“Great sex isn’t going to keep her from thinking for herself.” So says Ghost about Angela in “You’re Not The Man,” and when he says it, it appears to be his most profoundly obtuse statement yet. The narrative core of Power is the relationship between Ghost and Angela, who have routinely avoided thinking for themselves so they can continue having great sex. If Angela had her wits about her and was as cynical and skeptical toward Ghost as she normally is, she would have fostered her own suspicions about him ages ago. Instead, Angela and Ghost clumsily dance around each other and fall back into bed at regular intervals, despite how much risk their relationship puts them both in. But if there was any confusion about where Angela’s priorities lie before “You’re Not The Man,” it’s gone now. She’s focused on busting Ghost by any means necessary.
But Angela picked the worst possible moment to wise up. She has successfully cloned Ghost’s cell phone so she can keep track of his comings and goings, but the question is how did she do it? Based on Angela and Greg’s unsuccessful appearance before the magistrate judge, they don’t have enough evidence on Ghost to get a surveillance warrant for Tommy. This despite a trail of evidence that, while not exactly a smoking gun, strongly suggests Tommy’s ties to Felipe Lobos. If Angela couldn’t get the go-ahead to probe deeper into Tommy’s activities, she certainly doesn’t have enough for a legal wiretap on the real Ghost. Which means once again, Angela is bending the rules to her needs, and this is likely to be the time she most regrets it.
Angela suspects Ghost is lying to her, but she doesn’t know how actively Ghost and his closest associates are plotting to neutralize her. Tasha has the house swept for bugs and asks Shawn to examine the truck for evidence of Angela and Ghost’s romantic involvement, hoping she can leverage it later. Tommy is so paranoid in the wake of Holly’s revelation and disappearance, he plots his second attempt on Angela’s life and is thwarted by Tasha just moments before he actually goes through with it. Angela is slowly becoming a more potent adversary for Ghost, but even with her recent steps forward, she’s still a good three steps behind Ghost, Tommy, and Tasha.
The important thing is that the game has started in earnest. In a story about a protagonist maintaining a double life, success hinges on how the story is paced, and specifically, how, when, and to whom the truth comes out. The biggest issue in Power’s first season was that there was too much harmony between the two halves of Ghost’s existence. Drugs and nightlife go hand-in-hand, and the people closest to Ghost are well-aware of his businesses and on board with the drug hustle, if not actively involved in it. That harmony prevented the show from feeling as urgent as it could have, and to the writers’ credit, they worked to correct that in the early episodes of season two by spelling out how interdependent Ghost’s parallel businesses are. But ultimately, Power was stuck in neutral until the wrong person found out about who Ghost really is. Now that Angela, the biggest threat to Ghost’s empire, is finally onto him, Power is a brisker, more muscular, more interesting show.
Angela and Ghost’s delicate dance is Power’s main focus, but with each passing week, the relationship that grows more complex and curious is the one between Ghost and Tommy. Power’s depiction of Ghost and Tommy’s partnership can be jarring at times because the focus on Ghost as the main character falsely implies Tommy is subordinate to Ghost, when in fact they are partners. It’s also easy to forget Tommy has an equal say in the business because he’s so impulsive and temperamental, and his decision-making skills are, at the very least, inconsistent. He talked Ghost down from killing the Serb and suggested a more elegant solution (though one that carries its own risks) and he made the call to start moving the money out of the laundromats, which wasn’t a shrewd choice, but it was an appropriately cautious one. But he was also prepared to kill Angela, which is crazy dumb. The last thing Ghost and Tommy need is additional heat on them, and the murder of a federal prosecutor would only lead to a more intense investigation. They are not only equal partners, they take turns acting as the voice of reason when the other needs a reality check.
Still, Ghost tends to take a paternalistic stance toward Tommy, and his loyalty to Tommy appears to be limited to Tommy’s willingness to do exactly what he’s told. When Ghost talks about his plan to neutralize the Angela situation, it’s implied the plan is one that will protect Ghost, and by extension Tasha, but it remains to be seen whether Tommy will escape unscathed. Tommy is far more concerned about Angela than is Ghost, which is justified considering he remains the official suspect in Angela’s investigation while Ghost is merely an unofficial person of interest. And based on Ghost’s lackadaisical attitude toward the whole thing, he acts as if throwing Tommy to the wolves to save himself is an option he’s actively considering.
Suddenly Holly, who was once Power’s dead-weight character, is the fulcrum of the story. She’s in a position to destroy either side of the conflict, but she chooses her own interests after failing to appeal to Tommy. She’s the reason Tommy is so on edge, the reason why he’s making even more irrational, emotional decisions than usual. Holly also represents a major decision point in Angela’s relationship with “Jamie,” and her disappearance is the final straw for Angela, who claims she’ll walk away from Ghost forever unless he can prove he didn’t have her killed. Ghost shows Angela that Holly hasn’t been killed, but has been holed up in a hotel under a false name. Holly, promised an extra payment from Ghost, throws Angela off the scent (at least somewhat) by claiming she lied about James being Ghost to rattle Angela long enough for her to escape with Tommy. It’s a tidy solution, but not one as thorough as James was hoping for, hence the phone cloning in the final scene.
While Holly’s disappearance has been solved, Kanan’s disapperance has not. Not even Shawn knows where to find his father, and Ghost is becoming more agitated the longer Kanan is out of the picture. At this point, the audience has to be just as exasperated by Kanan’s sudden three-episode absence. It’s pretty obvious by now that Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson wasn’t available for shooting for whatever reason, and that’s a major bummer. Power has been building up to Kanan’s return since it began, and season two was initially framed as the showdown between Ghost and Kanan. With Kanan missing, Power’s second season is becoming like a donut: It’s delicious around the edges, but there’s a big hole in the center. No one is to blame for that, except maybe Jackson himself, who shouldn’t have insisted on playing a major character if he didn’t have enough time in his schedule. The writers have done an admirable job of treading water in the meantime, but hopefully there’s some movement on the Kanan front in the next episode.
- I’m fascinated by Tasha 2.0. Now that she has the full picture of Ghost’s affair with Angela, she has taken back her agency in a way we’ve never seen. She gets busy with Shawn again, this time in the shower, and she goes to a divorce attorney to explore her options with a pre-nuptial agreement in place. Tasha has previously shown her ability to strategize, but Ghost always kept her at arm’s length. Now that she’s looking out for herself, we’ll get to see what she’s really made of.
- Shawn tells Tasha he’s ready to do anything to be with her, including figuring out a way to take care of her and the kids without Ghost. I didn’t realize it was quite that deep. Hopefully Shawn can do other things besides driving Ghost around, and even that’s a job he got thanks to nepotism.
- Ghost is making headway in his effort to get Truth back from Stern, with evidence gathering that Stern is moving money around to hide assets before his impending divorce.
- The threeway between Tommy and the conveniently placed pair of redheads was unpleasant and gross to look at. I did like Tommy’s waffling about whether or not to keep the dog, but the rest of that didn’t work for me.