“Evers, you’re driving.”
That’s one sentence I never expected to hear when I was watching The Chicago Code for the first time. I mean, Jarek, letting Boy Wonder drive? Who turned the world upside-down? You know things are about to get tense.
When I do a rewatch write-up, I usually try to focus on the thematic elements of an episode. But “Greylord & Gambat” is a relatively plot-heavy installment, so I’m going to do something a little bit different; I’m going to focus on the episode’s plot and take a look at why it’s so effective.
“Greylord & Gambat” is not an episode that piles twist upon twist. Sometimes it zags when a zig was expected, but for the most part, it builds tension by building towards its ineluctable conclusion: Liam Hennessy (real name: Chris Collier) shot and bleeding, Ron Underwood refusing to testify, and Teresa’s case against Gibbons on the verge of falling apart. The audience knows what’s coming, and The Chicago Code doesn’t insult their intelligence by pretending that it’s heading in another direction.
So let’s backtrack and go to the top of the episode, which sets the stage. A grand jury has been convened to begin an investigation into Alderman Gibbons, and Ron Underwood has been called in as a witness. Meanwhile, Gibbons is prepping to announce his candidacy for the mayoralty of Chicago. All that remains now is to get Underwood to the stand to testify.
But of course, that doesn’t go smoothly. It turns out that Underwood has disappeared. Meanwhile, word has made it back to the Irish mob that Underwood was going to testify. So now Hugh Killian wants him dead, while the cops are looking for him. It’s a classic race between good guys and bad guys, a situation that is exciting nearly by default. But “Greylord & Gambat” puts a slight variation on this setup: Liam is working undercover, and he and Mikey are the ones tasked with pursuing Underwood’s girlfriend.
Liam and Mikey use Underwood’s girlfriend to lure him into their clutches. Liam thinks he’s just buying time until the cops show up, but Hugh has something else in mind. He wants Liam to kill Underwood and his girlfriend. Here’s where we start to see Liam getting reckless: instead of killing his targets, Liam stabs Mikey. It’s the first zag in an episode that’s full of zigs, and it reorients the plot slightly. Underwood’s life might have been spared, but now he’s spooked and refusing to testify. So Liam tries his most reckless plan yet: he’s going to try to get access to the Irish mob’s books through Elizabeth, Hugh Killian’s daughter. The books should contain records implicating Gibbons in the mob’s activities. Liam’s decision here has been set up over the course of the season. Ever since the arson, he’s been acting more and more recklessly. This is the culmination of Liam’s story, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to end well.
Meanwhile, Gibbons is convinced that Teresa has a personal vendetta against him (which she kind of does, to be fair) and is aiming to prevent him from running for the mayoralty. Gibbons has become self-aggrandizing and a little bit crazy; he’s convinced that there’s a “conspiracy” to bring him down, just like there was supposedly a conspiracy to kill former Chicago mayor Harold Washington. (This goes a long way towards showing just how unhinged Gibbons has become.) Fearing that he may soon be dragged through the muck by a grand jury investigation, he enlists Lt. Kelly’s help to find out who is working undercover in the Irish mob. With Hugh Killian’s help, he’s able to identify the rat: Liam.
This is where The Chicago Code zags instead of zigs again. Earlier, Elizabeth was flirting with Liam. So one might expect her to have a heart of gold and turn on the mob to help him. But The Chicago Code is slightly more sophisticated than that: when Elizabeth finds out Liam’s true identity from her father, she shoots Liam. Now, Liam is wounded and bleeding, trying to stay alive until backup can arrive. Jarek and Caleb find Liam and are able to rush him to the hospital, and thus we reach the episode’s natural conclusion, with Liam’s life in question. It would be easy to end there with a cliffhanger: will Liam, the only remaining witness who can tie Gibbons to Killian, survive? But “Greylord & Gambat” has one last trick up its sleeve.
“I’m not the monster you think I am.”
– Gibbons, to Jarek
Gibbons tries for a hail-mary play. He comes directly to the police department to speak to Jarek, claiming to know who killed Jarek’s brother, Vincent. He says he’s willing to divulge that information if Jarek agrees to put a stop to the grand jury investigation. It’s an insane plan. Firstly, Jarek doesn’t have the power to do that. Moreover, Gibbons doesn’t know Jarek well enough to know that he would flat-out refuse to put a stop to the investigation in any case. However, it does get Jarek thinking: can he possibly get some closure on Vincent’s death? We’ll find out in the next episode.
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