Starz’s Power is a series that flies under the radar (including my own for a while), but if you opt to give it a shot, it’s easy to get hooked. Sure, some of the subplots in Season 1 are laden with melodrama, but, for the most part, Power is packed with likable characters capable of doing terrible things, and that juxtaposition is both wildly engaging and entertaining.
Season 1 introduced us to Omari Hardwick’s James “Ghost” St. Patrick, a New York City drug distributor who opens up a nightclub called Truth to clean the money. The trouble is, rather than use the success of Truth to grow the drug business, Ghost starts to suspect that the club could actually be his way out — and his right hand man Tommy (Joseph Sikora) and his wife Tasha (Naturi Naughton) aren’t happy about it.
Though there are a number of conflicts that pop up throughout the season, the struggles between Ghost, Tommy and Tasha are the strongest. The show does a stellar job of quickly establishing the rock solid relationships between the three; Ghost and Tommy are as close as brothers and run an airtight operation, while Tasha is an extremely loving and loyal mother and wife. Despite the fact that their livelihood is dependent on an illegal and deadly drug business, they’ve got a good thing going, and you can’t help but to hope that they succeed. Clearly though, that can’t happen or we wouldn’t have a show, and the writers do an exceptional job adding more and more fissures to their relationships until everything comes crashing down in the tail end of the season.
The glaring weak spot of Season 1 is Ghost’s affair with his old flame Angela (Lela Loren). The problem is that Naughton is too persuasive as Tasha. The scenario is presented in a way that suggests that the expectation is for viewers to feel conflicted about whether Ghost should choose Tasha or Angela, but the only way something like that works is if you’re rooting for both of them. Naughton makes a great case for what Ghost has with Tasha, but Loren and Hardwick don’t have the spark to ever make one think he’d be better off with Angela.
However, that isn’t much of an issue in Season 2 thanks to a few key revelations. The show’s creator has teased that some of Season 1’s main questions will be answered, and indeed they are. Best of all, we get some of those answers surprisingly early in the new season and they put a number of the show’s key characters on far more interesting tracks.
At the start of Season 2, Tommy has figured out that Angela is an attorney working with the FBI, and Ghost’s reaction to the news isn’t as cut and dry as one might expect. Angela has it especially tough at the start of the new season; not only does Tommy’s discovery threaten to destroy Angela’s rekindled relationship with Ghost, but her job is also in jeopardy thanks to what happened to Nomar (Vinicius Machado) at the conclusion of the first season. As for Tasha, she’s still busy flirting with Sean (Sinqua Walls) and pocketing cash behind Ghost’s back, but the effects of the Angela affair, the shooting at Truth, and Lobos’ (Enrique Murciano) new distribution requirements force her to reassess her position in the situation.
On top of all that, Kanan (Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson) is now out of prison, and he’s got a sinister secret agenda that his own son doesn’t even know about. Though we got a tease of how ruthless Kanan can be during his brief appearances in Season 1, this time around, he’s a main player capable of causing a lot of damage. It’s also worth noting that Holly (Lucy Walters) is still very much in play, and the show makes great use of the fact that we still don’t quite know what her intentions are and what’s she’s capable of.
Power Season 2 really takes off running with the character development laid down last summer. The performances are as strong as ever, and the spot-on music cues give the new season an incredible amount of momentum. It’s nearly impossible not to get caught up in the characters’ lives and their intensifying predicaments. The series is an entertaining thrill with a surprising amount of depth, and it knows precisely when to drop new details to keep viewers guessing, while still making it feel like the narrative is moving forward full force. The bottom line is that if you haven’t done so yet, give Power a chance.
Rating: ★★★★ Very Good
Power Season 2 premieres on Saturday, June 6th at 9pm on Starz.