[Warning: The following contains spoilers for the latest episode of Power, "No One Can Stop Me." Read at your own risk!]
Shocked by that eye-popping moment in Episode 10 of Power? Maybe you shouldn't be.
"We set up very early there were only two ways this was going to play out," Courtney Kemp, Power's creator and executive producer told TV Guide earlier this week. Certainly, anyone who watches this gritty NYC crime drama already knows that old urban adage that drug dealers either end up dead or in jail, and since James St. Patrick (Omari Hardwick) has already rocked an orange jumpsuit, there's really only one remaining way his saga could end, right?
In the the final moments of the finale, Ghost doubled down on telling Tariq to turn himself in for murder -- thus, betraying his own promise to clean up the mess himself -- pissed off Tasha again (Naturi Naughton), humiliated Rashad Tate (Larenz Tate), and infuriated Saxe (Shane Johnson), Paz (Elizabeth Rodriguez), and of course Tommy (Joseph Sikora). Afteward, Ghost finally caught the bullets he'd been dodging for very long time. Last seen cascading over the balcony in his nightclub Truth, Ghost was falling, bewildered and bloody -- possibly on his way to meet his maker. So what's the deal? Is Ghost really dead?
"I'm not saying that," Kemp said. "Ghost has been shot."
Of course, Kemp is the master of a well-crafted, completely factual yet slightly misleading hint about what's next on Power; after all, at the end of Season 5, Kemp said Angela Valdes wasn't dead in that finale either, and while that was technically true, Valdes was worm food before the end of the first act. So, Power fans will have to wait until January 2020 to officially learn Ghost's fate, though the odds of him being alive ain't good. Remember, James St. Patrick spent a good deal of the episode, titled "No One Can Stop Me," telling everyone who didn't jump on command exactly that, which was an almost certain sign that somebody was going to prove him wrong. "I was trying to say 'Pride goeth before the fall,'" Kemp said.
Whether Ghost is dead or alive, the other big question that remains is which of his many enemies tried to kill him, and that, no surprise, is another cup of delicious tea Kemp was again unwilling to spill. TV Guide asked her about a rumor that the last five episodes might reveal who shot Ghost through the lens of different characters, showing action from individual Power players' point of view until the real shooter was identified. "The back five episodes are one giant jigsaw puzzle," she said. "They are engineered to make people go crazy with debate about what happens." She didn't confirm or deny the rumor of episodes told from multiple characters' POV, though she did say she and her writers' room love Rashomon, the seminal 1950 Japanese flick that has four different people giving their own accounts of a man's murder.
It might be hard to conceive of Power without its infamous antihero, even if Kemp has asserted many times that nobody is sacred on the show, and that it's not called The Ghost Show but Power. Still, there are die-hard Power fans in the show's passionate Reddit forums who have pledged to quit the show if Ghost is no longer driving its action, a threat that doesn't move Kemp much at all. "With love and respect to those people, if they're expecting to see the same version of the show going forward I don't know what they were looking for. I hope they don't represent the majority ... I don't know if I can tell the story in a different way. To some extent I think people want fan fiction, which is not what what the show does."
Though Ghost's fate hangs in the air, what we do know for sure is that the pulse-pounding, groundbreaking drama is coming to an end and relatively soon -- we'll be saying goodbye to whoever's still standing by the end of spring. No formal announcement for the first spin-off, which will star Mary J. Blige, has been released yet, but it's expected in late summer of 2020, and will pick up 72 hours after the events of the Power finale. Power Book II: Ghost has James St. Patrick's alias in the title but, knowing this show, that's hardly a sure sign the Ghost we know is in it -- 50 Cent has teased it could be a prequel. Given the way the mid-season finale played out, with Ghost going back to his father's business and then romancing Ramona (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) in the same way he did Angela in the first episode, Episode 10 had an air of full-circle finality to it, and that wasn't accidental.
"The whole episode is about beginning and endings, all these fundamental aspects of who Ghost is," said Kemp. "The alpha and omega of things."
Power returns with its final five episodes Sunday, January 5th at 8 p.m. on Starz.