As far as narrative goes, Power has got to be the most zero-fucks-given show on television. In every episode, at least a dozen things happen at once. I’ll be honest: I find myself dreading these recaps, since every time I watch one, I’m like, “I gotta recap ALL OF THIS?!”
I don’t know how Courtney Kemp Agboh and her writers do it. They have all these characters and plotlines going every which way, and they manage to keep every ball in the air until it’s no longer needed. “I Got This on Lock” is a perfect example of how Power throws everything but the kitchen sink into each episode. You can’t help but marvel at how the hell they do it.
“I Got This on Lock” starts off by heading to D.C., where some idiot is holding up a convenience store. While the idiot’s friend asks him what the hell he’s doing, the guy behind the counter sounds the alarm. The idiot’s friend also texts someone on his phone. Soon enough, a female cop (played by Anika Noni Rose) shows up to stop the robbery. But after she busts a shot off in the clerk, then shoots the idiot, we learn that the friend called her to rectify the situation.
We follow this homicidal cop home, where she brings a bunch of bottles of cough syrup (and the security tape) to her scorching-hot girlfriend. Before we can even ask, “Who the hell is this crazy chick and why has Power dropped her in our laps?” she goes upstairs to her ailing houseguest. And that houseguest is none other than Kanan!
Charred the hell up and still recuperating from the side-shank Ghost gave him, Kanan’s laying low at the crib of his cop cousin, Laverne. (She’s also known as Jukebox, for some reason.) He tries to keep the details about his injuries to a minimum, but Laverne withholds drugs from him until he fesses up. She also gets her bisexual girlfriend to coax the story out of him, which she does by introducing him to a cough-syrup-and-Sprite cocktail she refers to as “Texas Tea.” (As a former Texas resident, I can say this is mostly known as “lean” or “sizzurp.”)
Eventually, Kanan tells Laverne about the battle between him and Ghost (whom she calls a “book-worm muhfucka,” once again reminding us that books don’t mean shit on the streets). When she finds digs through police files, she learns about Shawn’s death and assumes that Ghost killed him. I thought for sure he would clam up and let Ghost take the blame for that. But he actually comes clean and tells her he killed Shawn. Laverne, being the cold-blooded killer she is, tells him he had to do it since Shawn sided with Ghost. He made his choice, and he had to go. Jesus, these two are peas in a damn pod!
Of course, James still thinks Kanan is dead. Though he thinks Lobos is a threat, you wouldn’t know, since he’s primarily focused on sinking his club rivals, Andy and Albie. He ambushes their dinner meeting with hotelier Karen Bassett (Ivana Miličević), where he advises her to pay attention to the company she keeps. She then pays a visit to Truth, where she has a flirty exchange with James, then says she’ll keep an eye on him and his competition before deciding who should run the club in her new, swanky eco-hotel.
James may be making club moves, but his home life is getting bumpy as hell. Remember the gun Tariq found in Angela’s purse? The damn fool takes it to school with him, so James and Tasha rush off to the school to deal with that. At first, James thinks the gun belongs to Tasha, since she has one at home. But the school finds out it was registered to Angela, so Tasha wears that I-told-you-so smirk on her face as she tries to fix the whole ordeal. And now, she’s also got a legitimate reason why she doesn’t want her kids around that heifer.
Tasha also makes some moves with Tommy and Holly, using an unwitting LaKeisha and her hair salon to launder their drug money. This leads to Holly and Tasha having a bonding moment when they’re pulled over by the cops — the quick-witted Holly acts like a suburban mom and Tasha pretends to be her Jamaican nanny. (When they were back at Tommy’s place, Holly joked that Tasha got her Miss Cleo on, a rather ill-timed reference.)
However chummy she gets with Tasha, Holly keeps reminding Tommy that he had to kill Ghost. She pushes especially hard after she learns — surprise! — that she’s pregnant with Tommy’s child. Lobos might kill them and their unborn child. Before Tommy could find out about the pregnancy, though, he gets a text from Tariq to pick him up at a nearby basketball facility. It turns out “Tariq” is actually Ghost, finally coming face-to-face with his childhood buddy. He wants to know if Lobos is coming after him, but Tommy leaves him hanging in the breeze. Even as Ghost tried to convince Tommy that Lobos could off both of them, Tommy is still too stubborn to listen.
Did everybody get all that? That’s what happened in just one episode. I’ll elaborate on other subplots in the bullet points, but do you understand what I mean when I say this show is almost insanely double-stuffed? I hope Kemp and her crew have a lot to unspool, but I’m already tired as hell! You gotta hand it to Kemp for keeping the plotlines rolling at such an ambitious rate. (In a KCRW interview last year, she said that cable shows are way too slow with the stories.) Although I enjoy the snail’s pace of other dramas, it’s fascinating to watch Kemp and her peeps churn out story lines. Let’s see if she can keep this going for the rest of the season.
- Naturi Naughton is working her ass off to become the breakout star of Power. It’s like she saw how Taraji P. Henson stole the show on Empire, so she’s trying to get that same glory. Watching her turn Jamaican out of nowhere was a pleasure, then she pulled out a near-perfect impersonation of Tommy. If that wasn’t enough, she later checked that private-school headmistress by listing off all the kids who didn’t get expelled for their behavior, all to prove that Tariq shouldn’t be the only one. I gotta say, I’m on Team Naughton all the way.
- Less Angela is better. Although she doesn’t do a lot, most of it is substantial: finding a bigger place for Jamie and his kids, having a face-off with Knox, answering for the gun ordeal. Having her in a few crucial scenes seems to be the right idea.
- I could not leave out Tommy and the Chinese. That whole sequence with Jae Shin at the karaoke place is hilarious. Tommy and Shin sit down to talk about the stepped-on product Dylan distributed to the prostitutes — and then Shin gets onstage to sing Corey Hart’s “Sunglasses at Night.” And, of course, Shin gets Dylan to cut off a finger for his actions. Honestly, that whole subplot is nuts.
- Predictably, LeKeisha isn’t feeling Holly up in her business, telling Tasha she’ll bust her “flat ass” if she’s caught stealing. Bonus points for Tasha telling Holly she’ll get used to the burnt hair she smells as they enter the place.
- No Dre or Sandoval this week, but Agent Medina is back to help out Knox. This show keeps coming and going with the characters!
- It was funny hearing Kanan say he was on the “Black Panther diet,” which apparently means he’s doesn’t mess with “the white shit.” It’s also funny when Laverne’s crony calls him “Two-Face,” then says he’s “fried and burned like a pork rind.”