by Jasmine Sanders | via Vulture
“Penetrate a Fraud” opens with Brandon, still living with his mother and stepfather after being ousted from the home he shared with Jerrika. Brandon’s mother offhandedly reveals that she and her beau Greavy have wed, and though neither of them thought to invite her son to the ceremony, they extend an invitation to the celebratory BBQ later that night. Six episodes in, it feels like The Chi has exhausted all of its “party” credits. Yes, the story takes place over a summer, but the constant use of gatherings or get togethers as the ostensible means to examine the group dynamics of its characters is starting to feel a little gimmicky.
Brandon tells his mother and newly appointed stepfather that he won’t be able to make the party, as he’s already scheduled to work. Brandon’s tensions with Greavy have never quite reached a nadir, or any real resolution. A couple of episodes ago, when Brandon brought the gun home, it was his stepfather who hid it. The older man routinely pokes at him or humiliates him. Brandon, ever the level-headed pacifist, always abandons the conflict, but Greavy’s decision to take the gun forced Brandon into contact with Reg, who would have had no problem killing him. At the very least, it seems that he would have pressed his stepfather about the location of the weapon, or the details of how he disposed of it, since it was used in a crime and now bears Brandon’s fingerprints. But he doesn’t.
Instead, Brandon goes to work, where the sparks with his female boss Sarah seem to be intensifying. He succeeds at catering a large party for the restaurant, and afterward, he and Sarah take the excess food to the engagement celebration. When they make it to the barbeque, Sarah’s game, easygoing nature, punctuated by her drinking a beer, is a polar opposite to Jerrika’s more uptight demeanor. Brandon offers a toast to his mom and her newfound happiness, and it feels like they’ve kind of forgotten about Coogie. There’s no mention of him at the party or elsewhere. It feels insensitive, but I honestly think that the show just has too many characters, too many quickly moving parts, for all of the storylines to be granted ample screen time.
At the halfway point of this season, The Chi often has its characters behave in ways which feel wholly implausible for these people, living in this city and time. Emmett comes across a bounty of expensive, rare sneakers and, along with one of the owners of the corner store, buys them all from a lonely, mini-mansion dwelling housewife. His sneaker sale tactic? He has a truck holding all the sneakers, with the back compartment completely open, parked on a clandestine street. Baby EJ sits in a nearby stroller. He looks like someone waiting to be robbed. Then, inevitably, he is robbed. I understand Emmett’s functions within the meta-narrative of the story, but his naivete is a little implausible, and the predictability of his numerous foibles has grown tiresome.
Click HERE to read the rest of the recap, “Penetrate a Fraud.”