Power Episode (1×01) Review – “Not Exactly…”

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Power

Once You’re In, Can You Ever Get Out?

Starz’s decision to jump into the original programing game has been another win for subscribers, when its latest original series, Power, premiered this week. Starring Omari Hardwick, Power tells the story of James “Ghost” St. Patrick (Hardwick), a New York City club owner who’s also a drug kingpin. Produced by rapper/actor 50 Cent, the story is about Ghost trying to escape his demons and go legit, while everything he holds dear becomes unknowingly threatened. Filled with a diverse cast amid the beautiful backdrop of the Big Apple, Power is a gritty crime drama that captures your attention. So let’s dive in and talk about this visionary new series.

RELATED | Executive Producer 50 Cent’s “Power” Picked up for Second Season by Starz

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“What if it could be more than that? What if this is our retirement plan?”

While the idea of a criminal going straight isn’t a new idea (The Godfather?), Power manages to breath new life into this trope by setting it in the New York club scene. Ghost has a beautiful wife and children and lives the life most of us could only dream of, but it’s tainted by his criminal activities. His best friend, Tommy, is his partner in crime, but also turns out to be stealing from him. Why isn’t clear, but the episode allows you to infer that it’s because Tommy loves the criminal life too much to give it up, and may want to branch out on his own once Ghost goes legit. To make things even more complicated is the reemergence of Ghost’s childhood love, Angela Valdez, who returns to New York after a 20 year absence. While I’m not particularly excited to see yet another love triangle, this one is very exciting considering Angela is a U.S. Attorney out to bring down a big fish.

Angela: We can give him a way out, but only if he decides to take it.

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“You think the fry cook at Burger King knows the f*ckin’ CEO?”

Aside from giving us a charismatic criminal looking to clean up his act, Power also sets up a power play between Ghost and his supplier Lobos. This guys is the big fish Angela is looking to catch, and he’s not happy that Ghost got robbed by some unknown drug thief. While it’s later revealed that Tommy is the one double-dipping, this power play puts Ghost and his loved ones in danger. Ghost’s wife, Tasha, is in the know about how her husband earns a living, but their children and friends are completely in the dark. This kind of thing is also very common in crime capers, but this twist is very welcome as it gives Ghost something more to lose. Not only can he lose his family, but he also has his legitimate business and reputation in his enemies’ crosshairs.

Drug Dealer: I’m not afraid to die.

Ghost: And I’m not afraid to kill you.

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The Great American Melting Pot

Power’s diverse cast gives an authentic feel. As Ghost and his crew moves through the streets of New York, you see many of the cultures and languages that make up the unique city carrying on in the background. Not only that, but the show’s cast itself is very diverse. Ghost is an Afro-American male who has somehow managed to merge his business with a South American drug lord’s. This is a novel idea as we usually see a racial divide between the criminal element in crime dramas. Instead of pretending this not to be the case here, the drug lord Lobos even mentions to another associate how bizarre it may seem for him to work with blacks. New York City is a place of many cultures, languages, and customs, and the series manages to captures this and gives the city such life that it’s like another character.

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Should I Watch?

The verdict is still out, but as of now I’d say hell yes! Writer Courtney Kemp Agboh gives each of these characters a sense of individuality that makes it easy to distinguish who they are right from the start. While we may not understand the motives of some of them as of yet, they still manage to seem real. Director Anthony Hemingway captures New York’s criminal scene in a way that feels fresh as well as the various people that thrive in the city. The cast did a sensational job of bringing this show to life, and Omari Hardwick is absolutely captivating as Ghost. From the beautifully cut suits he wears, so the way he can switch back and forth from the tough crime boss to loving husband and father is mesmerizing to behold. Naturi Naughton also stole the screen as Ghost’s tough as nails wife who suspects her husband has stepped out on her, and Joseph Sikora did a phenomenal job of playing ghost’s partner who’d rather remain in “the game” than go legit. Even though the series’ plot isn’t necessarily a new one, Power still managed to keep me glued to my TV screen and left me wanting more.