#Tribeca2019 Film Review ‘The Dominican Dream’: A Dream Deferred, Denied, And Realized. An Interview With Felipe Lopez (Video)Read Now
The 1994 cover of Sports Illustrated, the "Dominican Michael Jordan", Gatorade, Parade, and USA Today Player of the Year awards. This was the talk and accolades surrounding a young 6'5" shooting guard from New York city. Felipe Lopez and his family immigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic, but it wasn't to become a basketball star. The goal was for the Lopez children to get a better education and a piece of the "American Dream". Felipe's story, The Dominican Dream premiered this week at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. Fitting, as this is the city where he gained cult and superstar status.
The Dominican Dream is part of ESPN's acclaimed 30 for 30 series, and was directed by Jonathan Hock. The film follows a typical narrative arc, we've grown accustomed to with these types of stories. The overlay between archival early footage of Lopez and present day gives a fresh perspective and allows the audience to experience the memories through Lopez's eyes. Hock does a good job with the source material and allows Felipe's story room to breathe throughout, with excellent pacing, and the right amount of silence for dramatic affect.
As a young man in a new city who didn't speak the language, things were tough for Lopez. He was looking to be a part of something, find friends, and fit in. He was preternaturally tall and athletic for his age -as many future pros are - and his brothers signed him up to play AAU basketball with the famed NYC Gauchos. At the time nobody in the Lopez family knew what playing basketball was going to do for Felipe.
Felipe started showing promise early in his AAU career and then attended Rice high school. It is at this point where the legend of Felipe Lopez began to grow. The Dominican community in NYC would show up in droves to support Felipe at his games. He was the number one player in the country, and he was being recruited by every major Division I school to play hoops. As this culminated in 1994 during his senior season, playing NBA basketball was not just a dream, but seemingly, a reality.
As with many young prodigies or phenoms, Felipe had a decision to make. Many experts and people around basketball were wondering if he should forgo college and enter the NBA straight out of high school. This had not been done much yet, there really was no blueprint for this kind of move. There was money to be made, surely they could figure it out right? No. While this was the "American Dream", it wasn't the Lopez family's dream. Felipe and his family decided he would wait on the NBA millions, which were surely coming, and stay close to home and attend St. John's University.
Choosing St. John's was a curious choice to many, but if you understood Felipe and his love of family and his community, it made perfect sense. As an adult 25 years removed from the situation, and with perspective, Lopez tells BSO he had just gotten used to NYC and didn't want to leave. "There were other places that I could have gone. But New York City had that vibe and energy I was comfortable with. Plus I wanted to bring a championship to the city like I did at Rice high school."
Lopez's freshman year was up and down and the team was fairly average. While he didn't live up to outsized expectations of player of the year, all-american, or winning a title, most were still convinced he'd be a lottery pick in the 1995 NBA Draft. Then the unthinkable happened. Lopez passed on the NBA again and decided he was going to return for his sophomore season. Timing is everything and hindsight is 20/20, but Lopez skipped going straight from high school to the NBA in 1994. The 1995 draft featured Kevin Garnett, a high school star who skipped college. The 1996 draft, arguably the best class ever, featured another straight from high school star named Kobe Bryant. Oh, what could have been.
The film does a nice job of making the audience aware of what was happening in the larger basketball world, and contrasting that with the singularity of Lopez's world. Sneaker executive and founder of the legendary ABCD All America Camp, Sonny Vaccaro, makes an appearance in the film as the connector between both worlds. In a particularly poignant moment Vaccaro said, "He didn't pass on the NBA once. He passed four times!"
But money was never the main focus for Lopez and his family. That's not to say, they couldn't use a huge payday. Vaccaro estimates he lost out on at least a couple million by not jumping straight from high school and obviously more after his freshman year at St. John's. At every juncture of Felipe's life where a major decision needed to be made, the film made a point to hammer home that family was most important and they were going to make the decisions together. "A Dominican kid just deciding to do his own thing and not consult his family," he says incredulously, "that was never going to happen."
An unfulfilling college career, culminated in a trip to the NCAA tournament during his senior year where the team made it to the second round. His game HAD improved, and he earned his college degree. A huge accomplishment for anyone, but more so for Lopez as he was the first in his family to do so. That was the proudest moment for his mother and father.
Lopez finally made the NBA, selected #24 by the San Antonio Spurs in the 1998 draft. Imagine if he had stayed in the Spurs organization instead of being traded on draft day to the Vancouver Grizzlies?! But it wasn't meant to be. Lopez spent two seasons with the Grizzlies, was traded to the Washington Wizards and then caught on as a free agent with the Minnesota Timberwolves. During his initial Timberwolves season he started to show promise of "that guy". The next season was his final under contract and with the trajectory of his play, it looked as though he was going to sign a nice deal. Again, it wasn't meant to be. He suffered a season ending injury during the preseason. "I was about to get paid," Lopez recalled.
This was a huge blow and a very low moment that tested Felipe, a man of faith. He had never been injured before and he didn't know how to deal with that. He admits to suffering from depression during this time and not wanting to face the world. This was completely understandable and if that was the end of his story, it wouldn't be a surprise to anyone. But as much as anything, his is a story of perseverance and defining what success means on your own terms. Yes, making millions of dollars and having a long and storied NBA career was the way a "Hollywood" story might have played out. But that was never the life Carmen and Luis Lopez imagined for Felipe. Carmen wanted to raise a good man who would live the life God had planned for him.
Sitting at The Roxy Hotel in Tribeca on the eve of his premiere, you get a sense from the 44-year-old Lopez that he is content with his life. This is exactly where he is supposed to be. After suffering the injury, he never played in the NBA again, despite working out for several teams. He finished his professional career back in the Dominican Republic winning a championship for the local team in his hometown. He is now an NBA Cares Ambassador and operates The Felipe Lopez Foundation out of his church in the Bronx. You can feel when he talks about the work he's doing through his foundation, helping others is truly what matters to him. Yes, The Dominican Dream is the story of how one young man carried the hopes of an entire nation on his shoulders from a very young age. But it is also the story of America and New York, one of perseverance, defining success, and believing in your purpose.
Flip the page for our one-on-one interview with Felipe Lopez during the Tribeca Film Festival.
#Tribeca2019 Film Review 'A Kid From Coney Island': Family, Spirituality, China, And Stephon Marbury's Love of Basketball (Video)Read Now
A Kid From Coney Island, the latest from the directorial duo of Chike Ozah and Coodie Simmons, made its premiere this past weekend at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. The "Spotlight Documentary" details the life journey of NYC basketball legend and NBA all-star, Stephon Xavier Marbury, aka Starbury. In many ways the film follows a typical rise, fall, and redemption arc. But that's just the framework by which stories are so often told. It's the themes within his rise, fall, and redemption; that make this film stand out. Trusting someone to tell your life story is not an easy thing. But that is what Marbury did, when he connected with producers Nina Yang Bongiovi, Forest Whitaker, and Jason Samuels. They in turn brought Ozah and Simmons on board and what began was a journey of discovery. Through loss of family, spirituality, and a desire to tell his truth, these men formed a bond that is evident in the film.
We begin at the beginning, the Surfside Housing projects, in the Coney Island neighborhood off Brooklyn. Stephon is the sixth of Mabel and Don Marbury's seven children. Stephon's older brothers', Eric aka Spoon, Norman aka Jou-Jou, and Donnie aka "Sky" were all basketball players with varying degrees of success. Basketball was the Marbury Family's game. There is a line in the film where Stephon's older sister, and surrogate mom, Stephanie says "this round ball can take you anywhere around the world if you let it." From the jump Stephon really never had a choice. Basketball was his destiny. Like any little brother, he wanted to do what his big brothers were doing, and that was hoop. He learned the game from his brothers and his father and became the best of them all. In NYC everyone knew about Don Marbury's basketball playing sons, and one of them was going to make it to the NBA.
Stephon was an AAU star with the famed NYC Gauchos, and teammates with Felipe Lopez. Another hoops legend, who coincidentally, has his film The Dominican Dream debuting at the Tribeca Film Festival as well. Marbury went on to further grow his legend at basketball powerhouse Lincoln High School, culminating in a PSAL championship and being named New York's "Mr. Basketball" in 1995. He then played one successful season at Georgia Tech where fellow NYC hoops legend, Kenny Anderson, once played. But, everyone knew Marbury wasn't long for college and made himself eligible for the 1996 NBA Draft.
