Chicago PD Season 11 Episode 11 Review: The Water Line


Without a doubt, Kevin Atwater is the purest, most universally adored, and best character in the series.

And it’s always a delight when he gets some focus, which is precisely what Chicago PD Season 11 Episode 11 set out to do as it touched on some of Atwater’s finest attributes: his dedication, compassion, sympathy, and nobility.

But with all great attributes, there is a drawback, as everything is a double-edged sword.

The hour was a follow-up on Chicago PD Season 11 Episode 5.  

Overall, it was an average installment.

Kevin is such a beloved character, and he’s often suffered almost as much as Trudy when he gets shoved into the background.

As a result, any time we spend with him at the forefront is a real treat. In that sense, you cling to his installments with a death grip because he finally gets focused, but LaRoyce Hawkins is also incredible.

The man is easily one of this series’s finest (double entendre intended heartily) actors.

No matter the content, the man will consistently deliver and keep you hooked from credit roll to credit roll.

It was no exception with “The Water Line.”  

He put forth another fantastic performance, and the same praise extends to Petey McGee, who played Butchie.

He was a particular standout during the moments where he opened up to Atwater about his cousin’s death and when he confronted the man he held responsible for Marcus’ death.

Strong performances abound; thus, they overcompensated for a rather understated hour.

Atwater: I can step off the case.
Voight: No, I want you to do your job. Just find the lead. Make it right.

It wasn’t even that “The Water Line” was a lousy installment, as it was a far cry from that. It’s just that one’s mind quickly wanders during parts of it, and it will not stand out or even stick with you beyond the moments you spent watching it.

Atwater-centrics are often some of the strongest of the series, and this likely won’t break the top five.

But that’s fine. There was still plenty to enjoy about it.

The direction, for starters, was also notable and strong. The aerial shot of Oceanwater parting ways to track down their perp and Butchie was marvelous.  

The cinematographic shot of Atwater staring out into the water, representing the “water line” as he waited to speak to Butchie, was also wonderfully done.

And the scuffle at Terrence’s house was shot well also. A few standout moments were visually appealing as they aligned with the plot.

Butchie was obviously not the ideal candidate to assist them with this case. He came across as a potential liability from the second he hopped into Atwater’s car without warning.

His behavior during the intro was nerve-wracking, and things only got progressively worse from there.

He did beat the CI curse, though, but just barely. He was willing to go to prison and possibly die for his young cousin, but fortunately, he experienced the former rather than the latter. 

He put Atwater in more than one difficult position, though. And for a guy who has been carrying the weight of not reacting to certain things the way that he should, it was tough for him.  

Ironically, Butchie and Atwater were in similar positions.  

Atwater was also holding onto what happened with Corey Westbrooke, and he’s allowed his guilt over that to consume him.  

Unfortunately, it’s gone so far that it’s occasionally jeopardized the job, and Theresa has been publically threatening his career and requesting a restraining order if he doesn’t stay away.

Here is where Atwater’s arc tapped into one of his previous centrics, “Sympathetic Reflex.”  

He’s expressed how he always leads with sympathy, and that’s what one hopes and desires in an officer, especially in this day and age when too often the imagery of law enforcement doesn’t align with that particular trait. 

But sometimes, the issue with leading with sympathy is the emotional toll it takes on a person — the self-flagellation when things don’t go according to plan and drowning under the crushing weight of it all.

Sympathy is emotionally taxing and exhausting. Yes, it’s possible to care too much, and Atwater was right on that line.

It was frustrating to see him wracked with so much guilt and turmoil when we knew that there was nothing he could’ve done.  

The Westbrookes didn’t listen to anything he had to say during that robbery, and his death didn’t fall on Kevin Atwater. He even went as far as to save Theresa and her son.

If you ever come near me or my son again, I will file a restraining order, and I will make sure you lose your job. I’ll make sure of that.


With all that in mind, it was difficult to sympathize with this grieving woman because her blaming Atwater was unfair. And that’s what makes Atwater a better person than most.

He’s paid for a headstone, sent them food, and helped Jonathan out of a jam with the law. And all Theresa can think about is that Atwater’s help is him trying to ease his guilt for what happened.  

One of the subtle things that was enjoyable about how this has impacted Atwater is that we had Voight and Trudy playing concerned parents and doing that in their specific ways.

Voight was the hardass doling out straight-to-the-point tough love by essentially telling him to get his crap together.

But Trudy, let the One Chicago gods bless her, was such a Den Mom.

They don’t give us nearly enough Trudy, but when they do, they make it worth our while, and this was a prime example.  

We know how Trudy is when it comes to the Intelligence Unit. As much as she’s a sarcastic hardass with everyone, she genuinely loves and cares about them. They’re her kids.

And Kevin and Trudy’s dynamic is a profoundly underrated bond. It’s plain as day that he’s one of her favorites.

The two of them having a heart-to-heart was one of their greatest moments since she Mama Bear hugged him to death during Chicago PD Season 5 Episode 12 and told him never to scare her like that again.

She knows that of all of her “kids,” Kevin is a compassionate one with a soft heart who earnestly tries to do right by people.  

Atwater: What are you doing here?
Trudy: Voight asked me to talk to you. You gonna carry this one too? That man made his bed. It’s not on you.

And he’s also the person who carries everyone else’s stuff on his shoulders. He tries to save and help everyone and everything, even at his own expense, and he’s been doing that his entire life.  

Trudy’s advice to him was crucial and sage. She hit the nail on the head about him and how important it is that he knows when to let go so he can keep his head above water.  

The water metaphors worked well with Kevin, his emotional state, and even his last name.

He doesn’t know how not to be this person who is compassionate to a fault, and with a job like theirs, if he continues down the path that he’s going without toeing the fine line, he’ll burn out sooner rather than later.

Because of the emotional struggles Atwater was battling, Trudy’s maternal edge befitted the situation and gave us one of the best moments of the season. Trudy isn’t technically a mother, but she’s still one of the best moms in the game, regardless.

Goodness, Amy Morton is the greatest.

Atwater learned a hard lesson from this whole case, and it reached a natural conclusion during this installment.

Voight’s serial killer arc hasn’t, but we at least learned that he was missing because he was in Detroit chasing a connection.  

I can recall no reason for Ruzek’s absence, but it was glaring.  

If anyone got the shaft this season, it was Ruzek, who has barely had a presence all season.

Once again, it has to go on the record that this disappearing, rotating cast and centrics aren’t working. It sucks.  

For as much as I loved Atwater and Trudy as well as Oceanwater, we’ve been deprived of some quality Ruzwater for a long time. 

The formula they’re using simply isn’t working for this series at all and hampers the show’s quality as a result. Half the reason we tune into Chicago PD is because of the characters and their respective relationships.

Trudy: There are two things you can do with guilt. You can let it drown you or let you give it purpose.
Atwater: I need to figure out how to do that.
Trudy: Well, I’m not going to let you drown. No one here is.

After all, Atwater and Trudy’s dynamic carried this episode.

Over to you, Chicago PD Fanatics. How would you rank this in Atwater-centric? Did you love all the Kevin/Trudy content? Do you miss Ruzek? Sound off below!

Chicago PD airs on NBC on Wednesdays at 10/9c. You can stream 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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