What does Power look like without Ghost and Angela’s relationship? What does it look like without Felipe Lobos peacocking around, keeping his allies and enemies alike off-balance with deliberately antagonistic sexual advances? These are questions Power would have to play with at some point as it ages, but I wouldn’t have imagined seeing those ideas play out this early in the show’s run, and I certainly wouldn’t have expected to see Power start down both of those paths in the same episode. “The Right Decision” does exactly that, and considering how important those elements have been to the show, the episode would be easy to admire even if it was hard to like. Power moves extremely fast, and even though it occasionally trips over its heels, “Decision” is the type of episode that validates the harried pace.
What’s most impressive about Power at its best is that it doesn’t choose between bold plotting moves and poignant character moments, and “Decision” offers both. In the opening scene, Ghost arrives at Tommy’s place to discuss the next phase of the Lobos plan only to find Tommy sleeping in his car, unable to return to the scene of the crime. Holly’s death was really abrupt, so it’s nice to see that the writers don’t plan to breeze through the aftermath. Realistically, it should be a while before Tommy is back on an even keel. Ghost decides not to tell Tommy about Holly’s pregnancy, though he keeps Tasha in the dark about Holly’s murder, practically ensuring that Tommy eventually finds out about his unwitting infanticide later on. Ghost’s choice says a lot about his character, and none of it’s good. It seems pretty clear that Ghost’s priority is ensuring that Tommy will keep his head in the game long enough to take out Lobos. Tommy’s long-term mental health is also on the list of Ghost’s concerns, but it’s pretty far down.
Feeling out of control isn’t Ghost’s jam, so he generally doesn’t allow himself moments of genuine grief, the kind that made Tommy sleep in his car. He doesn’t allow himself a moment to sit with the fact that he was in a situation might have, under the best set of circumstances, ended with him dead in the street with Tarik as a witness. And when Dean approaches Ghost about it, Ghost’s only response is to tell Dean to mind his own business and stop following him. Seems like a weird thing to ask of a head of security, especially one who just saved the lives of you and your son, but that’s Ghost. He zigs when the other guy zags. Instead of fretting about the latest attempt on his life, he dives deeper into the Karen Bassett deal and the plan to take out Lobos. Lest anyone think all work and no play is making Ghost a dull boy, he still makes time to bend Angela’s back on the dining room table.
All things considered, Ghost is basically winning life. Lobos is about to be eliminated once and for all, and the deal with Karen Bassett could be just the thing to take his nightclub business to the next level. He’s living with the love of his life, and his scorned ex-wife is surprisingly flexible about the new circumstances, or at least too proud to betray how devastated she is. Something was bound to go wrong, since Power is not a show about a happy couple having it all, and Ghost and Angela were almost in the clear. I assumed the Lobos assassination wouldn’t go to plan, which turned out to be true. But after some fumbling and scenic detours, Ghost puts two bullets in Lobos’ head and doubles back to Karen’s resort, where, according to his alibi, he’s been holed up with Tasha for days.
When it comes to antihero stories, I’m generally inclined to want real consequences for the protagonist, but even I was seduced by Ghost’s success. He’s a horrible person, but he’s being horrible better and at a higher level than anyone around him. When he pulls off an audacious gambit like the Lobos assassination, I can’t help but begrudgingly respect him. But I stopped rooting for Ghost as soon as he got back to the hotel room. The way he needles Tasha, gushing about his new woman while her wounds are still fresh and as Tasha is currently providing him an alibi, is weirdly cruel. It’s the behavior of an honest-to-goodness sociopath. Ghost can’t seem to view anybody beyond their utility to him. He openly disrespects the mother of his children, and when his head of security mentions having saved his life, he’s basically like, “Oh yeah, thanks, now kick rocks.” Even his relationship with Angela, the most grown-up and transparent of all his relationships, is predicated on her ability to keep him one step ahead of the Lobos prosecution. I’m not happy with Power when Ghost gets to be too smug for too long.
Luckily, Ghost’s victory lap is cut short in a hurry. When Ghost summons Dean for a termination meeting, the timing seems serendipitous. “You finally killed Lobos,” says Dean, before eventually revealing himself as Milan, the cannibalistic Serbian drug lord whose shipment Ghost and Tommy intercepted last season as part of Ghost’s elegant, efficient solution to all of his problems. As it turns out, Milan is the man responsible for leaving the loteria card on Ghost’s desk. The Milan reveal is pretty flawless, especially since I recall wondering what the broader plan was for Callan Mulvey, who’s been credited as a regular all season despite serving in what seemed like a thankless supporting role. Instead, Milan is prepared to step into the vacuum just moments after Lobos vacates the role of Ghost’s main antagonist.
I really couldn’t stop smiling during the Milan reveal. It’s the goofiest, most outrageous thing I’ve seen in a television show in sometime, and it works despite being basically the soapiest thing ever. A secret identity complete with a flawless American accent? I haven’t seen anything as ridiculously sublime since the Alexis reveal in season one of Ugly Betty. But the Power version of the sleeper villain actually makes a certain kind of sense. There are probably more efficient, less mustache-twirly ways for Milan to have infiltrated Ghost’s operation as a means of controlling him and applying pressure. But I’m a sucker for a “Verbal Kint loses his limp” moment, and this was that moment for Power. Plus, a show like this works better with a clear Big Bad always in place, and so I like the addition of Milan, although with Kanan back in the mix I do still wish this show could settle on one uber villain at a time.
The pragmatic-to-a-fault Ghost is obviously not thrilled with the turn of events that puts him back in the drug business under Milan’s employ, but he makes peace with it. He tells Tommy he has no other choice but to go back to the streets because Milan poses a threat to his soon-to-be ex-wife and children. But Tommy makes a convincing case that Angela is the one truly in danger, because she’s the only person who can’t find out he’s back in the game. Ghost heads straight to Angela’s apartment and breaks it off with her like he represents a German conglomerate and she’s a tenured steel worker about to find out she’s been laid off. Only after he leaves Angela’s apartment does Ghost lose his chilling composure for a brief, tearful moment. Then he gathers himself and struts away.
And just like that, the most exciting element of Power—the twisted, dysfunctional, deceptive relationship between Angela and Ghost—is back like it never left. Angela and Ghost are on different teams again, and Angela should be terrified. The man who can turn his emotions on and off like a faucet makes for a hell of a nemesis.
- That final scene is just terrific. Every note is right and right on time. Kudos to Omari Hardwick and Lela Loren.
- Tommy’s hilarious when he doesn’t know who Karen is and thinks Ghost is already on his next affair.
- I mean no offense, but I find Serbian accents inherently terrifying.
- I’d like to see a series of web shorts just about Tasha’s luxurious weekend at the resort.
- I wonder if the writers will be able to inject as much sex into the show with Ghost and Angela on the outs. I’d hate for the show to lose its sex appeal. I still have crude fractal patterns on my palms from clutching my pearls so hard during the table scene.