Chicago PD: Burzek’s Journey to ‘Forever’ is a Testament to Enduring Love

Spoilers

The third time is indeed the charm.

Regarding Chicago PD’s Kim Burgess and Adam Ruzek, very few “ships” remain on television that have had quite the journey this pairing has.

And Chicago PD Season 11 Episode 3 marks a pivotal turning point in their relationship, the series, and television history pertaining to couples.

Burzek has cemented its place amongst some of the most noteworthy couples of television history, and that’s not to diminish any of the series or the One Chicago universe’s other pairings.

But unlike any of the other pairings over the span of the franchise, Burzek has such a deep, rich history that has kept viewers on edge for a full 11 seasons.

When you consider that, it’s no wonder why fans have invested in this pairing. It’s no small feat.

There has been a valley of highs and lows for the two since they first crossed paths with one another, and what Chicago PD has delivered, for better and sometimes worse, is the type of (at the risk of being hyperbolic) iconic ship that many series don’t have the pleasure or longevity of getting to pull off.

Despite the occasional grumblings from some fans to the contrary, Chicago PD is not a primetime soap or akin to it.

It’s a true through procedural.

But the Burzek formula is massively successful at tapping into the level of soap opera fervor for this couple. And that’s no slight in the least.

There is a reason why people tune into soap operas and have a specific level of dedication to certain pairings that can be years and sometimes even generations in the making.

Related: Chicago PD’s Upstead Obsession Drags Down the Series

A primetime series can rarely pull that quality of a love pairing off because it is infrequent that you get to see many shows survive long enough, especially with the cast intact, to do so.

Admittedly, it was partly why it was frustrating when things shifted within the series when a staple ship tended to take more of a backseat and become secondary.

Burgess and Adam Ruzek were two characters who had been orbiting one another in some capacity for a decade.

Just like the third time is a charm for this pairing, actual time has served this couple well.

It’s to the pairing’s benefit that they’ve had time for their relationship to evolve as much as the characters have throughout 11 seasons; thus, it’s a love story that pays off.

What’s refreshing about Burzek is that we’ve seen them through many lenses and various stages in their relationship, and it has been a journey.

And the series hasn’t shied away from allowing us to follow them on that journey, even when it took some painful and frustrating twists and turns along the way.

Burzek has benefited tremendously from not being a rush job.

While it doesn’t technically qualify as a traditional slow burn, the series utilized some of the techniques of a textbook slow burn alongside the “second chance at love” mechanism to deliver a ship with real staying power that has kept fans invested for over a decade.

It’s not easy to do, and much of it falls within the absolutely fantastic chemistry between Marina Squerciati and Patrick J. Flueger.

The longer the two have been able to play off one another, the more alluring the ship and the desire for it to serve as an endgame.

With each passing season, it’s apparent how close the two have become, their genuine friendship and trust, and their deep understanding of and instincts regarding the respective characters, allowing them to work magic with the dynamic.

Related: Chicago PD Season 11 Wishlist: Burzek, Levity, and Promotions

Those instincts and chemistry have carried Burzek as a throughline across all the moments between the writing for them.

And perhaps that’s why even when the romantic aspect of the pairing appeared to have been on ice many times across the series, there hasn’t been a second when Burzek hasn’t felt inevitable.

That declaration and general sentiment of the two promising each other “forever” during “Safe Harbor” felt right and suited them well.

It was an installment that I’m not afraid to admit I had to sit with longer, processing the many factors of it well past the deadline for my review to appreciate it even more.

While watching the hour, it was hard not to have mixed feelings about specific components of it and its execution, as the season thus far has been alarmingly underwhelming to a degree.

Even while writing my Safe Harbor Review, I acknowledged how torn I felt and how mixed up my feelings were regarding certain facets of the hour and even this long-awaited proposal.

The begrudging romantic in me indeed craved more regarding the proposal. It was so understated, even for these two.

A moment that I envisioned could’ve involved Makayla in one of those quiet but sweet domesticated snippets they’ve gifted us with for the past two seasons — it didn’t exactly come to fruition.

Related: 19 TV Marriage Proposals Where The 2nd (or 3rd) Time Was the Charm

It was such a deceptively casual moment amid all of the routine moments they live together.

It wouldn’t be surprising if they don’t even remember this actual proposal as far as how it came to be, only how they felt when voicing and reaffirming that they had chosen each other and will continue to do so for the rest of their lives.

And yet, it’s something that served them well, especially who they’ve become as life partners.

For the record, there was never any doubt whatsoever that Ruzek would propose to Burgess at some point.

He’s always been willing to put himself and his heart out there like that. He’s never wavered on instinctively knowing that he belonged to her and likely always would.

The fact that he still had the same ring he used before (one he’s held onto for years) and had every intention of presenting it to her yet again isn’t the least bit surprising for a man who has been so far gone for Kim Burgess for almost as long as we’ve known him.

But after the more traditional grand gesture and the casual but cautious inquiry when they learned they were pregnant during Chicago PD Season 7 Episode 11, I wondered and maybe expected something that would fall sweetly in the middle.

Forgive a girl for wondering and trying to envision his initial plan.

Kim: Promise me we’ll keep fighting for this. Because I need us, Adam. I need this family.
Adam: Well, you know I will.
Kim: Yeah?
Adam: Yeah. I’ll keep fighting for it for the rest of my life.
Kim: That’s nice.
Adam: I was going to do a whole thing here, but this seems better. Let’s get married. Let’s make it forever.
Kim: Third time’s a charm, huh?
Adam: That fit okay?
Kim: It’s perfect.

