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Things You Never Noticed In Chicago P.D.'s First Episode

Premiering in January of 2014, the first episode of the police procedural "Chicago P.D." kicked off its entry into Dick Wolf's "One Chicago" universe with an electrifying series debut. Featuring Jason Beghe's Hank Voight, Jon Seda's Antonio Dawson and Amy Morton's Trudy Platt crossing over to the new show from their previous roles on "Chicago Fire," the 21st District's elite intel squad found themselves plunged into a harrowing new case right from the series open. Hot on the bloody trail of a drug cartel hit man whose M.O. is decapitating his victims, the initial "Stepping Stone" episode definitely launched the series in an exhilarating way.

As a police action-drama — with emphasis on the action — the show's opener packed in plenty of wild chase scenes, gunplay, and life-threatening confrontations. Added to that were the introductions of numerous unfamiliar characters and relationships that any new series would need to provide to a first time audience. 

In other words, with all this going on, viewers can be excused if there were some things they never noticed in the first episode of "Chicago P.D." until now.

The episode's surprising link to Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad

One key element of the series' debut that might have slipped fans' notice is the identity of the show's director, and his connections to other iconic TV hits. In addition to directing the premiere episode of "Chicago P.D.," Michael Slovis also served as cinematographer on such landmark series as "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," "Breaking Bad," and "Better Call Saul." In 2006, his efforts on "CSI" would earn him a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Cinematography for a One Hour Series. Later, he would move into the director's chair to helm episodes of blockbuster franchises including "Game of Thrones" and "Breaking Bad."

As any serious "Chicago P.D." fan knows, the immersive realism achieved by the show's directors has become one of its trademarks. Matching the kinetic pacing of the series, the dynamic visual style of the show reinforces the scripted narrative without getting in the way of the story. Discussing his approach to this kind of seamless visual storytelling, Slovis told The Hollywood Reporter, "I'm all about the most efficient and non-intrusive way of telling the story... I want the graphic language to be pretty, but I also don't want it to be what's noticed. I want it to be integrated into the story. I really try, when I go to different places, to make myself fit in and not impose anything... but put my own little spin on it."

The episode had multiple Chicago Fire actors crossing over

One thing Chi-hard fans are well-aware of in the expansive Chicago-verse is the phenomenon of crossover storylines, with all three shows sharing plotlines and characters to great dramatic effect numerous times. How often does this sort of cross-pollination of plots and stars occur? A Reddit user did the math and compiled a list of no less than 17 times the three shows have swapped personnel, also including a link up with another Dick Wolf series: "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit." In a discussion of the episode on TV Line, commenter Angie made a point of mentioning how crossovers added to her appreciation of the various shows' interconnections. "I enjoyed the crossover of Chicago fire players. Since they all live and work in Chicago not ever seeing them cross paths would be highly unlikely. It also provides continuity to any story line on either show."

All that being said, with everything going on in the "Chicago P.D." premiere episode, even the most observant viewers may have failed to recognize that certain actors had popped in from another "One Chicago" show. For instance, in addition to Jason Beghe's Hank Voight and Jon Seda's Antonio Dawson making the jump from "Chicago Fire," other visitors dropping in from Firehouse 51 included David Eigenberg's Christopher Herrmann, Yuri Sardov's Otis Zvonecek, and paramedic Lelie Shay (Lauren German). And in her one-and-only "Chicago P.D." appearance, "Chicago Fire's" Julie Willhite (Melissa Sagemiller) would arrive to help out on a case, only to die from a gunshot wound before the episode was over.

The intel unit was only a month old - and it shows

The "Chicago P.D." premiere "Stepping Stone" episode found the 21st District intel unit immediately fully engaged in a fast-paced, high-risk case as they hunted for the vicious cartel hit man Pulpo, the octopus. With mutilated victims piling up, the team deploys with all the expertise and energy that would become hallmarks of the series going forward. But the fact is, at the time of this debut episode, the department's intel unit had only been operational for about a month (via One Chicago Center). And while the squad generally handled the case with all the professionalism one would expect, there were a few instances where the newness of the unit revealed some glaring deficiencies, one of which proved fatal.

For instance, while pursuing a lead on Pulpo's whereabouts, the team arrives at an apartment complex. Gunfire erupts and Voight and the rest of his team assemble at the front of the building and prepare to make their entry. But standard protocol, according to Officer.com, would call for patrol officers to be dispatched to positions allowing them to watch all possible exits from the building to prevent suspects fleeing. Then, when officers Julie Willhite (Melissa Sagemiller) and Antonio Dawson (Jon Seda) are sent into the building, she ends up positioning herself directly in front of the suspect's door. As a result, when a blast is fired through the closed door it hits Willhite squarely in the neck, mortally wounding her. The correct procedure, according to "The Tactical Edge: Surviving High-Risk Patrol," would be to avoid standing in front of the door before taking up position to breach it. 

Detective Willhite may have looked strangely familiar

Many fans of Dick Wolf's "One Chicago" universe of interconnected shows may well have recognized Melissa Sagemiller's detective Jules Willhite as a character who'd debuted in the 2013 "Chicago Fire" episode "Let Her Go." Making the move to "Chicago P.D." in the following year, Willhite's character would form a close working relationship with both her squad partner Antonio Dawson (Jon Seda) and officer Erin Lindsay (Sophia Bush). But when the decision was made to write the character out of "Chicago P.D.," Willhite was rather abruptly killed off in the show's premiere episode.

However, despite her appearances on both "Chicago Fire" and "Chicago P.D." the actor may have looked oddly familiar for another reason. In fact, it would come as no surprise if fans had also spotted the actress before – in yet another of producer Dick Wolf's many network TV shows focusing on the criminal justice system. As it turns out, Sagemiller portrayed Assistant District Attorney Gillian Hardwicke in a number of episodes of Wolf's "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" franchise. Making her first showing as Hardwicke in 2010, she would go on to appear in a total of ten episodes of the long-running series.