Amid all the craziness of Power's most recent episode it's easy to overlook that we finally saw something that's been a long time coming: James (Omari Hardwick) taking responsibility for the trauma he inflicted on his son.
It happeneed when Tariq (Michael Rainey Jr.) gives Jamie the business, telling him, "You move out, you make us meet Angela and move in with her and you don't even talk to us about it! What kind of father does that?" It's a good question. And though Jamie answers his son with admirable grace and sensitivity, that doesn't diminish what led to it in the first place.
Jamie, of course, has been living with his flame Angela (Lela Loren) for a while now, and while he hasn't abandoned his kids — he's been pretty good remaining present, in fact — he's forced on them a disruptive and traumatic transition. We've collectively groaned at Jamie's short-sighted, oblivious insistence his kids spend the night at Angela's (Lela Loren) and then saw how bad this was becoming when Tariq took Angela's gun to school.
Sure, marriages and parenting are nuanced, complicated challenges with no clear answers. At the same time, Jamie's hubris and shady business nearly caused his son to witness his father's demise — which is hard to justify under any circumstances. So we have to ask, is James St. Patrick actually a terrible father?
"We argue in the writer's room all the time whether he's a good father or a bad father," Power creator and executive producer Courtney Kemp told TVGuide.com. "We have a joke in the writer's room: Heated Marble Floors. It's like, how bad is Tariq's life if you have heated marble floors?" On the other hand, You just got shot at! In front of your son! You're not a good dad."
Power's main character isn't named Ghost for nothing; his truth occupies a gray area. "Both are right," Kemp said. "[Tariq's] father is present, he knows his father. He's been there for [Tariq], hustling for him. Ghost is incredibly flawed."
Apart from, well, you know, the most powerful scene in Power's most recent episode had to be the touching, tender hug between Jamie and Tariq — a strong reminder that Power is fundamentally about men's relationships.
That's rich terrain to explore in the modern era, where definitions and expectations of manhood have changed so drastically. The macho, toss-a-baseball, pat-on-the-back approach to being a dad just doesn't cut it for Gens X, Y and beyond; parents today are expected to provide emotional sustenance as well as food on the table. Does Jamie get it right? Is he really doing the best he can? Whether he thinks so or not, it's clear his son's disappointment and resentment will take a long time to repair.
"The show is always about fathers, sons and brothers, always," Kemp said. "I think male relationships are really complicated. You can't as two straight men say, 'I love you,' and a lot of times in black families, fathers and sons don't say it." Indeed, it's hard to remember seeing a father and son share such an intimate, vulnerable moment together on TV in recent memory, especially black men. Jamie is clearly trying, but is it enough?
One thing is clear: all this change has left Tariq's mom Tasha (Naturi Naughton) shouldering a big burden in keeping her children and household together in un-ideal circumstances — a role with which many women are all too familiar. But that's another story for another day.
Power airs Sundays at 9/8c on Starz.