The Chi | The Whistle (S1 E7)

by Jasmine Sanders | via Vulture

“The Whistle” is an episode about employment, and what a job reveals about a person’s character and the world at large. In the eyes of the enigmatic Quentin — who relays to Emmett the story of his father, a porter for the Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railway Company who was struck by a train and murdered on the job — those revelations are practically an origin story. It was his father’s dedicated service to the railway company that allowed his family a bit of upward mobility: Upon his death, the man’s family was given $500 in remuneration and his porter whistle. The tale is an encapsulation of what Quentin sees as the thankless, futile nature of corporate employment and class aspirations, and it is a nice peek into the mind of a character who has not revealed much of himself so far. Quentin had fallen into the role of bitter, straw-hat toting old-timer, a symbol of the old guard of kingpins who hold staunch ideas about honor and decency in their varied fields. This is a bit we’ve seen in many stories before The Chi, and his calls to a long-expired street code of conduct of course rang hollow: He did, after all, kill an entire room of Reg and Trice’s accomplices in last week’s episode.

Exhausted of options and struggling to pay for his son’s day care, Emmett falls into being Quentin’s accomplice. Their first stop is turning in the guns stolen from Trice’s men. But when Quentin turns in literal boxes filled with semiautomatic weapons, the on-duty officers barely grill him. Wouldn’t the cops have at least questioned him? The repartee between Emmett and Quentin falls into a pleasant rhythm in these scenes, with the older man looking out for the younger one. And like it or not, their partnership looks set to continue in future episodes: Emmett’s mother loses her job for stealing medical supplies to patch up Ronnie’s gunshot wound, so at least for now, Emmett’s income will be the only one in the household.

As we know, Quentin was able to rob and murder Trice’s men because Reg was off his post, fooling around with a girl. It’s a decision Reg pays dearly for, with Trice showing up to his apartment to drink his fruit juice and pummel him. When Trice threatens him in his kitchen, Reg displays an emotion beyond contempt for the first time; he finally seems more than a stock character, more than the violent, mindless dealer we’ve seen again and again. As the beating goes on, the camera stays focused on Reg’s disfigured, bloody face for what feels like an unnecessary amount of time. The scene is a little bit nauseating, a reminder that The Chi is a show claiming to “humanize” a demographic that it constantly abuses.

Click HERE to read the rest of the recap, “The Whistle.”

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