The day of the NBA draft was the realization of a lifelong dream for the Marbury family. Stephon was selected 4th by the Milwaukee Bucks and subsequently traded that same evening to the Minnesota Timberwolves for his fellow draft classmate, Ray Allen. The two, forever linked in hoops lore, and aided by Allen's role in Spike Lee's He Got Game set in Marbury's Coney Island neighborhood. But, the trade to Minnesota also meant Marbury would team up with his friend and fellow prep school star player, Kevin Garnett. In his first two seasons in Minnesota, Marbury and Garnett would lead the Timberwolves to consecutive playoff appearances and it seemed like they were on the verge of a dynasty. Of course, all ascension isn't linear and not every team is supposed to ascend. During his third season, Marbury was traded to the New Jersey Nets, and while he would become an All-Star and make a couple All NBA teams in New Jersey and Phoenix, things began to change for the basketball star.
The film doesn't go into depth about what, if any, changes were going on in Marbury's life outside of commentary from his family. While useful and helpful, it is biased. ESPN's Stephen A. Smith is presented as an objective third party, but it's hard to ascertain if this was Smith the journalist, tv character, or neutral observer. The directors are clear that this is not a basketball story, but rather a journey of discovery. This is true. But basketball is the conduit by which that discovery happens. It is clear that during his stint with the Knicks from 2003-2008 something was going on inside Marbury. The film shows bizarre behavior from him on social media, he was in a public feud with then head coach Larry Brown, he was banned from the team's facilities and showed up to road games and sat court side anyway. Again, in the film his family talks about the losing over the years taking its toll and Smith chalks it up to a diva athlete, acting out and voicing displeasure. You can't help but think there was much more there, and this was a missed opportunity in an otherwise excellent film.
After that rough tenure in New York and a finishing out the 2008-2009 season in Boston, Marbury was offered a one year deal to return, but he declined. Battered and broken, Marbury landed in China and resurrected his basketball career. He's won championships, been named an MVP, has a postage stamp and a museum in his honor. Quite the turnaround from an NBA career that many will say failed to live up to the lofty expectations. It seems as though Marbury had to leave the familiar and immerse himself in the unfamiliar to find love, compassion, and care.
It started with a family's dream. The sixth of seven children made that dream into a reality. Through the ups and downs of life, the failures and successes, he found a spiritual peace and rediscovered his love for the game of basketball. That's the Stephon Marbury story A Kid From Coney Island.
Flip the pages to hear from directors Chike Ozah and Coodie Simmons about working with Stephon and hear from Marbury himself at the Tribeca Film red carpet premiere.
Power Season Finale Recap: The Gang Take a Stroll Down Memory Lane That Might Prove Fatal For Angela; And Ghost & Tommy Will Never Be The SameRead Now
When you’re right, you’re right. Didn’t I predict this would happen? Well, sort of…Last night’s season finale was classic Power, and the show at its best. Collusion, murder, lies revealed, hearts and promises broken. Our four main characters, must band together (one last time?) and trust each other to ensure they all avoid jail time or worse. All of the lies, double crossing, and selfish acts have led to this moment.
For the first time in the series we have a scene where the four principal actors are in the same room. Angela texts Tasha and tells her they need to meet with Ghost and Tommy. Tasha relays the message to Ghost. Ghost picks Tommy up after Tommy has a little coke binge to deal with the emotions of murdering his father. This was a nice moment for all us loyal viewers who have been with the series since day one. Power never does things by accident or happenstance. Having Ghost, Angela, and Tommy’s old high school be the place where they all meet up was symbolic. All the acts committed and the people they’ve become are rooted inside those walls. More on the location and some of the subtle things in extra thoughts, we need to dive into the meat of this episode.
Angela reveals to the crew that her colleagues (the Feds) brought her in for questioning and are trying to indict them all under RICO. BOOM! A RICO case is no joke. People indicted under this act, designed to stop organized crime and criminal conspiracies, if found guilty, generally go to jail for life. But, have no fear, Ang has a plan. If everyone does their part and doesn’t break team, she thinks they can all get away free and clear. Of course there are moments of doubt during this discussion. How do they know they can trust her, or more broadly each other? Ang cooly points out that she has been protecting all of them for years. She’s right, in a sense. Yes, self-preservation was behind a lot of it. But, she has had their back and kept them away from the Feds.
There was a moment in that scene that was particularly important. After they check Ang for a wire and she says, “None of you trust me. After everything I’ve done for each of you.” Tasha responds, “I know. But you’re just like Ghost. You always put yourself first.” In last week’s recap I talked about Angela and Ghost being the same side of a coin. When they have a plan and decide to do something, they put on blinders and will move heaven and earth to see their plans through. It’s what makes them really good at what they do, but it’s also their curse. It blinds them to other, possibly better, alternatives. It also highlights their extremely selfish sides, which to say the least has been problematic this entire series.
Back to the plan. Angela knows that if none of them talk, they are in the clear. But, they need to tie up the loose ends, aka people on the periphery. She believes if they can keep, Silver, Proctor, and Lakeisha quiet, all is well. Plus, if she can guarantee Dre’s safety (WITSEC) he will have to implicate Alicia Jimenez in the Lobos and Sandoval murders, clearing them all of any wrongdoing. Pretty good plan, all things considered.
Speaking of Dre, he had a rough episode. Homie was getting it in with his baby mama and next thing you know he’s got people shooting at him. Dre got his off in more ways than one, but he’s rightfully shook and needs Angela to deliver on WITSEC like she promised. What a scene! Who has the wherewithal in the middle of sex, to fend off a murder attempt? LOL. Kudos to Dre and his baby mama with the big time assist. When you’re about that life, it’s a 24/7 thing I guess…
We talk about Dre being Ghost 2.0, but Dre makes mistakes I don’t know that Ghost would. Dre’s open disrespect of his soldiers and inability to see a few moves ahead has him caught between a rock and a hard place. We said that 2Bit situation would come back to hurt him and it has. 2Bit seeks out Tommy to let him know where to find Dre and Tommy lets Angela know, since Dre was her “loose end”, he has a line on Dre and is going to kill him. Angela counsels Tommy out of that plan and into her plan that ultimately forces Dre to implicate Alicia, clear the core four, and allow Tommy to become distributor again. That was all very neat and tidy. A little too tidy…
You know what else was tidy? Keeping Silver and Proctor quiet. Our man Ghost took care of that. Proctor let Ghost know that Silver was back and cooperating with the Feds. Proctor also let Ghost know that there is a witness. A woman that will testify that he is Ghost and responsible for murders and is the head of a criminal conspiracy. Proctor does a tremendous job of presenting the two options, it’s either Tasha or Angela. Those are the only two women that know, right? Oh Ghost, you should’ve killed Maria Suarez along with Miguel…
As for Silver, not only is he a snitch, but he’s smashing Tasha. Ghost can’t allow that. There is no way Ghost will allow Silver to be his downfall. Kill him and dispose of the body, problem solved. Although, how the hell did Ghost manage to kill a man in a public parking garage and dispose of the body? These structures have cameras all around them.
The last loose end to tie up was Lakeisha. She and Tasha had a nasty encounter after Tommy threw Lakeisha out of his apartment. Tasha wanted to make sure Keisha was cool lying to the Feds again. Some friendship. They are supposed to be girls. Tasha has been using her since season 3 and things will never be the same between them. After Tasha’s unsuccessful visit, she texts Tommy to tell him, “get your girl in line.” Tommy calls Keisha back to his apartment and apologizes for how he treated her earlier. Keisha explains to him that Saxe came around looking for dirt, but she’s no snitch.
In that moment it was do or die for Keisha. Tommy had his glock under the pillow, ready to shoot if she didn’t provide the answer he was looking for. Keisha for all intents and purposes said she’s ride or die. During their reconciliation Saxe arrives at Tommy’s apartment and drops the bomb on him that Angela knew Teresi was a snitch and she told Ghost. He played the recording where Teresi doesn’t implicate Tommy in anything. Tommy now knows he murdered his father for nothing and it was Ghost and Angela behind it all along.
The important thing to remember here is that Ghost, Tommy, and Angela are a weird love triangle. Clearly, there is no romantic connection between Tommy and Angela. But Tommy loves Ghost like a brother. However, Ghost has broken Tommy’s heart and lied to him, repeatedly. Those lies and betrayals were almost always because of Angela and they caused Tommy to kill people he loved (see Holly and Teresi).
When Tasha and Tommy show up to Angela’s apartment ready to kill her, how many of you thought she was going to eat it right there? Ol girl was shook. I mean who could blame her? She’s uncorking wine thinking everything is cool and then Tasha and Tommy are bearing down on her. In that moment she knew they’d be justified in killing her. She’s the reason Ghost’s head is all twisted up and why he does things that’s not in their (Tasha and Tommy) best interest. She manages to temporarily save herself, but not before questioning if Ghost has broken team, like he always does.
