SPOILER ALERT: This recap contains explicit plot details.
The season four premiere of Showtime’s “The Chi” kicks off with what appears to be dream sequence foreshadowing what we may see during the season.
Dressed in a tuxedo, teenage Kevin (Alex Hibbert) frantically searches for an exit — an image fans should keep their eye on.
Kevin wakes up next to Jemma (Judae’a Brown) confirming the two are in the “sleepover” stage of their relationship, making the all-too-familiar mistake of waking up in his girlfriend’s bedroom.
Kevin’s plan to jump out of Jemma’s window, put on the rest of his clothes and knock on the front door acting like he just showed up seems to work — on the surface, at least — until we see Jemma’s father reviewing home security footage of Kevin.
In the aftermath of the election of Mayor Otis “Douda” Perry, allegations surface regarding his role with the 63rd Street Mob. And viewers even get a slick nod to the series’ biggest question heading into season three: what happened to Brandon (played by Jason Mitchell, who was booted from the cast after misconduct allegations surfaced).
While watching a news report, customers at Smokie’s say Brandon might have been done in by Douda — or entered witness protection.
The next scene shows Jemma’s dad telling Kevin that he looks like a group of teens who’ve committed arson on several businesses across the city. The father encourages positive images of Black people in a practice widely known as “Respectability Politics,” or conforming to the dominant culture in order to keep Black people out of trouble.
‘Soul Food’ flashback
Emmett, played by Jacob Latimore, is shook.
Before his marriage to Tiff (Hannaha Hall), he had a brief “entanglement” with his business partner, Dom (La La Anthony), and he’s worried about Tiff finding out. Now Emmett’s dad, Darnell, played by Rolando Boyce, is dating Dom.
Dom, doing the smart thing, clears the air by informing Darnell about her previous relationship with Emmett.
Not only is the episode, named “Soul Food,” an ode to the 1997 film Darnell, Emmett, Tiff and Dom are watching together, it’s also harks back to the iconic line shouted by Vanessa Williams’ character in the film: “The family f- - -ed my husband,” an explosive revelation similar to what Emmett desperately aims to avoid.
Philanthropy and flirting?
Douda and his wife, Roselyn (Kandi Burruss), meet with Tracy (Tai Davis), who is making a name for herself as an activist advocating for mothers who’ve lost children to gun violence and missing Black women and girls.
While Douda seems to want to help Tracy’s organization, it appears there’s a mutual attraction between the two.
‘I would’ve walked away, too.’
While Jake and Kevin are on their way to a basketball game, they bump into a kid who chastises Kevin for his school uniform.
Two police officers see the altercation and one of them asks the boys for their identification. Jake ignores the officer by walking past him. The officer promptly slams Jake to the ground, beats him up, and arrests him. As Kevin watches Jake get beat up, he reaches for his bookbag to retrieve his ID when one of the officers aims his gun at him.
Meanwhile, one of the kids films the entire episode on a phone.
Douda and Trig, Jake’s brother (Luke James), discover Jake is handcuffed to his hospital bed like Jacob Blake, a Kenosha, Wisconsin, man who was paralyzed from the waist down due to a police shooting.
Later, Kevin visits Jake, who says: “Maybe if I had my uniform on, I would’ve walked away, too,” which goes back to what Jemma’s dad said about portraying a certain image in order to avoid trouble.
And Trig, who wants immediate revenge, appears to find — and beat up — the police officer who assaulted Jake.
‘Are you sure you want to do this?’
After deciding against getting an abortion, Kiesha (Birgundi Baker) aims to give her unborn child up for adoption. But she has one stipulation for prospective parents: Her unborn child has to be raised in a two-parent household.
During an interview with a married couple, Kiesha realizes there’s internal strife between the two — a hunch confirmed when the wife later confides in her that a divorce is pending.
Storylines to think about:
- Will Emmett crack under the pressure of his transgressions?
- How will Jemma’s dad handle the fact that he’s all but confirmed that she’s sexually active with Kevin?
- What’s true nature of Douda’s interest in Tracy? How does Roselyn factor in? How will he respond to Jake’s beating?