Power star Joseph Sikora on his Ghost arrival, Tommy spin-off
Warning: This article contains spoilers about Sunday’s Power Book II: Ghost season 1 finale.
"I want all the smoke."
Not sure Tommy (Joseph Sikora) envisioned that would lead to him going up in flames. Well, at least in the eyes of Saxe (Shane Johnson) and the feds.
A lot went down in the season 1 finale of Power Book II: Ghost, but none more noteworthy than the arrival of Power fan-favorite Tommy, who was last seen heading to Los Angeles — and his own upcoming spin-off. But with Tasha (Naturi Naughton) agreeing to pin Ghost's (Omari Hardwick) murder on him, he returned to New York looking for blood.
And that's not the only grudge he's holding. After failing to shoot Tasha, he reluctantly strikes a deal with Tariq (Michael Rainey Jr.), who Tommy knows is the real killer of his lifelong best friend. While Tasha and Tariq help Tommy fake his death and put a stop to any investigation, he wants more. Tommy tracks the St. Patricks to Ghost's grave, only for Tasha to be saved and rushed into witness protection, and for Tommy's subsequent attempt to deal with Tariq to be foiled by an ambush from Monet (Mary J. Blige).
“Do what you gotta do, because, Tariq, if you let me go, I’m gonna go after Tasha," declares Tommy. "I ain’t never gonna stop.” Tariq insists that he doesn't want him dead. “Uncle T, you wasn’t wrong, he did what he had to do, even if people hated him for it," says Tariq, alluding to Ghost. But Tommy doesn't want to hear it. “You see this bullshit right here, this shit exactly like him. Just like Ghost," he says. “We ain’t never gonna see each other again.”
Thankfully, we will soon see Tommy again on Power Book IV: Force.
To get the scoop on Tommy's Ghost arrival, EW chatted with Sikora about getting the call to guest-star, whether Tommy can ever forgive Tasha or Tariq, and what he's looking forward to further exploring on Force.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Tommy's reemergence wasn't necessarily surprising since the breadcrumbs had been laid throughout the season, but I still couldn't help but smile when we first saw his car.
JOSEPH SIKORA: I got to tell you that even before anything was said, when I watched the first episode, I was like, “Okay, they’re going to ask me back at some point.” [Laughs]
Oh wow, so that wasn’t even a thing that was settled before Ghost started.
Not necessarily settled settled, but [creator] Courtney Kemp is a dear friend and knows that I’m a team player and always up for expanding and being a part of the Power Universe. So I’m always there.
Tommy has long been my favorite character and I can’t wait for Force, and yet I still didn’t realize just how much I missed Tommy until he was in front of me again.
That’s a huge compliment, because I think they did a good job in departing from Power but at the same time it was probably a pretty shocking, in-your-face reminder that it’s still the same world.
It technically hasn’t been that long between when you wrapped Power and returned for Ghost, but what did it feel like being back as Tommy?
I think the Tommy character is a really powerful character. It was kind of like putting on those sneakers that feel so good to put on; they’re worn in, they’re the right ones for the job. It felt really good, and it was also great because they have most of the same crew, and all of the crew members and I get along so well that it was a big homecoming. I mean, I walked onto set and got a bit of an ovation, and there’s nothing like being celebrated by your peers. And so I was just so grateful that everybody missed me, and I had such a great time being back. I really do love being Tommy and I’m so excited to continue on as Tommy when the Force show comes into play because I think there’s so much more to discover about him and the fans let us know that they want to know more about what makes him tick.
Considering I didn’t get to chat with you at the end of Power, what did you think of how things ended for Tommy and Ghost? I remember Courtney telling me that she thinks it’s the "saddest ending of a television show ever."
It was a very emotional scene. Even watching the scene, it’s not like I was lost in my own performance but I was able to get into the story and watch myself from the outside, and really more to the point watch Tommy and Ghost and what that was like. And man, it was sad. It was really a sad ending for these two brothers in arms. It was really a finality. Yes, it was a total finality for Ghost, but it was being a finality for the partnership and the brotherhood of these two men. It was really emotional and a real departure, so I’m going to be very excited to see what Tommy fills up that empty shell with.
You talked about your reaction when you thought you might get the call for Ghost, but what was your first reaction when Courtney told you or gave you a hint of the plans for more iterations of Power and Tommy’s involvement?
I think it was a lot of different emotions. I wanted to know where they were going to with the story because you always want to know. It’s so exciting to think of the possibilities but then you have to think of the practicality of where are we going to go with this story. I think, because as you said, Tommy has been a fan favorite, you then think, why is Tommy a fan favorite, and a lot of that is because he’s always been looking for family and always surrounded himself with people that one way or another are familial, and now what does he do when he has no family? Everybody he cares about is dead or dead to him. Especially you saw the finale of Ghost, so you know there was a finality in that, that it's, "You’re never going to see me again, this is it." Tommy is so New York, everything about him; he’s said it time and again in Power how he just wants to get back home, because that’s kind of like his hair if he was Samson. He needs to cut off all that figurative hair to leave home, and so is Tommy going to be able to survive outside of New York? How adaptable is he? And I think we will find out all these great things about Tommy that we possibly had an idea of and now we’re going to get to see him develop these things from a new beginning.
When it came to the Ghost finale, and once you talked to Courtney and got the script, what were you most excited about in regards to Tommy’s return?
