by Jasmine Sanders | via Vulture
Over nine episodes so far, The Chi has made plain its most urgent motives and ambitions. The characters of this series are searching for — and in some instances, have briefly found — salvation from their various miseries. “Namaste Muthaf**ka” is a testament to the ways that these characters may or may not find peace.
Emmett is still strapped for cash, a predicament which his son’s mother, Tiffany, isn’t too sympathetic toward. The episode begins with Emmett back at his old gig at the chicken spot, after his string of unsuccessful, not-exactly-legal moneymaking endeavors. Meanwhile, Emmett’s mom Jada reveals to Ms. Ethel the real reason that she was fired, and Jada also reveals to Emmett that she has accepted an out-of-state job opportunity. Whether Emmett will relocate with her or stay behind, forced to be a man and father on his own, is unclear.
Elsewhere, Brandon has reconciled with Jerrika, who perplexingly presents him with a shoebox filled with cash to be used toward fixing up his food truck. Why Jerrika, a real-estate agent, has her money stored in a Juicy Couture icy shoebox like she’s a drug dealer or Gucci Mane is beyond me. But presenting the box to Brandon at breakfast is still a nice dramatic flair. The Chi often feels like it’s angling for dramatic moments, for histrionics and panache, at the expense of characters and plot cohesiveness. Later, Brandon reveals to Jerrika that he slept with someone while they were separated. When she says that she also slept with someone else, Brandon is surprised. (Though, remember that Jerrika had a date at the block party a few episodes back, and she had hinted the guy was her boyfriend.)
Until this point, The Chi has generally circled the periphery of Tyler Perry–esque antics: It’s shown us acerbic, damaged black women, all victims of men who did them wrong. Ms. Ethel, herself a gun-toting granny, often spouts religious vagaries that could have come straight from the mouth of Mabel “Madea” Simmons. But this week, the show stopped circling and jumped headfirst into the Perry pool. While attending her meeting for mothers of gun violence, Tracy reveals that she endured a sustained period of sexual abuse, locked in a house by a man for his own perverted purposes. This abuse is what begot her son, Jason. The man who abused her was Quentin. It’s all so much.
As I’ve written week after week in these recaps, the show has revealed very little about its female characters outside of their myriad abuses. When it expands on the women that make up its cast of characters, there’s usually a revelation of some sort of trauma at the hands of a man. Tracey’s story line, specifically the revelation that Quentin is Jason’s father, is one that I predicted last week. One of the season’s most drawn-out plotlines has been the question of who killed Jason, and why Quentin is so invested in finding the shooter. That the respective answers are “Trice” and “Because Quentin is Jason’s father” feels unsatisfying.
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