We end at the beginning. Back inside the halls and stairwell of their high school. That spot where Ghost and Angela got busted as kids for making out. Ghost asks Angela to meet him there because he wants to know, if she is going to testify against him. She wants to know if he killed Silver, and if so, why? To say these two have major trust issues is an understatement. But it all goes back to that moment in high school and Angela leaving for Choate and the two never seeing or speaking to each other again until they were adults. Then they begin a torrid affair mixed in lies and secrecy. In many ways they were doomed from the very beginning. That intense teenage love they had was torn apart in a Romeo and Juliet-esque way. Think about it? Her parents did want her messing with a thug, they send her away to school. He experiences grief and heartache in his life, she never reaches out to comfort or connect back with him. Their teenage brains and emotions never truly recovered. Sure Ghost got married and had a family, but what were the circumstances of that marriage? He and Tasha get pulled over by the cops, she hides the gun, he knows he can trust her and then he proposes to her the next day? I mean, ok, sure. That’s a good foundation for a healthy marriage and relationship…More importantly since that break in high school (i’d say 9th grade) they both became singularly focused and turned inward to protect themselves from being hurt again. Both becoming extremely successful (albeit differently) but intensely selfish.
Tommy arrives at the school with one clear mission. He wants to kill Ghost. There has been too much hurt and it needs to end once and for all. What are the chances that Tommy knew they’d both be there? He couldn’t have been following them, he was with the Italians. Perhaps he knows Ghost so well, that this would be the logical place he would go with Angela?
As Ghost and Angela slip back into their 14-15 year old selves, after Ghost lied and said he didn’t kill Silver and Angela withheld the information about Maria Suarez, they’re in the stairwell clinging on to that teenage love. Angela sees a gun pointed at Ghost and pulls him out of the way and takes a bullet to the chest. The episode ends with Ghost looking up in horror and seeing that it was Tommy who pulled the trigger. Meanwhile, the love of his life is bleeding out in his arms, grasping for breath.
What a visual to end the season with. Kudos to Courtney Kemp and the team, this was a tremendous episode. In that final moment, that was Angela’s last attempt to prove to Ghost how much she loves him. She literally took a bullet for him. If that doesn’t convince him nothing well. We can speculate on what will happen next season, suffice to say for now, Ghost and Tommy will never be the same. Angela may die as a result of the gunshot, she may not. But Ghost is now truly a man alone on an island. His family is fractured and his day one homie tried to kill him, instead shooting his love.
A few extra thoughts:
What do y’all think? Get at me on twitter and Instagram @jshector Please share with your friends and people you think would enjoy the show.
Power Episode Recap: The Clock is Running Out on Ghost, Angela, Tasha and Tommy; There is a Path to Make This Series Even Better, But a Major Character Must Die…Read Now
Lies, hypocrisy, and mistrust. Our favorite characters traffick in a world built around these failing pillars and it’s all crashing down. Last night’s penultimate episode, There’s A Snitch Among Us has set the pieces in motion for an action-packed season finale next week. We’ve talked about it all season long in our recaps, the show is immensely popular, but you can see how the multiple storylines and the constant dragging on of others leave the show in need of a little makeover. The death of Kanan in last week’s episode gives hope that the finale will clean up some other loose ends.
We begin where the whole series begins, with Ghost. This man’s got some nerve. It’s the morning after Kanan’s shootout with the police, which left four cops dead, Tasha, Ghost, and Tommy are at the penthouse having a good old-fashioned family fight. Ghost, ever the “I got this” dude, is furious that Tasha and Angela put a plan in motion with the help of Tariq. Ghost’s “concern” was they put his son in danger. Come on my guy. Your whole existence puts them in danger daily. They were born into a crime family!!!
We talk about how good the writing can be in this show and often it’s because you could see these conversations actually taking place in a real-life scenario. When Ghost says to Tasha, “Your plan needed Tariq to make it happen. What, one dead kid ain’t enough for you?” Tasha immediately responds with a slap to the face. It was good to see Tasha and Tommy both call Ghost out on his bullshit. Ghost is often the smartest man in the room and his plans are generally good and well thought out. But he is not above reproach. He’s done plenty wrong and has screwed up big time.
Tariq interrupts to let his father know that he was part of the plan and knew exactly how it would all play out. ‘Riq still sees Kanan as the only person who has ever been real with him. Of course, he conveniently ignores the fact that while Kanan may have saved his life and seemed genuine. It wasn’t altruistic. He had his own selfish motivations and if it benefited him in the end, would’ve had no problem killing ‘Riq. The line ‘Riq delivers to the adults about Kanan was solid. He says, “I took a loss so you guys could win.”
‘Riq has broken all the way bad. He has no respect for his parents. Now, you could argue he should’ve just done what he was told from the beginning, but things are a bit more complicated when your family is full of drug dealers and murderers. He’s now working with the Italians on the distribution of his product and maybe plans to start his own little crime syndicate. Anyone else thinks it was creepy that he gets a fake id with the last name Stark and then goes to collect Kanan’s ashes. Suffice to say he has EXTREME daddy issues.
Speaking of daddy issues. The Tommy-Teresi game has run its course. With an assist from the Italians (courtesy of Ghost by way of Angela), Tommy learns his pops is a snitch. Not before some slick talk from Teresi to convince his longtime friend Sammy that he will, in fact, turn Tommy in and then Sammy walking in on a call to the Feds where he hears Teresi giving up dirt on Ghost but not Tommy, for the death of Mike Sandoval. A pissed off Sammy is about to tell Tommy that his pops was going to snitch and then Sammy gets stabbed by Teresi with a butcher’s knife. Did you catch all that?
The ancillary characters like Sammy and even Connie to a certain extent felt like they took screen time away from the main storylines. But part of the challenge with trying to give a main character like Tommy, a storyline and an arc outside of the other main characters, is how to wrap it cleanly and still keep him tethered to the main action. In all honesty, connecting Teresi to Tommy, Ghost, and Angela in this way wasn’t bad at all. As far as his character, you could tell Teresi was a conflicted man, all along. He did get close to Tommy and wanted to help the son he never really knew. But, it wasn’t meant to be.
Another ancillary character, whom this week was in the thick of it, Joe Proctor. He’s got his law license back and things are looking good. Or are they? Mak and Saxe are on him about giving up dirt on Ghost. They are really putting the screws to him. We’re talking lengthy jail time and losing custody of his daughter to his junkie ex-wife. Watching Proctor tremble nervously while waiting for Ghost at Truth while wearing a mic, was comical. Also, when he writes on the napkin that he’s wearing a wire and the mood and tenor of the conversation sounds forced and contrived, how could a Federal prosecutor believe that? Yes, I always tell you to suspend belief when watching television and movies. But sometimes, it’s really hard.
Ghost is not pleased when he learns Proctor is wearing a wire and almost chokes him out and throws him over the railing at Truth. Another dead body, and this time your lawyer would not have been a good idea. Good thing Ghost was able to restrain himself. LOL. After nearly dying, Proctor has his come to Jesus moment with Ghost. Proctor lets him know that the Feds are coming down hard on Angela and he needs to decide who’s it going to be. While it is true that all roads lead back to Angela and Ghost, there’s no way Ghost gets rid of her, is there? Power of love and all that…
This brings us to Angela, who along with Ghost are the central figures in this story. From the pilot episode all the way until now, five years later. Every lie, betrayal, cover-up, suppression of evidence, murder has led to this moment. But, before we get there, we must give Angela her props for catching Alicia Jimenez. Too bad it won’t save her.
Angela meets with Dre and convinces him that despite what he knows about her and Ghost, she can make his life far more difficult. But, if he helps her get Alicia off the streets, she’ll get he and his daughter protective custody. Of course, that’s bullshit as we know and, in this instance, Dre is no fool. He sees an opportunity to get rid of the Cristobal who was just promoted by Alicia to replace him. Angela and the Feds ride in on their white horses and arrest Cristobal and Alicia, giving Angela a huge win. Not everyone in the office is basking in her success.
There are no two ways around it. Her colleagues slow played her. She knows Mak and Saxe don’t like her so when they were huddled up outside of her victory party, they set the wheels in motion. The thing about working with people for a while is you pick up on their habits. They set a trap and Angela took the bait. The files were conveniently left out in the open on Mak’s desk. Angela already thinks she can turn Mak as his boss and with the promise of a promotion to another office. She doesn’t see Jerry or Tameika as threats. Hell, Jerry warned her to “watch her six.” They wait for Angela to do what she does best “cover her tracks” with the assistance of Ghost. It’s only a matter of time before the Feds know their CI Teresi is dead and it links back to Angela.
As we move into next week’s season finale it’s a pivotal moment in the future of the series. Angela’s actions, particularly this week, were ill-advised, stupid, reckless and illegal. She knew that telling Ghost would eventually lead to Teresi’s death. What’s more alarming was her belief that her position as Mak and Saxe’s boss and catching Alicia Jimenez would be enough of a buffer to protect her. Before Angela became a boss, she was insubordinate, broke all kinds of rules and laws as a means to her own end. Why would she think nobody else in her office was capable of the same?
Earlier in the episode, after Ghost drops Tariq off at Grand Central and he heads to Angela’s to confront her about getting his son involved in a plot that could’ve killed him, they have an interesting response. Angela says to Ghost, “when you have a plan in your head, nobody can convince you otherwise.” The same can be said of Angela. Both she and Ghost always believe they are the smartest people in the room, and they often are. They are the same side of the same coin. No doubt that’s part of what draws them towards each other. They see themselves in the other. Now, whether it’s the best versions of themselves or not is a whole different story. In the previews for next week’s extended season finale, it appears that Angela has a plan that’ll save them all. Where have we heard that before?
This was a really good episode, one of the best of the season in terms of developments and setting the stage for a dramatic conclusion. Ghost, Angela, Tasha, and Tommy are all in this together, for better or worse. These are people who do not trust each other. It’s easy to fall on the narrative of who will crack first and start snitching. That’s not what I see happening. These are all people who think they know what’s best and how to handle situations. Ghost and Tommy have a serious rift in their relationship. Angela and Tasha are not besties (hello Angie is a homewrecker) but they do work well together. We’ve discussed what happens when Ghost gets an idea in his head.
The season can’t end with them all making it out unscathed. Angela going to prison is an option, but then we spend the rest of the series with what? Ghost trying to bail her out, with Proctor’s help? Tommy and Dre go back to beefing over territory and connects and product? Tasha does what exactly? This is merely speculation, but I think Angela has to go. Mind you, I’m not rooting for this. But, I think it’s right and would make the series even more compelling to the end. In Angela’s grand plan to save everyone, Tommy goes off and does his own thing to protect himself because he can’t trust, Ghost, Angela or Tasha. One of the connects and/or Dre get involved. Angela is in the wrong place at the wrong time, gets dropped. Ghost finds out is heartbroken and all the rest of it. He doesn’t believe Tommy or Tasha or what anyone else says. The love of his life is dead. He goes full scorched earth and seeks vengeance. Ultimately killing everyone in his path, but of course, getting caught or killed in the end. It’s possible, right?
A few extra thoughts:
What do y’all think? Get at me on twitter and Instagram @jshector Please share with your friends and people you think would enjoy the show.
Power Episode Recap: We Told You Kanan, Ghost, & Tommy Were Not All Going to Make it Out of This Season Alive; Ghost Gets The Drop on Dre; And Angela On The Brink…Read Now
So, I’m not one to pat myself on the back (stretches arm over top and gives to hearty slaps), but we knew this was going to happen. Go back and check the recaps. Ok, so I may not have said Kanan was going to get got, but I knew that unholy trinity wouldn’t end well. LOL. In all seriousness, what an episode. The episode wasn’t perfect, there are issues with certain parts and the pacing was accelerated. I’ll get to them as we move along and in the extra thoughts section. But, when you have multiple storylines and only a ten episode season, sometimes you get messy resolutions to storylines. Despite all of that this was a good episode in terms of “holy shit” moments. Let’s get into last night’s episode, “A Friend of the Family”.
We have to begin with the shootout leaving Kanan dead. What the ***?! Ok, keep it 100, how many of you thought he was going to kill all the cops and then finally kill Tariq?! You all thought it. There is so much to unpack in that scene. So, it turns out Tariq was in on his mother’s and Angela’s plan to frame Kanan. Michael Rainey Jr (the actor that plays ‘Riq) managed to show good range in that moment. He was believable to Kanan as a cool and calm customer, and to the cops as a scared kid being held against his will. But, if you think that means ‘Riq will join the family business and work with his parents, think again. ‘Riq had his own motives for setting Kanan up and it was to settle a score. Kanan killed Shawn, the only person (besides Raina) in his life that he was really close to.
One of the recurring themes we’ve discussed is consequences. Kanan killing Shawn seemed to be one of those things that would have gone down as collateral damage. But, he mattered to ‘Riq. This is a young man trying to figure out the world and his place in it. The veil around his parents has been pulled, he knows they are extremely flawed people. He now knows Kanan is also very flawed. ‘Riq still sees things in black and white and the idea of good vs. evil. He gets really frustrated because he believes his father and mother only think of themselves. But, he does the same thing. Remember when he warns Dre that a hit was coming earlier this season? Setting Kanan up was about him and his feelings about Shawn, trying to right a wrong.
It’s interesting that Kanan chose not to kill ‘Riq. In that moment you could say, ‘Riq meant more to him than Shawn ever did. Kanan says as much when they are in the car before being pulled over by the cops. But the ghost of Kanan will haunt from beyond the grave. He has schooled ‘Riq in all the ways of the game. Would it surprise any of you if ‘Riq becomes a serious threat to his family?
The set up of Kanan was all planned by Tasha and Angela. Ghost had no knowledge of what was going down. He was too busy getting the drop on Dre. With 2Bit and Spanky not killing Kanan in the last episode, that set the wheels in motion for Kanan to deliver Diego’s severed head to Tommy and Ghost which they used to set Dre up. For the time being it appears that Dre will be off the chessboard. But what are the consequences for Ghost and Tommy as a result of setting up Dre?
Alicia Jimenez is, shall we say, very fond of Dre. How will she react to this new development? Will Cristobal see this is as an opportunity to take charge? With the influx in Dre’s network does that mean Tommy can give Jason the ports he promised? Remember, Kanan told Jason that both Ghost and Tommy weren’t on task and Kanan saved his life. What about the Italians? Kanan told them Ghost and Tommy were responsible for the attempted hit on them. Kanan is dead but he set plenty of wheels in motion before he was killed.
Part of the deal we enter into when watching television is the suspension of belief. We make that deal because ultimately we want to be entertained. There are so many loose ends and questions with the various drug syndicates and suppliers. This makes for more storylines in the seasons to come. But it’s also messy and if this were a “real world” scenario, Ghost and Tommy would already be dead. For some of you that makes the series hard to stick with or stay invested in, but we’ve already come this far. We have to see how it all plays out, right?!
Speaking of things playing out. How is this all going to play out for Angela? The heat is on and it’s coming from every direction. She thinks she’s slow playing Mak but he’s got the upper hand there. Looks like he’s going to try and pull off the double cross. He’ll help Tameika and Saxe take down Angela but not before he gets his promotion to D.C.
Joseph Proctor just got his law license reinstated and is unsure of how loyal Ghost and Tommy are to him. He has incriminating evidence on all of them but knows his life is still in danger despite any “assurances” he may have received. With Mak and Saxe pressuring him to give up dirt on Ghost, he sends them after Angela instead.
Let’s not forget NYPD Det. Blanca Rodriguez. Anyone else thinks Ang was strutting too much and looking way too smug and overconfident when she dropped the Raymond Jones files off? Winking and nodding at Tasha as she, ‘Riq, and Ghost are walking out. WTF?! That was actually pretty funny, in an unintended comedic moment kind of way. That storyline wrapped way to easy, I don’t think Blanca is going to let that slide. Do you? Nothing like getting really close to figuring something out and getting stopped at the last minute. It makes the most dogged person that much more determined to seek the answer.
We’ve discussed the moment of reckoning that’s coming for Angela and no doubt it will include Ghost. She’s covered and helped him avoid jail several times. She also did arrest him for a crime he didn’t commit. Will he choose Angela or himself when it comes to it?
The death of Kanan crystalized some things for Tommy. Last week we mentioned that a Ghost and Tommy showdown is inevitable, as their interests are no longer aligned. Tommy is rightfully concerned at the end of the episode about Ghost’s true motives. Remember Tommy still wants to be in the game, Ghost wants out. That tension is at the heart of this series. Ghost will continue to align with Tommy as long as it’s in his best interest to do so. Once that ends, what are they to each other?
Tommy still has no idea that Teresi is snitching to the Feds and as they continue to apply pressure on Teresi to get information about Ghost, Tommy will start to wise up. You feel for Tommy in this situation. All he really wants is a family. We see that in the dinner scene with Keisha, Teresi, and Connie. Ghost and Tasha were his family, but that’s fraying. Sort of like a marriage that stays together because of the kids. With ‘Riq breaking bad, and Tasha setting up Kanan, what’s Tommy holding on to?
