Three episodes into season four of Showtime’s The Chi and it looks like the war with the police is here to stay.
Last week’s episode saw Mayor Otis ‘Douda’ Perry (Curtiss Cook) looking to defund the police after 15-year-old Jake Taylor (Michael Epps) was assaulted by the police in the season opener. In the June 6 episode, “Native Son,” Douda enlists the help of Tracy (Tai Davis) and Trig (Luke James), providing them with the money that normally goes to the police budget so that they can run their own version of 911. Seriously.
Trig: We want folks to stop calling 911, and start calling us.
Tracy: We need everybody on the same side.
Pastor Stanley Jackson: Well, there are a lot of wounds amongst us. It’s gonna take time to heal. Brothers and sisters. Brothers and sisters, I know that these times have been tough. Our community has dealt with more than we can take. We haven’t had time to heal. We all got targets on our backs and not enough money in our pockets. But I do know that we’ve all… We’ve always had a lot of love in our hearts. We all connected, whether you like it or not. Now, I know some of you in here are generations apart, but we need each other now more than ever. We have to join together if we’re gonna save ourselves.
Woman: I hear you, Pastor. But I can’t just sit here and act like I don’t get mad at some of these fools. They out here killing each other and then got the nerve to get mad when cops do it.
Trig: Hey, hey, hey. Listen. Everybody got they shit. Ain’t nobody in here perfect. Crime and violence is everywhere. Every race got its own civil war inside of it. We’re no different. We gotta stop pointing the finger at each other and start coming together ’cause if we don’t, we’ll never survive.
Tracy: The mayor may not be squeaky clean, right, but he gives a shit, y’all. And he’s putting his money where his mouth is.
Trig: The police, they want us to be violent. They want some shit to pop off so they can act like we need their asses. That’s why we gotta work together to keep shit quiet. Anybody got an issue, we gonna handle it. Now, look, I know everybody got special skill sets, so we want y’all to fill out these forms that we made and let us know what you’re good at.
Tracy: Community Protection. Yes, ma’am. What’s the address? Okay. We’ll be right there.
Trig: So we just gonna pull up?
Trig: Let’s Go.
Trig, Tracy, and a few of the other volunteers get called to break up a dispute between a couple where the man is angry that part of their family income comes in from his partner’s OnlyFans account. It doesn’t get violent beyond Trig getting punched in the face, fortunately. At least not this time.
It’s clear that the show’s creators want this to be able to last, but if they’re being realistic it won’t be long before something worse happens to somebody else.
The conversation about defunding the police also wedges a random reference to Donald Trump into a discussion in which Douda and his aide, Marcus (Joel Steingold), try to tell Douda’s wife, Roselyn (Kandi Burruss), that defunding the police could actually work:
Roselyn: You can’t just dismantle a whole system in a day. There are a lot of rules. A lot of red tape.
Douda: Fuck the rules, and I got scissors for the red tape.
Roselyn: Who do you think you are, the Black Trump?
Douda: Why not?
Roselyn: Because Black politicians cannot do what Trump does.
Douda: Why not?
Roselyn: Because he’s white. Marcus.
Roselyn: Can you believe this shit?
Marcus: Yeah, it’s crazy.
Roselyn: Well, please tell him that.
Marcus: But it’s not impossible.
Marcus: If we could be the first city to fix the problem between Black folks and the police, the Olympics would be begging us to come here.
Roselyn: What if there’s a riot? What if some maniac decides he wants to go into a Black neighborhood and shoot everyone in sight? Then what? Who’s gonna protect ’em?
Douda: Yeah, that maniac is usually a police officer.
Marcus: Look, the biggest hurdle is figuring out a way to bring Black communities together and getting everyone to agree on some ground rules.
Roselyn: Call me when you have a plan.
Marcus: If this goes wrong, you’ll be the laughing stock of Chicago.
Douda: Yeah, but if it goes right, I’ll be the next Harold Washington. Let’s go.
This season also still very much revolves around its youngest characters, particularly Jake, in addition to his classmates Kevin Williams (Alex R. Hibbert) and Jemma St. John (Judae’a).
One of their teachers, Mr. Cooper, feels bad that the boys have an in-school suspension after getting drunk and high on a school trip to visit colleges and offers to let them get out of punishment by writing a one-page paper explaining what happened. This comes complete with a dose of white guilt from Mr. Cooper so heavy it’s almost comical:
Mr. Cooper: Of course you’re going to act out, after the racial trauma you guys have both experienced. Like, I mean, when is this country gonna learn you can’t just oppress a people for 400 years, and throw ’em some crumbs, and expect ’em to obey? You guys, I’m–trust me. I’m one of the good ones, okay? I don’t want to punish you. I want to protect you.
Jake: Do I look like I need your protection?
Mr. Cooper: Nope.
Jake: Can I just read in silence?
Kevin: Yeah, can’t we just sit in here or something?
Mr. Cooper: How about I set you guys free?
Jake: Wow. That would be amazing.
Mr. Cooper: Not yet.
Kevin: What do we gotta do?
Jake: We shouldn’t have to do shit.
Mr. Cooper: Okay. How about, just so that I don’t get in trouble with my boss, you guys write me an essay telling me what happened, and we’ll call it even? Besides, it’d be good for there to be a document, you know. Like, a written record that this country can’t erase.
Jake: So we gotta work for our freedom?
Kevin: How long does this have to be?
Mr. Cooper: A page?
Jake: Can it be used against us in a court of law?
Mr. Cooper: You don’t trust me, ’cause I’m a white man?
Jake: I don’t trust nobody.
Mr. Cooper: Understandable. No, this will not be used against you anywhere. I just want you guys to express, in writing, how you’re feeling.
Jake: Nah, sound like some bullshit to me.
Kevin: Do what you want to do, but I ain’t sitting in here all day.
In a brief scene between Jake and Jemma, Jake explains how he feels in the aftermath of the assault from the police officer. Jake says, “Fuck the police,” in an interview broadcast to the whole school.
Jemma: You look nice.
Jemma: Wait. Are you wearing cologne?
Student: We’re ready to go, Jemma.
Jemma: Don’t worry. You’re gonna do great.
Student: Three. Two.
Jemma: Thank you for joining me, Jake.
Jake: You’re welcome.
Jemma: We all saw the video, so there’s no need to rehash that traumatic moment.
Jake: Thank you.
Jemma: The police officer said you posed a threat, and that’s why they used force. Why do you think, even though they had guns, that they felt threatened by you?
Jake: They see all of us as threats. They think I’m… They think I’m dangerous or something. They think I don’t care if I live or die. I don’t want to die. I want to do something with my life. You know why we say, “Fuck the police”? Cuz it’s how we feel.
Ultimately, as if show could get any stranger, the episode closes with Roselyn walking in on Tracy about to have sex with Douda. “Don’t stop now, I like to watch,” she says, in the episode’s closing line. It doesn’t look as if the weird dynamic will get any less weird, mixing voyeuristic sex, random comparisons to Trump, and calls to defund the police in The Chi.