“The Chi” continues its trajectory of life in its 3rd season with a continuing sense of identity and reflection. Episode 3 “Buss Down” reflects in story-lines of perception and perspective. The core of the story still focuses on a missing girl in the neighborhood. Even that revolves in perception because of what the mother thinks her teenage daughter is capable of. Several scenes including a support group are diametric but also telling because of how people in similar situations react to their causes and how they are perceived. This is true of a former gangster who is trying to be more a family man. And yet his truth is bathed in masks even though he is trying to be more forthright. That story-line specifically is an bubbling powder keg waiting to happen but exceptionally plotted since it encourages discussion. Even the more baseline elements including a young chef trying to run a business but not understanding how expectation speaks to bigger ideas of ambition and hard work versus result. The cool thing about “The Chi” as it heads further into its season is how it parallels the experiences in certain ways of different generations showing the difference of course but also the subtle similarities that sometimes get glossed over. The older man who was responsible for a death last season is one of the most diametric of the bunch in the notion if his past and what the future is takes on a mirror universe quality to his trajectory. And yet compassion, kindness and the greater good still revolve in his world as themes just simmering below the surface.
By Tim Wassberg
Finding the right conclusion that plays with the texture to uphold stakes is difficult in any series. Questions always arise. The manipulation from within becomes the true aspect of drama. With the season finale of “Penny Dreadful: City Of Angels” entitled “Day Of The Dead” the paths divergent become a messy train of broken souls but also resolve. Tiago Vega thinks he sees a path both correct and then apart. But then it comes undone. He thinks he knows the path of right and then he realizes that it doesn’t serve the greater good. Sister Molly thinks she knows what happiness could be but it becomes a shadow of reality. The key with this season has always been sketching the melting pot of life within this time in Los Angeles. It could define what it would become, both with its differences and similarities. The question the series brings up becomes who are the people that lose and what is the inherent collateral damage when all is said and done.
Unlike some of the episodes which make the words do alot of the walking, the season finale especially in its latter half lets the silences and the imagery speak. The diametric images especially in the last 10 minutes push the stories in ways that one would not expect. Granted one specific point does not make sense as it might be more metaphorical than literal. The stakes are still present but manufactured or perhaps regrouped in a different way. The joy that was prevalent in the previous episode lurks below the surface but with an element of pain which is what makes the best drama. Again the manipulation of the supernatural is done subtly but the battle of what the Goddess wanted versus her sister relates in very poetic terms. It foreshadows a crossroads that when discussed is both undeniable and yet tragic, poetic yet sad. Series creator John Logan who also wrote “Gladiator” understands the necessity of light and darkness. Lives are not neatly wrapped up. “Day Of The Dead” as a season finale works to highlight that the danger that lingers, lessons learned, actions taken and yet life moves on perhaps with a little more wisdom.
By Tim Wassberg