SPOILER ALERT: This story includes major details about tonight’s fatal episode of Power.
“Rest in peace, you tough bastard,” declares Power’s Joseph Sikora as the notoriously vicious Tommy Egan while he and Omari Hardwick’s Ghost look down at the bloodied and very dead body of the Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson portrayed Kanan on the Starz drama today.
Playing the traditional Power card of making a major move in each season’s eighth episode, tonight’s “A Friend of the Family’ saw the Courtney Kemp created crime series go somewhere almost no one expected and yet precisely where the EP alluded it would with the NYPD shooting death of the rap superstar’s character.
Put another way, and you can already watch the whole “Friend” episode on the Starz app now or catch it on the premium cabler now, take a breath and count to 10 if you thought the confirmed exit of Andrew Lincoln’s Rick Grimes from The Walking Dead in the AMC’s series upcoming ninth season was a game changer. The killing of Kanan is that plus a narrative surge for Power that spotlights the show’s big picture and eventually endgame, that Kemp has said she has mapped out.
It is also a marquee moment for the era of Peak TV where, to quote Kemp and 50, “no one is safe” and leads like Lincoln and big ticket draws like Jackson are just as vulnerable as anyone else.
A decade ago, EPs would have almost never even considered truly killing off the biggest name in their cast. Now, with truth and consequences unraveling for Ghost and gang, as for the Survivors on TWD, it was clear that Kanan had to die for the Power to move to its own anticipated next level. On a practical level, the move makes sense for the increasingly busy 50 Cent, except for those inevitable flashback cameos as Kanan and the third episode of Season 6 he is scheduled to direct.
As Jackson noted online today, using his up the ante “get the strap” line:
“This ain’t what family does,” Sikora’s often murderous Egan tells his lifelong friend Ghost near the end of the cold sweat and clenched knuckled episode. The surprisingly subdued duo are standing in the coroner’s office and identifying the bloated Kanan but also maneuvering around each other in a guarded conversation about the stitching up and taking down of Jackson’s character. Somehow, the potential kidnapping charge of increasingly Ghost’s gangsterized teen son Tariq St. Patrick (Michael Rainey Jr) and a subsequent fatal shoot out with the cops that is part revenge fantasy and part inevitability, offends or perhaps just scares, troubled Tommy.
Yet, if Power has shown us anything over its 46-episode run so far, the killing of Kanan and the set-up by Ghost’s estranged wife Tasha, played to Mother Bear perfection today once again by Naturi Naughton, is exactly what the St. Patricks and their extended family do to anyone who gets in their way, including themselves – just ask Lucy Walter’s dead Holly character
Since Kanan manipulated Tariq to his side several seasons ago, the killing of Tasha and Ghost’s daughter Raina (Donshea Hopkins) in the penultimate episode of Season 4 by Marcus Callender’s corrupt cop Ray Ray, and his murder, to mention the ever expanding big and small screen empire of Jackson, it now also seems inevitable that Power was headed where it went today.
Riddled with bullets in vital organs from New York’s finest, the perpetually scheming and filiciding Kanan Stark was a dead man from the moment the cops pulled him and drug dealer in training Tariq over, no matter how polite 50’s character or the very precisely named boys and girls in blue acted.
On one level, going into Season 5’s final two episodes and the already announced sixth season, the apparently permanent death of Kanan now sees a series that often avoids political currents diving right into the debate over police violence that has sadly become such a dominate voice in the national conversation of late. On another level, with all her witness and alibis lined up, Tasha may not have anticipated Rainey’s character being in such harm’s way as the guns started going off and Kanan tried to escape going back behind bars but she planned to neutralize an enemy – and she did.
For a much-watched series that has stealthily actually long been about its female characters, the Kemp devised Power hasn’t as much shuffled the deck with the death of Kanan but hinted at the real game being played.
To that end, with Naughton’s Tasha and Lela Loren’s federal prosecutor and Ghost’s ex and now present again lover Angela Valdes at the core, there’s a beginning to be found by drilling deeper into the “huge moves and some huge cast changes in Season 5” that Kemp announced last year. Step back from the shocker and you can see that tonight’s Vladimir Cvetko and Safia M. Dirie penned and Hernán Otoño directed Power is about the rise of Tariq as much as it is the death of Kanan.
Scratching that Corleone scab that has long festered in the series, the strategic cold bloodedness of the talented Rainey’s character to pivot from ally to ally in his admitted extremely dysfunctional family pertains that as one King is dead, a new King is stepping up to claim his criminal empire. To also coldly turn on Kanan when questioned on the side of the road by the NYPD, unveils a young man willing to accept who he is truly meant to be – even if his protective parents can’t.
Having dropped in an appearance by Kendrick Lamar in its July 29 episode among its many turns this year, there are a plenty of places Power can still go this season, not to mention in Season 6. However, it is crystal from “A Friend of the Family” that the Starz series has shed an old skin tonight. That’s what contenders do – evolve or die, this show is once again choosing the former.