Black Ink Crew: Chicago is back and boy have things changed. Ryan has cleaned up shop literally giving Van, Lily, and Bella the boot while Charmaine has decided to boss up and open up her own shop.
VH1 decided to give us two episodes to kick off the new season, and we quickly learn what the central theme of this season is going be, 9Mag versus 2nd City Ink. After Don gave her the boot last season, Charmaine decided to boss up and open up her own shop, with her new business partner Jess Simpson, a tattoo artist from London. After getting fired on her day off, Charmaine wasted no time in searching across the country for the best tattoo artists to rival Ryan’s crew.
Speaking of Ryan, business is good at 9Mag despite the new competition. He so busy in fact that he is trying to balance his work and co-parenting and it’s an absolute struggle plus his strained relationship with his 12-year-old son Mason’s mother, Rachel isn’t helping matters. While at the shop, Don shows up, and he’s currently in a great place in his life. He and his wife are doing extremely well despite the past drama, finally getting a bigger house and deciding to renew their vows in Africa.
Don’s brother, Phor, strolls in eventually and reveals that he is no longer smashing Sophia The Body and is doing better mentally. We also learn that he got arrested for indecent exposure when he got caught by the police getting head in his car. During his confessional, he refused to name who he got caught with, but we have a strong feeling that we will learn exactly who was pleasuring him orally that night in a future episode.
After they each bring the viewers up to speed on their lives, the focus shifts towards 2nd City Ink. The fellas think it’s an absolute joke and with Ryan laughing at 2nd City Ink’s minuscule Instagram following. Ryan also feels people that don’t do tattoos should not own tattoo shops, basically taking a dig at Charmaine. He does say he respects Jess as an artist but believes she doesn’t know how to run a shop.
Speaking of Instagram followers, Charmaine is hard at work trying to rectify that situation. She reveals to her new team that she has secured a photoshoot and a feature with Rolling Out Magazine.
Charmaine is exceptionally proud of the fact she was able to make that happen in six weeks since the shop opened. Now, if only she applied this same energy when she was the celebrity concierge at 9Mag. As for the 2nd City Ink’s sad Instagram following, Charmaine has a plan for that as well and recruits Plug, one of her artists, to help her film an Instagram video to plug the shop and show off the talent.
Back at the shop, Ryan gets frustrated because he is just too busy and can’t help his son Mason wth his homework like he wants to. Ryan decides to take Mason to his mother’s nail shop, Pear Nova, which is conveniently located in the same building as 9Mag to finish his homework. Rachel isn’t too thrilled because she feels Ryan isn’t respecting the fact she is a business owner like him and is also busy as well. She agrees to watch Mason but just wishes that Ryan gave her the courtesy of calling ahead instead of just showing up.
We catch up with Don, and he’s at dinner with Ashley. The mood turns sours when she reveals that a lump on her left breast that she wasn’t initially worried about has gotten bigger. Ashley breaks down into tears, Don reassures his wife everything is going to be okay and tells her she is the strongest person he knows.
Don accompanies Ashely to the hospital to get the lump removed and tested for cancer. The usually tough guy is visibly nervous as he waits for the procedure to be over.
We zap back to 2nd City Ink, and it’s photoshoot time. During the interview portion, Charmaine is asked what made her want to start her own shop after getting the boot from 9Mag? Charmaine explains she felt this was the right thing to do because she was disrespected by the men she considered to be her brothers. Jess throws in her 2 cents and takes a diplomatic approach stating there is no beef between her and Ryan and that there is plenty of room for both shops to flourish in Chicago. Charmaine just wants to prove to her former friends that she can successfully run a tattoo shop.
After the photoshoot wraps, it’s now time to party. Rolling Loud throws a party to honor 2nd City Ink. When Ryan, Don, and Phor show up, they are taken by surprise to learn that it’s not a regular party, and things are type awkward because the publication has a strong relationship with 9Mag.
Charmaine sees the fellas and decides to confront them and let them know how she really felt. Ryan listens but basically tells her all the moves he made were business decisions to help his shop.
Don has heard enough and already felt awkward with the whole situation being that he was the one that fired Charmaine. With enough things going on his life already with Ashley, he decides to leave.
After the “confrontation” with Charmaine at the Rolling Loud party, Ryan decides to call Rachel to see if his sons are still up. She tells him they are both sleeping, so he will have to wait till the morning to call them before they head to school. It’s here we learn that Ryan hates the fact he can’t go home to his kids. We also find out that after Rachel kicked him out of their crib. Ryan explains he has been sleeping on an air mattress in the shop for the past few months. The 9Mag owner felt he didn’t need to look for a new place cause he thought Rachel would eventually allow him to come back.
In the next episode, Ryan reveals he buried himself in work so he wouldn’t have to deal with his sister’s tragic murder. After talking with Don, Phor, his sister, and mother, he finally decides to speak with a psychiatrist.
Ashley learns her lump isn’t cancerous, which is a massive relief to the couple who was scared for their future.
Charmaine and Neek are officially married and announce to their mothers that they are expecting their first child together. Neek’s mom isn’t happy to hear that, though.
Social media had plenty of thoughts, of course, you can peep all of the reactions to the episode below.
Photo: Bernard Smalls / @PhotosByBeanz