The Season 10 midseason finale episode, titled "Proof of Burden," brought the fight against Sean O'Neal (Jefferson White) to a head, and it ended bloody.
Much of the episode was spent trying to convince Paddy O'Neal (Michael Gaston) that his son was trafficking, raping, and murdering young girls, under the guise of a program for disadvantaged youth. It was clear that Paddy had some sort of idea that his son was a monster, but he couldn't admit it to himself or to anyone else, and he fought hard against any attempts to bring Sean in. Voight (Jason Beghe) did his best to reason with Paddy and make him see the truth, but it was Upton who really took the investigation into her own hands, making a few decisions that the old Hailey might have once thought twice about while the rest of the squad tried to take Sean down in a more by-the-book way. Sure, she made some reckless moves, but she's had a hard year, so let's cut her some slack and discuss Upton's biggest moments in "Proof of Burden."
She got a witness to open up: After a few missteps with one of Sean's former victims, Upton admitted that she had once trusted Sean too and eventually got the girl to open up. She then had serious accusations to level against Sean, if only her witness weren't considered a "bad victim," whatever that means.
She made the arrest: Voight decided they were going to arrest Sean anyway, so Upton barged into his office and found him burning evidence out back. As she processed him, she taunted him with photos of his victims and stories of the girls he had hurt. Sean taunted her back, wondering if she thought taking him down would save herself, but she was saved from having to deal with that nightmare of a comment by the arrival of Sean's lawyer.
She made a rash decision: When the team tracked down a suspect connected to Sean, Upton made the choice to rush in, thinking the suspect was hurting a young girl. That "young girl" turned out to be his adult girlfriend, and the ambush left the team with yet another piece of evidence that wouldn't hold up in court, and a decision that Upton then had to defend.
She faced him down: After Paddy got Sean released, Upton paid an ill-advised visit to Sean's office, hoping to reason with the serial murderer/trafficker/rapist/pedophile. After continuing his attempts to manipulate her by bringing up how she was abandoned by her husband, he admitted to her — in a situation that was not at all admissible, of course — that he's been a pedophile all his life and had tried to fix himself multiple times, but to no avail. He also said he tried to tell his dad, but his dad wouldn't listen. He opened the kids' program to genuinely help kids, but he found a way to "sacrifice" the ones that were beyond help. He felt he could control which kids bad things would happen to, he said, and somehow Upton was able to listen to him speak without punching him in the face. Voight pulled her out before she had time to do anything really regrettable, which is almost unfortunate.
She found the girls: After recognizing the same truck in multiple pieces of security camera footage, Upton was able to track down the missing girls, who she had feared were dead. They weren't, and they immediately named Sean, which meant there was enough evidence to keep him in jail.
She didn't jump into action: However, when she and Voight arrived at Paddy's house, they discovered a grisly scene. Both Paddy and Sean had been shot to death, or so it appeared. Paddy was definitely dead, but Sean was still sputtering on the floor. Voight ordered her to help save him, and for the first time this episode, Upton simply stood there and waited. She continued to just stand by in the hospital as the doctor said she and Voight did a "good job" keeping him alive, and that's where the episode ended.
If Sean lives, there's no way he's going anywhere other than jail. Upton, meanwhile, will hopefully head to therapy.
Chicago PD Season 10 returns at 10 p.m. Jan. 4 on NBC.