Growing Up In Chicago: Kevin, Papa, Jake, Maisha, Emmett, Tiffany, Jada, Keisha
The kids, Kevin, Papa, Jake, Keisha, and Maisha, are having some form of normalcy. Keisha is on the track team, Papa has Kevin and Jake box it out so that they can be cool again, and Maisha remains the brilliant young woman she is. Which is why Papa and Kevin tried to have her do their science project but, with her wanting a buffet from the corner store, they decide just to steal a volcano.
As for Emmett? Well, Jada has decided to pull that lever and now the boy is not only homeless but hasn’t seen his son, because of Tiffany, for quite some time. Partly because he called DCFS and on top of his punishment being not to see his son, he gets beat up by her family. Leaving Emmett deeply experiencing the struggle. One even Keisha isn’t willing to help him with.
Trying To Find Stability: Brandon, Jerrika, Ronnie
Brandon’s taco truck was doing good for a little bit. He was building a name, making connections, but then he got robbed for his money and truck. Then, on top of that, in conversation with Jerrika, we learn part of his issues stem from no permits, no insurance, and those issues partly stemming from his ego. You see, in pursuit of paying Jerrika back, maybe proving he isn’t dependent on her, he got his priorities mixed up. But, luckily for him, the cops get his truck back, and while he lost all his inventory and a mini-fridge, he can start from the ground up. This time with a gun to fend off fools trying to rob him.
Switching over to Ronnie, well he shows us why the military is good for some people. Having a routine, someone giving them orders, not being allowed to dwell on negative thoughts, some need that. Otherwise, they go to alcohol, drugs, and bad habits. Mind you, Ronnie wasn’t about this life before, but with being denied getting into the Chicago police department, and being suicidal soon after, it seems like he was in a downward spiral. One stopped by Jason’s ball going through Miss Ethel’s window and restarted once him and Jason’s mom got on the rocks – assumingly.
Surviving Chicago: Miss Ethel
Speaking of Miss Ethel, despite how long she has lived in her house, paid rent, and all that, they want her out – whoever the new owners are. As you’d expect, they get cursed out, and the shotgun is threatened. However, when some young men, pretending they are part of some veterans organization come by, she lets her guard down. Thus leading you to seeing the most shocking thing you may have ever seen. Miss Ethel, a woman of a certain age, get beaten up worse than we’ve seen most men get harmed on this show.
It’s Just Another Day
One of the strange, yet beautiful, things about The Chi is that whether it is something as dramatic as Miss Ethel being beaten within an inch of her life or Brandon getting robbed, that doesn’t seem like drama for the sake of it. What happens to them is on the same level of Maisha presenting a school project or Emmett being left homeless. Strangely, and maybe it is because these kinds of stories aren’t foreign to how I grew up, everything that happens seems baseline.
When it comes to Brandon, and characters younger than him, you can get a strong sense of how they came to be who we know. With Ronnie and the fully adult characters, it is much harder to say that. They are set in their ways by the time we meet them. So whether they are as old as Miss Ethel or as young as Jada and Ronnie, only something major, life-altering, could change them.
Thus making getting to see Ronnie was likely always a sensitive guy who just needed routine and structure, it helps you understand why his life became chaotic. Not because he is necessarily aimless and a drunk, but because he did everything he thought he was supposed to and it didn’t work out. Which for many on a high horse isn’t an excuse but not everyone is built, be it nature or nurture, to handle setbacks. And, don’t get me wrong, Miss Ethel seems kind to the man, but with her being his biggest champion and critic, it likely creates a complicated relationship.
Heck, depending on how you look at it, Miss Ethel might be the reason Ronnie needed to go into the military – take that as you will.