Police reform, led by Denny Woods (Mykelti Williamson), came to a head in Chicago P.D.'s fall finale when Ruzek (Patrick John Flueger) was forced to choose between his family in Central Intelligence or his kid sister.
He was placed in that impossible situation by Woods, who charged him with the difficult task of spying on his team and leaking information in order to take down Voight (Jason Beghe). If he didn't go along with the plan, he faced major consequences like getting fired and his sister bearing the full weight of her DUI.
After struggling with the moral dilemma of either saving face (and his career) or doing what's right, Ruzek finally came to a decision: he'd do right by his crew. The decision culminated in a huge standoff with Woods in which he told his superior to shove it where the sun doesn't shine, effectively putting his career in jeopardy.
TV Guide caught up with Flueger to get his take on Ruzek's big choice and what it means for the conflicted officer moving forward.
Denny Woods gave Ruzek a day to turn in Voight or kiss his career goodbye. How stressful were those 24 hours for your character?
Patrick John Flueger: Incredibly stressful. In that moment, he realizes that he's in between a rock and hard place...that he has to make one of two terrible decisions. Up until that point, he thought he could mitigate the situation and get out of it without his sister getting into trouble [and] without him going to jail. This is the first time he realizes, "Oh my God, I have to give these people up or bite the bullet and take the punishment about to be handed down." This is not something that's never happened before, that somebody's tried to step in and help a friend or a family member. And when it comes back to bite him in the ass, I think he's shocked. Everybody wants to know why he doesn't tell Voight when Voight initially comes up to him but I don't think he was expecting it. He's immediately in a situation where he's like, "F--k! I can't tell anybody about this. I need to get out of this on my own and I can do it."
He had a difficult choice to make: Voight and the rest of Central Intelligence or his sister. What makes him finally decide to stand up to Woods?
Flueger: This is the moment where the choice is laid out. It's either you're gonna go with the red pill or the blue pill and you have to pick. Up until now, he's been sitting in the middle, he's been trying to satisfy all sides. When it comes down to it, he feels he has a sense of honor and his sister's probably not going to suffer that many consequences. [But] he's probably gonna go to jail...and for a while. He'd rather sit in prison for a few years knowing what he did was right.
What did it mean for Ruzek to finally tell Woods off the way that he did?
Flueger: It was incredibly cathartic. You were watching a strange therapy session happening on camera...Just letting out all of the stress that he's been feeling, all of the self-loathing, and he puts it all out on Denny Woods. I get that his job is to reform the Chicago Police Department but at the same time, he's going up against good [officers]. [Woods has] a vendetta against Voight and I think [Ruzek knows] that from the beginning. This is between the two of them and Ruzek got caught in the middle of it.
Burgess previously confided in Ruzek about her tough choice. Did he ever consider turning to her about his impossible situation as well?
Flueger: I'm sure he's thought about it but at the same time, he doesn't want to make her complicit in the situation, to implicate her at all...His best friend is Atwater. He's with him every day, all day long and so I think he would probably love to tell Atwater but that means inviting either of those two people, two people that he cares about unendingly, into a conspiracy. I think it's a burden that he has to bear alone.
It looks like Burgess' boyfriend Matt is out of the picture for now. Does that mean there's a chance she and Ruzek will get back together?
Flueger: I think that there's a chance. He genuinely wants her to be happy. He wants what's best for her. I think he hopes and wishes it was him that brought her that happiness but if it's gonna be this guy, then so be it.
Even though Ruzek did stand up to Woods, he still did a few things that he's not proud of like leaking the tape of Halstead's bar fight.
Flueger: I wish we would have highlighted this a little bit more but handing over that tape is really not that big of a deal. It's not an actionable offense. [Halstead] might get a slap on the wrist for it but he's a cop that's undercover and he got into a physical altercation to preserve his undercover status. He crossed a line but it's certainly not something he's going to get more than a sit-down and a slap on the wrist for. While I don't think Ruzek wanted to hand it over, and while Jay might be a little bummed that he handed it over, upon explanation, he would understand that [Ruzek] had to give [Woods] something and this was the smallest, easiest thing for him to give.
Chicago P.D. returns Wednesday, Jan. 3 at 10/9c on NBC.