Power is about the uncomfortable relationship between fantasy and reality. Ghost feeds his customers’ high-life fantasies at Truth, with VIP treatment and cascading Ciroc, then indulges them further with top-shelf cocaine. But the glamorous life comes with some awfully ugly consequences: relationship instability, addiction, legal woes, financial ruin, and overexposure to the music of Pitbull. Part of what makes Power such a tragedy is that Ghost isn’t just the owner; he’s also a client. He’s every bit as addicted to a fantasy as his customers, one with grave consequences not only for him, but for his family and for anyone connected to his massive empire. And like any addict, Ghost goes to great extremes to justify his reckless behavior and keep the good times rolling.
Look at Ghost’s behavior at the beginning of “No Friends On The Street.” He and Angela wake up after another evening of extramarital bliss, and Angela heads out for a run, at which point Ghost suits up and follows at a safe distance. By happenstance, she runs into Greg on the running trail, and the two of them chat collegially about the investigation Angela is no longer part of. Ghost witnesses the conversation, and based on Greg’s sweatshirt from a Quantico-based business, concludes Greg is a fed. He angrily punches the car seat, but why exactly? Power is having a really good time playing with Ghost’s emotional ambiguity after learning Angela’s the wrong kind of federal prosecutor. Is he angry because she’s a fed, or angry because she’s a little too chummy with her former lover? It’s probably a little (or a lot) of both, and either way, his fantasy of a quiet life with Angela is less attainable than it was before he saw that exchange.
The situation becomes a bit clearer when Ghost and Tommy discuss Angela, her involvement with Nomar, and what all of it means for their enterprise. Ghost bends over backward to make the case that Ruiz was setting Tommy up, presumably by inventing the story that Nomar was boffing his teenage daughter, which sounds absolutely insane. That’s when it’s like, “Oh, you poor, poor thing.” Ghost is a level-headed, logical, pragmatic person, but once Angela enters the picture, any story sounds good to him if it allows him to keep playing house with his mistress. He’s willfully ignorant.
That said, after “No Friends On The Street,” I’m in a better position than ever to defend Ghost and Angela’s explosive bond. It isn’t just the life-affirming sex they’re having. They also think alike. Ghost is in a business that demands his willingness to cut corners and do deeply unethical things to accomplish his goals. Angela is equally willing to do unethical things to advance her professional interests. In “No Friends,” Angela lures young Isabel Ruiz out to a diner and manipulates Isabel’s emotions with talk of how much Nomar loved her, hoping she can turn adolescent guilt into a craving for justice. It’s basically disgusting, and no less predatory than Isabel’s relationship with Nomar. To add insult to injury, Angela tries to seduce her way back into the investigation through Greg, then accesses what she needs anyway after he firmly declines. This is how she gets confirmation of Tommy’s involvement, hearing his signature “cancel Christmas” phrase on the wiretap audio just as she heard it at the ice cream parlor. It’s all very gross behavior, but Angela is an ends-justify-the-means kind of girl and a deeply ambitious person, aligning her mindset with Ghost’s even though they’ve been unwittingly working on opposite sides of the same equation.
Angela, like Ghost, is willfully ignorant. Granted, she had her assistant run Ghost’s name through their database after figuring out more definitively that Tommy is a person of interest. She learns that Ghost—ahem, Jamie—doesn’t have a criminal record. But lots of people who commit crimes don’t have criminal records, and all she knows now is that her beau hasn’t been caught for anything, not that he hasn’t done anything. It wouldn’t be a huge leap to conclude that, given Jamie’s reputation growing up, his connection with her primary suspect is more than an unfortunate coincidence. She concludes otherwise. I wrote in my review of “Consequences” that often in season one, Ghost and Angela looked stupid for not putting things together because of how their storyline was paced compared to the rest of the show. Now that all the story elements are progressing at a more even pace, they still look stupid, but stupid on purpose. The kind of stupid people get when they reignite a years-old flame.
Ghost gets another blast from the past with Kanan appearing in his living room and surprising Ghost, who didn’t even know Kanan was out of prison yet. I’m slowly warming to Kanan’s presence as a character, though 50 Cent’s performance is still weirdly stilted at time. I’m not completely sold on Kanan as a character, but I’m totally into him as an agitator. His sudden presence shifts some of Ghost’s most foundational relationships, yet another example of how Power’s first season is like an eight-episode prologue. Now we’re cooking with gas. Ghost is rightfully suspicious of Kanan, while Tommy welcomes him back with open arms. Tommy is trying to relive their youthful good old days, which would be impossible even if Kanan wasn’t actively trying to take them down. Ghost’s relationship with Shawn is now complicated as well, as Kanan continues exerting his influence on his son and Shawn is torn between his shady surrogate father and his shadier real one.
Throw in Simon Stern, who continues to encroach further into Truth and is becoming less opaque about his hostile takeover, and Ghost is beset from all sides. Yet again, Power feels like it’s biting off way more than it can possible chew in only a 10-episode season. There are not one but two big bads separately gnawing on Ghost’s businesses. It’s the type of situation that would make any sane person flee into the comfort of a romantic fantasy, even if it’s with the person most likely to destroy his reality. Wheels up for Miami.
- Tasha got some sex! Good for her, and good thing Angela wasn’t in the mood.
- Kantos is now essentially Ghost’s boss. Super ouch.
- Kudos to director Stefan Schwartz for that tracking shot in Angela’s apartment when Ghost is combing through her work files. The panning between the bedroom and the living room was pretty cool.
- What a tense, awkward conversation between Tasha and Holly. Women be trippin’, and so on.
- There were quite a few furtive glances exchange when Kanan shows up at the St. Patrick residence, but there was a cut to a worried looking Tasha when Ghost customarily asks Kanan if he wants to crash. I’m assuming that’s an implication of a sexual past between them, especially in light of Kanan’s too-friendly comments when he first sees her.
- My quibble of the week: The thing with Angela guessing Greg’s password, like it was his AOL account, was really, really stupid. You have to put in an eight-character password with upper and lowercase letters, a number and an ampersand just to, like, order a pizza on the Papa John’s website. I’m pretty sure you can’t just pick the name of your dog when you’re accessing a federal evidence database.
- Ghost was rocking some bright magenta sneakers when he was running behind Angela. Perhaps he’s taking style tips from the woman who attempted to assassinate him, but I don’t think he can pull off the dress she wore to Truth.