Season 2 of The Chi, despite issues caused by Jason Mitchell, retains the vibe of being a high-brow urban drama which balances both the dark and beauty of an urban area.
|Good If You Like||Urban Dramas|
Shows Which Focus On Kids As Much As Adults
Shows In Urban Areas Not Soley Focused On Violence
Seeing Young Boys Become Men
|Isn’t For You If You||Want The Women To Have Equal Development To The Men|
Don’t Want To See An Old Woman Get Beat Up
Get Frustrated By Characters Appearing, Seemingly Like They May Cause A Shift For Characters, Then Disappearing
|Ronnie||Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine|
|Miss Ethel||LaDonna Tittle|
|Kevin||Alex R. Hibbert|
|Maisha||Genesis Denise Hale|
|Papa||Shamon Brown Jr.|
|Hannibal||Chris De’Sean Lee|
|Greavy||David Alan Anderson|
|Detective Toussaint||Crystal Anne Dickinson|
|Detective Cruz||Armando Riesco|
|Otis “Douda” Perry||Curtiss Cook|
|Mr. Bennett||Richard Gant|
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The Chi Season 2 Summary
It’s a new day in Chicago but a lot of the same ole BS. For Brandon, getting robbed and temporarily losing his truck triggers a chain of events which threaten his relationship with Jerrika and end up having the cops in his life for reasons beyond Coogie. Speaking of Coogie, Ronnie gets out on a technicality and while him paying restitution isn’t heavily featured, him facing his demons are. As for the rest of the adults? Jada is the only mother from the first season with any sort of prominence, and outside of taking care of Miss Ethel, attempting to date, she is pretty much dead in the water.
Making it sad, in some ways, the kids get far more of a storyline than she does. Kevin, for example, continues to have a complicated relationship with Maisha, especially as Papa and Jake discover them growing closer. On top of that, him and Jake get exposed to how those at Northside Academy live and with Kevin getting the opportunity to go there, so comes the temptations to perhaps leave his friends behind. Friends that, in Jake’s case, we see aren’t really going to be heading in a positive direction.
Leaving last, but not least, Emmett. After Jada kicks him out, he finds himself at his dad, Darnell’s, home and rapidly growing up. Not just in terms of his job with Sonny but also his relationship with Tiffany and the mothers of his other children. Making it seem, with Brandon and Jerrika not returning in season 3, he may find himself filling in the time, and role Brandon had.
Question(s) Left Unanswered
- After Kevin’s dad died, how come he didn’t pursue getting to knowing his father’s side more? Especially considering he seemed to desire a male figure in his life?
- Why wasn’t Maisha recommended for North Side Academy?
- Will we see Malcolm again in season 3 and will Kevin be mad he snitched on him?
- With Reg assumingly dead, who is going to take his place or will we just not see that part of The Chi anymore?
- Considering Brandon and Jerrika are gone, what character(s) are going to absorb most of that screentime? Especially since, with Jerrika gone, we’re back to having a lack of women issue.
- Taking note how much of Ronnie’s past we got, far beyond the events of the first season, will we see the same for other characters?
- Where are Brandon’s friends, or is it, outside of Hannibal, all his friends are his ex-coworker, Emmett, and Kevin?
- Is Greavy going to get a divorce since Laverne clearly isn’t coming back and he isn’t moving?
Ronnie Might Finally Be In A Better Place – 85
For nearly the entire series, Ronnie has been the resident downer. Between being a drunk, killing Coogie, alongside PTSD, if Ronnie showed up on the screen, he was guaranteed to kill the mood. However, he, alongside Miss Ethel once or twice, actually smiled. In fact, in the finale, while talking to his father Mr. Bennett, it seems he finally gets to one of the roots of his issues. Leading you to hope, despite Detective Cruz being on his tail, and what he did to Jada, maybe things may turn around for Ronnie on a long term basis?
Detective Toussaint – 84
Thankfully, the personal lives of the cops were dialed back, and Detective Cruz’s personal life is completely eliminated. But, we are introduced to a new cop named Alice Toussaint, who presents to us what I wish we got in the first season. Someone who is a bit rough around the edges yet can be sweet. A person, woman at that, who is multifaceted in that she is not only a cop, or a mom, but seems like a complete person. Granted, she is low-key corrupt and definitely has no issues with police brutality. However, that is kind of her appeal. In many ways, she is everything I wish we got in the first season, but instead we got Cruz.
Kevin and Brandon’s Relationship – 83
With Kevin not having any real male figures in his life, it made the closeness he developed with Brandon one of the most beautiful relationships on the show. For Kevin, he got an older brother, a pseudo-father figure who was both able to give him advice about girls and set him straight when he was acting out. Then when it comes to Brandon, while Kevin can’t replace Coogie, Kevin did become a bit of a do-over. Someone Brandon could guide to avoid his brother’s fate and maybe even be better than him.
