It’s not everyday that a TV series spurs on not one, not two, but four spin-offs.
When the popular crime drama ‘Power’ wrapped up its six-season run in February, its showrunners announced a quadruple expansion plan, starting with ‘Power Book II: Ghost’, streaming on Starz Play starting September 7, followed by ‘Power Book III: Raising Kanan’, ‘Power Book IV: Influence’, and ‘Power Book V: Force’.
Considered to be one of the most watched cable shows — and one of Starz Play’s highest rated titles — ‘Power’ follows drug dealer James St Patrick (Omari Hardwick), who operates under the street name ‘Ghost’, and hopes to leave the criminal world to follow legitimate business interests as a nightclub owner.
However, (spoilers ahead), a controversial series finale features no happy ending, as Ghost’s son, Tariq (Michael Rainey Jr), kills his father, and his mother, Tasha (Naturi Naughton), is charged with the crime and placed behind bars.
Now, up-and-coming actor Rainey Jr, 19, takes over the reigns as the star of the first spin-off of the bunch. ’Power Book II: Ghost’, created by Courtney Kemp, picks up days after the finale and tracks Tariq as he navigates life as a college kid struggling to shed his father’s legacy and trying to gather enough money to hire a lawyer to get his mother out of prison.
“I didn’t really expect like the feedback that I’m getting from this [final] episode to be the feedback that I’m getting. It’s a lot more positives than it is negatives and I’m surprised. But hey, I appreciate everything. I’m excited and now people [are] looking forward to ‘Power Book II’ and I’m just ready to give it to them,” says Rainey Jr, who refers to his character as ‘Ghost 2.0’.
“[Tariq is] dealing with a lot because he just killed his father. He had to do what he had to do. I’m not sure if he really wanted to, but he knows that he had to do it. Now his mother’s in jail, he has to focus on getting that money for a good lawyer to help his mother. He got to be there for her while she’s locked up … Then he’s got to finish school on top of that. He’s in school heavy, he’s tutoring people, he got all types of responsibilities to worry about. So, Tariq’s head is all over the place right now,” says Rainey Jr.
The lawyer in question is Davis Maclean, played by none other than Method Man, aka Clifford Smith.
Curtis ‘50 Cent’ Jackson, who served as an executive producer on ‘Power’, has admitted that he had been “begging” the Wu-Tang Clan rapper to be part of the series.
“I know 50 Cent from back in the days and I’m very proud to see him making the moves that he’s making,” says Smith. “I know a lot of his trolling stuff [online] overshadows some of the work that he does but if you really look at it, he’s so smart that the trolling actually leads you to his projects, so kudos to 50 Cent. He’s playing chess while these other people are just playing checkers, man. He knows what he’s doing.”
Smith’s character is brought in to defend Tariq’s mother, Tasha, and Rainey Jr describes him as “definitely a shark”. Maclean doesn’t believe in what he’s fighting for, but he’s a by-any-means-necessary kind of guy, so long as the price is right.
So, he gets behind Tasha and her family.
“Her loyalty to her family is very deep, but I don’t trust her fully,” says Smith. “I think she’s a liar, pretty much. And as far as the whole St Patricks clan, like I said, I only know what I read in the newspapers and if they can pay my fee, who cares who they are?”
“He wants that money,” agrees Rainey Jr, laughing. “That’s all he wants. He wants that money. He wants to win that case. He doesn’t care what he got to do for it. He gone win the case.”
As for his own character, who’s suddenly at the centre of the storm, Rainey Jr refers to a certain duality.
“Tariq, he has two sides to him. You got the smart kid that has to get his schoolwork done. The smart kid that has to tutor and keep the professors happy and then it’s the street kid in him, he got to get that money for Ma’s lawyer, gotta get that money to keep selling that stuff. So, it’s a lot of things going on for him right now and he’s done a good job at it,” says Rainey Jr.
“Ghost 2.0. It applies more than ever now cause he’s really on his own and he gotta get it how he gotta get it. He gotta use his brain, he gotta use his head and a lot of that stuff is coming from Ghost. I mean that’s his dad right there. So, he’s just carrying it down.”
Another newcomer to the ‘Power’ franchise is Mary J Blige, who plays a queenpin by the name of Monet. For Rainey Jr, working alongside Blige has been surreal.
“Monet doesn’t really want him around at all, to be honest. She doesn’t trust him, she doesn’t like him … but she sees how much of a help he is later on in the season. So, she gains more trust in him and she starts to like him, and she brings him in as one of her own,” says Rainey Jr.
“When I was younger and my mom would be cleaning the house all the time, all I would hear is Mary J. Now, it’s like I’m on set with Mary J. We doing scenes together. It’s crazy and she loves me. She tells me all the time how good I’m doing and stuff and [it] just makes me feel amazing, she’s recognising how I’m doing and it’s just — wow, she really believes in me. She really thinks I’m talented. So, it’s just a blessing, working with all of these legends.”
And while one of those legends, Smith, might be new to the ‘Power’ family, he’s got some strong words for the show’s loyal fan base.
“I think that any fans that’s coming thinking that this is going to live up to ‘Power’ shouldn’t even tune in because we don’t want that audience at all. We want you to come in and think, okay, this is just adding onto the great work that these actors have done over the past six seasons,” says Smith.
“What I can tell the fans is if you’re a fan of ‘Power’, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to be a fan of ‘Power Book II’ but if you give ‘Power Book II’ a chance and forget about whatever your quiver or qualms are about ‘Power’, the first ‘Power’, oh, you’re going to have a hell of a time with this. A lot of cliffhangers and twists. It’s the kind of show that, when it ends, it ends on such a high note that you’ve got to come back and see what happens next week and that’s what we’re doing this season. Every single episode is ending with some kind of cliffhanger that makes you want to come back next week.”
Don’t miss it!
‘Power Book II: Ghost’ begins streaming on Starz Play on September 7.