don’t know a whole lot about Upton.
It’s exciting, and we have the chance to identify her more and write her a certain way that allows fans to get to know her. We’ve got some good stuff planned for her.
Let’s talk about Voight, since he’s got this charisma and this magnetism and you want to root for him; then, he does these brutal things for the sake of justice, at least in his mind. What’s it been like writing for him, and is there an intent to push him in a new or interesting direction?
It’s been really interesting trying to write for that character. He’s complicated. He’s got his own code and constitution and he does what he thinks is right, so he analyzes the moment and reacts. He’s an interesting person in that he’s so committed to what he believes. Jason [Beghe] is a fantastic actor and it’s a fantastic character.
The challenge for him in 2017 and in season 5 is that in Chicago, the federal government is now involved in how the Chicago police operate and do business. As a result of that the top brass are now worried about how they do business. They pay attention to how they crack cases and procedure and rule-following are not one of his strong suits (laughs). He’s going to have to change the way he does business a little bit and has to use more of his mind and be more cerebral than physical to get what he wants.
But, he’s still the same character and he’ll do what he can to get justice. Sometimes he’ll do the wrong thing for the right reason. That’s just his code. He’s a really exciting character.
Is there anything you’ve done that you’re excited for people to see?
The season premiere jumps into the deep end on police reform, racial tension, and police shootings. It’s hot and heavy in that universe. Wendell Pierce is in the premiere playing and Alderman, and Mykelti Williamson is back playing Denny Woods from season 4, so we’ve got a lot of great people in the episode.
Last thing — are you already thinking about season 6, or is that way too far into the future?
One foot in front of the other – we’re not thinking about season 6. You always think when you’re building out these arcs about where people would end up at the end of the season. Sometimes it sticks and it feels like a natural place for the character to land, and then other times you think ‘oh, he or she should be there by episode 10 rather than episode 20.’ You almost have to establish where you think they are going to end up and see if that still holds and if what you’re doing changes that natural endpoint. You think you have an ending, and then you think that you may have something more interesting and more organic.
We want to give a very special thanks to Rick Eid for speaking to us about the upcoming season of Chicago PD. It’s a favorite here at CarterMatt and after hearing what Rick had to say, we couldn’t be more excited for the new season.
Want more Chicago PD premiere coverage?
Then head over here to see a sneak peek now from the season 5 premiere! Feel free to share your thoughts on this interview in the comments, and like us on Facebook for even more great TV news. (Photo: NBC.)