SPOILER ALERT: This story includes details about tonight’s Power Season 5 finale
“One more thing I gotta do,” says Joseph Sikora’s betrayed Tommy Egan in tonight’s Power Season 5 finale before he heads back to his old high school to shoot the almost equally betrayed feeling Omari Hardwick’s James “Ghost” St. Patrick and ends up blasting Lela Loren’s besieged federal prosecutor Angela Valdes in the chest.
In a season of the Courtney Kemp created NYC-drama that has seen a lot of big ticket on-screen deaths like that of fellow executive producer Curtis “50 Cent’ Jackson’s Kanan and guest appearances by more hip hop legends like Kendrick Lamar and MC Lyte, this finale was more than a cliffhanger heading into Season 6, it was a defining moment for Power.
Bringing the 10-episode fifth season to an end, tonight’s “When This Is Over” almost found the still emotionally connected Valdes and Ghost working together with Tommy and St. Patrick’s very estranged wife Tasha (Naturi Naughton) to keep everyone alive and out of jail. As well, this Power season came to a bloody conclusion with the shattering of trust between Ghost and Valdes as both tried to slip out of the law’s grasp through the other’s arms. Plus there was the fallout from the death of Tommy’s William Sadler played father by the son himself last week and the likes Rotimi Akinosho’s Dre jumping literally to government’s protection in exchange for testimony.
Already deep into Season 6 in the Big Apple, Kemp put her cards on the table about tonight’s finale to a “rough season” and where it will take Power next. The EP also talked about the road to the end of Starz’s most watched show, having “the best cast in television” and the influence of The Sopranos.
DEADLINE: So, the gunshot from Tommy down the staircase in the school, is Angela dead?
KEMP: At the end of the season, no, she’s not dead.
— Power (@Power_STARZ) September 10, 2018
DEADLINE: OK, I’ll buy that cliffhanger but this really was the season where you upped the body count and truly, as the tagline says, nobody’s safe with the death of Curtis’ Kanan, William Sadler’s Tony Teresi, Tommy’s real Dad, and more, now Angela breaking the final bond between Ghost and Tommy, and the latter this is a whole new level, and that’s coming off a Season 4 that saw the death of Ghost and Tasha’s daughter …
KEMP: I appreciate you saying that. To me, it’s not a new level. It’s that the show is ending. So, we’re driving toward what the show’s going to feel like toward the end, which is I’m amping up Ghost’s powerlessness. He can’t stop the things he thinks he can stop. In his pursuit of a certain kind of power and a certain kind of life, he can’t help but injure those around him. Just think if he had trusted Angela, he would never have asked her to that school again. Just think, but he put her in harm’s way and that’s the result.
DEADLINE: Traditionally, Power season finales are the bridge to the next year, while the eighth episode is where the explosions occur. That ‘A Friend of the Family’ episode two weeks ago saw the sudden death of 50’s Kanan at the hands of the NYPD and indirectly Nautri’s Tasha. There was a lot of harsh reaction from the audience. It might be odd to say, but do you regret the decision to kill Kanan, even with 50’s expanding projects and time constraints?
KEMP: No. I had a whole year to plan that death, like no. I don’t regret. No. No. It’s an absurd question on its face because this takes so much planning, and so many conversations and so many different ways of doing it. So, the audience may be experiencing this for the first time, but I’m not. I made my peace with this decision when I made the decision, when we shot it, when we edited it.
DEADLINE: There’s a very distinctive edge to those edits, felt like you were coming full circle with the character…
KEMP: (LAUGHS) Well, from the beginning, the first shots of Kanan on the show are cowboy shots. He was always in a western. We are telling a story of a lone cowboy. This is the only way he could die in a sense, on his own terms in his own way, when he makes his own call. That’s how he dies as an anti-hero.
DEADLINE: With that, you’ve spoken before about having an endgame for the show, so is this where you want Power to be?
KEMP: How I wanted it to be was five seasons. We extended because of needs at the network. So, am I happy to be going into Season 6, for sure because I know where the show is going now …I mean I always knew where it was going but the story we’re telling in Season 6 is so good, like it’s so good. It’s so much better because it is really about the inevitably of choices. It’s about the domino effect and it’s about the things that have happened between Ghost and Tommy and how they are not things that can go back to the way it used to be.
DEADLINE: So, how close is it to ending? I know you have an idea of how the story ends, but do you have an idea of when the actual broadcast series ends?
KEMP: I can’t say much more than what was contained in your question. The show is ending, but I can’t say when. That would be inappropriate.
DEADLINE: You mentioned how good Season 6 is looking, so looking back now, how was Season 5?
KEMP: It was a rough season. This is the hardest season I think.
