RVW Review of The Chi S1 and S2

My first viewing of The Chi was only passive and in snippets as I would pass through the living room as my mama watched it. Even she began only partially paying attention as she began to drift off midway through episodes inching toward the second season.

Admittedly, I thought it was a boring mess of a show from the 1 1/2 episodes and pieces of other episodes I’d seen. Granted, I didn’t know what in the world was going on, which may have influenced my initial perspective. So I thought I’d never try watching it again, especially with hour-long episodes.

Fast forward a year or so later, I figured since I had Showtime on my iPad now, I might as well give the show another shot. So I started the right way: Season 1 episode 1.

It started to make sense as I pieced together scenes I saw the first time and connected them to what I was currently seeing. Coogie, Brandon’s brother, plays a more important role in the show than I initially thought. The little boys, particularly Kevin, also play a more important part than I thought.

It quickly becomes clear that all these people and their stories are interlocked somehow. The key characters being: Brandon, Jerrika, Ronnie, Kevin, Jada, and Reg.

I wouldn’t recommend watching the seasons as stand-alones or going straight into Season 2 without watching Season 1. Sure, they both revolve around different plots, but Season 1 provides a lot of context.

Season 1 is all about finding out who killed Ronnie’s adopted son, Jason. Then Ronnie kills Coogie. This isn’t a spoiler because it’s in the first episode! My guess was always someone in the 63rd St. Mob, but the reveal was more shocking than I expected. I never would have figured it out.

That first season kept my eyes glued to the screen, I wanted to do a whole binge-marathon, but I couldn’t with all my classes. The videography is impressive, I mean, those visuals! Damn! The characters, the acting, the music is so… it so excellent. I feel like I’m in it in some moments. The fear, the anticipation? I feel it too.

What gets me, though, the former drug king of that area reappears from his break in Cuba to disrupt the flow of things with questionable motives. What is he there for and why? Why is he so hellbent on finding out who killed Jason and not Coogie?

I think his storyline was less than satisfactory. So he’s supposed to be a bad dude reformed trying to look out for the community? Yeah, ok. Oh, and he’s Sonny’s (the owner of Sonny’s Chicken, the main chicken joint) brother! Sonny is too patient, with this dude, until he’s reached the end of the line of his patience. I think the evolution of their brotherly relationship is portrayed as having a realistic dose of teetering toward the breaking point.

Speaking of Reg, he’s scary. Until he has to answer to someone, that is. That’s when his tail is tucked. I actually like his character, though, because he knows what he wants and will tell you what it is straight up, but he’s a terrible big brother.

Then there’s Jerrika, Brandon’s girlfriend. She’s a bad bitch with potential to be a badder bitch if she weren’t so worried about appearances. She’s so supportive of Brandon, which is especially clear when he’s mourning Coogie. However, she’s always trying to please those in the black upper class circles she grew up in.

The slow unraveling of Brandon’s relationship with Jerrika in the midst of finding Ronnie, dealing with his mama and her new man, and work is something that kept me watching. I wanted to root for him, but at the same time I wanted to slap some sense into him with his approach to problem solving in his life.

Back to Ronnie, he’s my absolute least favorite character. He needs serious mental help but never received it and never will. He’s a danger to himself and others, especially others. He also has the most disgusting habit of drinking “prune(?)” some kind of pee extract. Gag.

I would hate to be in Jada’s place dealing with both Ronnie’s grandma, him, and mothering a young whore. But respect to her, because that is real life for some home healthcare workers!

Her whore son is flawed, but has some good qualities. Like he’s a great social media manager and hustler who is a nice sidekick, or partner, for Brandon and his food truck.

What really bothers me is, this old guy who came back finally figures out who killed Jason in the end– and then he’s gone! What happened with the house he brought across the street from Reg? What happened to his henchmen he regrouped for his grand return from Cuba?

Needless, to say I did not go peacefully into the second season with those unanswered questions and seeing he wasn’t there! Maybe I missed or ignore something.

Season 2

Just finished Season 2 on Friday. What a trip.

Dura enters the frame as the head honcho in the area, but he is better known as Mr. Perry of Perry’s Pizza. His charitability and investments to businesses and schools in the community is all a facade for his darker activities.

He has, for lack of better words, mixed reviews. There are those who see him as a role model, a beacon of hope, and admire his “accomplishments.” Then there are those who warn he’s shady as hell and is one to steer clear of, even in matters of business.

Brandon falls right into his hands like butter, happy and willing to do anything to remain in his good graces, since he is now his sole investor. His girlfriend, Jerrika, also thinks this Mr. Perry is shady, but doesn’t push her worries too much on Brandon.

Ooh, it gets messy, and you know me. I live for the mess (as long as it doesn’t directly involve me). Brandon hides behind an increasingly opaque glass of secrets and lies to convince himself and others that he is making the right decision with his beaming red flag of an investor.

Ronnie continues to be a mess, only roaming free and ever self-conscious of the stares that follow him everywhere. Jada, ever patient and single, starts looking at Ronnie with new eyes, despite his craziness.

Kevin, who I forgot to mention in the first part, goes through kind of an identity crisis, always seeking Brandon for mentor-ship. It’s a good bond, considering their shared experiences with Ronnie.

He’s increasingly surrounded by bad influences, especially being besties with Reg’s little brother Jake, but he finds a way to remain a good kid but trying to look cool to his friends, because of course, kids and peer pressure.

I think Kevin gets in his own way wanting to follow the rules so much until he often ends up doing what’s in the best interest of those around him than what’s in his best interest. He’s another one with a glass wall of secrets, except, lil’ Kevin is a master secret keeper because he “ain’t no snitch!”

Emitt, Jada’s son, has visible growth in this season, owning up to paying for all three of his kids instead of running from it and caring about more than himself. Progress! But now, he’s kinda in the same shadiness as Brandon is. Or he was.

Emitt tries to look out for Jada’s dating life, or gate-keep her from dating, which is sweet, I guess. But he’s definitely right to warn her against dating these walking red flags she keeps getting googly-eyed over. Raise your standards, girl!

So Dura, Mr. Perry, has got his hands in all sorts of places, and he’s honestly scarier than Reg. Rather than thuggish, hot-headed rage, he’s got that calm and sudden rage. And he plays the role of the upstanding business man quite well, but he’s really like a devil snatching souls.

His whole involvement with Brandon largely factors into Brandon’s relationship with Jerrika stretching like an old rubberband close to breaking. The tension displayed becomes even more believable if you’ve heard of the scandal Brandon’s actor was embroiled in with Jerrika’s actress. You’d better look it up!

This was another anxiety-inducing, emotional rollercoasting, entertaining masterpiece of a season. It’s sad but also poetic in a way. However, I didn’t expect this third season coming out in June after that whole scandal. What happens with Dura and the food truck?

So, I guess they’ll continue the series without Brandon, but I really don’t know what the plot for this season could be. I understand that the show must go on without him, though. Seeing I enjoyed these two seasons, I have high hopes for the third.

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