Chicago PD Season 11 Episode 1 Spoilers Tease Beginning of the End for Hailey & Atwater’s Potential Rise


The Intelligence Unit is back, baby!

It feels like a lifetime since Chicago PD went off the air, but after a long hiatus, the countdown is almost over until we’re back in business fighting crime with our favorite first responders.

And in the wake of the news that Hailey Upton is departing, there’s a lot of excitement and curiosity about Chicago PD Season 11 Episode 1.

With her pending departure and a truncated season, fans can’t wait to delve into the series and see what’s to come.

But one of the more exciting aspects of the season is the promo still.

Typically, you expect a promotional still featuring the entire cast, but this one is slightly different.

It only focuses on three of the primary characters and boasts a tagline of “Welcome Home.”

Related: Chicago PD Wishlist: Hailey’s Goodbye, Promotions, and Lighter Cases

We can take that literally as we gear up for a warm reception to One Chicago after a long hiatus due to the strikes.

For a bit, it didn’t seem as though they’d ever come back on our screens.

But the tagline could also work double time to address Ruzek’s return to the job, or, you know, his literal family love nest with Burgess and Makyala after his shocking shooting in Chicago PD Season 10 Episode 22.

But could the tagline also reference other personal storylines or maybe even characters?

We’ll have to tune in to see if there’s a deeper meaning.

But the promo could still tease that it’ll be a strong season for Hailey Upton and Kevin Atwater.

As the lead, Hank Voight in the center makes perfect sense for the promotional pic.

And with it being the final season for Hailey and her position as Voight’s right hand, it’s unsurprising that she literally appears on his right side.

Understandably, the season may feature her extensively as they set up her eventual departure.

But of the remaining characters, it’s exciting that Atwater is the third person featured in this still.

For a while, fans have craved a more significant, prominent Atwater role in the series. He often spent most of the series falling into the background during many episodes when he wasn’t facing “Black versus Blue” storylines and relationship issues.

His role has improved recently, with Chicago PD Season 10 subtly setting things up for him to have a more prominent role in this one.

With Halstead and Hailey gone, the unit will need a new detective, and Atwater may be a candidate for that.

Voight will also need a new righthand, and Atwater fits the bill. It could be why he’s featured on Voight’s other side, waiting to step into the position and fill the void left when the Upstead chapter closes.

We’ve seen Kevin grow as a cop and man over the seasons. He’s been incredible in the job lately, and his personal life hasn’t been quite as trying as it would need to take precedence over the job.

He’s also been shown to be a strong leader and great mentor, taking Torres under his wing.

Could this be the season of Kevin Atwater?

And we’re off to a strong start since he’s featured almost as much as Hailey in the premiere photos.

He’ll be in on the action during the episode, so we can expect an action-packed premiere that will get the blood flowing.

Atwater’s shots feature him outside, seeming as though he’s searching for or chasing after a perpetrator. And we even see an image of him with his gun drawn.

Whatever the case may be, Atwater is all about that action.

But he’ll have nothing on the resident “Action Barbie.”

The season premiere strongly focuses on Upton, as she’s not only featured prominently in many of the episode stills but also the only one discussed in the synopsis.

The season premiere may give us a clue as to how Hailey leaves the series.

Related: Chicago PD: How Hailey Upton’s Departure Shifts the Landscape of the Series

In the premiere, we learn that Hailey is shadowing the Crisis Intervention Unit.

It’s not the first time that Hailey has moonlighted or done some work with other units, as we saw glimpses of that while she was throwing herself into work to cope with Halstead’s abandonment.

But this time, her way of policing is drastically different than that of the unit, and it causes some friction.

Shall we call this “The Voight Effect?” Maybe.

Whatever her issues are with this team, it must be serious.

For one, Hailey appears roughed up, with scratches and marks on her face in some of the stills. And that either suggests that things get intense out in the field, or she was a bit reckless or didn’t play it by the book, and those were the results.

However, we’ve also seen how Hailey can get when she’s on edge, and the markings can indicate something else.

Whatever transpired out in the field must be serious, and it may have potentially jeopardized a case, as we see ASA Chapman making an appearance during this installment.

But Hailey also has to deal with the Crisis Prevention Unit’s therapist, Dr. Julian Mitchell.

One Chicago: With Budget Cuts, Departures, and Truncated Seasons, Can The Franchise Sustain Itself?

He isn’t too fond of Hailey’s approach out on the field, and like any medical professional, he wants to hash it out with her.

Hailey isn’t the first or only person on this unit who could use some time on a therapist’s couch, but something tells me this isn’t going well.

Whatever is going on may lead to her personal and professional life falling apart at once.

The episode also teases that Voight will support Hailey while she struggles in her personal life.

For better or worse, they’ve had a special bond, and he’s been there for her and kept a close eye since Halstead’s departure. He’s also been the one to bluntly tell her that it may be time to let things go with him.

It could be an installment that starts Hailey down a path of self-reflection and growth.

Noticeably absent from the stills and the synopsis are the other characters.

We can probably guess that even if there’s a time jump, Ruzek will be recovering from his gunshot wound and maybe even on light duty or something of that effect.

And Kim Burgess‘s storylines tend to align with Ruzek, especially after the shooting. Maybe we’ll even catch a glimpse of the pair and their happy home life together.

The bigger mystery is Torres. Unfortunately, he didn’t appear in the season finale. What are the odds that he’ll also be absent from the premiere?

Perhaps he’ll be immersed in the case. Hopefully, if he is absent, they’ll give us a good reason for it.

Whatever the case, we’re excited that Chicago PD is back. How about you?

Will we learn more about why Hailey Upton may leave? Are you excited about the possibility of Atwater having a more prominent role?

Hit the Show Comments Button and sound off below!

The season premiere of Chicago PD airs Wednesday at 10/9c on NBC.

You can stream it on Peacock the next day.

Remember to check back in with us for our Chicago PD Reviews.

Share your excitement for One Chicago’s return in the comments below.

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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