When Brandon's safety becomes in peril, he seeks help from Meldrick (Byron Bowers), who gives The Chi an element of the fantastical and supernatural. He's a flamboyant, New Age gangster who claims to have ESP, cares about animals and prefers organic food. He's also got the ability to get Brandon a gun -- which will of course come with costs beyond the financial. Meldrick, Waithe said, came as a result of Showtime's suggestion to have a character "shake things up a bit," but she wanted a mercenary with texture instead of a rote drug dealer/bad boy. She borrowed from her own upbringing, recalling the go-to people she saw in her own neighborhood. In nabes like hers, where residents are cut off from resources elsewhere, "we're our own detectives, we're our own pharmacy," she said. Growing up, she rarely went to hospitals and never saw a police officer there to help. "I saw Ms. Watkins or Mr. Jenkins. My grandmother was the head of the neighborhood watch. It was very much like, 'We can police ourselves.' That's something I still take with me."