August 3, 2014

THE SKED Season Finale Review: “Power”


Remarkably little happened during the first season of POWER.  (It’s already been renewed for a second session, that is if you continue to believe that Starz doesn’t give 2-year orders that pretend to be 1-year terms plus instant renewals.)  Sure, sex was had and people (mostly anonymous) were killed, but at a time when TV dramas routinely rip through acres of storyline in a single hour, it was incredible but true that after a full 8-episode season, drug distributor/nightclub owner James “Ghost” St. Patrick (Omari Hardwick) still didn’t know that the love of his life, Angela Valdes (Lela Loren) was an Assistant US Attorney tracking down drug distributors, and she still didn’t know that he was the mysterious “Ghost” she was after.  The fact that James had literally never asked Angela what she did for a living (since she didn’t know he was a criminal, she’d have no reason to lie) was contrived by series creator Courtney Kemp Agboh well past the point of acceptability.  For that matter, the show waited until the end of its 7th hour to reveal its One Big Twist, which was that the mysterious person who’d hired a hitwoman methodically murdering Ghost’s business associates all season was Ghost’s jailed mentor Kanan (series Executive Producer Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson).

Oddly, the only reason that Season 2 of Power may be more engaging than the first is that the completely unresolved season finale (reinforcing the idea that the show knew it had a second season coming all along) set things up so that Ghost’s oldest friend and increasingly resentful second-in-command Tommy (Joseph Sikora), a far more interesting character, may be closer to its center.  In the last few minutes of the finale (written by Agboh and staff writer Vladimir Cvetko and directed by Kari Skogland), he finally did learn Angela’s job–plus as the season ended, he hadn’t yet learned that his intriguingly unstable girlfriend Holly (Lucy Walters) had been seriously, and perhaps fatally, wounded by Kanan’s assassin.  In addition, Kanan himself was quietly released from prison at the end of the finale, which should liven things up.

Season 1 of Power, however, wasn’t much more than an transposed Warner Bros crime drama from the 1930s, except there were 8 hours of it and it had no ending.  Aside from Tommy and Holly, the characters–not just Ghost and Angela, but Ghost’s wife Tasha (Natari Naughton), his criminal and club colleagues, and the members of Angela’s federal task force–were hardly developed at all beyond the way they were presented at the series’ start.  When a viewer started to look forward to the appearances of scuzzy pedophile informant Nomar (Vinicius Machado)–now unfortunately dead at Tommy’s hand–something was clearly lacking from the show’s protagonists.  Hardwick brought the same intensely furrowed brow to every scene, and Loren was less than believable as a hard-driving government attorney.

Power was sleek and had its finger on an interesting place at the intersection of club life and crime, but its gangsterhood was straight out of The Godfather and (even more) its hundreds of imitators, and its view of high society and the world of glamorous business wasn’t much more sophisticated than what you’d see on Revenge.  It was easy to share Tommy’s impatience with his partner/boss, and although Tommy and his kleptomaniac girlfriend were clearly doomed as a couple, they were the chief inducement to stay tuned for another season.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."