Anika Noni Rose (Photo: Starz)

Ghost and Angela’s relationship is more endearing than it’s ever been in “I Got This On Lock.” For once, they’re having a fight. You could argue that they’ve been in plenty of fights, but I don’t consider any squabble concerning the star-crossed nature of their relationship a real fight. That’s just the minimum requirement to maintaining an intimate relationship between a federal prosecutor and the man whose criminal network she’s trying to bring down. Aside from that trifling matter, Ghost and Angela’s relationship has been effortless. Now that they’re blending their lives in a real way, they’re running into problems. They’ve never been cuter.

“I Got This On Lock” is easily the most exciting episode of Power’s young third season, as well as the most incisive about the show’s central relationship. In a situation as precarious and volatile as Ghost and Angela’s relationship, a person could mistakenly convince themselves that the biggest conflict between them is the only conflict. It seems that’s what Ghost and Angela have done, and for the most part, they’ve been right about that. But now the kids are involved, and when Tariq snatches Angela’s gun and takes it to school, they now have a problem that only tangentially relates to Ghost and Angela’s professional conundrums.

There’s a blow up, complete with Angela wondering aloud if St. Patrick men are genetically predisposed to rifle through other people’s property. They kiss and make up in hushed, loving tones, but there has to be some lingering insecurity now that they’ve been reminded that the Lobos investigation is only one of their problems. Lots of things can happen to derail a relationship, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s some kind of trial separation on the horizon.

Sometimes ridding yourself of a problem means creating several new ones, and that’s the position Ghost is in this season. The expertly executed plan in the season finale seemed a little too tidy at the time, but in hindsight, it was incredibly messy. Now, a vengeful Lobos is demanding his head. He’s totally unaware that Tommy—whom he still considers a valued advisor—is supposed to be the trigger man. The person behind the bloody card is lurking somewhere nearby. He’s even being challenged in his nightlife business, now that raven-haired party monsters Andy and Albie have declared war on him for some reason. But the biggest surprise of “I Got This On Lock” is the reveal of a charred Kanan recuperating at his cousin’s house in DC.

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Kanan, who escaped the burning building where Ghost left him for dead, is crashing in the brownstone of Laverne “Jukebox” Ganner, a cunning police officer who uses her badge to manage her criminal side activities. Jukebox and Kanan have an adorably prickly relationship, and it’s a side of Kanan the audience has never seen before. She doesn’t take his shit, and he genuinely respects her. That respect grew no doubt when Jukebox reacted calmly to finding out it was Kanan, not Ghost, who killed Shawn. As far as she’s concerned, Shawn was basically Ghost’s son, so it’s not as if Kanan murdered his own. The conversation is a deft way to shoehorn in a rationale for Kanan’s behavior, which is still monstrous, but there’s a perverse logic to it.

It’s tough to overstate how much energy Jukebox brings to the show, and Anika Noni Rose is killing it. I’d imagine this is the sort of departure Rose couldn’t resist, and I’m glad she didn’t. In addition to humanizing Kanan (and giving him his own storyline), Jukebox represents the looming threat Kanan can’t while he’s still in recovery. It’ll take some time to get Kanan into fighting form, and Jukebox has some of her own action on the side, but as the proxy for Kanan’s vengeance, she adds the perfect flavor to the show.

I’m a little less interested in the story with Tommy, Holly, and Tasha, if only because I don’t totally buy Holly and Tasha as fast friends. Also because I’m generally concerned about Tasha’s utility as a character, and I really like her and Naturi Naughton. Now that she’s no longer Ghost’s wife, she’s hooked onto Tommy and Holly as a way to keep her in the story. But I hope that, like the show so impressively did with Holly last season, Power will find a way to make Tasha feel more central to the story now that Ghost and Angela are openly dating.

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I’m generally surprised by how little I’m into anything involving Tommy this season. Tommy was a much more active character when he was in business with Ghost, and his tendency toward hot-headed, emotional decisions put Ghost in compromising positions. (That function has now shifted to Dre, the new bull in Ghost’s Ciroc-drenched china shop.) Now Tommy’s story is about his struggle to follow in Ghost’s big footsteps and finding himself wanting. In a way that story is interesting because it’s almost as if the show is exploring how someone like Kanan ends up the way he is. It’s a long, frustrating process of trying to make people respect you until it seems like brutal, unpredictable violence is the only way to keep the foot soldiers in line.

I’m sure it’ll bear fruit, and the writers will find a smart way to weave the stories together, but for the moment, I’m not as engaged with Tommy as I’d like to be. Would that every character got their own Jukebox.

Stray observations

  • Holly is crazy treacherous, but everything about the “Tommy must kill Ghost” story feels false to me.
  • Jukebox’s girlfriend is a nurse, so she’s technically licensed to dispense stolen codeine syrup mixed with soda.
  • Holly is pregnant. Maybe she’s been pregnant the whole time, which would explain her frequent mood swings at least.
  • Man, Greg…get it together bro. Surely there’s other work you could be doing, and there’s no way to pursue this grudge without looking like a jilted lover trying to take revenge.
  • Are all the nightclub owners in Manhattan preening douchebags with a penchant for psychosexual dominance games? Or has Ghost just been really unlucky?
  • My sincerest apologies for the ultra-late post time.

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