As stated at the top, great moments this week. The death of Kanan will reverberate throughout the next two episodes and seasons to come. We have two episodes left this season, Courtney Kemp always leaves us with a cliffhanger in the finale, but she and the team may drop a bomb on us in the penultimate episode.
A few extra thoughts:
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Power Episode Recap: Angela’s Going Down, Tasha’s Man Gets His And Bounces, Dre Has No Idea What’s Coming & Are We Headed Towards a Ghost v Tommy Showdown? Plus Our Exclusive Interview w/Season 5 Co-Ep Heather Zuhlke (Video)Read Now
The world does not exist in black and white, but rather an array of technicolor. By the same token, people are not one thing or another. They all operate within the various shades of the color palette. Sometimes good, sometimes evil but generally with the underlying motive of self-preservation. Last night’s episode, “Devil Inside” brings us one step closer to that day of reckoning where so many of the series’ characters must answer for the choices (both good and bad) they’ve made up to this point.
We open the episode in the aftermath of Tasha’s interrogation by the authorities regarding the death of Raymond Jones. Tasha tells Ghost and Angela that the Feds (with an assist from NYPD Det. Blanca Rodriguez) are trying to convince her that she’s being set up by the two of them. Tasha knows she now must get her lover and lawyer Terry Silver to lie and corroborate her story that she put the gun in the closet and it was stolen. Tasha arrives at Terry’s and finally comes clean and says that Tariq was the one who killed Jones and she only said she did to protect him.
Ghost and Angela discuss the implications of Tasha and Silver and whether or not he would help them. Ghost has his doubts. He thanks Angela for protecting him and his family and she rightly responds by initially saying she did it to keep herself out of jail. Buy she eventually cops to doing it for him as well. Angela says to Ghost, “When we started. I didn’t think we’d end up here…” Sometimes the best-laid plans…
Both couples in their moments of doubt and fear seek some semblance of comfort and safety and on Power that’s often achieved through sex. The sex scenes on Power have always been top notch in terms of television. Think back throughout the course of this series, EP Courtney Kemp and her team have always portrayed sex in its variety of forms. Love, lust, comfort, trust, currency, as a show of power and domination, even submission. The juxtaposition in the scenes of Ghost and Angela having sex and Tasha and Terry doing the same were powerful. Ghost is attempting to comfort Angela and reassure her that he loves her and has her back and that they are in this together. Angela is afraid and vulnerable and needs some reassurance. With Tasha and Terry, there are similar feelings but she really needs Terry to do something for her. I don’t doubt the sincerity of her feelings for him, but with her, the sex is almost a weaponized currency. Think, if you love me, you’ll do this for me. Obviously, Tasha and Terry don’t have near the same history as Ghost and Angela, so the dynamics are clearly different. There just isn’t as much invested. But the use of sex still has an impact. It further solidifies what Ghost and Angela mean to each other, despite all the harm they’ve caused. For Tasha and Terry, we ultimately see that it doesn’t produce the result she’s hoping for. Or will it? Terry will be subpoenaed by the grand jury and will have to testify as to whether or not he saw Tasha put the gun in the closet. Before they had sex he didn’t seem like he was going to lie. After sex and his talk with Ghost about backing Tasha up, he flees his apartment. He leaves behind the notice that he will be subpoenaed, Tasha’s retainer check, and a post-it note saying “I’m sorry”…
The Feds are getting closer and closer to unraveling this whole web of lies. It’s about time, right? In real life we always hear about the reach and resources the US government has, and why in any case against them – unless you are insanely wealthy (think multi-billionaire) – you really have no chance against them. They will eventually wear you down. It sure has taken them a while to get this close to realizing Angela has obstructed justice on numerous counts and can be tied, indirectly, to a few murders as well. With the grand jury set to convene, Mak, Saxe, and the Eastern District have enough to get Angela on obstruction. But they want more. Mak and Saxe, in particular, are convinced that she is the “connective tissue” between Ghost’s criminal organization and the death of Raymond Jones. Obviously, they’re not wrong.
We’ve been calling this out all season, and in particular last week, that Jerry Donovan would be the one to assist Angela. I don’t know if we can call what he did an “assist,” but he did let her know she has no friends in the entire office. Useful information which she probably already knew but Donovan at least made it appear that they were closing in fast on her. At this point, there is more than just this current obstruction of justice charge. Angela’s crimes go all the way back to earlier seasons when she made up lies about Greg Knox and when Lobos was still alive with Mike Sandoval as the mole. She is a peripheral connection to Ghost’s criminal activities and has protected him for years by breaking the law.
The Feds also started pushing Teresi to get Tommy to give up more information on Angela. When Teresi starts asking Tommy about all the murders he’s committed, how he’s never got caught and how they knew about Sandoval being in the MCC was a moment. Tommy said our “lawyer” is pretty well connected. Did you have a moment in all the back and forth, and wonder if Teresi and Tommy’s signals got crossed and Tommy could be thinking Proctor instead of Angela?
Regardless, Proctor has made a connection between Angela, Silver, and Mike Sandoval. Angela told Silver, who then told Proctor that Sandoval was in lockup at MCC. Sounds like a game of telephone or he said/she said. Either way, Angela is connected and Tommy and Proctor know. Will Proctor provide the Feds with dirt on Angela to save his own ass? Tommy has no love loss for Angela and blames her for a lot. Could he give information to the right person that gets in the hands of the Feds? Plus, Angela’s weak ass attempt to transfer Mak to Steve Tampio’s division of the DEA in D.C.? Mak sees through that, right? Another nail in Angela’s coffin. Or is Mak just as ambitious as she is and Angela’s pulling the master long con? Ticking time bomb…
Speaking of things ready to explode. We were light on action but the double cross going on between Dre and Ghost has been quiet but it produced a couple dead bodies last night. Dre and Ghost are “working together” to kill Diego Jimenez and Jason Micic. That works for Dre because he’s got Alicia Jimenez as his connect and it works for Ghost because he is trying to get clean (where have we this before) and is under Jason’s thumb. Too bad Dre doesn’t realize that 2Bit and Spanky aren’t feeling him right now. 2Bit reveals Dre’s side of the plan to Kanan who kills Diego and his bodyguard but keep Jason alive. Kanan reveals to Jason that Ghost and Tommy aren’t holding up their end of the bargain on killing the Jimenez, but he is and can be trusted to take Tommy’s spot in Jason’s organization. Kanan pulls this off masterfully by proving his “trustworthiness” to Jason in warning him that Dre was coming to kill him.
Dre’s plan to kill Jason and have 2Bit and Spanky kill Ghost is foiled and we can’t help but think a large part of that is Dre’s inability to see the whole chessboard and properly manage his underlings. We said 2Bit would be a problem after Dre’s continued disrespect of him. Kanan sees that and uses it to his advantage to play 2Bit against Dre. Let us not forget that Kanan, Ghost, and Tommy all have a reason to kill Dre. His days look like they might be numbered. He better hope, fine ass Alicia Jimenez wants him and will do what’s needed to keep him alive.
With the bond between Ghost, Kanan, and Tommy fraying by the minute, they’re all acting like independent contractors with their own agendas. Tommy is bonding with his dad and trying to figure out how to keep his connect (Jason) happy. Kanan wants Tommy’s position in Jason’s network and Ghost wants to eliminate Jason and Dre. Kanan looks like the one in the pole position here and has been for a while. Ghost and Tommy have conflicting agendas when it comes to Jason but are seemingly on the same team when it comes to taking out Dre. What happens when Ghost and Tommy learn Kanan is still messing with Tariq? Plus all the “schooling” Tariq is receiving from Kanan about becoming his own man and a hustler. How long before it conflicts with something Ghost wants with dire consequences?
We have so many tension points in this episode and it bears repeating, with only three episodes left there are many storylines to wrap up. We didn’t talk about Tate, but with Ghost’s knowledge about the shadiness behind the scenes at the Queens Child Project, it looks like that storyline could quiet down or wrap soon. Teresi may start growing a conscience about snitching on Tommy after his cancer-stricken wife, Connie, made him feel guilty. A busy episode, light on the action but good moments.
A few extra thoughts:
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be in the writers’ room on Power? Check out my exclusive interview with season 5 co-executive producer, and the writer of “Devil Inside” Heather Zuhlke!