But what’s abundantly clear with this latest step in their lives is how Burzek is nothing if not well-earned.

These two characters have fought for this — they’ve bled, as Adam succinctly noted. They’ve been through the trenches and walked through fire to reach this point. They’ve endured more than most would ever have to do.

Burzek has put in the work.

In a sea of series whose quest can often be putting characters together for instant gratification and payoff, there’s nothing as rewarding as a well-earned ship.

It’s such a rarity to witness what Burzek has pulled off, which is why this moment in the series’ history is so satisfying. It also feels solidified, deeply cemented, and for real this time.

Related: These Are the Current Ships That Invented Chemistry

At this stage in the series, every bit as much as this point in Adam and Kim’s lives, their “forever” is inevitable.

What’s refreshing about Burzek is that it’s comprised of two characters who have done the individual work and gotten to grow and evolve as characters on their own before embarking on this journey together.

Previous attempts at the two of them coming together were rocky, mainly because one or both weren’t in the best place for the relationship to thrive.

Yes, it’s possible for individuals to still flourish as such while in a relationship, but in hindsight, it was more rewarding to see these two characters come into their own apart before revisiting their romance.

Some of the antics of Chicago PD Season 11 Episode 2 notwithstanding, we’ve seen impressive development from Ruzek over the years and how he’s become a stable, more even-tempered, reliable family man devoted to the people he cares about most.

And there was nothing more satisfying than Marina Squerciati’s stunning work when Kim finally made this long-awaited breakthrough during her therapy session, recognizing some of her fears and letting down the last of her defenses regarding the man she’s never stopped loving.

It was up to Kim to choose Ruzek at that time during Chicago PD Season 10 Episode 17, but the fact of the matter is that the two of them have been choosing one another for years.

Burzek essentially became life partners well before they could even admit or acknowledge it, and it was some of the most compelling depictions of a relationship that you don’t typically see.

I was wrong. You’ve proven yourself time and time again. You’re stable with her. I believe in you, Adam. I do. And I’m sorry if it hasn’t always felt that way.

Kim

Their affirmation of each other — this promise that they’d give us each other forever simply put words to what we’ve already seen and known was true.

Any good derived from the darkness of their miscarriage arc is that regardless of their romantic pursuits, they would always be forever family, tied to each other inextricably.

Arguably, some of the strongest moments that marked the real shift in the ship came from that darker arc during Chicago PD Season 7 and the moments since.

It’s then that it was obvious that there would never be a time when they wouldn’t orbit around one another. There was such a distinct beauty in the indefinable nature of their union then precisely because it transcended labels.

Related: Memorable TV Relationships That Were Worth the Wait

Burzek is transcendent.

As far as ships go, it doesn’t get much better. It’s something that can only be executed as well with the type of history to play around with and the willingness to let the pairing breathe without restrictions.

We’ve always known that Burzek always chooses each other, so nothing is surprising about that coming into play in the quiet moment of their proposal.

Because, in a lovely play of words, Burzek truly are each other’s “safe harbor.”

Kim: I haven’t ever not felt, it’s not that I didn’t feel the same way that he did. I did, I always have. I just couldn’t, I couldn’t, I was just to…
Therapist: OK, we don’t have to keep pushing that tonight, but that’s a good start.

A safe harbor is a place of refuge and protection, and that’s precisely what Burzek have always been for one another: a safe space to retreat, a solid foundation for which a ship at sea can comfortably and safely land amid the unpredictability of sea and tumultuous storms.

A safe harbor is essentially a home, and for Burzek, their home is in one another.

It’s something both characters have craved throughout the entire series, subtly referenced and mentioned and sprinkled here and there through time, as they’ve learned that family and refuge can be active choices, and thus, they reaffirmed that they have actively chosen each other.

But what feels monumental and celebratory about the proposal is how both characters are finally in the perfect, stable, healthy places where they can communicate well.

Related: Budget Cuts, Cast Shifts, & Truncated Seasons – Can One Chicago Survive Its Own Changes?

Kim and Adam are more mature and seasoned. They are their best selves as individuals; thus, their romance is also. It feels grounded and real, a house with good bones built on a solid foundation after hard work.

There’s comfort in knowing that what comes next for them is real this time. It has the lasting power to carry through the remainder of the series.

They’ve built and become a family, and there’s no going backward, which sets them up to be the most successful pairing in the One Chicago universe that we have constant access to and one of the healthiest.

The prospect of what comes next for them is actually exciting. It’s one of the only endgames that pays off and rewards loyal viewers.

There aren’t too many, or any other pairings across the One Chicago Universe, who possess the storied history, longevity, transitions, or Kim and Adam’s fortitude and ability to overcome anything.

Burzek has more than earned its bones.

We have an official engagement, and what’s also comforting is knowing how little this new shift in their relationship won’t interfere with the job or detract from anything.

With time and a rewatch, I’ve certainly made peace with it and can see the beauty of how it transpired and how realistic it feels — how quietly meaningful and poignant it was.

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But within a season that takes up a theme of tapping into more personal arcs and peeling more layers to these characters we’ve known for some time, a wedding feels as inevitable as Burzek itself.

The proposal may have been subtle and soft, but the wedding damn sure better be loud and a true celebration.

It would be the first of its kind for Chicago PD, and Burzek is certainly the pairing that earned it.

These little moments let the light in on a series that’s become so dark.

Let a Burzek wedding be the light that we need! It’s the much-needed celebration of a ship, Burzek’s family, the characters, and the series itself.

Over to you, Chicago PD and Burzek Fanatics. How are you feeling about this hard-fought engagement? Sound off below!

Chicago PD airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on NBC and streams 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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