Welcome back to the world of Lena Waithe’s The Chi, where this week we find out that Keisha and Kevin have lesbian moms and it’s the best thing ever. It’s not the central focus of the episode, but it is for me. I can’t wait to see more of these women and this family.
But when we do see more of them, there’s sure to be drama, because while these moms are sure to be not-psyched when they find out about Keisha sleeping with Emmett (inexplicably, because what is his appeal?), they’re at least assertive enough to make sure they use protection, even when multiple-baby-daddy Emmett doesn’t want to. Still, the bigger issue in the family is Kevin, who is in a kind of limbo, not knowing if or when Ronnie will come for him. More on that later.
As we saw at the end of last episode, Brandon is on a mission, with the aid of his coworker, to buy gun. He backs out at the last minute, getting hit in the head and robbed by the gun dealer. When he goes home, he confesses to Jerrika, who is not happy but also doesn’t lose it. The class differences in their backgrounds are made clearer: Jerrika’s parents own a successful real estate agency—she keeps telling Brandon to go to the police; she tells him that this “hood bullshit” is not who he is. Meanwhile Laverne wants to sell her house, which has been in the family since her father bought it, and Brandon is upset. She needs out of the place where Coogie’s ghost haunts her; Brandon needs to hang onto what’s left of him. It’s yet another source of conflict, but they have a really touching conversation about how much pain they’re in, and for the moment, despite disagreeing, they connect.
Emmett is beginning to take a tiny bit more responsibility for his son, with the supportive nudging of Jada. He spends all day looking for a second job, and makes a deal with one of the employees at the 77th Street corner store that is a locus of this show that if Emmett gets a pair of sneakers for him, he can have a job that pays cash. But this isn’t a sure thing, and Emmett is tempted to start dealing by Reggie, who promises him a lucrative job. Emmett is clearly uncomfortable with the idea, but it’s easy to see why the appeal is strong.
Ronnie is reeling from the revelation that Coogie had nothing to do with Jason’s murder, and Coogie’s ghost comes to him when he’s high, saying it’s only a matter of time before Kevin starts blabbing and then Ronnie will get what’s coming to him. While Ronnie drinks and smokes through his pain, he stands Tracy up, and when he tries to apologize with flowers, she tells him to stay away from her. This makes him double down on trying to find out more about what happened to Jason, and where Jason’s phone is.
Ronnie approaches Detective Cruz about the phone, and Cruz is jumpy himself. He confesses to his girlfriend that he is the reason Coogie was killed, because in his attempt to ease Ronnie’s grief, he had told Ronnie that they had Coogie in for questioning for being near the scene of Jason’s murder. “I’d want to know the police had someone, just to know they were doing something,” is his justification; his girlfriend tells him he needs to fix it, and find a way to arrest Ronnie, despite not having any proof that he killed Coogie.
Meanwhile, we learn a lot more about Quentin, who is apparently a drug kingpin to whom the most powerful dealer was an apprentice. Q tells his former protegé to keep ask around about Jason, claiming he needs to keep kids from dying because it’s bad for business, though given his comments last episode, it probably has more to do with his relationship with Tracy. (Which we still know nothing about). Q then buys a house in cash from Jerrika (also a real estate agent) that is located perfectly for him to keep an eye on his underlings from the window. He sets up a desk and chair in the empty house, right in front of the window, lights a cigar, and just watches. Everything he does is slow and deliberate, and it’s very unsettling.
Finally, back to Kevin. Ronnie shows up at Kevin’s school, and the Boy Band spot him outside the gates when they’re leaving in the afternoon. They run away and Ronnie chases them (is no one seeing this?) but they duck into the school and to the auditorium, where they are snagged by The Wiz director and forced to play the lollipop guild. Jake and Papa encourage Kevin to just go find Ronnie and tell him that he won’t snitch, so that he’ll leave them alone.
Later that night, Kevin shows up to Ronnie’s hang-out area alone in the dark, and tells him that they don’t have a problem. To which Ronnie responds, “I’ll decide if we have a problem.” So Ronnie sends Kevin to Brandon’s house, and has Kevin trick Brandon into walking him home through the park—it is late, after all. Brandon has the older brother thing down, and it’s clear he cares about Kevin, someone who he can mentor in a way, now that Coogie is gone. But waiting for Brandon in the park is Ronnie, and the episode ends with the three of them, all marked by these two deaths, in a kind of stand-off.
The relationships and ties between the characters on this show continue to unfold, and we’re getting to know them all better. It’s only the third episode, and the tightness of this web is already strong. Chicago itself continues to be lovingly and beautifully shot, and the more things come together and the more drama builds, the better this show gets. Plus, now that there’s lesbians, it’s automatically better. Thanks for repping, Lena Waithe.