'Chicago P.D.': Jesse Lee Soffer on Halstead's Struggles and the Effects of Lindsay's Absence (Exclusive)

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NBC

Warning: Spoiler alert! Do not proceed if you haven’t watched Wednesday’s episode of Chicago P.D.

One of Chicago P.D.’s own is headed down a dangerous path.

On Wednesday’s episode, titled “Care Under Fire,” Halstead (Jesse Lee Soffer) goes undercover to stop an ex-military kidnapping crew from killing an innocent child, which dredges up demons from his past. Leaning on his past Ranger experience, Halstead persuades Voight (Jason Beghe) to let him take lead on the mission. Things go terribly awry when the man Halstead befriends, a fellow ex-Ranger, is shot dead and he lies to his sister, Camila (guest star Anabelle Acosta) -- with whom he becomes romantically entangled -- about his involvement. 

“He’s been downward spiraling since episode one of this season after killing that little girl, it exposed him to some stuff that he hadn’t dealt and that he’s been burying. We’ve seen him spiraling since,” Soffer tells ET. “We’re going to watch him struggle for a while and come undone and really be broken down and have to find himself again.”

What does this mean for Halstead moving forward? Soffer breaks down Halstead’s downward spiral, his complicated new romance and the lingering effects of Sophia Bush’s departure.

ET: How has Halstead’s mindset shifted since the season began?

Jesse Lee Soffer: He had it all figured out. He had a good handle on the things he had done and the things that he had seen, and I think he thought he had it all under control. After that experience of killing that little girl [in the season premiere], he realizes it’s all still there. It’s just underneath the surface [and] he just put it all in the closet. He has to reconcile seeing some awful things and doing some awful things and he doesn’t know how. He doesn’t have a support system for that. We’re watching him drown and struggle. 

In tonight’s episode, Upton is really the only person who calls Halstead out on his true state of mind, even though Halstead insists he’s capable of seeing things clearly. Will their working dynamic become fractured because of their conflicting views?

It’s certainly going to be tense and they’re going to be butting heads for a bit, until Jay really deals with the fact that he has an issue that he’s not doing a good job of dealing with. She’s the only person confronting him, saying, “I’m watching you drown right now and I can’t do it. You’re a mess.” He doesn’t want to hear it and he thinks he can still handle things on his own and still take care of business. He’s going to realize that he’s going to have to let her in as a partner and a friend, and rely on her to make it through the other side of this thing.

Halstead lies to Camila at the end of the episode about his involvement in her brother’s death. Is he digging himself into a deeper and deeper hole?

He starts to make a connection with Camila. He watches Camila’s brother die and he goes and has this connection with his sister, and he doesn’t tell her the truth. He doesn’t know how. They’re attracted to each other, but he keeps up the lie that he was with this other guy [when he died]. We’ll really watch him not deal with anything well at all. 

How complicated do things get for Halstead and Camila?

We come to find out that she’s in some unsavory stuff too, like her brother was, and Halstead is way too close to what’s going on and what she’s doing. It makes him wake up and snap out of it and say, “I’m a cop. A) I’m lying to this person, first and foremost. B) This is not for me and I should turn this around and be going after her.” Once that starts happening, he has to reconcile his feelings for her with doing what’s right. In doing that, he’s going to really struggle with how lost he is because he has a hard time doing that when that should be the easiest thing to do in the world. 

What is Halstead seeking in his life?

He’s not aiming for anything, which is a problem. The Pandora’s box opens up after the little girl gets killed. He’s got all these emotions he’s running from that he’s hiding from. The reason that he gets involved with Camila is to keep running. Anything to not feel what’s going on inside, to not be introspective and self-aware, and to run from all those deeper feelings, which is part of the reason he goes undercover in the first place. That’s where he’s at. He’s in limbo.

Is he still grappling with ex-partner Lindsay’s departure?

I think he is over it. I think he’s dealt with it. What was hard for him at the beginning of the season was dealing with the [aftermath] of the little girl’s death and not having his partner and not having a support system. That’s maybe what contributed to him slipping so far. He’s also not quick to open up and trust Upton.

What’s it going to take for him to get to a better place?

He’s going to have to own the choices he makes and own the choices that he made, and how bad things got. He’s going to have to reconcile those choices with Voight and how much he put himself and the unit in jeopardy. And he’s probably going to have to look at himself and deal with what’s going on underneath the surface that he hasn’t wanted to look at and he’s been running from for so long. It might take therapy, it might take talking to somebody and being self-reflective, which he hasn’t done enough of.

Looking ahead, what are you excited for viewers to see?

He’s going through something that’s transformative. We haven’t seen him struggle and be a mess and really [screw] up and be wrong about so many things. To watch him be out of control and then find himself again, hopefully build himself back stronger, that’ll be exciting.

Chicago P.D. airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.