Power Episode Recap: It’s Every Man or Woman For Themselves, Ghost Found Religion, And Looks Like “Lights Out” For Angela; But Will it Be Permanent?Read Now
Power Episode Recap: K-Dot is a Convincing Crackhead, More Unholy Alliances, Tariq Saying it With His Chest & Ghost Needs HelpRead Now
After an okay episode last week, Power hit hard and fast in this week’s episode titled “Happy Birthday,” which was anything but. Before we get into the depths of despair, applause up top for the acting debut of Mr. Kendrick Lamar! Power doesn’t do guest spots because frankly, the series doesn’t need any crossover celebrities from other industries to make it hot. The characters, storylines, and New York city make the series what it is for fans. When showrunner/EP Courtney Kemp decided to bring K-Dot in, it had to be authentic and we were rewarded. The various power (pun intended) dynamics are in a state of flux, Tariq is back from Choate and he ain’t no punk. Or is he? Ghost is a broken man, the drinking isn’t helping, and he’s unable to deal with the pain and consequences of his actions. Let’s get to it.
Alliances. This season began with alliances and partnerships that all seemed destined for disaster. None were formed because the parties involved wanted to, they were primarily formed out of necessity. Sure, there was a common goal each person shared. But, that’s where it ended. Their agendas and endgames are all different. The episode opens with Tommy and Sammy having to answer to Vincent for the drive by in last week’s episode. Vincent, with the assist from Kanan, thinks the drive by was a drug beef between Tommy and Dre. Problematic for Tommy because he was supposed to kill Dre and told Vincent he would handle it. As punishment for his sins, Tommy and Sammy are on their knees and Vincent orders Teresi to choose one of them to kill. (Boss move by the way). Teresi chooses Sammy but the gun wasn’t loaded, so Sammy keeps his life. But, Teresi, Sammy and Tommy are now no longer part of the business end of the “family.” Of course, the immediate problem for Tommy is, he no longer has the Italians as drug dealers. But the more dangerous problem is, he’s now vulnerable. Since Teresi “chose” to “kill” Sammy, that curried favor with Tommy. We all know how much Tommy wants to belong and be part of a family. When Tommy recants this story to Ghost and Kanan, we see an advanced game of chess being played.
We talked about this in last week’s recap. Ghost, Kanan, and Tommy are aligned right now. But Kanan is playing chess while the other two seem to be playing checkers. Remember back in season one when Kanan baited his cellmate into a chess move after the cellmate said he’s been practicing and Kanan wouldn’t beat him? Kanan sees the entire board and nothing done on Power is superfluous or by accident. He took Ghost’s plan to separate Tommy from the Italians and advanced it one step further. He knows Tommy is vulnerable when it comes to family and uses the shaky relationship with Ghost (his original family) to push him further down a particular path. In essence, baiting him to make a move. Kanan tries to get Tommy to force expansion and cause friction between Dre and the Tainos. Tommy refuses, but Kanan plants the seed that they don’t need Ghost to do it.
The highlight of the episode begins when Kanan has a fortuitous meeting with the drug addict and street prophet “Laces”, played brilliantly by Kendrick Lamar. When Laces hits the screen, looking cracked out and crazy and hits Kanan with the repetition of “My nigga, my nigga, my nigga, my nigga” he draws the entire audience in. Lamar was phenomenal and he and Kanan embark on a killing spree as they take out various members of the Tainos. Laces serves as the decoy and Kanan comes from seemingly nowhere and violently shoots and murders the target. What is so fascinating is the acting between Lamar and 50 Cent in these scenes. Laces seamlessly flows in and out from fluent Spanish to “thug poetry” or even philosophy. It is truly brilliant work.
K-Dot’s “Laces” brought an interesting dynamic and gave Kanan some range of emotions we haven’t seen from him thus far. The best scene between the two is right before it appears as though Kanan is going to kill Laces. No loose ends and all that. Kanan pauses and has a moment of clarity, sadness? He is a sociopath, after all, feelings aren’t really his bag. Laces asks, “Who are you?” Kanan responds, “Nobody.” It looked, for a moment as though Kanan was really contemplating his place in the world, and what it all meant. We talk often about consequences. Where would this lead him? What’s next if he kills Laces? While it’s true that Kanan is playing chess, that’s a lonely game. It’s you versus your opponent and the object is annihilation. If Kanan goes on, who does he have with him? Instead of killing Laces, he gives him the gun he commits all the murders with and tells him to sell it. Of course, he can’t totally escape himself. He meets up with Tariq later and gives him a ride back to Choate?
Ohhh ‘Riq. So, Tommy knows that he snitched and told Dre about the hit on him. He also knows that his mother wished he had died instead of Raina. She didn’t say those exact words but you know he feels that. Between that and Tasha ordering the wrong cake, the guilt he feels for getting his sister killed, and his mom and everyone else taking the blame, it’s all too much. It all comes to an explosive encounter when Ghost (who skipped his son’s party) shows up drunk and he and ‘Riq have it out. There comes a point in every young man’s life where he has a showdown of sorts with his father. It’s natural, asserting manhood, alpha male all that stuff. ‘Riq starts off a little soft but he goes toe to toe with his dad. Granted, Ghost was drunk but good on ‘Riq for saying it with his chest. Some of his jabs hit hard. Telling his dad that Raina was the only one that loved him and that Tasha, Tommy, and Kanan all think he’s selfish had to hit hard. Mainly because it’s true. His character evolution over the course of this series has been interesting. He’s gone from pampered rich kid to, punk snitch pulling licks, to now, chest-thumping dope boy? It says a lot that so many of you want to see him dead. In the early seasons, he and Raina were fillers. Now that it appears he is breaking fully bad, or at the very least is siding with Kanan, what does that mean for Ghost and Tasha? Will ‘Riq become a threat?
Speaking of threats. Angela is a lone bird hanging on a not so stable tree branch at work. While she knows about the activated tracker on Tommy’s car, she has to deal with Tameika’s suspicions about the “dirty cop” case. Which we know was just suppression of evidence. Tameika tells Angela she knew about the Egan surveillance and reveals to her that her co-workers don’t trust her. Angela convinces Tameika that nothing out of the ordinary is going on with the “dirty cop” investigation. Meanwhile, Mak and Saxe are turning up the pressure on Teresi as they need to come up with something ASAP or Tameika will pull the plug.
Angela enlists Joe Proctor to set up a meeting with Tommy to offer him immunity. Tommy is no snitch, but Angela is really doing all of this against specific orders from her boss and the DOJ to leave the Jimenez case alone. Angela has colored outside the lines since season one, so this is no surprise. The issue here, as we’ve said for weeks now, is she has trouble brewing on multiple fronts.
She and Tommy meet later at her apartment. Funny scene by the way, as she still has no idea he has been in her apartment. (Remember the end of season one, beginning of season two?) She gives Tommy the tracker, which of course is a major violation on her part, but what else is new. Is the goal here to throw the Feds off the scent? Send them on a “wild goose chase”? Proctor warns Tommy yet again, about telling Teresi too much. Maybe Tommy is the one with the master plan, for once. Maybe he’s woken up and realized this is a game of chess? You stay in the game by being two to three steps ahead of your opponent. Whatever this new alliance is between Angela and Tommy, they both better keep their heads on a swivel.
We end, of course, at the beginning. Poor Ghost. This dude is really fucked up right now. He’s drinking excessively, making poor decisions and every relationship around him is fractured and frayed. Not to mention Tommy told Teresi that Ghost cleaned some money for him at Truth, so the Feds are closing in. His wife and daughter moved out and hate him. His son hates him and is back rolling with Kanan. He is being squeezed by Tate and Dre at QCP, and he is still grieving the death of his daughter which he still hasn’t processed. Oh, and he now has Diego Jimenez coming after him, courtesy of Dre. Did I get everything? He is a man that is staring at rock bottom and turns to the church for help? Strange. Very much unlike him, and he says as much talking to the Reverend. But he eventually finds himself back on Angela’s doorstep. What do I always say? In times of extreme crisis and duress, you revert back to what is familiar. At its core, this is a story about these two people and their dynamic. All of their actions beginning way back in the pilot episode have led them to this place…
Tremendous episode as we are at the halfway point in the season. We didn’t talk about Dre or Tasha and Terry Silver knocking boots. We’ll get to them eventually. It looks like, at least for the moment, Terry will be put on ice as Tasha has bigger concerns. Blanca Rodriguez and the NYPD are not going away. It looks like Alicia will be back next week (wooo!) and there is obviously going to be some friction there with Diego. These next five weeks are going to come in fast and action-packed.
