Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD for Episode 11 of Chicago P.D. Season 8, called "Signs of Violence."
Chicago P.D. delved into Hailey Upton's character more deeply than ever before, with an episode that dug into her difficult past through the context of a high-stakes case while also showing the significant ways her past impacts her present. Actress Tracy Spiridakos weighed in on how "Signs of Violence" set the stage for what happens next for Hailey after the emotional final scene, the Upstead relationship with Jesse Lee Soffer's Jay Halstead, and more.
In that final scene, Hailey finally opened up to Jay about why she spiraled throughout the episode, starting when he dropped the first "I love you" of the Upstead relationship. Hailey seemed somewhat surprised that he came over at all at the end when she called, after she spent most of the episode shutting down on him (not to mention bending the rules on the case) without letting him in on why those three little words had such a negative effect on her.
Tracy Spiridakos shared her approach to the ending scene between Hailey and Jay with CinemaBlend, explaining:
I tried to not put any expectations on it and wanted to just roll with however the scene unfolded. I did tell myself that I wanted to try my hardest not to cry in the scene because I felt that Hailey would be telling herself the same thing. Fortunately for me I have an incredible scene partner in Jesse [Lee Soffer] and while I did cry despite my best efforts, I think we found a really special moment between Hailey and Jay that brought them closer together in a really beautiful way.
According to Tracy Spiridakos, Hailey not crying for most of that powerful final scene was a deliberate choice for her character, and the tears finally flowing arguably made the scene all the stronger as Hailey finally opened up to Jay. In explaining that "I love you" reminds her of her dad's way of apologizing, she cleared the air and shared her feelings in a way that doesn't usually happen for any character on Chicago P.D. For his part, Jay really demonstrated how much he has grown over the years of knowing her in showing no hesitation about wanting to be with her despite all the baggage.
If anything, Jay sticking by Hailey despite her lashing out when she could no longer avoid him is proof of how well he knows her, and knows that her default is to shut down, even though he doesn't know all the details of what makes her the way she is. Tracy Spiridakos shared what it means for Hailey to have him in her corner after everything:
I think Jay is Hailey’s world in a big way. This episode brought up her fears of losing him because she feels there’s a part of her that is broken and in the past when guys see that side, they leave. But Jay stayed and I don’t think Hailey’s ever had someone stay after they've seen that fragile side of her. I almost feel like this is her first real love story.
Is there a best boyfriend award we can hand over to Jay Halstead after this episode? Wherever you fall on the Upstead relationship, "Signs of Violence" made it clear that this love story is good for Hailey and shows off some of Jay at his best. She opened up, and he gave no indication that he planned on giving up on her (or them) even before she was able to say that she loved him back. Upstead may have mostly happened off-screen in Season 8, but Chicago P.D. and the stars have turned it into a solid and layered storyline.
With "Signs of Violence" filling in some of the blanks of Hailey's history and personality, Tracy Spiridakos explained what she was excited to explore about her character:
I’m always excited to explore Hailey’s past and family dynamics. Does she have siblings? If so, what is that relationship like? What is her relationship like with her mom? How she operates is fueled by these relationships and she only allows teeny, tiny slivers of information to leak through an otherwise very guarded persona and I’m interested in getting to know her better.
Only time will tell if Chicago P.D. revisits Hailey's history and relationship with Jay again in Season 8, but the good news is that the show is already guaranteed another two seasons courtesy of its mega-renewal last year. P.D. has also set up what could be an intriguing path for Jay, and there is plenty happening elsewhere in Intelligence to be explored as well. Plus, that major question leftover from Season 7 that still needs to be answered! "Signs of Violence" did include a pretty great Burgess/Upton scene, so we can add that to the list of ways that Season 8 has delivered.
Chicago P.D. returns to NBC with its next new episode on Wednesday, April 21 at 10 p.m. ET as the third hour of the One Chicago block that starts with Chicago Med at 8 p.m. ET and continues with Chicago Fire at 9 p.m. ET. For some more viewing options as the weather warms up, be sure to check out our 2021 spring premiere schedule.