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: