Seven years ago, TV viewers were introduced to Tariq St. Patrick (Michael Rainey Jr.), the 12-year-old son of drug kingpin James “Ghost” St. Patrick and his ride-or-die wife, Tasha St. Patrick, in Power. Throughout six seasons of the Courtney Kemp-created series, Tariq transformed from a precocious young tween into a grown man whose sinister and calculating demeanor is more like his father’s than he’d ever care to admit. Now in Power Book II: Ghost, which picks up directly after the events of the original series, Tariq is coming into his own.
The first season of the spin-off chronicled Tariq’s life in the days and weeks following his father’s murder. Determined to adhere to the conditions of his father’s will, Tariq enrolled in the prestigious Stansfield University to obtain his degree. However, with his mother on trial for his father’s murder, he found himself following in Ghost’s footsteps as a means of financial freedom.
While the first season of Power Book: Ghost dealt with the power of family, the second is all about ethics. The series picks up right where season one ended. Tariq’s quiet life as a college student is on the verge of blowing up in his face. After murdering his professor, Jabari Reynolds (Justin McManus), who had attempted to blackmail him, Tariq and Cane Tejada (Woody McClain), the eldest son of drug queenpin Monet Tejada (Mary J. Blige), are trying to keep their names out of the investigation. This time, however, Tariq is trying to evade the law without the level-headed guidance of his mother.
For those just stepping into the Power universe, nothing about the second season of Power Book II: Ghost will make sense. At its core, the series is a soap opera with storylines that have been in the works for years. It follows a college student in implausible situations and the adults around him whose lives are equally off-kilter. For better or worse, the narrative and the characters are over-the-top.
Tariq’s boss Monet is battling over control of her business with her incarcerated husband, Lorenzo (Berto Colon). Their children, Diana (LaToya Tonodeo), Dru (Lovell Adams-Gray), and Cane are all trying to determine who they are without becoming collateral in their parents’ war. Though ousted from his family’s inner circle at the end of last season, Cane seems determined to force his way back in, with the help of brand new drug distributor Mecca (Daniel Sunjata). In contrast, Diana and Dru have aspirations of their own, ones that have nothing to do with the family business and even less to do with following their mother’s oppressive orders.
The Tejadas aren’t the only people going through some transformations this season. Tariq’s best friend and business partner, Brayden Westen (Gianni Paolo), is looking to break rank with his blue-blooded Upper East Side family. Still, money and whiteness are more potent than he might expect. Meanwhile, disgraced Councilman Rashad Tate (Larenz Tate) is looking for a way back onto the front page after his failed bid for governor. A new role at Stansfield might be his ticket back into the spotlight. Attorney Cooper Saxe (Shane Johnson) has joined forces with Davis McClain (Clifford “Method Man” Smith), who has some underhanded reasons for welcoming the former prosecutor into his criminal defense enterprise.
The first episode of the season, “Free Will Ain’t Free,” admittedly feels a bit like a circus, complete with garish, horror movie-type music playing in the background whenever something precarious is set to happen. This opening episode is about catching up with old characters and introducing viewers to the new ones. Tariq’s school, romantic, and work lives are in shambles. His unfinished businesses with his grandmother (Debbi Morgan) and younger sister are another source of stress for the college student. Also, the constant police activity on campus makes it a challenge for Tariq and Brayden to proceed with their drug business as usual.
Episode two, “Selfless Acts,” feels a bit more settled than the premiere. The campy music is gone, and all of the characters’ motivations for this season are much clearer. However, Power Book II: Ghost fans know from past episodes of the show and entire seasons of its predecessor that things can turn on a dime. Lauren (Paige Hurd) appears to be fed up with Tariq’s omissions and cagey behavior, which could open a door for his potential romance with Diana. Some shocking aspects of Monet’s past are revealed. And finally, Professor Carrie Milgram (Melanie Liburd) emerges as the number one suspect in Jabari’s murder.
The Power Book II: Ghost cast is so expansive that the varied levels in acting talent are immediately apparent. Some storylines are a lot more intriguing than others; Rainey’s transformation from a bratty teen to a manipulating young man is intriguing to watch. This season includes several standouts. Tonodo is stretching her wings as Diana, a seemingly meek young woman who is more than ready to navigate life on her own terms. Chicago Med alum Jeff Hephner has joined the cast as Detective Kevin Whitman, who is determined to figure out what happened to Jabari, and he’s not above letting his personal feelings interfere with his judgment. Finally, Sunjata’s Mecca gives fan-favorite Power villain Felipe Lobos (Enrique Murciano) a run for his money. The various characters and storylines will undoubtedly keep fans returning week to week.
For those looking for an entry point into the Power Universe, this season of Ghost is not the way to go. If you haven’t watched season one or any of Power, it’s going to feel convoluted, fast-paced, and almost unruly, especially in comparison to its more elevated and nuanced counterpart: the ’90s-set prequel series, Power Book III: Raising Kanan. But for fans who have gotten to this point in the universe, the drama, dangerous scenarios, and manipulative characters are in spades this season. If Power Book II: Ghost is anything, it’s consistent.
Kemp ended Power because she’d run out of story for James St. Patrick. By allowing Tariq the space to navigate his own world, she’s afforded many beloved and hated characters the opportunity for fans to praise and despise them again and again. To that end, Power Book II: Ghost is precisely what you’d expect it to be—a lot of drama, some far-fetched scenarios, a ton of different absurd key players, some questionable choices, but also quite a bit of fun.