Black Ink Crew: Chicago is back, and before COVID-19 hit the city, the drama did first.
The season premiere opens up with 2nd City Ink looking for new artists and employees. Last season Charmaine’s shop lost a few faces, including Draya, who is now at Ryan’s shop much to the dismay of Charmaine and the shop’s co-owner Jess who ran back home across the pond following a fallout with Charmaine.
Anyway, Miss Kitty is running the interview process of all the potential new talent who walked in the shop, hoping to land a job 2nd City Ink. During her home confessional, Kitty reveals that she and Ryan are in a “weird place” following his “family vacation” with his ex Rachel and the kids. Kitty explains that people have been getting at her on social media as a direct result of Ryan’s actions.
Speaking of Ryan, we head over to 9 MAG, and we quickly learn that despite not wanting to bring Bella back last season, Ryan had a change of heart and re-hired her.
Draya has also got quickly acclimated to her new place of employment as well. Ryan knows this will forever be an issue with Charmaine, but he’s just happy to have more of a female presence in the shop and states that both he and Charmaine are in a good place regardless of his decision to hire Draya.
Sadly, Don and his wife Ashley were not able to work things out from last season, and he is no longer living with her and the kids. Now shacking up with his brother Phor, Don is currently on a spiritual journey, and it’s already annoying Phor.
Kitty finally has time and pulls up to 9 MAG to have that much-needed conversation with Ryan. She felt she had to confront him because he failed to defend her from the backlash she was receiving on social media. Once inside, Kitty tells Ryan that he has her out here looking crazy after the footage of him and Rachel on vacation surfaced. Ryan snaps back and says to Kitty that his family comes first before anything and that he never told Kitty they were in a “relationship.” VH1, of course, played back the footage of Ryan telling Kitty they were, in fact, dealing with each other. Ryan informs Kitty that she can’t tell him what to do, and she storms off.
Why they keep trying Kitty? SMH
Moving on, Van looks like he will have a more significant role this season. We quickly learn that he and Jenn are dealing with each other again and his daughter, Bri’s 18th birthday is coming up. Of course, she wants to have a big party to celebrate the once in a lifetime occasion, and Van is down with the idea. She also wants to invite Charmaine, Ryan, Phor, and Don because she knew them since she was 12.
Van knows this is going to be difficult but tells his seed that she can invite anyone she wants, being that it’s her birthday.
The episode gets a bit serious when former NBA baller Eddy Curry and his son Noah who is Ryan’s nephew, stop by the shop. Noah is the sole survivor of the double murder that took the lives of Ryan’s sister Nova and his niece, Ava. Ryan talks to Eddy about the emotional essay Curry penned for the Player’s Tribune detailing the off-and-on relationship he had with Ryan’s sister as well as her tragic death at the hands of her attorney, Frederick Goings.
Curry at the time of Nova and Ava’s death was married to his current wife, and the essay drew negative attention to his deceased sister, with many labeling her a mistress and saying she got what she deserved. Eddy, sadly, never got to see his daughter until she was in the casket. Ryan and others who personally knew Nova came to her defense. In the powerful scene, Ryan says he has no issues with Eddy despite all the drama that followed Eddy’s essay.
Once the conversation was over, Eddy gets a tattoo of Ava’s name on his hand as a tribute to his daughter.
We catch back up with Kitty, and she is hanging out with Plug. During the cab ride, she explains the whole situation with Ryan and feels she has been disrespected. 2nd City Ink artist Plug has the terrible idea to vandalize Ryan’s property in retaliation, and Kitty is very reluctant to act in such a manner. Producers give quick glimpses of the damage, and during a green screen interview, Ryan says he has a pretty good idea who caused it.
Back at 9 MAG, Bri shows up, and the fellas are stunned at how grown she is. She eventually gets around to inviting them to her party. They explain that even though they haven’t seen eye to eye with her dad, they are still family, and they will attend the party.
We zap to 2nd City Ink, and Charmaine isn’t too happy with Kitty after she shows up late to work. Charmaine wants Kitty to tighten up because the shop has been a mess lately and feels Kitty needs to get it together before she goes on maternity leave. Charmaine runs to the bathroom and subsequently bursts out when she believes she is going into labor and needs to be taken to the hospital.
We later learn that it was a false alarm, and she is on bed rest and sent Kitty to attend Bri’s party in her place.
Speaking of Bri’s party, it was a success, and Ryan, Phor, and Don did show up and kept things civil, which pleased Van. There was one unexpected guest, and it was none other than the Lily. Before she could set foot inside the venue, producers stopped her and told her she wasn’t welcomed and was banned from the show due to her calling Black cast members the N-word. Before she gets back in her cab, she accuses them of “playing the black card.” Before she leaves, we learn that it was Bri who invited her to the party.
Womp, womp, womp.
Back inside, Van finally gets around to talking to Ryan, Don, and Phor. He thanks them for putting their differences aside with him and showing up for Bri. While Phor and Don seem to have welcomed back Van into their circles’ Ryan reveals during his confessional, he has no intention of rekindling his friendship with Van.
You can peep the reactions to the season premiere of Black Ink Crew: Chicago below as well as the trailer for the entire season below.
Photo: Bernard Smalls / @PhotosByBeanz/ VH1