Power's Season Premiere (Thankfully) Refuses to Give Up The Ghost

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<i>Power</i>'s Season Premiere (Thankfully) Refuses to Give Up The Ghost

Last year’s sophomore season convinced me that Starz’s Power had offically earned the prestige drama label. As the Golden Age continues to evolve, that descriptor evolves too, but there’s one thing we will always need from shows like this—compelling characters making questionable (or just plain terrible) decisions. Last week we published a list ranking all of the episodes of Breaking Bad, perhaps the greatest prestige drama of all time, and a show where endlessly watchable characters remained in a near-perpetual state of drama, largely due to bad decisions and good intentions (and plenty of bad intentions, too). Power’s James “Ghost” St. Patrick hasn’t achieved Walter White levels of cultural fame yet, and Power still has its flaws, but last night’s Season Three premiere gives us plenty of reasons to keep following this show, where fascinating characters continue to fall victim to love and other drugs.

“Call Me James,” is the refrain of the hour, and we know that Omari Hardwick’s Ghost is actively trying to speak his legitimate self into existence. We also know that he will fail. In fact, he has to fail, because Power (and Tommy, and James himself) isn’t quite ready to give up the Ghost. Of course, neither are we. But it’s always fun to watch as TV protagonists insist that they’re done—for good this time—with their old ways. Power has always been interested in exploring moral greys through characters like James/Ghost and Lela Loren’s Angela. These are, perhaps, the only two characters on the show who sincerely want to be good people (even though, for both of them, this seems to require doing occasionally bad things). And so, we feel a certain amount of relief at the start of the premiere, seeing them together at the club, playing the happy couple, having sex in the office. (Someone else who’d be less embarrassed should really write about how unbelievably hot that sex scene was, BTW.)

And the premiere promises us more of the same push and pull that we’ve come to expect from James and Angela—the potential for explosive relationship drama is already brewing. Angela presses James about Julio’s appearance at the club. There’s that not-so-subtle moment where they bump into each other, while trying to get dressed and go to their respective jobs. Under the covers (or, on top of a desk, wherever) these two are in perfect sync, but when it comes to their lives and careers in the real world, James and Angela stumble over each other. It’s an awkward dance made all the more awkward by the fact that they’ve never achieved complete honesty (or trust) between each other. They both know, deep down, Ghost isn’t dead. Or the know—like we do—that, if he is, a resurrection is already in the works.

But the other interesting part about Power (and the part that brings some of the most entertaining scenes of the series), is that we have characters who don’t seem especially interested in moral grey zones. Tommy is still happily Tommy, throwing people off roofs in bubble wrap, stuffing his face while courting new clientele. And “Call Me Ghost” also centers on Dre (played by Rotimi), James’ new right-hand man in the club. Dre makes it clear that legal money (AKA slow money) doesn’t necessarily appeal to him. James has, once again, made the mistake of assuming that everyone from the hood ultimately wants what he wants—the opportunity to make a good deal of money without the risk of getting killed or locked up. Not so, for Dre.

“I said I wanna look clean like you. I never said I want to be clean.”

Dre is another reminder that some people love the streets—for better or worse, though it’s also not entirely clear if Dre is like Tommy and completely disinterested in getting out of the game. It’s also important to understand that guys like him, and Tommy, are not the bad guys on Power—they’re not presented as polar opposites of James/Ghost. Rather, they have a different outlook on what qualifies as success. James thinks (or thought) it’s about giving up the drug world and all the fast money that comes with it. For someone like Tommy, success is money, power, respect and a good time. I’m still not sure what Dre wants, beyond the money, but I’m excited to find out. Rotimi has proved to be an incredibly capable actor over the first two season, so I’m interested in seeing where the Power writers take his character this season.

We don’t have to worry about this show bringing the drama. Lobos is alive, and so is Kanan—what they both can accomplish while people believe they are dead should be pretty diabolical. Tasha and Ghost are officially over… but we know how complicated break-ups can get on shows like this. Angela is still in the thick of it, dating (now living with) a guy who could cost her her career—and who has yet to be entirely honest with her about the ghosts (and skeletons, or literal bodies) of his past and present. And Tommy and Holly’s dog is DEAD! Still, I want to see Power flesh out characters like Dre, and focus on the odd relationships and family dynamics that are sure to complicate the ready-made drama of Season Three.

Shannon M. Houston is a Staff Writer and the TV Editor for Paste. This New York-based writer probably has more babies than you, but that’s okay; you can still be friends. She welcomes almost all follows on Twitter.