A few extra thoughts:
Power Episode Recap: Kanan Two Steps Ahead, Tate is Playing With Fire, Plus Ghost And Angela Reunited And It Feels So…Read Now
Last night’s episode title Second Chances was rather uneven, of the season’s first four episodes it’s the weakest. A few storylines are fraying around the edges and it seems as though some of our main characters have too much going on at the moment. They are all individually focused on doing or completing this one deed or task, with the hope that it will save them and give them a reset. But, we know life doesn’t work out that way. The decisions they’ve made to this point will live with them regardless no matter how hard they try to right a wrong…
We open this week’s episode with the three amigos. Ghost, Tommy, and Kanan. Ghost learns that Tommy’s dad (Teresi) is out. Ghost is not happy he’s only now hearing about the news and that other people (Kanan and Proctor) knew before he did. Everyone has their own motives and suspicions around this. Ghost doesn’t trust Teresi as he blackmailed him twice when they were in the can. Tommy wants a dad, but is somewhat suspicious. He also yearns for acceptance, love, and loyalty, unconditionally. Kanan wants to get back what he lost, while he was inside. He wants to be the NYC drug kingpin. Between the three of them, he’s the one with the clearest vision and an endgame. Most importantly, he doesn’t have outside forces (familial or personal) interfering or clouding his judgment.
Kanan’s character development from the beginning of the series until now has been really interesting. He was a shadowy figure locked away, then once he got out he becomes more of a viable threat to Ghost, Tommy, etc. Now he seems poised to be the one person that may actually get what he wants. That isn’t to say that his journey to this point has been smooth, the man did get barbecued inside of an abandoned building. He did kill his own son, and more than a few people would be happy if he were dead. But Kanan has managed to work his way into the “good graces” of just about everyone, and in turn, he uses the information from these people to further his plan. He got Ghost to tell him about a plan to make Tommy to “radioactive” for the Italians and Kanan beats him to the punch. In terms of vulnerability and weak spots, Kanan has far fewer than anybody else on the board, and that’s a frightening thought. Kanan has even managed to get in good with the Italians, using the old I’m going to rescue you from a situation that I set up, ploy. Funny how that scheme always seems to work.
The Italians are a storyline that while necessary, only muddies the pool in my opinion. Teresi is so obvious in his attempts to get information from Tommy. Does anyone else see that? Tommy has his guard up and is suspicious, but the aforementioned shooting will possibly cause him to slip. Notice how worried he was after the Kanan “rescue”? He speeds over to Teresi’s to make sure he is okay. Meanwhile, Kanan is sowing seeds of discord with Vincent and his crew. Telling Vincent, that the driveby was a result of Tommy’s drug beefs. Now Tommy has his “family” looking at him through a suspicious lens, while he tries to deal with everything coming down on him. Tommy still has Dre and the Jimenez cartel to worry about.
Speaking of Dre and the Jimenez “brothers.” Alicia is back! So, if there was any confusion as to who holds the reins in the cartel, that is now crystal clear. Alicia is cold, calculated and pragmatic. Nothing seems to rattle her and she stays cool under pressure. She likes to toy with Dre, sexually, like her brother. But even in that situation, you can see the difference between Diego and Alicia. He acts out, and is petulant. She remains calm and collected, ultimately getting the results she wants. Alicia surprising Dre and learning about her brother’s incidents at the clubs are all small potatoes for her. She knows Diego is a problem and will handle him in some fashion. Though it seems she’d rather have someone else do the deed.
Alicia tells Dre to teach Cristobal how to manage all of the club business, Dre resists and is not happy about this new arrangement. This is akin to what Lobos was doing with Ghost back in season one. Remember when Lobos told Ghost to give Tommy more responsibility, which would, in turn, reduce Ghost’s risk but increase Tommy’s. Alicia is doing the same thing here with Dre. But to what end? Maybe she wants to elevate Dre, so they can begin some type of romance? Diego is already suspicious of this and many of you have said the same in your comments. Time will tell.
Time is something all the characters wish they had more control over. Nobody more than Ghost. If he could do it all over again, in other words, turn back the hands of time; would he do it the same way? Everything is closing in on Ghost this week. His excessive drinking to cope with the pain of losing Raina has dulled his senses completely. When Ghost now says “I have a plan” is anyone confident of its success? Tasha finally does what she should have done a while ago and decides to leave him. The scene where he asks, “you’re leaving me?” and she responds, “you left me a long time ago, remember?” was powerful. Again, all the choices Ghost has made, places him in the exact predicament he finds himself in. Tasha is right in calling out Ghost’s inability to grieve and attacking the Queens Child Project (QCP) as an empty monument that won’t do what he hopes it will.
Earlier in the episode Ghost is unable to deliver a speech at Truth during an investor event for the QCP. The tremendous amount of guilt is weighing him down physically and emotionally. This scene is jarring to the attendees and threatens to slow the momentum of the QCP. Not one to see his plans thwarted, Councilman Tate steps in and sees that he needs to remedy this situation quickly. He later brings in Dre to serve on the board of the QCP, hoping he is someone that will be more stable (read: controllable) than Ghost. This is likely to be a huge miscalculation on Tate’s part. He seems to truly believe that these drug kingpins really care about a public image. In Ghost’s case that was likely true as he was attempting to leave the life. What makes him think Dre wants that? While Dre may be a younger “version” of Ghost, he’s still way too involved in the life to really be that concerned with local and state politics. This will likely end poorly for Tate, and end his Gubernatorial bid before it really takes off. Good riddance. Tate is a character I won’t be sad to see go.
One character we can’t shake is Angela. For better or worse both she and Ghost are in it for the long haul. Despite what many pockets of fans hope or believe, at its core this show is about the love between these two characters. Yes, there are plenty of power dynamics (pun intended) in place, and several key players and minor characters that move in and around them. But, the magnetism between them is unavoidable. Angela, was out of the gates quickly this week, seemingly about to emerge from the wreckage with a great professional victory, sidestepping a landmine, and a new love interest. Not so fast my friends. Angela and the Feds apparent win by arresting Diego and Alicia was too good to be true. We all saw this coming right? As quickly as they were arrested, DEA agent Steve Tempio had them released. As an aside, the interplay between the various law enforcement agencies at work in this week’s episodes is exactly how things play out in real life. One agency makes a move, and a larger more influential one asserts its authority and power, and big-time criminals essentially avoid prison. Prisons aren’t filled with the leaders of major cartels or crime organizations. It’s all the low-level criminals with a few middle men and known names. You ever wonder why that is? But I digress…
Angela goes from literally being on top of the world to in the depths of despair in about an hour. Tempio is not who he says he is and she has her suspicions now about his connection to the Jimenez’s. To make matters worse, she’s now aware of a wiretap/surveillance by Mak and Saxe with Tommy Egan being the target of their investigation. That matters of course because it can blow back on her and Ghost and all the shady and illegal dirt they’ve done over the last four seasons. To make matters worse, NYPD detective Blanca Rodriguez is not giving up. She has her Pinterest board hidden in her office with all the lines and dots and all roads point back to Ghost and Angela. Rodriguez even has Angela’s colleague Darryl in her office, no doubt explaining to him that Angela is the reason he’s been suspended.
In times of crisis and utter duress, we revert back to the familiar. It’s no surprise the episode ends with Ghost and Angela meeting in the diner. The waitress asking, “Do you two know what you want?” was brilliant. All of the machinations, lies, murders, coverups, can be traced and connected back to these two in some form or fashion. Six degrees of separation with Ghost and Angela. In this moment of deep despair, they both have nobody but each other to turn to. In truth, that’s what they both seek. When Angela walks in and sits down, the first thing she does is comment about Ghost’s facial hair. Their ability to compartmentalize the disaster their lives have become and just be present with each other if only for a brief moment underscores the importance of the relationship on a micro level (for each other) and a macro level (the world of Power).
As stated in the beginning, this was the weakest episode of the first four, but when the others have been B+/A- level a B – show is not that bad in the grand scheme of things. This episode has left us with some questions that need to be answered and storylines that need to advance forward or come to an end.
A few extra thoughts:
What do y’all think? Get at me on twitter and Instagram @jshector Please share with your friends and people you think would enjoy the show. As always thanks for reading and visiting BSO. See you next week!
