“One thing about a bigot is: if they’re willing to kill one man over his sexuality, then they are certainly willing to kill more.”
It’s sad but true: hate crime is still a thing in this day and age. This particular episode of The Chicago Code centres around the brutal murder of a leader in Chicago’s Boystown neighbourhood. The gay community is up in arms, and now the Chicago PD have a mess on their hands.
Let’s take a little bit of a detour. The Chicago Code is very much a story about good and evil. There are good guys, and there are bad guys. The show isn’t interested in exploring moral relativism. What it is interested in exploring, however, is the fact that that heroes can have faults and villains can have positive qualities.
For most of the series, Vincent Wysocki has been presented as a courageous officer who died in the line of duty. He’s something of a legend; Jarek and Vonda both idolize him in their own way. But when Vonda discovers that Vincent had a mistress and was planning on leaving her mother, she’s devastated. The man she looked up to – the very reason she became a cop – isn’t who she thought he was, and now that the blinders are off, she wants to know the whole truth. So Jarek confesses to knowing everything, but he tries to reassure Vonda that despite appearances, Vincent was still a good man. Little does Vonda know that Jarek is cheating on his fiancée, and it’s eating him up inside. How can he truly believe that Vincent was a good man when he’s basically doing the same thing, and he doesn’t think he’s a good man himself?
How does this tie into the awful hate crime that was committed in Boystown? Well, it turns out that wasn’t really a hate crime. The perpetrator was a man by the name of Aaron Fash, by all outward appearances a heterosexual married man with a wife and daughter. But lately, he had been finding himself cruising in Boystown. He befriended the victim and began a romantic relationship with him. He was even about to leave his wife for him. But when the victim refused to enter a committed relationship, Aaron murdered him in rage and made it look like a hate crime.
Now, of course, Vincent is a “hero” (albeit a flawed one), and Aaron is a “villain.” But Jarek doesn’t necessarily see it that way; he just sees two people who paid for their cheating ways. Vincent paid for them with his life, and Aaron will pay for them with a lengthy stint in prison. So, despite being rejected by his ex-wife, Jarek decides to come clean to his fiancée, Elena. He admits to the cheating. He tells her he can’t marry her. He apologizes. Of course, Elena is furious, but in her rage, she says something quite insightful: Jarek can’t get close, but he can’t be alone either. It’s telling that Jarek doesn’t protest at all when he hears that; he knows it’s true. Despite his exemplary police work, Jarek doesn’t see himself as a hero, at least not in his personal life. As far as he’s concerned, he’s the villain of his own story.
“Only two reasons a superintendent would defy me like that: either she thinks she’s not going to be in her job in six months, or she thinks I’m not going to be in mine.”
Teresa, on the other hand, remains convinced of the heroism of her crusade against Gibbons. In order to avoid tipping him off that she has initiated a secret grand jury investigation into him, she has to strike a deal with another Alderman so that Gibbons doesn’t have his pick of police commanders. Maybe Teresa really is the heroine of her story. But one wonders: at what cost? Striking a deal with another Alderman is a bit like selling her soul, and that’s not to mention that she doesn’t seem to have anything resembling a personal life.
“Black Sox” makes one thing clear: it’s tough to be a hero. Some people lapse; others give up a part of themselves. But none of them of them make it through life unscathed.
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