Fans weren't the only ones disappointed when Sophia Bush announced she would be leaving the cast of Chicago P.D. ahead of season 5 — turns out Jesse Lee Soffer, who plays her character Erin Lindsay's partner (and romantic interest) Jay Halstead, was also upset by her exit.
"You know, it’s always sad when a cast member leaves a show," Soffer told TVLine. "We’re a huge family, and she’s a huge part of making the show what it was. We all created something together, and so that’s always difficult. But the show must go on. That’s how it works."
Bush left the show after season 4, likely in order to focus on executive producing for 20th Century Fox TV, and told fans the decision to leave was her own.
In an Instagram discussion, some fans questioned her decision to leave P.D. and Bush spoke out against them, saying it was her decision to leave the show.
"Took me a lot of time and a lot of hard work to get out of that show," Bush said. "Please don't demean my capabilities by degrading my position. I left because I wanted to. End of story."
In another comment on the post, Bush told a fan that she has "never stated why" she left.
As the show moves on from her departure, Jay finds himself going down a dark road on an undercover mission, getting too close to a vigilante group in the midst of Lindsay's absence. In fact, he reveals that he gets romantically close to the vigilante group leader's sister, Camila — but he says the blurred lines aren't filling the void of Lindsay's absense.
"I don’t think it’s filling the void of Lindsay. I think it’s filling the empty space so he doesn’t have to deal with all of the emotional trauma. So he doesn’t have to deal with the PTSD and killing the little girl. He’s trying to fill up that space," Soffer said. "Is he ready to move on? I think he’s got to worry about getting himself healthy before he’s in a relationship. Look at what he’s doing now with Camila. He’s lying to her. She doesn’t even know his real name. So I wouldn’t say he’s ready for a relationship, per se."
Soffer also said that Jay is struggling without a support system in the wake of Lindsay's absence.
"Lindsay’s gone, his partner’s gone. That definitely did not help with the situation in Episode 1. He didn’t have anyone to rely on," Soffer said. "He’s kind of trying to deal with all of this emotional pain on his own and muscle through it. He has a new partner. Upton’s there, and she cares, and I think she wants him to be OK and wants to be there for him, but he’s not quick to trust and doesn’t let her in. We’re watching him struggle on his own right now."
And he doesn't agree that the closure Jay got upon Lindsay's exit was as healing as it could have been.
"I think the wound is still open for him, though. That’s part of what’s playing into him going down this dark road right now. I think he feels a little lost, and he doesn’t have anything holding him down. There’s nothing solid in this life, which is interesting, because I think Hailey Upton starts to kind of hold him down and show up for him," he said.
And if fans were shocked by the timing of Lindsay's exit, especially because Jay was preparing to propose, Soffer says the cast and crew was struggling with her departure as well. When asked by TVLine if he was surprised by her exit, he said, "Yes. I think, last season, we were struggling with how to make a lot of things work and fit a lot of story into a short amount of time. I think Jay had the right intentions. He was trying to do what was right, but going about it the wrong way."