Can you think of any other game besides the drug game where two people almost kill each other and then agree to work together? Yeah, me neither. After finding Lilian’s hidden product, Tommy concocts a plan to make him and his former runner money. Throughout the episode, Lilian fulfills the role of the quiet sidekick, but based on the way she attacked Tommy, it’s clear she knows how to get busy when necessary. She refuses to tell Tommy where the drugs came from. Y’all know what that means — this will be important at some point later in the season.
Where there are drugs, money, and power, there are also crooked cops. Vic goes to bail one of his men from the precinct and tips the officer at the front desk well enough to make the processing faster. We find out that the shady cop checking Diamond in episode one is on Vic’s payroll. The two don’t appear to be on the same page, though. Vic is pissed about something, and Mister Shady Cop refuses to take the blame. Instead, he tells Vic that he has an “alderman issue, not a cop issue.”
Meanwhile, Tommy and JP meet at their grandmother’s house and bond over evidence of a young Tommy’s presence. JP attempts to give Tommy the money he gave him back, but Tommy insists he keep it, which is good because JP is almost in $200k of debt. He doesn’t say why or how, but that’s how much he needs to enjoy a bit of breathing room. JP is concerned about potentially ruining his budding relationship with his new brother.
On the other side of town, it seems as if Jenard is trying to ruin his relationship with his brother, all because of jealousy, ego, and, you guessed it, power. The two brothers expound on how money doesn’t have feelings or conscience, which leads to their revealing their opposing desires. Diamond wants to give back to the community, and Jenard is down, but his motives are quite different than his older brother’s. While the two play baseball in the rundown park, a conversation about “business” decisions ruins their bonding time. Jenard asks Diamond what his intentions are with Tommy. He expects his brother to kill Tommy, who is a random white boy from out of town. But Diamond cares more about being an honorable man than catching another body. Tommy helped him get Jenard out of jail, and he killed Rojas’ men — according to the unwritten rules of the streets, he owes him one. When Diamond tells Jenard that he’s not the old Diamond, Jenard claps back, quickly reminding him that just as he has changed, so too have the rules of the game. More importantly, he lets his brother know that he’s more than just Diamond’s little brother.
We saw the power struggle between these two brewing in episode two. Now, in episode three, rightfully titled “Fire Starter,” shit hits the fan. Jenard challenges Diamond to a boxing match — the winner takes the head seat of CBI. Once in the ring, the two brothers beat each other as if they were strangers on the street, with Diamond ultimately coming out on top. Not only has their brotherhood been forever changed, so has the structure of their organization. Now that it has been split in half, Jenard is set on secretly luring all of CBI’s members to follow his lead.
Realizing they have a quality product, Tommy and Liliana discuss the racial politics of Chicago — Black and Latin crews on Chicago’s south and west side and whites up north. They devise a plan that will require the Flynn family and CBI to partner. Unlike in New York City, Chicago’s gangs and drug organizations take ownership of blocks, not entire boroughs or neighborhoods. The city is under fire, leaving many of the blocks that lie between the Flynn family and CBI up for grabs.
For some reason, probably curiosity, Walter agrees to meet with Tommy — I mean Thomas. He’s not happy to see him, though. Like most New Yorkers, Tommy knows how to navigate any hood, and he’s bold. None of Flynn’s threats intimidate him, and he maintains a level of confidence as big as Chicago’s own Kanye. Flynn accepts his pitch, as does Diamond. But when the three of them meet to flesh out the deal, shit goes haywire. Old beef intrudes, preventing the two drug kingpins from collaborating. We find out that Flynn killed eight of Diamond’s men because he blamed CBI for attacking one of his men and his wife.
Flynn is the ultimate racist. He wastes no time spewing racial epithets at Diamond (who, by the way, keeps his calm). Tommy is equally confused and pissed — Flynn is messing it up for everyone at the table. Even Vic is interested in moving differently. But Flynn doesn’t trust Black people in general and feels that other white-led organizations will turn on him if they find out he’s working with CBI. He’s also complacent, content to just sell pills.
Maybe it’s a good thing the deal doesn’t go through. The Feds are watching Walter and his crew, and unfortunately for Tommy, it appears he’s about to get caught up in their surveillance of the Irish organization. But the Feds aren’t the only ones with eyes on Tommy; Claudia has been watching him too. She pulls up on him “like a motherfucking OG” (this must be the Flynn family’s signature move) and Claudia questions Tommy about his interests in Chicago. She tells him about her designer drug without telling him and offers him a warm yet competitive welcome to Chicago.
With her sexist daddy pushing her out of the core of the family business, Claudia decides to take things into her own hands by moving her newest product — a busted diet pill that is close to cocaine — with just her and Mai. No convincing daddy, no convincing Vic.
Before the night ends, Gloria hits Tommy with an infamous “You up?” text, leading Tommy to start a fire he for sure enjoys putting out.