By Derek Lawrence
February 09, 2020 at 09:20 PM EST
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Warning: This article contains spoilers about Sunday’s Power series finale.

“I love you.”

Those are Ghost’s (Omari Hardwick) final words before he is shot by…his son. After spending five episodes building up the “Who shot Ghost” mystery, the Power series finale revealed that Tariq (Michael Rainey Jr.) is the one who pulled the trigger.

With Tariq, Tasha (Naturi Naughton), and Saxe (Shane Johnson) as the only suspects left, “Exactly How We Planned” originally sets up Tasha to be the gunwoman, only for Tariq to abandon their plan (blame Ghost Kanan) and confront his father. “I’ll do anything to go back…I just can’t, it’s too late,” he declares to Ghost, who he shoots just as Tasha rushes in. Tariq then makes his way out of Truth (spotting Saxe, information he will use to his advantage later) and quickly circles back to put on a big show of learning of Ghost’s death. Plans to pin the murder on Dre (Rotimi) go bad when Dre himself is murdered, leading Tasha to frame her new man Quentin. But Quentin was smart enough to not be entirely played, and Tasha is arrested. As mother and son both tear up as she’s taken away, Tasha tells Tariq to “Go to school. Live your life.” And the final non-post-credits scene finds him doing just that, settling into his dorm at college, while his mother settles into her new world.

Now that Tariq is confirmed as Ghost’s killer, EW chatted with Michael Rainey Jr. about the threats he’s gotten from fans, his reaction to learning Tariq would be the shooter, and the chances of him landing a Power spin-off (see the Power Universe teaser above).

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: With the world about to officially know that Tariq killed Ghost, how are you feeling?
MICHAEL RAINEY JR.: [Laughs] Man, because all of the leaks, people think I did it and it’s so crazy. Literally, every single day I get like 300 DMs of people being like, “Why the f— would you kill Ghost?!” So now I’m just preparing for how crazy it’s going to be when it’s officially out and confirmed. Like, “Aw man, what’s going to happen now?” I’m definitely ready.

You recently posted about getting 326 death threats. Has it been hard to fathom how people could blur the lines of a show and reality like that?
Since Tariq started acting up in season 3, I’ve been getting messages like, “Why is Tariq acting up? Why you so stupid?” But now it’s way more. So I’ve been used to, but, honestly, it doesn’t really affect me. I just ignore it. I feel like, “Hey, they’re watching the show and they’re into it, so that means something good.”

What was the initial conversation like with creator Courtney Kemp when she told you that Tariq would kill Ghost?
I said, “Wow, you really want people to hate me.” [Laughs] “You literally want people to hate me.” But it’s Power, a lot of crazy things happen, and we had to end the show with a bang. It’s the craziest way to end it, and it’s going to get a huge reaction from everybody, which it already did. So, now that it’s going to be officially aired on Sunday, it’s going to get a huge, huge reaction. Courtney is a genius and I don’t go against a genius, so I’m with it.

The plan was for Tasha to kill Ghost, but then Tariq has a change of heart. Why do you think he felt like he had to be the one to do it?
Personally, I feel like that’s a man’s job. I don’t feel like any woman should have to do something like that. But I think Tariq had to step up and do the job, like, he couldn’t let his mom do that. Everyone has an issue with Ghost, but Ghost is in Tariq’s way, and is about to turn Tariq in, so I feel Tariq had to do it himself because it’s his own personal problem and he wants to be the one to deal with his pops.

What was it like getting into that mindset? It’s such a specific and dark place, this son who feels so betrayed and scared of his father that he has to go to these extremes.
It’s definitely an interesting place. I relate on a personal level to a lot of the previous scenes with Ghost, because I don’t have the best relationship with my father. But this is a little extreme. [Laughs] I don’t relate to that. From the beginning to now, it’s been an interesting process, and it hasn’t been too difficult for me. I just internalized it and took it and did what I could do.

Cara Howe/Starz

As much as this episode was about a son killing his father, it was also about the bond between a son and a mother. What did you like about exploring Tariq and Tasha’s relationship here and getting to work so intimately with Naturi?
I loved it. Tariq and Tasha also didn’t have the best relationship at one point in the show, so to see them put that stuff in the past and start working with each other and trusting one another and really having a…well, it’s a pretty abnormal mother and son relationship, but it’s a loving mother and son relationship. The fact that they built their relationship back is a good thing.

You essentially grew up on this show, with these people, so how emotional was that last day of filming?
It was bittersweet. I definitely cried a lot. We’ve been working with each other for six years and these people are like a family to me. It’s a different type of feeling, like, “Damn, I’m not going to see my family every day anymore.” It’s an ending, but it’s a new beginning, so I was sad and happy as well. We put together a good show for six years, the fans loved it, so we did a good job.

Is it wild to think back on the journey and see how far you and the character came? Like you said, it wasn’t even until season 3 when Tariq got his own story lines, and in the end, he ends up being the last man standing.
Yeah, it’s insane. Even season 3 and season 4, it was unbelievable to me that I was getting my own story lines. So, from that to being the last man standing, I really can’t believe it. It’s still unreal to me, but I’ve been taking it in more and more. It’s a blessing, and I couldn’t be more thankful.

With his father dead and his mother in jail for murdering him, what do you imagine Tariq’s future looks like?
Well, he’s got to make money, so he’s going to be on the grind. He’s definitely going to be focused on trying to help his mom and her situation. But I feel like Tariq is going to do whatever he needs to do. Also, he has help grandma and his little sister, so he’ll do anything to take care of them. Tariq is going to be grinding a lot.

Do you think he finishes school? That was a rough first day, so does he end up making it four more years after that?
Man, I don’t know. We will see…hopefully. He’s got to get that will.

You say hopefully, but, with so much talk about spin-offs, have you talked to Courtney about the future of Tariq?
Oh yeah. They’ve got something in the works, but we will see what’s going on. I’m excited.

Any final words on your Power experience?
I really just want to thank everyone who was a part of it: the crew, the cast, production. Because I grew up with them; I started out on the show at 11, and they saw me turn into a young man, and they’re a big part of my story. So, reflecting back, I’m very appreciative. Being a part of a show like that, I couldn’t have asked for anything better.

Thanks for chatting, Michael, and best of luck this weekend. Hopefully everyone takes it easy and realizes it’s a TV show.
I don’t think they’ll take it easy, but thanks. [Laughs] That’s what comes with it. But I’m ready for it.

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