Hi friends, welcome back to Lena Waithe’s The Chi! This week, Kevin and Keisha’s moms made not one but two appearances, which itself was enough to keep my spirits up throughout the ever-increasing drama of the plot as we barrel toward the season finale.
We open this week with Q and Sonny sitting at one of Sonny’s window tables, arguing like brothers. Sonny tells Q that he does not want “that shit” in his restaurant, just as Emmett shows up (early?!) for work. Emmett realizes he’s interrupting something important and turns to leave. Q reassures him that everything is ok as he lets Emmett in on the little secret of boxes full of guns stashed in the walk-in (which he and his two guys stole from the stash house last week, killing 3 of Reg’s guys in the process).
Q asks if Emmett is up for making some money, and Emmett begins to decline, saying he still owes Q from the first childcare payment money he fronted him for Emmett Junior. Q says this will make it up and then some, so Emmett agrees. The two of them go to a police buy-back setup outside a church; when Q confirms there will be no questions asked, he hands over the guns in exchange for a lot of cash and the rest in a stack of gift cards. He buys a tray of Rice Krispie treats from the bake sale table, gathers Emmett back into the truck, and heads to a barbershop where he somehow knows Trice will be getting his hair cut.
Q asks Emmett if he’s scared of Trice, to which Emmett sheepishly says no. So Q hands him the cash and gift cards and tells Emmett to go in the barbershop and give them to Trice, and to thank him for keeping the streets as safe as he does so. Emmett makes it halfway to the door and freezes, so Q reassures him that it’s ok and goes into the barbershop himself. We stay with Emmett, watching a very unsettling scene silently unfold through the window: Q giving Trice the cash and cards, then the tray of treats, then putting on his best scary smile, and clapping his hands as he looks around at everyone inside. Trice’s face pulses with anger.
While Q takes Emmett for hot dogs and bonds with him—sharing stories about Sonny and Cuba and how he used to run shit in this town but had to bow out when something went down—Trice takes his quiet rage over to Reg’s house. Reg is nervous to see him. Turns out Reg had gone off with a woman the night the stash house was robbed, a night he was supposed to be in charge, and Trice blames him for the robbery/murder. So he comes into Reg’s house, drinks a tiny box of apple juice, and beats him. Then he threatens his life if anything like that ever happens again and leaves him bleeding on the kitchen floor.
Meanwhile, Jake is starting to take after Reg in a frightening way. Now he carries a gun in his belt, even to the roller skating rink?!
All of the kids go to the rink per Andrea’s invitation after play rehearsal. It’s a relief to see them all again, because they provide a bright spot in the show whenever they show up, even though they have their own drama. Also, as previously mentioned, Kevin’s moms accompany him to the rink. They don’t want him going alone, but also they want to skate together like they haven’t in years and it’s SO CUTE. My biggest issue with this episode is that we didn’t actually get to see them skate together. I want more of them, please!
Anyway, this kid Corey comes up to greet Kevin and Papa, and they seem friendly. Then Jake lifts his shirt to reveal the gun and threaten Corey, and Kevin and Papa are surprised. They calm him down and tell him to chill out. Both of them seem like they don’t really know what to do, so they just go on with their conversation while Jake and Corey make dagger-eyes at each other from across the room.
Kevin asks Andrea to skate, and when she says, “Maybe later,” Jake and Papa tell him he needs to make her jealous. Kevin insists girls like it when you’re nice, and Jake responds that Reg has all kinds of women and he is definitely not nice. So Kevin asks Maisha to skate, who willingly, even gratefully, accepts. Kevin tells Maisha he thinks she’s cool, but later, when Andrea apologizes to Kevin for ignoring him and then kisses him—to his great and obvious joy—Maisha looks sadly at him. He looks like he’s been caught in something he didn’t expect.
A note on Kevin. He and Brandon have a lot in common, which I don’t think is a coincidence given how they bonded early in the season. Both are tender-hearted men (or man-boys, I guess, in their own ways), and the world still doesn’t value sensitivity or vulnerability in men. I like how the series is exploring the ways in which Black men can be emotionally complex at the same time as it shows some of the forces that erase or actively dull the tenderness of men.
Speaking of Brandon, our guy goes through an emotional roller coaster this week. He tries once again to explain the story of the gun to Jerrika, but she doesn’t want to know. She’s still helping Laverne and Greavy sell the house, which continues to be a painful process for Brandon. He’s having a hard time letting go of his childhood and of Coogie, whose picture still hangs on the fridge of the empty house. On top of that, at the restaurant, Chef tells Brandon to figure out who stole the fish that’s missing from the walk-in. Brandon tries to appease him, saying he’ll do as he asks, but knows that it’s Luis who took it for a taco hustle he’s apparently been into.
Luis takes food that he thinks will just get thrown away, and turns it into amazing tacos with his cousin that they sell at different events. Brandon won’t rat Luis out, so he and Luis try first to get the fish back (it’s been used), then the money so they can buy more. They head to the fish market, where lo and behold the guy who pulled a gun on Brandon the time he actually was about to buy a gun but didn’t is selling fish. Brandon starts to get made, but the fish guy is suddenly sheepish, asking him to keep it down because his mom is standing nearby. So they end up with an entire box full of red snapper for free and Brandon feels pretty good about it.
Until they get back to the restaurant, where Sarah has told Chef that it was Luis who took the fish. Chef is angry, claiming on top of everything that he doesn’t know where the new fish has been so it needs to be thrown out. He insists Brandon be the one to fire Luis, which Brandon refuses to do. When Sarah follows him outside, she and Brandon yell at each other over what the right thing is and Brandon quits.
Meanwhile, in PoliceLand, the massive gun buy-back has landed on Bad Cop’s radar, and Detective Cruz can’t find a record of the 911 call that was the last call made from Jason’s phone on the night he was killed. Tracey goes to a support group for mothers who have lost their children to violence, and finds a small amount of solace there. Ronnie zombie-walks over to Meldrick’s, where he seems to be pretty close to death. Jada gets fired from her nursing job because security cameras caught her stealing medical supplies to help Ronnie when he was shot. And Emmett Junior’s mother shows up to say she wants EJ back, just when Emmett was starting to build his life around his kid.
The episode ends with Q going to Sonny’s restaurant late at night, only to find his brother shot dead on the floor, and have a gun pulled on him by a still-bleeding Reg.
Whew! It’s a lot, I know. Come back next week, when the drama is sure to continue to build, but maybe the lesbians will be back; we can always hope!