Douda (Curtiss Cook) is now dead on The Chi.

While it’s never OK to relish in one’s demise, The Chi fans can agree the former television mayor wreaked more than enough havoc throughout his time on the show. We will never know why it took so long, but it was probably the best part of Season 6, in a season otherwise filled with many question marks about the future.

While Season 7 set to come in the near future, let’s go ahead and take a look at what we want to see. While the show remains enjoyable, the drama has become more soap opera-ish. However….maybe its time to go back to basics?

'The Chi' has too many new characters who don't belong.

Day 1 fans know the series went through a turbulent time when the show picked up most of its steam. The end of Season 2 saw the exits of two main characters, lovers Brandon (Jason Mitchell) and Jerrika (Tiffany Boone). With Brandon and Jerrica as the show’s stars, seemingly, the higher-ups thought it could survive, defining it as an ensemble series. But that’s not how the show was initially set up.

The story was centralized around Jerrika and Brandon and a circle of characters in their orbit in light of his teenage brother’s murder. Over the next two seasons, new and OG characters were pushed to the forefront, such as Kevin (Alex R. Hibbert), Keisha (Birgundi Baker) and Emmett (Jacob Latimore), and new players were introduced. However, the stories that are supposed to bring the characters together don’t feel as organic as they once did.

Dominique, aka “Dom” (La La Anthony), works at Smokey’s, the characters’ hang-out spot, and once had an affair with Emmett. She remained on the show because Emmett needed her culinary experience for the eatery. In Season 6, Dom is once again in a more prominent role, dating Lynae’s (Zaria Imani) brother. Emmett is in a serious relationship with Keisha, and there are six degrees of separation with Lynae, so where does she fit, especially when there are minimal to non-existent scenes showcasing what she does at Smokey’s?

Then there are all of Douda’s women: Tracy (Tai Davis), Roselyn (Kandi Burruss), and Bianca (Jill Marie Jones). They’ve all had some intimate relationship with him at some point before moving on. It may give insight into a powerful crook’s personal life, but the women remaining on the show with no substance of their own waste space.

Season 6 introduced a whole slug of new characters: Alonzo (Leon Robinson), Rob’s (Iman Shumpert)  father who is eventually killed just episodes after viewers meet him; Pastor Ezekiel (Daniel J. Watts), who Papa (Shamon Brown Jr.) clings to in the aftermath of his father’s murder and his quest to be a richer replica of his father; Roselyn’s new girlfriend, Serena (Dre Hollingsworth), Dom’s cousin, who is deaf and also works at Smokey’s; Emmett’s half-brother Damien (Brett Gray), who his father introduces randomly and coerces Emmett into giving him a job at Smokey’s; and a host of others. Some of these characters appear to be fill-ins, while others seem to have a genuine connection to the main characters and no room to develop due to their untimely exits.

The show introduces too many overwhelming subjects.

With new characters come more stories, but in The Chi’s case, there is an overwhelming amount of story. The great thing about film and television is that they can explore real-life issues, especially one that’s an all-Black show in a world where our pain isn’t explored enough. But The Chi is doing a lot.

In Victor’s (Luke James) quest for city councilman, he focuses on mental health, coinciding with a national conversation around Black people and the importance of healthy discussions about mental health. He starts an all-men’s support group that all male central characters attend. It’s great because it expands the conversation. And it’s done beautifully. But other subject matters aren’t interwoven as such.

Keisha’s son, Ronnie, is diagnosed with sickle cell anemia. It comes out of nowhere. In one scene, he cries uncontrollably, and she takes him to the doctor, knowing her intuition isn’t wrong and that something isn’t right with her toddler. He receives a diagnosis, and that’s it. The doctor barely explains what it is or what treatment he’ll receive. Just the mention of the disease and treatment is not enough, especially when it’s widely reported that sickle cell anemia disproportionately impacts Black patients. 

Speaking of Keisha, we learn that her abductor is not Ronnie’s father. Instead, it’s one of Douda’s handlers, Knuck. So Keisha and Knuck try co-parenting and blending families with Keisha and Emmett’s messy and confusing circle of children, baby mamas and friends.

While Keisha deals with a medical crisis, Papa deals with a moral issue. He’s working for a money-hungry pastor who is involved in illegal dealings, courtesy of Douda. And Pastor Ezekiel’s wife is having an affair with Papa’s best friend, Jake (Michael V. Epps). Pastor Ezekiel is having an affair with a white woman who works as his assistant as he seeks to get close to her father, who appears to be a replica of Joel Osteen. Ezekiel’s daughter, Kenya (Kennedy Amaya), Papa’s ex-girlfriend, is straying between life as a preacher’s kid and a rendezvous with Douda’s No. 2 street handler. We know there are issues in the Black Church, but d**n!

The Bakari and Lynae storyline is the most relatable.

While a dozen new characters play an intricate role in the show, and subject matters don’t intersect, the one thing the show gets right is the Bakari/Lynae storyline. When viewers first meet Bakari, he avenges his friend Coogie’s (Jahking Guillory) death by killing Ronnie (Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine). Fans later learned he was closely affiliated with the core kid group, though his ties to the street kept him at bay.

Lynae was also a peer of the kids on the show. Much of her background was unknown, but her platonic friendship with Kevin in the aftermath of his heartbreak with Jemma (Judae’a Brown) and Jake and her abandonment courtesy of her brother’s arrest provided a space for her character to flourish on the show. She eventually lives with Kevin and his family when they take her in so she doesn’t become a foster kid. But instead of transitioning her relationship with Kevin to a romantic one, the writers are geniuses to avoid taking the predictable route. Instead, they pair Bakari and Lynae.

Their shared backgrounds provide a foundation for a tremendous teenage love story. Lynae chooses to work hard and stay on the straight and narrow, using the examples around her of those who fall victim to street life in the city of what not to do; she knows it leads to a dead end. Bakari, on the other hand, is torn between the streets for survival and a life of promise, thanks to the influence and love of Lynae and her crew.

He grows close to Papa, and his father takes him under his wing, while Lynae’s calm presence gives him a safe space and entry into her friend group. The murder of Papa’s father is a wake-up call, and Bakari slowly moves away from a life of crime, leaning on Lynae in the process as he learns the power of community, good or bad.

Lynae never pushes and gives him time to find himself. But by the end of Season 6, we see Bakari pulled back in. Based on the loyalty of the street code, he feels he has no choice. Lynae, like many ride-or-die women in real life, understands she has to give the “them or me” ultimatum. He chooses the former. It will be interesting to see where Season 7 takes the characters. Will Bakari become another fallen soldier? And will Lynae stand her ground? It’s the bad boy meets around-the-way girl with a preposterous future story we’ve seen a thousand times. Hopefully, the story doesn’t end in a blood bath for either of them.

Bakari and Lynae were woven into the main story slowly but seamlessly because their ties to the characters were genuine. Unlike the other characters on the show, they didn’t just show up and demand the audience accept them. Viewers root for both Bakari and Lynae, but their separate paths also keep them on the edge of their seats.

Here’s how to make the show as best as it can be

As a fan, I, like the rest of the fandom, am excited the show is returning, but a change must come. The solution is very simple: some of the characters must go. I won’t do the writers’ jobs, but based on what I’ve already laid out, it’s evident that any character without direct ties to the central characters with a storyline that can stand on its own must go.

For the characters who remain, proper character development is needed, as well as storylines that can be explained and digested, not thrown at viewers for them to figure out. The beauty of The Chi is that things have grown slow and steady. Keep the pace, and all will work out well.