Which isn’t to downplay Nina, Karen, and Keisha’s influence on Kevin, but clearly they’ve reached a point where they can’t get to him as they once could. And with the only other male figure in Kevin’s life being his teacher, who he has an uneasy relationship with, and Reg, who he looks down on a bit, who was his other option?
Jake & Papa – 82
While Papa remains without a notable story, and mostly is just a comical character, his value can’t be understated. Particularly since the comedy he presents makes it so you have to wonder when will The Chi properly utilize the kid? Which was an issue in season one as well, but Papa’s impact is far too great to shift this to an “On The Fence” topic.
Same goes with Jake. What Papa presents in comedy he does in drama in showing a kid who, slowly but surely, is venturing towards being part of “That Life.” After all, what are his alternatives? His mom is a drug addict, dad who knows where, and Reg isn’t putting in that much effort to shield Jake from what is happening around him. So as we see Jake hustle, and slowly become a teen who might become a corner boy, the wheels start turning. Leading you to realize, between prison, the corner, or a body bag, that could be Jake’s fate. Which sucks as you realize it isn’t one he volunteered for but was born into. Making it seem his death certificate was prepped not too long after his birth certificate.
Maisha – 81
One could say Kevin represents a mix of Jake and Papa, but I’d submit Maisha truly balances being a comical character while showing the difficulties of growing up in poverty. And I dare say, Maisha is more interesting than the other boys on this show. In my mind, if there was an audience for tween girls who were a little weird, a bit rough around the edges, Hale should be cast without an audition. For despite how infrequently we see Maisha, and the little screen time she gets, there is no denying Hale makes you invested in this child and makes you wish, this show presented her life more. Especially outside of being in Kevin’s orbit.
Emmett Stepping Up & Learning From His Father’s Mistakes – 80
Emmett was a hustler and a lowkey ho in season 1. However, to much surprise, Jada kicking him out didn’t reinforce his bad habits and led to him digging a hole for himself – he got his act together. After taking note of his father Darnell and what he did with the mother of his children, he stepped things up. He had more conversations with Tiffany, rather than arguments. Emmett spoke with the mother of his other children, and while he didn’t arrange any sort of visitation, he did make it seem he’d contribute more after Tiffany put his child support payment on blast. Then, to top things off, he got his own place!
Granted, it is a basement apartment which looks like it might not be up to code, or legal, but considering his journey from being someone who hustled solely for sneakers, to having insurance and a place? You got to give it to the young man. Leading you to wonder, in season 3, will that mean him just being a better father or will he also think about his education? Especially since, though I could be wrong, I don’t think Emmett has his diploma or just barely got it.
The Death Of Keisha & Kevin’s Dad – 64
I can’t be the only one who assumed a sperm donor was used right? So learning Nina was with Kevin’s dad, in a marriage, and then she somehow ended up with Karen left a whole lot of questions. The kind I don’t believe were answered in season one. Add in the death was focused on for a few episodes and then Keisha got a new boo and Kevin stopped caring, and you’re left wondering what was the point?
Well, besides pushing Kevin towards Brandon and Keisha towards a pedophile. Assuming Keisha finding an older man to love her was due to her dad dying. I can only guess since Keisha is barely around.
Rafiq & Amir – 65
I’m just trying to understand how Amir, one of the few friends Emmett has, goes from being a business partner in one episode then disappearing for the rest? I get this show has way too many male characters, and downplays most of the female ones, for a second season in a row, but why cut Amir? Also, taking note of Amir, what was the point of Common showing up for one or two episodes and disappearing? With his appearance, it seemed Ronnie was going to start paying restitution, us getting clued into what he did in the military, wrapped up with him reintegrating with the community. Yet, like Amir, he appeared for a short few episodes then his existence was nullified. Leaving all the potential he presented treated as just something the writers wanted to try out, but when it didn’t work for them, or Common’s schedule, they decided to drop it.
The Women Of The Chi – 69
I’d submit, outside of Jerrika, Detective Touissant, maybe Maisha, for the second season in a row the women of The Chi were either underutilized, wasted or, in Jada’s case, featured without any real direction. Breaking that down, let’s take note of Karen & Nina, Kevin’s parents. With the death of Kevin’s dad came an opening for us to get to know Nina more. For her and Karen’s relationship to be expanded on, especially considering Laverne was written off and Tracy diminished to the point the actress is a guest star. So you’d think for those we didn’t see much of, they would have boosted them, developed them even – that was not the case.
