August 16, 2015

SHOWBUZZDAILY Season Finale Review: “Power”


In its second season, Courtney Kemp Agboh’s POWER solidified its position as Starz’s biggest original hit, and it was a considerably better drama, too.  Partly that was because of Season 1’s weird structure, which played as 8 hours of prologue because the show’s two protagonists, drug trafficker Jamie “Ghost” St. Patrick (Omari Hardwick) and Assistant US Attorney Angela Valdez (Lela Loren), onetime teenage sweethearts turned current lovers, spent the entire season without him figuring out that she was a government prosecutor, or her realizing that he was the gangster she was pursuing.  Keeping those contrivances going served no particular purpose, and made the two leads seem like idiots to an ever-increasing extent.  Thankfully, Season 2 put those narrative cards on the table, and the result was a much more compelling storyline with higher emotional stakes.

Tonight’s season finale, with a script credited to Agboh and Story Editor Safia M. Dirie and direction by Michael J Bassett, was a mostly satisfying resolution to the season’s major arcs that also set things up for the already-ordered Season 3.  It was, in a sense, Ghost’s Godfather episode, in which he turned out to have been orchestrating a master plot to bring down his enemies, the vengeful Kanan (50 Cent, also an Executive Producer of the series) and cartel supplier Lobos (Enrique Murciano), while also burning his mostly duplicitous drug distribution network, saving Angela’s job, and regaining control of his club (plus two new ones) from sneaky nightclub kingpin Simon Stern (Vincent Garber).  Agboh had structured things so that it genuinely wasn’t clear whether important secondary characters like Ghost’s partner Tommy (Joseph Sikora) were doublecrossing Ghost or merely pretending to, creating some suspense.  Unfortunately for Ghost, despite all his careful scheming, both Lobos and Kanan survived his attacks (in the case of Kanan, who’d been stabbed and set on fire in a locked basement, this seemed a bit unlikely outside of a Halloween movie, but whatever), and he also alienated Tommy, who learned that Ghost had been behind the banishment of his dangerous love Holly (Lucy Walters), leaving plenty of enemies for Season 3.

Power is still uneven.  Kanan, despite all the airtime he had this season, never became more than a B-movie psychopath, and his son Shawn (Sinqua Walls), who worked as Ghost’s chauffeur, was such a weakling–his affair with Ghost’s estranged wife Tasha (Naturi Naughton) was the dullest part of the season’s story–that when Kanan murdered him in a fit of pique, you couldn’t help feeling the old man had a point.  Tommy and his this-can’t-end-well romance with crazy Holly is far more captivating than Ghost’s with Angela, which made it too bad that the plot sent Holly off-camera for half the season.  The show hasn’t yet figured out how to make anything interesting of the politics in Angela’s office.

Nevertheless, Power improved significantly this season, and while the series may never be as much fun as Empire (comparisons are inevitable considering their overlapping stories and themes), at least it’s on the right track.  Hardwick and Loren, their characters freed from Season 1’s hamstrings, were both stronger this time around, and there were some colorful characters and performances on the edges–not just Sikora and Walters, but Murciano, and Entourage‘s Jerry Ferrara as Ghost’s lawyer, among others.

Power‘s big ratings guarantee it an extended life on Starz.  That network is still looking for its breakout hit, one that like The Sopranos, Homeland or House of Cards establishes a brand and brings Emmy voters calling, but Starz will no doubt take a success with or without prestige attached.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."