I’m a big fan of Randy Huggins, who was the writer, and Aixsha Hiciano, who used to be Courtney’s assistant and worked on the episode with Randy. I had such faith, and I always have faith in Courtney’s storytelling, so I knew it would be fun. I just wanted to make sure that it was still the same Tommy. It was interesting to have those scenes with Michael Rainey Jr., whose character by the time of the finale has had to have that evolutionary journey of a season, so it wasn’t necessarily the same Tariq that I left and I thought Michael did a wonderful job of portraying a young man in transition. Everything was fun; you saw we had a car chase, an explosion, a couple of shots. Of course I always have questions about the motives behind what Tommy does or why they have Tommy doing a specific thing, and I think that is the main thing, if you’re collaborative with everybody and there’s that understanding that if we all talk to each other and listen to each other, you come up with the best solutions. It was just a real pleasure to be there.
You mentioned Michael, who is somebody that you’ve been working with since he was a young kid. And at the start of Power he was playing the son of the lead character which is such a different thing than when you are the lead character. What was it like reuniting with him in this new dynamic and seeing his growth?
In a practical sense, he was just more aware of the process and what has to happen, and you have to be aware of the process in order to be the best leader you can be on set. Even though he is a young man, he is viewed in a certain way, and I think that can be intimidating and I think he has gotten to a certain maturity level that he’s going to continue to grow. It was a real pleasure working with him; I’ve always really liked Michael as a human being. He’s got a great mother, Shauna, a woman who has given him some great guidance. I’m sure he’ll have to deal with a whole lot of stuff being thrown his way but I think he’ll handle it just fine.
Speaking of Tommy and Tariq, Tommy tells Tariq that they will never see each other again. While you don’t control what the writers decide to do, knowing Tommy so well, do you think he’s truly done with his nephew? In Tariq’s defense, Tommy himself tried to kill Ghost a few times.
Right, right. And one specific time when he killed Angela. That was kind of the real time he tried killing Ghost and I think the other times he set Ghost up to be on his own and let him down, as he felt Ghost had done to him, which I think in a real sense Ghost did to everybody. Courtney had very specifically setup that Ghost’s main motive is Ghost. And that’s not to say that he didn’t do great things for other people, but he did great things to other people as long as that served him. So I think it was Ghost’s hubris that killed him, even more so than just his son, because, as Courtney setup, everybody had a reason to want to kill Ghost: his infidelity, his lack of loyalty, his dealing with the police in ways the streets say you shouldn’t. Ultimately, he couldn’t escape all of those things. It's so interesting that she called the series Ghost; it's kind of like a new Ghost. For the first two spin-offs, Ghost and Raising Kanan, you have the names of characters, so you kind of know what it’s about and it’s about filling those shoes of Ghost.
One of my favorite relationships on Power was Tommy and Tasha, but, as we see here, that will never be the same. Her betrayals of him are starting to stack up, so do you think he will ever be able to let this vendetta go, or will he keep searching for Tasha until he gets his vengeance? While I could see him maybe moving past her setting him up, murdering Lakeisha (La La Anthony), who got brought up a few times, seems like the thing that could never be forgiven.
I think that’s true, and, like I was saying earlier, there are certain people who are dead to him. But the reality is that Tommy is a practicalist, so Tommy is not going to deal with Tasha unless Tasha becomes real competition for him or the biggest drug dealer in New York City. The reason that Tommy is alive is that we had a show about selling drugs, and not just selling drugs, but the consequences, the aftermath, the destruction. But ultimately you only had one character who started out wanting to sell drugs and finished wanting to sell drugs, and now that backdrop has outlasted the character. The character had to go somewhere else to continue on this journey of hustling. In a lot of ways we followed Tommy from being a force to being a finesse, to using his head before he would just Hulk-smash.
So I think when Tommy says that about Tasha, she’s gone, she doesn’t matter to him. And when Tommy said to Tariq, “You ain’t never gonna see me again, you’re with her,” it’s almost like Monet didn’t matter to Tommy, as you could tell, because she’s holding a gun at him and he says, “Go ahead shoot me, I’ve been here more times than you have.” That was pretty powerful in the graveyard, because Tommy was fearless, and I tried to have behind my eyes towards Tariq, “I’m glad somebody found you to take care of you because that’s all I ever wanted for you. I just wanted to make sure in some world, in some way you were going to be okay, and this is the best version of okay. And now I’ve got to leave and I’m leaving you with something.” I didn’t want it to just be all vitriol and hate coming out of Tommy for Tariq, I wanted there to be some caring and some of that bond, even though sometimes stories have to end, but you don’t always have to cut the cord, sometimes you can just walk away, sometimes that’s the best thing for everybody. And that was my attention behind those lines.
You talk about caring and love, and that ties into Tommy first appearing as he's finishing a check-in on LaKeisha's son Cash (Denim Robertson). It was such a small little thing to include but also says so much about the character. Did you also think that was an important nod?
There are all these different facets of the Tommy character and one of my favorites is Uncle Tommy. We normally see that with Tariq, but I loved when Cash took that. I thought it was beautiful.
Wrapping up, we talked about it a little bit, but looking forward to Force, what are you most looking forward to exploring with Tommy in this new world and maybe some of his new facets?
Can Tommy survive? When I’ve been doing my due diligence and research and actually going to where we’re going to be filming, I ask cops and robbers, “How would Tommy survive? How would this guy from out of town survive in these new streets?” And I think that it’s going to take all facets of Tommy that we’ve built up to until now to not only survive but to potentially thrive — and to potentially leave. You don’t know if it’s going to be one city and then another city and if he’s going to keep bopping or what connections need to be made. But what does need to happen is that we need to see how fast or how slow Tommy analyzes and adapts to a new situation. Is gangster the same all over America? Or is there a specific gangster out of New York? Is that able to adapt? I think we’re going to have a lot of Capone references.
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