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‘The Chi’ Season 4 Episode 2 Review: Slow burner blends BLM, heartbreak and revenge in copious doses

‘Cooley High’ comes as a tad draggy, but the attention to detail makes it a watchable affair
UPDATED MAY 31, 2021
Carter Shimp as a player and Alex Hibbert as Kevin in 'The Chi' (Adrian Burrows/SHOWTIME)
Carter Shimp as a player and Alex Hibbert as Kevin in 'The Chi' (Adrian Burrows/SHOWTIME)

Spoilers for ‘The Chi’ Season 4 Episode 1 ‘Cooley High’

This time last year, police brutality and the death of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor had sparked a Black Lives Matter revolution across the country, and that makes us wonder if ‘The Chi’s Season 4 opener’s theme was borrowed specifically from the life-altering event. 

It wouldn’t be a stretch to say the episode stung. ‘Soul Food’ saw Jake (Micheal Epps) being pummelled by a cop that opens up the harsh reality of racial discrimination and that sets the tone for a series that hints at shedding light on social issues that have plagued the community. In short, it’s typical ‘The Chi’.


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And while ‘Cooley High’ tackles racial discrimination and police brutality as the main themes, it also incorporates multiple storylines that lead the pivotal characters of the show in new directions. Guilt, revenge, and acceptance are all blended into one slow burner of an episode.

At 54 minutes, there’s enough light shed on the main characters. For starters, Douda Perry (Curtiss Cook) defunds the Chicago Police Department following the violence against Jake. Clearly, the brickbats and the criticism are just the beginning, and his character arc just went from sly to hot-headed.

Curtiss Cook as Douda in 'The Chi' (Adrian Burrows/SHOWTIME)

The teens, Kevin (Alex Hibbert), Jake, and Papa (Shamon Brown) are transitioning into young adults and grappling with the first-world issues that come with it. The Jake incident is pretty much blunt force trauma for Kevin and Papa. While Kevin resorts to drugs and alcohol during a tour to what would be his potential college trip, Papa and Maisha (Genesis Denise Hale), get to work on the latter’s podcast that he has huge plans for. That said, getting Van Jones is a tad too ambitious, eh Papa?

Emmett (Jacob Latimore) is screwed. The on-the-table steamy romp with his business partner Dom has been eating up from the inside and it doesn’t help his case that his infidelity leads Tiffany (Hannah Hall) to end up with some revenge sex with one of her customers. Is that relationship done? That’s pretty much Emmett’s journey this season. Yolonda Ross’s Jada is diagnosed with cancer and that’s a crushing blow as the end credits roll with Josiah Bell’s ‘Feelings’ to just supplement the mixed emotions that follow in the last five minutes.

Jacob Latimore as Emmett in 'The Chi' (Elizabeth Sisson/SHOWTIME)

‘Coolie High’ reminds the late '70s folks about the cult light-hearted-turned-coming-of-age drama and the reference is placed on the ‘98 class reunion the parents of these teens attend. Trig (Luke James) is set to become one of those key figures of the show especially with his subtly rising status in the neighborhood as a people’s man. How this connects him to Perry is still a question the show may answer over the course of the show. Keisha’s pregnancy forms one of the plotlines and after her kidnapping and sexual abuse becoming the central setting in Season 3, it does appear her arc will take a backseat this time around.

‘The Chi’ is a busy show. Slow, steady, yet detailed. The meticulous attention to microscopic details has been the show’s plus point, but ‘Coolie High’ does seem a bit too draggy. For now, it would be too premature to hold it against the show, and hopefully, it becomes pacy. Not a bad watch, not one bit.

‘The Chi’ Season 4 airs Sundays at 10 pm ET on Showtime.