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Power creator explains the reason behind the most shocking death yet

‘We wanted something that at this stage of the series would change everyone’s life forever,’ Courtney A. Kemp tells EW

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The penultimate episode of Power‘s fourth season tragically claimed a member of the St. Patrick family… but not the one you thought it would.

While Tariq’s (Michael Rainey Jr.) rebellion into the world of drugs and crime was surely never headed for a happy ending, the resulting death of Raina (Donshea Hopkins) was far from expected. Just as he was ready to end his short-lived criminal career, his past caught up with him in the form of Ray Ray (Marcus Callendar). The dirty undercover cop, who Tariq met through Kanan (50 Cent), was out to sew up any loose ends, and instead of Ghost’s (Omari Hardwick) son, he found his daughter. And as Tariq hid nearby, he watched as his twin sister’s confrontation with Ray Ray ended in her murder.

EW spoke with creator Courtney A. Kemp about the tragic final moments, the inevitability of Raina’s death, and why it wasn’t a hard decision to make.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When we talked a few weeks ago, you said there would be some big reactions to the final episodes. I’m sure a lot of that was in reference to what happens here to Raina. What went into the decision to kill her off?
COURTNEY A. KEMP: It had a lot to do with the inevitable, which was that Tariq was getting more and more over his head in dealing with a world he doesn’t understand. What are the natural consequence of messing with gangsters? You get hurt. And in this case, Tariq has also been raised in a family where lying is how it goes — this is what they do. What we also liked is this idea that Tariq has told his sister that he doesn’t want anyone to know, so she finds out and wants to tell mom, and he begs her, “Please, don’t tell anyone.” Well, she listens to him and it costs her her life. And I think that is a really kind of beautiful way to tell that story. She loves her brother, her brother loves her, but at the end of the day, Tariq is possessed with the need to individuate from his parents and it blows up in his face. Unfortunately, she’s the one who gets hurt.

The most obvious way for Raina to die would have been as a result of Ghost’s business. So what intrigued you about making it unconnected, and more interestingly, a result of the actions of her aspiring criminal twin brother?
We wanted it to be about, the sins of the father that are visited upon the son and the daughter are really his neglect as a parent. Ghost’s self-involvement and his eye being elsewhere made him vulnerable to arrest and incarceration, and distracted from the family. And while all that was happening, Tariq was getting further and further into a life of crime. We wanted this story to really be about Tariq and, as a result, it’s about his rebellion against his father. So it’s about Ghost in one way, but in a lot of other ways it’s actually really about, “Are criminals born or are they made?” Nature versus nurture. We always said that Raina is a truly good character and, you know on Power, if you’re a good guy, you die. Whether you’re Shawn (Sinqua Walls), Greg (Andy Bean), Julio (J.R. Ramirez), if you’re a good guy, you’re probably going to get it on our show.

I know you’ve said in the past that you believe in fearless storytelling, but was this one that you had to really debate on literally pulling the trigger?
I feel like you want me to say this was a very difficult decision, but it really wasn’t. It’s a hard thing to tell the actor, who is a kid. That’s really hard. But the decision to kill off the character isn’t hard because it’s the right decision… it’s the thing that would happen. Ghost is constantly fighting this idea that he’s a criminal, but he is. And it was the logical next progression in Tariq’s story; something he couldn’t change or take back would happen. Our show is not about power, it’s really about powerlessness. The idea that you don’t have power over what’s happening next no matter how much you think you do. So we wanted something that at this stage of the series would change everyone’s life forever.

The Power season finale airs Sept. 3 at 9 p.m. ET on Starz.