Kevin Atwater is the very definition of a person who walks around with the world’s weight on his shoulders.


He typically carries it well enough, leading with a big heart, a soft voice, a gentle demeanor, and a smile.


While we typically recognize the positive attributes of what could be perceived as a hero and a martyr complex, Chicago PD Season 11 Episode 5 explored the underbelly of that and highlighted its adverse effects.


Our boy, Kevin Atwater, took the robbery case personally, internalized every faction, and spent the entire hour beating himself up.


It’s a good sign that Atwater could spend this entire case trying to ensure he made the right calls and was tormented over losing Corey.


If you aren’t deeply affected by losses, replaying how you could’ve done things better and holding yourself to a high standard, you shouldn’t be in the job.


We’ve always seen the strengths in Kevin’s moral compass and standing, in his moral fiber, how that contributes to the unit, and so forth.

You do this thing where you want to take everything where you think you’re accountable for everything. This building, this neighborhood, Jordan, Vanessa, me. But no man can carry everything.

Lew


But the hour took an interesting approach in zeroing in on the plight of those attributes, and it made for a refreshing and welcome change in exploration, particularly for Atwater.


We often hear how the job can keep cops like Atwater up all night. There are so many instances where someone has sleepless nights or regrets.


And Kevin’s feelings were relatable and something surely most of the audience could understand in some capacity.


We’ve all second-guessed ourselves, our instincts, and our actions. Who hasn’t had bouts of self-flagellation as we punish ourselves for things that, more often than not, are beyond our control?


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Because what Kevin was going through was something, at its base level, that viewers could relate to, it made the personal aspects of the case engaging.


Of course, it never hurts that LaRoyce Hawkins is an excellent actor, and he can sell you on pretty much anything.


He’s typically why Atwater-centrics are among the best and engrossing installments of the series.


I’d watch that man read the phone book, you know if they weren’t rendered obsolete.

She lied to me!

Atwater


The robbery case made for one heck of an opener.


The Intelligence Unit can’t do anything or go anywhere in their off time without all hell breaking loose. I swear it’s practically the only way they catch cases anymore!


When was the last time they got a case in a normal way and not because someone on the team was somewhere at the right or wrong time?


Of the many instances of this happening, Atwater coming upon a jewelry heist when he was randomly planning to stop at a store to get his watch battery changed is so out there it’s almost funny.


Related: Chicago PD Season 11 Episode 4 Review: Escape


Nevertheless, the shootout was stressful, and the chaos at the scene had my head turning every way, trying to keep up.


Corey getting enclosed between bulletproof glass with a gunshot to the neck was shocking, and it didn’t bode well for him.


Regardless of what that M.E. said, there is no way he could guess that had Atwater gotten to Corey in time, he’d still be alive.


However, some of the case’s frustration resulted from how certain things played out. It was irritating that Corey and Theresa didn’t listen to anything Atwater said when everything was happening.

Voight: Hey, Kevin. Remember in training about multiple victims when you choose. Remember that?
Kevin: No, I don’t remember.
Voight: Because it isn’t there. We don’t have it. Look, you save who you can save. You did good. Let it be done now.


They ran when he told him to stay down, and further added to the chaos of the moment, and that was how Corey got shot and trapped in the first place.


And initially, it seemed like Theresa deliberately fumbled with the key. It also seemed like she saw the robber unmasked and was potentially in on it.


It was interesting to go through most of this case and be unsure if Theresa was a victim or an accomplice. And the promo definitely teased that idea.


From our perspective, she didn’t listen to Atwater, messed up with the key, blamed him for her and her husband’s actions, and refused to identify the perpetrators while simultaneously being angry that the case wasn’t solved.


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Theresa was such a frustrating victim that it was difficult to sympathize with her in any way, and she came across as more suspicious than anything else.


As a result, Atwater’s guilt-driven sympathy toward this woman was hard to watch. You wanted him to “snap out of it” and apply some pressure on this woman for the sake of the case.


It took a while to translate that Theresa was genuinely afraid for her and her son’s lives rather than nefarious reasons or obstinacy for the sake of it.


She was right about the robbers. Phillip Morris tipped off his partner the second he realized he was identified, and she and her son almost got killed.

That’s not right. He’s not the one who gets to live!

Theresa [to Atwater]


The circumstances surrounding patrol leaving were agitating, but thankfully, Atwater arrived in time. And not only did he save them, but he kept the offender alive as well, much to Theresa’s chagrin.


It was the perfect moment in this hour, to sum up exactly who and what Kevin Atwater is. He’s the truest of true when it comes to what the job is supposed to be about, and he couldn’t let that man die just because of who and what he did or out of revenge or justice.


But even solving the case wasn’t enough to let Kevin sleep soundly. And something tells me that after replaying his every move at the crime scene and finding that key, he’ll have many restless nights ahead of him.


It was upsetting to see Kevin struggle so much. He’s a good enough person, and you know this will haunt him for a while. But he’s also the guy who will take what he’s learned from all of this and apply it to the job moving forward.


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If anyone can learn from his “mistakes,” it’s Kevin.


But hopefully, his attempts to salve his guilt won’t cloud his judgment to the point of being ineffectual in the field.


Once again, it was a prime example of how a unit member should not have been involved in a case in which they got too invested.


He missed out on catching one of the offenders because he chose to stay back with the GSW victim even though the man was supposedly stable and help was already on the way.


The aptly titled split-second decision during this episode put some of the decisions one makes in the law enforcement field under the microscope but in a much subtler way than the typical route, which was worth appreciating.


Atwater, who often supports everyone around him, had a solid support system during this hour.


Naturally, Adam Ruzek had his back, and it speaks to how much Ruz has matured and evolved over time that he could be the level-headed one who encouraged Atwater to talk about his feelings.


He’s a much better communicator these days, isn’t he? It’s so healthy!


I also loved the parallels of Hank Voight doling out some of his paternal advice and checking in with Kevin in a similar vein as Lew, Kevin’s actual father.


Voight could see clearly that Kevin was too hard on himself. We’re always our worst critics.


And Voight wouldn’t allow him to keep beating himself down.


Meanwhile, Lew is a man who has many regrets and mistakes under his belt, and he could come from a place of experience and as someone who loves Kevin with all that he has.


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Their relationship is endearing, and I’m happy for the stage they’re at with each other these days.


Lew’s assessment of Kevin and how he tries to be everything to everyone and takes too much accountability for things out of his control was so on point.


It doesn’t matter how long he’s been out of his son’s life; he still knows him well.


It was a solid Kevin hour. We still can’t escape the diminished cast and limited continuity stuff.

Regret, now that’s something I know a thing or two about. It’ll swallow you whole if you let it.

Lew


Hailey was completely absent, leaving us with just Kim and the boys, which I wasn’t mad at, but Kim was limited. And we didn’t get any reference to Hailey’s absence or anything that happened during Chicago PD Season 11 Episode 4. But alas, such is life.


Over to you, Chicago PD Fanatics. Did you enjoy this Atwater-centric? What was your interpretation of that ending with the key? Let’s hear it below!


Chicago PD airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on NBC. You can stream the following day on Peacock!

Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. She is an insomniac who spends late nights and early mornings binge-watching way too many shows and binge-drinking way too much tea. Her eclectic taste makes her an unpredictable viewer with an appreciation for complex characters, diverse representation, dynamic duos, compelling stories, and guilty pleasures. You’ll definitely find her obsessively live-tweeting, waxing poetic, and chatting up fellow Fanatics and readers. Follow her on X.





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