Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Blocks: The Chi throws a block party, brings the neighborhood together for better or worse

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Welcome back to this journey through the the streets and hearts of The Chi‘s mosaic of characters. This episode takes place over a single day leading up to the neighborhood block party, and is possibly my favorite episode yet.

Shoutout to this mural of Lorraine Hansberry, which is the true highlight of this episode. 

Let’s start with Brandon, who has found refuge with his cousin Hannibal. Hannibal is so zen and funny, and I love him…except when he decides to push Brandon to hook up with his boss’s wife Sarah, who I guess has been showing interest in Brandon. But still. Also there are dick pics involved which, please never send an unsolicited dick pick. Literally no one wants that, Hannibal.

Anyway, Brandon and Hannibal are hanging out, smoking weed, doing Tai Chi, watering Hannibal’s garden, etc. They are so relaxed with each other, so effortlessly close, and it’s really nice to see these two men in such an easy loving relationship. Brandon confesses the entire story of Ronnie and Kevin and the gun and his mom selling the house to Hannibal, and it’s good to see him able to open up to someone. The pair walk and drive around the city all day before the block party, and their day weaves through the entire narrative of the episode. I’m into it.

These two.

While Brandon and Hannibal are bonding, Kevin and his crew are starting to fracture just the tiniest bit. Kevin is already isolated because of his experience first with seeing Coogie get shot, then shooting Ronnie himself, and now someone has stolen his bike. Turns out it’s Maisha, the girl who forced Kevin to kiss her by tackling him to the ground. Kevin finds her apartment in the projects, and the bike parked outside of it, but when he sees that she’s responsible for her baby sibling and lives with much less than he does (with his amazing lesbian moms, lest we forget), he lets her keep “borrowing” the bike.

Meanwhile, Jake is going through his own reckoning. He goes along for the ride with his brother Reg and his crew on a mission to steal a lot of guns from a shipping container. He wants a gun but Reg won’t give it to him, saying he has to earn it. So Jake steals one and runs into the labyrinth of shipping containers to take a selfie with it. When they get back to their house all the guys start carrying the boxes of guns inside, and Reg and Chop talk about how they’re being watched by “the old man,” aka Quentin, who has now amassed two of his old crew members in order to do something. I think they want to take over the drug game, or take it back, from all of the younger dudes like Reg and Trice who run it now, but Q’s background is still unclear and so are his goals and motives. He is clearly on a perpetual power trip, but the quiet kind, which is even more ominous. But now we know that Reg knows he’s being watched, and something is bound to go down between him and Q.

Precious Jake, please be careful

The other place Q shows up in this episode is at Sonny’s. They begin to have a conversation about what Q is up to that Sonny wants nothing to do with, but Q quickly realizes they’re being eavesdropped on by Emmett, so we get no new information out of that exchange. For his part, Emmett is flitting between his approximately one million ventures, going from “parenting” to work at Sonny’s to selling shoes. We see him follow up on the promise he made to Amir at the corner store: that he would get him a pair of shoes for his girlfriend if Amir would get him a job at the store.

When Emmett delivers, Amir tells him that the job he needs him for is to drive a van to some warehouse where his cousin will load it up, and then drive it back. Emmett is super hesitant about this since Amir won’t tell him what he’ll be driving around, but he does it, and it turns out it’s not drugs or weapons but cigarettes. Amir has a side hustle selling illegal loosies, and he and Emmett conspire on some money-making schemes together.

Emmett, just jumping through life

Ronnie is still bleeding through his bandages all the time but he is in a good mood because he got Jason’s phone and he’s sure that will be his ticket back into Tracey’s life, home, arms, bed, whatever. Tracey is thankful for the phone, but can’t unlock it. When she sees that Ronnie is bleeding, she knows he’s been up to something she wants no part of. Ronnie says he asked her to go after whoever did Jason, so he did, but Tracey is having none of that. She was upset, in the throws of grief, and did not force him, a grown man, to do anything. Whatever he is wrapped up in, it has nothing to do with her.

I am 200% in agreement with everything Tracey says and does in this interaction. I sympathize with Ronnie, but he’s very childish. She throws the phone at him and says she doesn’t want it anymore.

All of our characters converge on the block party that evening. Sonny’s is providing food, so Emmett is working there too. Ronnie comes with Ethel, who looks awesome in her floral dress; Kevin, Jake and Papa hang out on a stoop with popsicles until Jake answers Reg’s call to go over to him; Q approaches Tracey, who looks upset and walks away from him (what happened with those two?!). Brandon sees Jerrika, who is already dating someone else- a guy named Dimitri who is probably from the same kind of wealthy background as she is, which causes a dejected Brandon to walk away from her in sadness. Then he spots Ronnie, who is wearing sunglasses in the dark, and confesses that shooting Coogie was a mistake. They are both in a lot of pain, and can’t really resolve it, so it just gets left. Brandon! I love you, Brandon. You deserve a break, my guy.

Face to face with all the pain

As the party stretches into the night, the music and dancing is interrupted by gunshots. Everyone falls silent, and after a few moments, the DJ speaks again, saying that they need to take back their neighborhood from violence. He asks if anyone is ready to end the night, to which the crowd responds with an emphatic “No,” and the music and dancing continues. Dancing is a prominent expression of joy, and it’s the second episode in a row where we get to see Kevin, Jake and Papa dance, which is just something I wanted to point out because it makes me very happy. I’m so impressed with the three young actors—Alex Hibbard, Shamon Brown Jr., and Michael Epps—who play Kevin, Papa, and Jake, respectively. They are carrying a big part of this story and are doing an excellent job.

These kids.

That’s it for this week, friends. We’re deep into the season now (it happens so fast!), so stay tuned for what is sure to be more of that good drama next week!

All images courtesy of Showtime

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