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Are Upton and Halstead Actually Divorced? Showrunner Gwen Sigan Explains That Premiere
Has the Upstead ship finally sailed in Chicago P.D. S11?
Following Jay Halstead's early (Jesse Lee Soffer) exit in Chicago P.D.'s tenth season, he and Hailey Upton's (Tracy Spiridakos) relationship has suffered. And unfortunately, we may have seen it come to an end in Season 11's premiere, "Unpacking".
This development isn't entirely surprising. The last time we saw Upton address her and Halstead's marriage, she took off her wedding ring in Season 10, Episode 20's "Fight" after surviving a brutal kidnapping. This followed minimal communication with her husband despite repeated attempts to call him since he left for Bolivia. She was then offered some sage advice from Hank Voight (Jason Beghe).
"You know it is OK to let go if you're the only one fighting. Doesn't mean you don't love 'em, just means you love you, to," he said.
Spiridakos opened up about the scene to Variety in January 2023. "Is that a goodbye? Is that self preservation?... I’d like to explore what that feels like to have been in such a raw place and she’s not overly open anyway. I feel that she probably will just shut that door for a long time.”
Well, we finally have our answer to where their relationship stands. And once again, Voight is right on hand to offer his support.
Did Upton and Halstead get divorced on Chicago P.D.?
"At the end of the first episode, yes," showrunner Gwen Sigan confirms to NBC Insider. "They are officially divorced."
In "Unpacking" — which takes place six months after the events of the Season 10 finale — we see Upton and Halstead's divorce papers early on in the episode. They make another appearance later on when Voight points out that Upton's left them out on her desk for the entire Intelligence Unit to see. She confirms they're signed, but still has to send them, which she swiftly does when dropping them off at Platt's desk.
Upstead shippers everywhere are officially in mourning, though Sigan tells us that this decision is not one that was rushed or taken lightly. As Upton points out to Voight, it's been a year since Halstead left.
"I think logistically, it took them a while. I mean, obviously, he has been overseas, and I think, even when she took off that ring, to me, it still was all of this pain of now you have to talk to Halstead about it. You guys gotta figure out what's next. You gotta figure out if you're really doing this and sort of go through all of those steps that it takes," Sigan says.
The executive producer reveals that in that six month period, conversations happened off-camera between the couple that ultimately led to the decision to finalize their split.
"It's nice that it happened offscreen and that now things are in a place of closure as far as pragmatically speaking, but not as far as emotionally speaking," she says. "Yeah, and just getting to see now that we've gotten there, we can actually concentrate on what's next for her, you know? What's next and what is the light outside of it? Because that relationship wasn't all bad, but it's just that pain has been the dominant thing that we got to see last season, so now what is it? What is it gonna look like?"
What the divorce means for Upton
In the final scene of "Unpacking", Upton tells Voight what many of us have been suspecting for some time: She's not OK. So much so that it's spilling into her police work. She opens up to her boss in an emotional monologue after he shows up to her apartment unannounced, clearly worried about her.
“Lately, I don’t know if I’m not shutting down? But I'm angry, and I don’t know why," she says. "I’m not mad at Jay, I’m really not. I just, I should be good. I should be moving on by now. We all should be moving on by now, right? But I’m not, and I don’t know why... I can’t be a good cop if I’m angry. I don’t know what to do... How do I fix it?”
Voight's simple answer? "I don't know."
It's a profound and touching moment, expertly performed by Spiridakos, as we see a character who's famously tight-lipped finally confront her feelings.
"It feels honest to me that, especially for her character who isn't the most, in tune, I think, with how she feels, you know?" says Sigan. "She's someone that almost probably just always wants to control her emotions and deny the ones that are messy. So, I think it's a real thing that she doesn't really know what she feels in that moment, and she knows that she doesn't feel good, and she knows that she feels angry, and she knows it's cracking in the job, it's coming out."
The showrunner says we'll continue to see the detective work through these feelings throughout the season as she adjusts to her newly single life.
"It's a lot of self-anger, and it's a lot of blame on self. And it's a lot of things that are being triggered from the past and are coming up with it because of this abandonment and because of this loss of this relationship that meant so much to her," she says. "And so, I think it's anger turned inward at that point, even though she hasn't pieced it out yet, that that's what it is."