Sunday, June 16, 2024

Identity Crisis: The Chi’s “Wallets” Shows Us What is Kept in Corners and Pockets

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Wherein we are also gifted the season’s most delightful comedic scene yet, further solidifying Papa as one of my top 3 favorite characters. (The other two are Kevin’s moms).

True crime

Last week, we were left with a scene of ostensibly-dead Sonny lying shot on the floor of his restaurant, and Q finding Reg standing over him with a gun. That’s where we start this week, but surprise (and thank goodness), Sonny isn’t dead! I guess he was wearing a bulletproof vest or something because just as Reg is about to shoot Q, Sonny knocks him out from behind. Q laughs triumphantly at their amazing theatrical teamwork, but Sonny is not happy. He’s sick of Q’s scary power games and points a gun at his brother, telling him to get out and never come back.

So Q looks at Reg’s wallet to find out where he lives and drags his unconscious and very beat-up body back to his house, where Jake is not home but will be eventually. When Reg comes to, Q and his guys make a lot of threats—the veiled, restrained kind that are particularly frightening—against Reg and any family he might have. They interrogate him all day, eat his food, and basically wait for whoever Reg lives with to come home so they can really assert their power and terror. This is the first time we see Reg truly afraid, and it is very different from what we’ve seen of him so far.

We also find out via the interrogation that Detective Wallace has some kind of deal with Trice + co wherein he gets a “taste of everything” in exchange for keeping cops off of Trice’s back. So, not surprising but also not great. We also find out that Reg doesn’t know anything about Jason’s murder, despite Q’s incessant quest to find out what happened, so that murder remains a mystery.

Just some high-key intimidation

When Jake does come home, more veiled threats ensue, but both Jake and Reg escape physically unharmed. But I’m, like, really worried about Jake.

Speaking of Jake, he has pretty much the best friends in the world, who are very concerned about him after he brought a gun to the roller rink last week. Kevin calls Papa in the middle of Papa’s “me time” during which he whittles wood and does other creative projects, because he’s the best. They hatch a plan to invite Jake over to Kevin’s to play video games, so they can broach the subject of how they care about him and want him to be more careful. Seriously, these kids. They are the heart of this show.

Jake, of course, gets defensive when confronted with his friends’ worry, but before the boys can fight about it, one of Kevin’s moms tells him he needs to go grocery shopping because that’s one of his chores this week. So despite heavy eye-rolls, the three kids head to the supermarket where they discuss what it’s like to have two moms (it’s not weird, is the conclusion) and wind up stranded in the feminine hygiene aisle because the last thing on the list is ‘tampons.’

Kevin is mortified and has no idea which ones to get; Papa reprimands him for not being observant in a house of three women and takes matters into his own hands. He calls Kevin’s mom to ask her first who the tampons are for (“you, Keisha or the Mrs.?”) in an effort to glean which ones to get, adding that he’s heard cardboard applicators are rough and would she prefer plastic? Meanwhile Kevin and Jake squirm like worms behind him. It’s truly a golden moment and, once again, some much-needed levity in an episode that is chock full of hard emotions.

I shall return to this scene every time I feel sad

Meanwhile, at Jada and Emmett’s house, Emmett seems all too happy to be without EJ and is relishing his freedom (sigh). But Jada plucks his phone from his hands and has a heart-to-heart about parenting. Despite Emmett’s teenage-boy glazed-eye look, it seems to get through, because later when he’s making out with Keisha in the park and sees a kid playing with his dad, he realizes he misses EJ and wants to parent him; and moreover, that he doesn’t actually know where Tiffany took him.

He goes to Tiffany’s mother’s house but she angrily turns him away (understandably); he then finds her at her boyfriend’s house. When he tries to take EJ back, Tiffany lays some truth on him about how he can’t just be a father when he feels like it and maybe she was going through stuff too, and that she had him for 2 years before she left him with Emmett for 2 weeks. So Emmett leaves dejectedly.

Jada, for her part, half-lies to Emmett about why she doesn’t have a job anymore and says she’ll find something better; in the meantime she goes to Ethel’s house to tell her that she no longer has her nursing job and can’t come over anymore, but doesn’t have the heart. She gives Ethel her pills and some soup, wonders where Ronnie is (Ethel doesn’t know), smiles sadly, and leaves.

Ronnie is where we left him—dying at Meldrick’s. Luckily, kind of, Meldrick has a doctor in residence—a middle-aged white MD who is so addicted to drugs that he became Meldrick’s personal doctor in exchange for pills. So the good doctor hacks some medical procedure on Ronnie that looks incredibly painful, but it works- Ronnie is feeling better by the next day, no longer bleeding through all of his clothes and moaning in pain. Then the doctor promptly OD’s and dies, and Meldrick cashes in on Ronnie’s owing him by stuffing the body in what is presumably the doctor’s car and telling Ronnie to dump him wherever; they just can’t have him at his house.

Surgery TM

Here we get the second wallet of the episode: Ronnie looks through the doctor’s wallet and finds a picture of his wife and teenage son, and an address. He drives the car to the address, parking outside and honking loudly, then running away. As he hides behind a tree, he hears the wife come outside and wail when she sees her dead husband. Tears flow from Ronnie, too, and not for the last time.

Ronnie is truly at a crossroads, and I feel more empathy for him this week than I have up to this point. With his body on the mend, he must face his mind and his heart, so he goes to Common aka Rafiq’s mosque looking for some kind of solace. He almost leaves again when he feels like Rafiq might start to come down on him for what he did, but instead Rafiq shares a story from his own troubled past in which he accidentally shot and killed a 7-year-old girl. Rafiq tells Ronnie he’s welcome, hugging him, and Ronnie breaks all the way down, weeping in his arms.

No witty caption; it’s just heartbreaking

The other thread of the episode follows Brandon, who has agreed to sign the papers to sell his mother’s house, bringing him onto even better terms with Laverne and Greavy, as well as Jerrika, who lets him stay with her. He gets Hannibal (also a provider of comic relief this week) to become the first investor in Brandon’s number one dream: his own food truck. Hannibal buys him the creepiest old ice cream truck in the history of time, and Brandon is so excited it’s like he’s a kid. He drives it back to Jerrika’s and joyfully describes his vision, and she’s so surprised and happy to see him be so passionate about something that they basically get together again right there on the spot. It’s pretty sweet.

Lick Me

Welp, that’s it for this week! Next week is the penultimate episode of the season (?!) so make sure to come back for more drama (and hopefully comedy). Will we ever find out what happened to Jason? Will Ronnie start to come to terms with himself? Will the lesbians go roller skating again? Let’s hope all of these things come true!

Images courtesy of Showtime

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