Instead, Karen remained someone who comes and goes so often you’d think she was a truck driver or spy. Not someone who, if I recall correctly, works for the post office. But Karen isn’t alone in being underdeveloped – Keisha is as well. Outside of being an easy go-to for Emmett, who disrespects her multiple times, and being used for that pedophile storyline that ended as quickly as it started, what was done with Keisha?
Heck, let’s bring in Miss Ethel into this statement since we get flashbacks of her a few years back, and also a picture of her when she was younger. Yet, who is she beyond Ronnie’s grandmother and someone who got her soul nearly beaten out of her? Well, not much more than a victim and someone very particular about their lifestyle. In many ways, like Nina, she serves her purpose as a maternal figure but isn’t expanded much beyond that. Leaving her, like Laverne and Tracy to a point, feeling only as necessary as the kids or men in their lives need them.
On The Fence
Jada’s Journey – 70
Bringing us to Jada. I’d accept someone saying there was some attempt at giving Jada a storyline. Showing what life is like after being a single mother and your kid(s) is/are no longer in the nest. However, that didn’t really happen. All she did was get further absorbed into Ronnie’s storyline and then got spit out after being used for his relapse. Making the sole positive moment being her having a sit-down with Emmett, pushing him to realize she is so much more than his mother.
Douda – 75
Let us first state, Douda is an intense dude and how Perry flips from playing Otis to Douda is that of the mob movie I don’t think we’ve seen in a while. With that said, I feel that with him following Quentin, there wasn’t an escalation despite Douda being shown as higher up on the ladder. Instead, we didn’t necessarily get more of the same but rather what felt like Quentin in his prime. If not what Quentin could have been in his prime if there was a system setup. So while I look forward to Douda in the future, and the duality of his persona, I hope he steps out more.
Like, for example, Greavy kept painting Douda as this deadly, indifferent, mofo. However, he gave Reg so many chances that it made it seem he… I won’t say he got soft but became more lenient. Thus negating what Greavy said and making you wonder if Douda might be the man many known to many but Otis just uses that cover to get things done?
Jerrika & Brandon – 76
Honestly, if it wasn’t for Jason Mitchell, I’d imagine these two would have been a highlight. However, with taking note of how uncomfortable he made Tiffany Boone (Jerrika), it kills whatever positive things you could say. Be it them coming off like a real couple and not some idealistic form of Black love, or him holding her down just as much as she did for him. Yet, with him not returning next season and her breaking up with him, their relationship gets thrown into the graveyard of lost opportunities.
But, with that said, you have to love how Jerrika developed outside of Brandon. Be it really stepping up as a real estate agent or her getting into politics, Boone came to season 2 swinging. Making it even more unfortunate that she has left the show since she, I’d submit, was one of the most engaging characters on the show. Not just in terms of the women, who really don’t compare, but overall.
Overall: Mixed (Stick Around)
I don’t want to say The Chi experienced a sophomore slump, since it wasn’t a bad season. I will say it didn’t maintain the high of the first one. For with the Jason Mitchell drama forcing you to divest in his character and that character’s relationships, you knew it was the beginning of the end for so much. Add in the women still aren’t notably invested in, compared to male characters, and a lot of the show feels like more of the same. Not in terms of more of the same in comparison to its peers, but more of what we got from season 1.
Which isn’t to say Emmett’s growth, Jerrika’s expansion, and the other highlights above are negligible. It is just, what felt impactful in the first season now is just entertainment. Quality entertainment, but it doesn’t stir you anymore. Hence season 2 of The Chi getting a mixed label. It still is worth watching but doesn’t hold the same significance the first season had.
Has Another Season Been Confirmed?
Thoughts On Another Season
With Brandon out means someone new has to take his place as lead. In my mind, that needs to be Kevin. While Emmett is older, and Latimore has more experience, Kevin and his friends have more potential. Kevin is about to go to a white dominate school filled with rich kids. The culture shock, paired with conversations of gentrification, racism, code-switching, and more, could bring new life to The Chi. Also, taking note Jake is about to end up in either foster care, or under Otis’ wing, he has a built-in storyline as well. Then, with time to fill, it could mean Maisha and Kevin making up, maybe dating, and all the conversations which could come with that. Not to forget, Papa, who is basically on his own now, can’t be someone’s psychic. So now they can expand the character.
As for the rest? Honestly, as much as I enjoy Emmett’s growth, with Tiffany getting pregnant, there is a two steps forward and one step back thing going on. Then, when it comes to Douda, unless he adopts Jake, with Brandon gone, he has been clipped at the knees. For now it is just him vs. Detective Toussaint, and while I enjoy both, having a middle man like Brandon helped to boost both of their objectives. Without him, I don’t think either character is strong enough to have a disconnected plot to the rest of the show.