KEMP: Put it this way, the person who started writing Power is not this person that you’re talking to right now. I wasn’t writing from a place of fun this year, but I also didn’t think we could make it fun. That would be weird. It would be weird if everybody was having a great time by episode two, when Raina (Donshea Hopkins) dies in episode 409. I just didn’t think that it was appropriate to be like you know shooting off firecrackers in the same way.
DEADLINE: With the end somewhat in sight, what was Season 5 of Power about to you, its creator?
KEMP: Oh, Season five of Power is about legend versus legacy, about the story you tell about yourself versus the story that really is true about you. For instance, Angela’s legend was that she’s a white hat. Well, her legacy in effect was her reason for being at that school with Ghost – the gunshot is going to be the proof.
DEADLINE: Of how she really is?
KEMP: Yes, it was like what the fuck are you doing, girl. You’re not supposed to be there. You’re supposed to be going back to the feds, turning yourself in, saying you’re going to, rat them out or agree to a deal of some kind. That’s what you’re supposed to be doing, so the gunshot will reveal that.
The gunshot from Tommy’s perspective, well, Tommy’s thing is that his kills are righteous kills and that he is going to stand on his own. The truth is, he was manipulated by Teresi that whole time. Having to kill Teresi and finding out that Ghost manipulated him into doing it is going to make Tommy face a little bit of the fact that, you know, even though he thought he was the one in control of his own actions, Ghost was pulling puppet strings behind his back and Teresi was manipulating before that. Damn.
So, like I said, this season was really about revealing people to themselves, which is harsh truths you know.
DEADLINE: And now a very harsh truth is Tommy shot Ghost’s true love in the chest at pretty close range, even if the bullet was meant for Ghost and Ghost was on the fence it seemed about what to do to Angela himself…
KEMP: Think of the dynamic between these two old friends now. You made me kill my dad, you shot the woman I love, in an attempt to kill me. Not a lot of conversation can be had there.
I know some parts of the audience were not enjoying this season as much as the top of this season because they were missing the kind of rollicking kind of fun of the first couple of seasons. Well, we couldn’t do that because Raina was dead and that would have been disrespect to her character and to the importance of the death of a child. The death of this friendship in some ways is going to control at least the beginning of next season.
DEADLINE: This season has seen the defining evolution of Ghost and Tasha’s son Tariq, played by Michael Rainy Jr., into truly being a scion of his drug dealing, murdering, two timing and self-interested family, despite his parents’ best efforts and with Kanan’s instruction. That fatal betrayal and set-up of Kanan was not something we would have seen even last year, so I wanted to know what that evolution has been like mapping out to now and going forward?
KEMP: Well, I’ll tell you, in the original pilot of Power, Tariq is 14 and he’s already selling drugs, but when we cast Naturi, we rewrote the kids to be younger as a result of casting her. Which meant I had to put that story on the backburner. Now I get to tell the story I intended to tell from the beginning and that is really wonderful to do with Michael, who is a really gifted actor.
I think he’s okay with it but sometimes I feel badly.
KEMP: Yeah, it’s the way that people sometimes approach him on the street and tell him he’s a bad kid. Or they say your parents should beat your ass and stuff like that because people, rightly or wrongly, confuse the show with real life.
DEADLINE: I think a lot of people do that with almost all your characters to be honest.
KEMP: Yeah and I think that’s a compliment to the execution of the show and to those performances from those actors. I mean I’m very fortunate. I have the best cast in television. I have the best cast in television.
What I will also say that will be slightly controversial is that in the years prior to this, most of these people would be the one person of color on their show. Now because I’ve been able to create a show and cast a show that has multiple actors of color, we have all of these people who are giving these amazing performances. They’re all working together on a show that is very successful as a result. Normally, all of these people would be working as number five or number six on the call sheet, here they are the leads, and that’s something that I’m very proud of. I’m very proud that we’ve been able to have a cast that is not only of color but that is actually diverse in the real sense of the word, and that’s been amazing.
DEADLINE: So, extended or not, this is the show you wanted to make?
KEMP: Yeah, it’s fearless storytelling. Also, I have to say that I’m being true to the story as it was intended to be. It was always intended to be complex. It was always intended to be just as good, just as hard to deal, just as hard to watch, just as complicated to watch as The Sopranos or Breaking Bad, or anything more mainstream that came before it.
DEADLINE: How do you mean?
KEMP: There were episodes of The Sopranos that I walked away going oh, that doesn’t feel good and there were episodes of The Sopranos that I walked away from going God that was great, that was a really fun episode of television. Both feelings were accessible because that was the kind of show it was, so if I provoke the audience the same or to feel something that is uncomfortable like that, I’m OK with that. I think that’s partially my job.