Chicago P.D. wasted no time in the 2024 TV schedule before revealing that Adam Ruzek had in fact survived the Season 10 finale cliffhanger. Surviving the gunshot wound didn't mean that Patrick John Flueger's character was back on the job by the time Season 11 began, though, and his uphill battle isn't necessarily finished just yet. Showrunner Gwen Sigan addressed his struggles so far, and what's ahead for him with Burgess and the adorable Makayla.
Ruzek had the support of Burgess and Atwater in the Season 11 premiere before the story took a heavy turn with Upton's reveal, but he still physically wasn't ready to return to the Intelligence Unit. After explaining why a six-month time jump "felt appropriate" to start the new season, Gwen Sigan detailed the importance of being realistic with Ruzek. The showrunner shared with CinemaBlend:
We really wanted to approach it as realistically as we could. Having the six months off screen gives you that opportunity to play it in the real way. Usually on a show like this, we wouldn't want to not have the actor for six months of the season. [laughs] But what we were able to do was play the reality that if you're shot in the way that he was shot, it takes a long time. In Chicago policing, you do need to requalify. You do need to go through the retread process and pass all the tests again, so it's a very real and emotional thing for somebody to be off the job that long.
Fortunately for Ruzek (and fans who wouldn't want to lose Patrick John Flueger for an extended period of time), Voight is determined not to replace him in the Intelligence Unit, and he has support as he works toward requalifying for the job. That's not to say that he'll have an easy ride in Season 11, as the showrunner continued on why this journey is so emotional for the character:
Especially [for] someone like Ruzek, who needs the job in a very real way to get that energy out of him that needs an outlet, and it's a positive outlet for him. That's really what we wanted to come at it from. If he has actually been rehabbing, if he has actually been physically not the best and in the best shape and having to get his body back, what would that look like? And what place would that put that character in, and then put Burgess in? So it was a really natural thing in the room of figuring that out.
Considering that Ruzek did everything he could for Burgess after she was shot in the Season 8 finale, the Burzek duo certainly have experience in tackling trauma together. They also became more of a family unit than ever in Season 10, with the two officers finally reigniting their romance, settling into a routine with Makayla, and Mack finally calling Ruzek "Dad" in a particularly touching moment. (You can revisit Season 10 streaming with a Peacock Premium subscription.)
After noting that Burgess and Makayla were an anchor for Ruzek last year when he was struggling with his undercover work, I asked the showrunner about whether fans will be seeing Makayla again with Burzek. Gwen Sigan said:
We will be! Yes, she's back. We'll see her. We'll see them as a family unit and what that looks like and how they've actually grown stronger over the last six months. Getting to see them where in previous seasons, when difficult things came up in their life, they would kind of separate from each other a little bit and have to isolate. We see the opposite now. They're now going into each other. They're able to do that now that they've grown up and they've made this commitment to each other. It's a nice ride for the two of them this year.
Upstead may have fallen apart over the six months of Upton's journey between seasons, but the good ship Burzek is seemingly stronger than ever as Ruzek recovers from his injury. While I'm not going to hold my breath that seeing more of the family unit will translate to another Ruzek/Makayla dance routine, it's reassuring to be able to look forward to a "nice ride" for Ruzek and Burgess after everything they've been through.
Of course, the promo for the next new episode – called "Retread" – on January 24 suggests that Ruzek's upcoming ride is going to be anything but pleasant. Take a look:
The new episode will see Ruzek mixed up in a case unexpectedly after a raid on a poker game, and he'll struggle with standing down out of a fear of becoming like his father. Whether the Intelligence Unit will be able to handle this case with Ruzek still on leave remains to be seen; they were short-handed in the Season 11 premiere with Torres on furlough and Adam on leave.
Tune in to NBC on Wednesday, January 24 at 10 p.m. ET for the next new episode of Chicago P.D. As always, P.D. airs following Chicago Fire at 9 p.m. ET and Chicago Med at 8 p.m. ET. With Fire dealing with the aftermath of Gallo's exit and Med on the verge of introducing a new character (and name-dropping Will) on top of the Ruzek situation on P.D., now is the time not to miss a week of One Chicago.