The story of a criminal trying to go straight, “Power” has focused on James “Ghost” St. Patrick’s (Omari Hardwick) efforts to live a legitimate life and all the circumstances and choices that keep him from succeeding. This season, Ghost suffers a terrible loss when a crooked cop kills his teenage daughter Raina (Donshea Hopkins). Raina’s death however, is linked to her twin brother Tariq’s (Michael Rainey Jr.) growing life of crime rather than being a consequence of Ghost’s actions. It’s a compelling twist in a show that has so far kept its stories emotionally uncomplicated. With the sins of the father visited on Ghost’s son and daughter through parental neglect, “Power” has raised its game.
The action begins with Ghost on trial for FBI agent Greg’s (Andy Bean) murder. His affair with Assistant District Attorney Angela (Lela Loren) is shattered after she arrests him and his marriage only exists for the sake of appearances. While Ghost is in prison, Tariq’s relationship with Kanan (50 Cent) sets him on a dangerous path.
As Tariq learns about his father’s past from Kanan, he realizes that Ghost is not the father he thought he was and he rebels. When things spiral out of control, Tariq’s response is to do what Ghost has inadvertently taught him. He lies. After Raina discovers what he’s been doing and wants to tell their parents, he asks her not to and that choice eventually leads to her death.
Instead of making Raina’s death a result of Ghost’s enemies seeking revenge for a deal gone wrong, the show suggests that a more personal crime has taken place. Ghost’s constant efforts to deny his past while doing anything to survive and move beyond it, including murder, causes him to focus on himself and disregard his children. By punishing his inattention with the downward spiral of his son and the death of his innocent daughter, the series takes the idea of parental neglect to an extreme level that is both surprising and impactful.
On the surface, “Power” is a typical story about a drug dealer who enjoys all the material privileges that his ill-gotten wealth affords him. He longs for a legitimate life but as “The Godfather’s” Michael Corleone might say, forces keep pulling him back in. But this season, the show goes beyond the expected and asks interesting questions. Is Ghost powerless to control the course of his life? Can criminality be nurtured? Or is it nature? With a subplot involving the imprisoned gangster father he never knew, the show seems to suggest that at least one character, Tommy (Joseph Sikora), is naturally a criminal.
While Tommy appears irredeemable, Ghost may still be. But Tariq’s path is less clear. Raina’s murder happens in front of him and just as he is ready to give up his short life of crime. Will he repeat the sins of his father?
Season four of “Power” is streaming on Starz.
— Melissa Crawley is the author of “Mr. Sorkin Goes to Washington: Shaping the President on Television’s ‘The West Wing’” and the recently released “The American Television Critic.” She has a Ph.D. in media studies and is a member of the Television Critics Association. To comment on Stay Tuned, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @MelissaCrawley.