(Caution: spoilers about the season finale of Power ahead!)
Short of getting himself killed, James "Ghost" St. Patrick (Omari Hardwick) getting arrested is probably the worst thing that could happen to him. Going in the pokey compromises his polished business persona and worse, his extremely high view of himself, but that's sho nuff what happened in the Powerfinale Sunday. Angela (Lela Loren) slapped cuffs on him -- but not in a way the ex-lovers might've preferred not that many episodes ago.
While Ghost's arrest certainly presents a big problem -- it really looks like he killed Greg Knox (Andy Bean) -- that's just one of many thrilling events that went down. In its third season, Power once again showed how deftly it can spin together a web of interlocking stories with emotional weight, believable characters and stomach-tightening tension.
It's no wonder Power, which set viewership records with its Season 3 premiere, is now a powerhouse for Starz. Power continues to keep its premise fresh, which by its nature could've been obvious and clichéd (the swagged-out New York City drug dealer with a hip-hop flavor), to create a nuanced, complex and incredibly sexy show oozing with intelligence and insight. Nearly all its story turns, even the outrageous ones, feel organic and real, and even though at this point in the series stories involve complicated crime and legal minutiae, movements are simple enough to follow and fundamentally locked to primal human desire. By the time Angela, Ghost's scorned mistress, slaps those bracelets on Ghost, Power's umpteen stories are both logically resolved yet dangling in front of us in sweaty anticipation of next season.
"At the end of the season," says showrunner Courtney Kemp, "I would say the stakes got higher. Every time he tries to crawl out he causes damage that has a boomerang effect. Ghost is arrested for a crime he didn't commit. He's not guilty but he's up against huge odds. The lover of his ex lover is murdered. He's a black man in America accused of killing a white cop. He's had interactions with this person. He has motives. He's got no idea who actually did it. The quick version is, Ghost is pretty much f---d. We did this on purpose: put him in a situation that's impossible to get out of."
What else? Well we're still not sure what exactly happened to Keisha (La La Anthony) for starters, her disappearance a direct result of her friend Tasha (Naturi Naughton) betraying her. Dre (Rotimi Akinosho) is increasingly becoming a, uh, power player -- positioned to leverage his closeness with Jamie and Kanan (Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson) to carve out an agenda that could prove disruptive.
Sandoval (David Fumero) is sure to be increasingly paranoid -- and therefore dangerous -- now that he's guilty of murdering Greg...in addition to whatever legal terms you use for assisting a drug lord in federal custody. Poor Angela has no idea that her case against Ghost is both flimsy and potentially putting her in greater danger; Tommy (Joseph Sikora) once again is poised to turn on Jamie, this time seemingly for real.
All that plus the whopper: Kanan has Tariq (Michael Rainey Jr.) in his grips -- a result of both Tariq's terrible decisions this season and Kanan's manipulative grooming of him that often felt creepy.
"Completely without the sexual component," Kemp says, "we were trying to show how an adult seduces a kid. We're supposed to be yelling at the screen, 'Tariq, no! Don't hang out with the guy with the scars and burns!' Tariq is on a path that's about nature versus nurture. He's going through adolescence in the worst possible environment. His male role models are Ghost, Tommy and Kanan. Where is he supposed to go for right and wrong?"
Power did an excellent job exploring Jamie's clumsy fatherhood this season. He got it terribly wrong -- strong-arming his children into spending time with his mistress -- and then he got it right too. But like everything he did, Jamie remained cloaked in a blanket of oblivious hubris. Up until now, James St. Patrick was almost always suave and slick, but he slipped so many times this season that it felt like a real relief to hear his attorney Joe Proctor (Jerry Ferrara) finally say what we were all thinking: "Maybe you could have a group text to keep us informed of your f---ups."
Still, Kemp reminds us that he ultimately came closer to what he wanted. "What does he want?," Kemp says. "Milan (Callan Mulvey) out of his life. What does he get? Milan out of his life. Overall this season, Ghost has his three biggest threats eliminated: Holly (Lucy Walters), Lobos (Enrique Murciano), Milan are all dead. It isn't a pretty win, but it's a win." You could say he came out on top this season... if he wasn't headed to prison, that is.
Power returns in 2017.