Lela Loren, Omari Hardwick

Is Power a love story between an anti-hero and an anti-heroine? If so, bravo, because that’s a pretty brilliant concept which makes Power not unlike You’re The Worst but with a lot more melanin and fake blood. And if that’s the case, I’m comfortable with an unhappy ending for Ghost and Angela. I feel differently about Ghost and Angela than I felt about Walter White in Breaking Bad, where there were plenty of moments I thought Walt skating away from all of it would be the coolest thing ever. I don’t really want Ghost and Angela to pull off their masquerade, and while I believe they find the whole thing romantic, theirs is an objectively gross relationship between two pretty terrible people. They’re both opportunists with insatiable libidos. That’s a valid type of relationship, but there are no Burt Bacharach songs about it. I’m not rooting for Ghost and Angela.

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“Like We’re Any Other Couple” grants the audience full permission to hate Ghost and Angela from its opening frames. It’s cold in New York—snowing, in fact—and it’s cold in Tasha’s bed without Ghost around. Though he’s gone, Tasha is still stuck with Ghost’s mess. It’s because of Ghost’s absence and his recent near-death experience that the St. Patrick kids are on short fuses these days. And while Tasha is playing referee in arctic Manhattan, Ghost and Angela are waking up in Miami to linger naked and gaze upon an oceanside view. They’re getting a feel for how it would be for them to live in Miami together, like they’ve discussed. When Angela brings up Tasha, Ghost says he’ll make her a “very rich woman … She’ll be fine.” Angela doesn’t push back on this. She’s the interloper in Tasha’s family and Ghost is actively planning for a future in which Tasha has essentially been fired from the role of St. Patrick matriarch and replaced by her. None of this seems to bother Angela in the slightest, and whenever her sister tries to talk sense into her, she’s like, “Stop being a hater.”

The generous interpretation of Ghost and Angela’s relationship is that they are a pair of brutal pragmatists and sharp-elbowed strivers, the kind of people who simply can’t afford the distraction of getting lost in a romantic flight of fancy. The problem is that they fell in love as younger, unsullied versions of themselves, and as a result, they share feelings that can’t be recreated as adults or easily compartmentalized. They have awakened in each other what Slick Rick called a “Teenage Love.” They are infatuated in a way that lends itself to abandon, selfishness, and tunnel vision. They aren’t worrying themselves with the needs and feelings of others. Ghost and Angela never allow themselves to have real fun, and now that they’ve found something close to it, they refuse to let a little thing like objective fact get in the way.

The less charitable version of the relationship is that Ghost and Angela are randy puppies too busy sniffing at each other’s crotches to notice the world crumbling around them. It’s hard to view it any other way in “Like We’re Any Other Couple,” which accurately reflects its title as Ghost and Angela take their folie à deux on the road. The beautifully doomed couple heads to Miami, where Ghost is mixing his business, and his other business, with pleasure. It’s a pretty moronic move for Ghost to take Angela on this trip. Between hunting down Pink Sneakers and becoming a henchman for Simon Stern, all while concealing his illegal activities from Angela, Ghost is going to need a vacation from his vacation, amirite?

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The choice speaks to the depth of Ghost’s delusions about Angela. He’s tragically convinced that their love affair can be rescued from the impending trainwreck without a scratch on it. When Angela finally levels with Ghost about what she does, part of his reaction is pure performance, but there’s another part of Ghost that has fully blocked out the information he got from Tommy. The feelings he gets from being with Angela don’t correspond with the terror and panic he should be feeling as he grows closer to the woman most poised to destroy his empire, so he ignores the facts that would produce the negative emotions he needs to pull himself out of his quandary. This is probably the point at which Ghost and Angela should be slamming the brakes, instead they are pledging their love to each other. But fantasies can’t be sustained forever, and “Any Other Couple” shows Ghost and Angela finally beginning to come to grips with how much of a pipe dream their Miami fantasy is.

Interestingly, it’s Angela who seems most inclined to pull away from the relationship despite being the person with the least information about what a terrible idea all of this is. It’s an uncomfortable enough trip for her with Greg’s non-stop calls, the general awareness of Tasha in snowy New York, and Ghost’s squirrely behavior. When they arrive back in New York, he offers to give her a lift home, but she opts for a cab instead, and they exchange sober glances as they go their separate ways. These two are so self-deluded I’m sure they’ll figure out a way to eke out a few more moments of stupid, moon-eyed bliss, but based on the glances they exchange at the end of the episode, it looks like they’re both aware things won’t be able to go back to the way they were.

Meanwhile in Manhattan, Kanan is weaseling his way into Ghost’s operation so he can take it down from the inside. Kanan already has Shawn as his inside man, but Tommy is so gleefully loose-lipped about the business, despite Ghost’s warnings, Shawn is superfluous to Kanan’s schemes. After learning Ghost has a location on Pink Sneakers, Kanan sends his co-conspirator Dre down to Miami to get the drop on her before Ghost can do it. It’s another moment that speaks to the unfortunate amount of equity Tommy has in his business relationship with Ghost. Ghost is clearly the man in charge, but he insists on treating Tommy like an equal even though Tommy is clearly too hot-headed and short-sighted to act as anything other than the bruiser and the taskmaster. Tommy is constantly asking Ghost if they can trust this or that person, but he’s got major blind spots in his personal dealings. Tommy picks the worst possible moments to question people’s motives.

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Ghost’s business trip is at least a half-success. He muscles a hard-luck club owner into accepting Stern’s onerous contract, but fails to catch up to Pink Sneakers, along known as Mariela, before Dre can stab her in an alley. The chase scene is tense and well-shot, though it ends with one of many moments of wobbly dialogue, which is not a totally distracting problem for Power, but a persistent one. As corny as deathbed confessions can be, at least Ghost is a slightly less dumb motherfucker now that he knows Rolla wasn’t the one who sent Pink Sneakers to kill him. But where Angela is concerned, Ghost is no smarter than he’s ever been.

Stray observations

  • Shawn for the win! Tasha seriously plays herself in this episode, and I need someone to pay her attention very soon. Poor thing.
  • The push to move the influx of product is more complicated after Kanan shoots Quarter. Kanan is beginning to grow on me. He doesn’t feel like a threat to Ghost, but he’s bringing enough general menace to add some electricity to the season. Stealing the chain and cash off Quarter’s dead body says a lot about Kanan’s mindset.
  • Speaking of the shooting, I loved how bloody that scene was. One of my quibbles with season one is the scene in which Ghost shoots Rolla, and the visuals are stylized to emphasize Ghost’s mental state. It’s an effective treatment, but it’s rather bloodless. This season has been generally bloodier with Kanan back in the picture, and I think that’s a good thing. I love that Power skews female and is designed for female consumption, but I don’t want it to be The Wire…For Her! The violence lends genre authenticity that the show somewhat lacked last season.
  • So Simon Stern is essentially taking the sharecropping business model and applying it to nightlife? There must be no such concept as unconscionability in this fictional universe.
  • It’s interesting how much more Ghost’s respects Angela’s advice than he does Tasha’s. It’s understandable, but it’s also clear what an untenable position Ghost has put Tasha in. He convinced her he wanted an interested subordinate, but Ghost actually wants an equal, and he’ll accept helpful gestures from Angela that he would find presumptuous if Tasha did them.

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