Power Episode Recap: How Ghost is the Weakest Link, Tommy is Being Played By Everyone & How Angela’s 1-Night Stands Always Come Back to Haunt HerRead Now
Consequences. For most of us, this is something we learn very early in our lives. Every action has a result or effect. Often times, it’s not immediate, but make no mistake it is a certainty. Unfortunately, when we commit acts that are anything less than above board, the consequences can be quite damaging to us individually and collaterally to those around us. In theory, we supposedly get better as we get older and learn from our mistakes. Sometimes we do, sometimes we make mistakes on even bigger scales. Last night’s episode of Power finds so many of our characters in predicaments of their own making. But what’s crazy is, they all keep making the same mistakes and poor choices and the higher the stakes get, the more deadly and dangerous the consequences. Are We on The Same Team, is the title of the episode and it alludes to every group that seemingly appears to be on the same side…
Let’s begin with Angela…the Head of Criminal for the Eastern District has NYPD (detective or sergeant?) Blanca Rodriguez hot on her heels. Angela is able to stay slightly ahead of her by pulling rank and jurisdiction. But she may have played her hand too early, sending her subordinates into Rodriguez’s office to take the files and fold them into her “investigation.” So, for those counting at home, that another obstruction of justice charge that can be tacked on to her growing list of crimes. This is the thing about lies. You have to keep lying to cover up the previous lie until it all falls apart. What makes this even more dangerous for Angela, is she has no idea that her colleagues (read: teammates) are all plotting to take her down. She’s so caught up in covering her tracks that she can’t see right in front of her. Rodriguez isn’t going away, it’s clear to her that Angela is hiding something and despite being officially off the case something tells me that won’t stop her. All she needs to do is find a sympathetic ear at Eastern. Lucky for her there is no shortage of people that would want to take Angela down. I could totally see her connecting with Saxe. Of course, he’ll want to smash, so that will bring its own set of issues, but comedy for us.
After Rodriguez leaves Angela’s office, Angela and Tasha meet for what seems to be bi-weekly meetings between girlfriends. Anyone else notice that the frost between these two has melted? I’m not saying they’re going to become besties and hang out at the spa, but there is a shared understanding and I think respect for each other somewhere. Naturi Naughton and Lela Loren have way more screen time with each other as the seasons have gone one. I like what showrunner Courtney Kemp and the writers do with these two characters. They are consistently forced to confront each other and navigate each encounter deftly. At that moment in the restaurant, they both have a look of recognition that they are where they are, mainly because of the choices they’ve made. I truly believe they both want it to end, but how?
With the discovery, by Angela and Medina, that Alicia Jimenez is, in fact, the leader of the cartel with her brother, Angela will really be locked in on trying to get a warrant to move that case forward. Something else that will keep her way too occupied to see that Mak and Saxe are running their own investigation into her connection to Ghost and Tommy. There is no way she makes it all the way through this unscathed, right? Does she have any allies at work that would warn her? We spoke about Agent Donovan possibly helping her, do we think that’s still viable? Also, there is her new friend. DEA Director of Public Enrichment Steve Tampio. Anyone else, read that “I’m only here for one more night” line as bs? He’s going to be a player the rest of this season for sure. But is he a friend or foe? If Agent Medina briefed him, I’d say foe and Angela better watch her back…
Speaking of friends and foes…your boy Dre is really on one right now. He’s another one that can’t see the forest for the trees. He’s so worried about making sure that everyone knows he’s in control, that in fact, he has no control or authority at all. He’s so insecure about Diego that he constantly has to flex and say how tight he runs his organization. Think back to season 1, when Ghost had a similar situation with Lobos. Ghost always managed to make Lobos feel as though he was in charge, which he was, but he did it without kowtowing and never looked weak. Can we say the same about Dre? He has a problem with managing up. Another subtlety that shouldn’t get overlooked is Dre’s inability to comprehend any Spanish. It would be great if he was fluent, but just knowing some key phrases would be helpful. That dynamic helped Ghost in his dealings with Lobos and his primeras. Dre has been around Spanish speaking people for at least three seasons now. Get it together man!
Dre has a problem brewing with “Spanky” and “2-Bit.” We talked about that in our last couple recaps. With Kanan playing on “2-Bit’s” fragility it’s only a matter of time before Dre’s middle management starts becoming a real problem. Pancho doesn’t like that Cristobal’s been promoted to #2 and Arturo seems like a very shaky primera, now that he’s the leader of the Toros Locos under false pretenses. Dre is learning, the hard way, what it truly means to be a leader.
Diego and Dre have such a tense relationship. You can see it every time they are in the same room. Diego dressing down Dre in front of his men yet again doesn’t sit well with the young pup, but he’s got to figure out a new way to handle all of this. The cracks are starting to show.
As a quick aside, a few of you have mentioned that Dre knows exactly what he’s doing and he’s playing Kanan with the whole “2Bit” being upset thing…let’s say that is the case. Then that would mean Kanan making it to season six is unlikely. This proposed scenario would mean a battle is coming and one of them has to die. It’s a possibility, but that’s giving Dre a lot of agency and temerity and I just don’t buy it. Is he leaps and bounds smarter and more aware than Ghost?
Also, given the moves Kanan made this episode, purchasing weight with Tommy and getting back into the picture on the drug front suggest otherwise. Kanan has been planning to take over since he was in jail back in season one. He knows how all of the various systems work and who the connects are. Killing Dre is the tie that binds him, Tommy and Ghost. Once that’s done and Ghost has no “skin in the game” what’s next?
As for Ghost, he and Tasha are still in the midst of coming to grips with the death of Raina; it is still so raw, and to complicate matters they are both handling their grief differently and in many ways separately. If you’ve heard about the stages of grief, no doubt you’re referring to the Kubler-Ross model. The stages include shock, denial, anger, bargaining, testing, depression and acceptance. The thing is, there is no one way to grieve and it isn’t as though you move through this in a linear fashion. Anger seems to be the trait they most often display. Understandable as it plays better for television and theirs is so visceral by nature.
Tasha is at a point where all she wants to do is protect the two children she has left and get rid of the people she feels are responsible for her daughter’s death. That’s really interesting because during the confrontation with vigilante Ghost (more on him in a minute) she tells him no matter how many people he kills it won’t bring Raina back. Yet, still in all, she wants Dre and Kanan dead. Her showdown with Kanan outside of Tommy’s apartment was great stuff, you saw the lengths she would go to, against a man who in that physical space clearly had the advantage. She has no back down in her. However, her position is still precarious. Ghost and Tommy are her family but they are working with someone she wants no part of and who she knows is a threat and the reason she lost Raina. It would be one thing if she could lean on Ghost, but she really has no one. Well, except Keisha. Who has turned into a pretty good consigliere. How about Keisha telling Tasha, essentially, your kids are messed up and one of them is dead because of you? Takes a special kind of friend to deliver a message like that.
You know who could use a friend like Keisha? Ghost. My man is on his drinking vigilante tear. Remember in season one, when Ghost and Angie were having their affair and Tasha talks to Tommy about why Ghost has been acting weird she asks, “do you think he’s drinking again?” Drunk vigilante Ghost gives us new depth to an already complex character. This version of Ghost makes all kinds of reckless decisions. He’s a fan of the single malt scotch (as am I) when that gets in his system who knows what he’ll do next.
He’s capable of murder which we knew since the series’ pilot episode. But now, he seems to have a much lower bar to hurdle in terms of making justifications for murder. He’s been drunk dialing Angie for the last couple episodes. How much you want to bet he starts stalking and following her soon? He has the pending fight with Tasha over Raina and ultimately the choices they made to put them in the position they’re in. We spoke last week about the unholy alliance with Tommy and Kanan and if that isn’t enough he has Councilman Rashad Tate.
Because of his nefarious activities, Ghost can’t go to a therapist and seek help. He’s a gangster. Shades of Tony Soprano and Dr. Melfi come to mind. Anyway, he has no proper mechanism or tools to deal with what is happening to him. What do we do in times of crisis and under major duress? Revert back to what is familiar and makes us feel safe. For Ghost, that means the game and all that it entails. That type of mindset makes him exciting to watch as a viewer but it means he is also at his most vulnerable.
The situation with Tate and Linda (more on her in extra thoughts) is classic Ghost. Caught between the legitimate world and the criminal one, although one could argue, both sides are criminal. He is used to getting things done by hook or by crook and ends up getting played by Linda, who was just looking for a good time in the end. But, can we trust Tate on the Linda news?
Ghost and Tate are yet another set of people that present to be on the same team but clearly have two conflicting agendas. What will happen when Ghost learns of Tate’s Gubernatorial plans? He already feels some type of way that Raina was pimped out for donations. We know where this is headed right?
As for his unholy alliance with Tommy and Kanan, it’s about to get more complicated now that Tony Teresi has been released, and he appears to be working with the Feds. Will Tommy choose his want/need for a “father” over Ghost and his true “family?”
Kemp and the writers have spent the first three episodes setting the scene and moving certain pieces around on the board. If you’ve been paying close attention to the show, that means things are about to get crazy. I hope you’re strapped in fans. I know the series has been a little light on the action a lot of you like, but stay patient. I think you’ll be rewarded soon.
A few extra thoughts:
What do y’all think? Get at me on twitter and Instagram @jshector Please share with your friends and people you think would enjoy the show. As always thanks for reading and visiting BSO. See you next week!