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The Chi - Ghosts - Review

24 Jan 2018

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Episode aired on SHOWTIME Sunday, January 21, 2018

Lets briefly talk about the plot on this show before we can dive into the review since we are in episode three, which feels like episode one and we are just getting started. If you follow keenly, you will observe that the main storyline is the investigation of Jason’s death. Several subplots connecting to Jason's death include Coogies death, effects of Gentrification, Unemployment, Emmett’s involvement albeit unknowingly with a mega hustler in the name of DQ, Wallace’s treatment of Detective Cruz and the corruption that’s going on in the police force and so on and so forth. All these things are not being spelled out, but the show is highlighting those systemic structures that end up resulting in someone dying. So keep this in mind as you watch because they all connect and seeing how fast they are moving, we do not want to miss any details.

Last weeks episode ended with Detective Cruz subtly letting Ronnie know that he was on to him for killing Coogie. Ronnie was not expecting this revelation, but he still maintained a straight face and denied he did anything. He walked away in a daze, for a second there I thought a car was going to hit him and end his misery but alas he survived hence the title "Ghosts" for this week’s episode.

Brandon is still conflicted about the decision to find the killer and deal with him. His colleague Luis takes him to buy an illegal gun and low and behold the sale does not go well because he is afraid of the consequences. To be honest, Brandon is just not that type of person, and the street life is not for him, being a chef is his thing plus owning a restaurant. He heads to his mother Laverne's house, who currently lives with her boyfriend. I liked the back, and forth between the two men, it was harsh in a caring way. Brandon worries about his mother and how Coogies death affects her and her boyfriend worries about Brandon even though Brandon dismisses his concerns. Gentrification has arrived in the neighborhood and buyers are springing from every corner and promising good money to the homeowners. Brandon and Coogie grew up in this home, so I understand why he doesn’t want his mother to sell. Also, in many old neighborhoods that are being gentrified generations have lived in the same house, so selling is really like giving away wealth instead of letting your children inherit.

What this show has done that makes me cringe every time is using the black women as just soundboards and cause correctors sigh! Jerrika finds herself in the same position as the last episode when Brandon shares that he tried to buy a gun. She is upset and lets him have it and goes to bed angry. I must have forgotten about her realtor job, but she's succeeded at advising Laverne to sell her home. You can tell that she is in tune with the gentrification lingo even though it is not good for the community. There was a phrase that she kept using that made me roll my eyes several times. I wouldn’t be surprised though if every real estate person in South Side Chicago is using “the Obama library” in every sentence. I have opinions about it that wouldn't sit well with many readers so moving on…

Emmett continues to struggle with raising his child and making ends meet but, he is a shoe addict so I am not sure how he will manage. His mother Jada showed up for a millisecond in this episode, but her scene with her grandchild was sweet. Emmett is trying to find more work to supplement his income from Sonny's restaurant with no luck. He decides to join a hustling crew, but he doesn’t have the heart for that type of work. The boy just wants to be able to buy shoes and look good and not get killed on the streets. Sonny reminds him that he owes DQ and should pay up before getting into trouble. There was a scene in the 77th Mart that was a foreshadow; Amir tells Emmett that he can hook him up with a job that pays well. He never said what the work was exactly, but he needed kicks for his girlfriend before he could tell him. I did not see any value to the story that Emmett and Keisha added to this episode; I would have wished to have his scenes cut to give time to develop the other plots that carried weight. This episode was Ronnie heavy so it would have made more sense to use that time to dig deeper into his situation.

I know readers who have not watched are wondering where "Ghosts" come in Ronnie’s case, but here we go. I have never smoked weed, but I have heard that it makes you feel good but you can also hallucinate. Ronnie has a conversation with an imaginary Coogie who asks why Ronnie shot him. It is a dark scene because despite it being a hallucination it is clear that Ronnie is feeling the weight of causing harm. He whispers, “I am sorry” to an empty room as Coogies shadow disappears. Since the talk with detective Cruz, the night before Ronnie had not made it to Tracy’s house where she had prepared dinner. Showing up at her work with flowers was not enough. She rips him a new one and asks that he never come to her job again. If you remember last week’s episode, his grandmother had warned him that Tracy would use him and dump him. She was right so, listen to the old ladies children. You would think rejection is enough to make him reflect, but he heads to Medrick to try and find information about Jason’s Killer, but he is shocked when Medrick tells him that he knows Ronnie killed Coogie with the gun he sold him.

Kevin was not having a great day at school because of the bully Andrea’s cousin who tries to give him a French-kiss. I hated this scene, there is some stereotype here that was being perpetuated of elementary school girls who are heavy. It probably would have made sense if Kevin liked her and this is the girl of his choice. I don’t know what the end game is here, but I would like to see this character written off. I hate to see a young actor lose a job especially since roles for young black girls hardly ever get written but they need to stop.

Okay moving on…

Ronnie comes to the school to look for Kevin who tries to hide, but his friends encourage him to talk it out. Going to see Ronnie was a terrible idea because Kevin is a young child dealing with adult problems, but maybe this is just his reality. Ronnie didn't believe him when he told him he didn’t snitch so thanks, friends for bad ideas. We met Kevin's family earlier on who didn’t know he had auditioned for the school but seemed very supportive. Also, this was a beautiful representation scene, which showed two mothers who loved and cared for their children and have a healthy relationship with their kids. They even paid up a dollar for every curse word used, so I loved them.

DQ was in this episode a lot, but I still don’t know why he is here. The writers are trying to be smart with this character, but it’s rather obvious that he is the head hustler and controls the streets. I was a little disappointed that they decided to go through with this storyline because they had a great story to work with, adding him makes the whole thing feel forced. The scene with Jerrika when he was looking at the house left me feeling some way. I need the writers to hopefully in the next episode show me what they want to do with this person and what he means to the plot, otherwise take him off and do something with the detectives. Talking of the detectives, Cruz is also having the "Ghost" of Coogie haunt him. Do cops indeed share everything with their wives? I always find that interesting in most shows, but I digress. Detective Wallace is still a sleazeball, but his story is more compelling and needs more exploration.

This episode ended with Kevin and Brandon running from Ronnie who apparently had followed Kevin. Initially, I suspected that Kevin might have set up Brandon, but I think Ronnie followed him home.

Now some real talk….

I was very frustrated with this episode for several reasons. The directing, the pacing, the characters that didn’t need to be in the episode. I can point to scenes that should have been edited out to let some scenes breath as well, but who has the time...I didn’t care for Emmett and Keisha’s semi-sex scene because it was only used to show that Emmett is reckless, but is he? The scene in his bedroom waking up and heading to the restroom was unnecessary, that dialogue with his mother would have worked even on a dining room table.

Jerrika was a caring and level-headed person, so I don’t understand why they are trying to make her into this spoilt rich kid? Developing characters is a good thing, but consistency is the key. The same issue with Emmett who started off as some player with a potentially excellent storyline, but now we only see him with Keisha doing high school type behaviors. Sonja Sohn and Yolonda Ross still give great performances despite being given very little dialogue within the last three episodes. The scene with Laverne and Brandon sharing with each other about how much they missed Coogie was fantastic; give us more scenes like those.

This episode had twenty-seven scenes, and I will tell you I can count on one hand how many left me wowed. The Chi is an important show that has potential to explore many more stories from the South Side but something is missing, and we are only in episode three. I am a fan of Lena’s writing, and I am rooting for them, so I hope episode four will give me some hope.


Don't forget to watch The Chi on SHOWTIME Sunday, at 10 PM ET/PT.

I would love to know what you thought of "Ghosts" so comment below…