NBC Insider Exclusive

Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive show news, updates, and more!

Sign Up For Free to View
NBC Insider One Chicago

What's Wrong with Atwater and Why He Wasn't Himself in the Newest Chicago P.D.

The cop was dealing with plenty of complicated emotions in the latest episode, "Split Second".

By McKenzie Jean-Philippe

The fifth episode of Chicago P.D.'s 11th season, "Split Second", puts all the focus on Kevin Atwater (LaRoyce Hawkins) with a high-stakes investigation into a series of jewelry story robberies.

How to Watch

Watch Chicago P.D. Wednesdays at 10/9c on NBC and next day on Peacock.

Atwater witnesses one of the thefts, and a murder on a scene, which brings up a series of a complicated emotions we see on full display throughout the hour. Find a recap of it all below, in addition to an exclusive interview with Hawkins himself. 

RELATED: How LaRoyce Hawkins Filmed Atwater's New Episode in Frigidly Low Chicago Temperatures

What's wrong with Atwater in Chicago P.D. Season 11, Episode 5?

While on the scene of the jewelry store robbery that becomes of the focus of the episode, Atwater is unable to save the life of a civilian who was shot by one of the perpetrators. The wife of the victim, Theresa, was forced to watch her husband die in front of her and blames Atwater for his death. The cop then spends a majority of the episode clearly affected, attempting to find the robbers while also not letting guilt and the woman's judgement cloud his police work. 

"I think there's also this theme of regret over redemption, or redemption over regret, you know what I'm saying?" Hawkins tells NBC Insider. "Lou has a great line about how regret can really do you in if you allow it to."

Kevin Atwater holds a sobbing Teresa in Chicago P.D. Episode 1105.

In a tense moment during the episode, a typically by-the-book Atwater gets uncharacteristically confrontational with a pawn broker who's a potential witness to the case. While everything he does in technically legal, the scene is something fans are more used to seeing from a character like Voight. It was so unlike Atwater, in fact, that Ruzek questions him. 

However Hawkins explains that a lot of thought went into this change we see in the officer.

"What I've learned about redemption is that that's what we relate to, and so as a storyteller, I had to allow Atwater to do some things that might not have looked Atwater — but extremely redeemable in a way that the audience relates a lot more than they probably have in the past," the actor tells us. "Just because I didn't wanna fall into the trap of being over righteous as a character, you know? I think sometimes it only contributes to one level of storytelling that sometimes isn't... as compelling." 

What happened to Atwater at the end of the episode?

Kevin Atwater wears a hoodie in Chicago P.D. Episode 1105.

After one robber is arrested, Atwater ends up catching and shooting the other when he tracks him down at Theresa's house (the criminal was there to kill her for identifying him to the police.) So, the Intelligence Unit ends up solving the case, but Atwater is still plagued with regret about whether he could have saved Theresa's husband.

RELATED: LaRoyce Hawkins Shares Rare Off-Duty Pics with Jason Beghe at the All-Star Game

He ends up returning to the jewelry store early in the morning after a sleepless night to retrace his steps, finding any holes in how he handled the situation. He ends up finding a key under broken glass that could have opened a door that would have gotten him to Theresa's husband, potentially saving his life.

"You can only save what you can save as far as lives are concerned. Icing on the cake is solving the crime," Hawkins explains about the lesson his character took from this week's episode. "I think that would allow Atwater to be a better leader moving forward because he'll have the capacity to let things go as he should and hold precious what's most important. Atwater wants to protect and serve at a higher level. And even though he's been with Intelligence, and he's got powerful experience as an officer, he is still only an officer. So, I think he can only really walk into the next level by experiencing things like this and giving himself the chance to make some mistakes, but learn from them."