Who died and who might still be alive? Power creator breaks down Ghost season 2 finale
Warning: This article contains spoilers for the season 2 finale of Power Book II: Ghost.
"This s--- is all my f---ing fault."
Well, Tariq (Michael Rainey Jr.), it's not all your f---ing fault, at least not this time. As is the norm with the Power Universe, Sunday's season 2 finale of Power Book II: Ghost featured plenty of bloodshed. But the various members of the Tejada family are directly to blame here, between Monet (Mary J. Blige) killing her former love Dante/Mecca (Daniel Sunjata), and her current love (love might be generous) Lorenzo (Berto Colon) shooting Monet's nephew-turned-son Zeke (Daniel Bellomy), who he mistook for Mecca.
Elsewhere, Lauren (Paige Hurd), who was last seen with Brayden (Gianni Paolo) and Effie (Alix Lapri), is also allegedly dead; Lauren's fate inspires Saxe (Shane Johnson) to help Jenny (Paton Ashbrook) get justice for her and Carrie (Melanie Liburd); Blanca (Monique Curnen) returns to investigate the murder of her informant, Mecca, and recognizes Tariq in grainy security footage; Saxe's partner Davis (Method Man) continues to push to prove the innocence of his dying brother (Redman). Speaking of brothers, Tate (Larenz Tate) betrayed his, but now wants Kamaal (Lahmard Tate) to be his head of security for his pursuit of a Senate seat. That betrayal — along with Brayden's testimony — led to the murder case against Tariq being dismissed. Now a free man, Tariq uses Saxe and Tameika (Quincy Tyler Bernstine) to have Yasmine (Paris Morgan) reunited with Tasha (Naturi Naughton), who is living in West Virginia under the name Vanessa Edwards.
"Ma, I'll do anything to get back to you and Yaz," he writes to Tasha. "It would take time. I need money and power to do it, but I promise I would do whatever it takes."
And that's not even everything that happened! But to break down as much of it as we can, EW chatted with Power and Ghost creator Courtney Kemp about that big finale and her goodbye to the universe she built. (For more Power, check out our preview of the highly-anticipated Power Book IV: Force with star Joseph Sikora.)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Courtney, this feels like the end of an era! We've been talking Power for years, but this will be probably be the last time, as you're stepping away from the day-to-day due to your exciting new Netflix deal. Is it a little bittersweet knowing you won't be as in the Power weeds as you always have been since the start?
COURTNEY KEMP: This season I've been doing a lot of Instagram Lives and having intimate contact with the fans, and that's been really fun. I love them and I appreciate them so much. Power has given me a life beyond my wildest dreams, in so many different ways. And I'm very grateful to everyone who's been part of the process. That said, yeah, this is probably the last time you and I are going to talk like this about a Power Universe show. I'm just ready to do something else. But I'm really excited about the next time we talk about a Netflix show.
Well, until then, let's go out in style with one last great Power chat! Maybe I was feeling sentimental, but I couldn't help but think of all our conversations towards the end of Power, in which I kept starting off by asking if you could say whether Ghost (Omari Hardwick) was dead or not. You finally did in our series finale interview. So, in honor of that, I wanted to do a quick dead or alive check on a few characters whose fates maybe are currently in question. We'll start with Zeke: Confirmed dead?
[Laughs] Yeah, he's dead.
Next up, Lauren: Dead?
Okay then! I know better than to expect you to give me much more than that, so what do you want to say about what happened with her and what might still happen?
What I would say is, Effie and Brayden have a huge secret that they have to keep from Tariq. Cane (Woody McClain) is also part of that secret, but it's really about Effie and Brayden and what their relationship will be with Tariq, given whatever happened onscreen with Lauren. What has happened to Lauren, as you discover going forward, will have a seismic effect on the relationships of our three musketeers.
For Zeke, since we did confirm he's dead, did that demise feel inevitable? While he was the one in the Tejada family who had his hands clean, just being around all of that was probably always going to end poorly for him.
To me, Zeke's death is inevitable based on Zeke's growth over the series. And poor Daniel Bellomy has gotten so much heat from the fans, when what he's doing is playing a character who doesn't think well for himself. There was a purpose behind this character, which is that he wasn't taught to think for himself — he was taught to put the ball in the hoop. And that happens to a lot of kids, where their athletic prowess becomes the thing that people value for them, even within their own families, which is exactly what happened to him. He became the escape plan for everyone. And his own desires and his own needs took a backseat. Remember, he said, "I might want to stay in college," and everyone said, "Shut the f--- up, Zeke, put the ball in the hoop." I think there's actually a serious story there about what happens when you take away someone's guardrails. In episode 9 we gave Monet a very specific line: "Zeke isn't good at thinking things through for himself." So when he starts to think things through for himself, what happens? He gets himself into terrible trouble. And the repercussions from what he's done by going behind everyone's back to Det. Whitman (Jeff Hephner) will reverberate through season 3. It's a mess, for sure. So, would I say it was inevitable that Zeke would die? Well, if you know me, any character that is really a good, good person is probably earmarked for some sort of bullet.
You've definitely earned that reputation! The way in which Zeke dies paves the way for a cat and mouse game next season within the Tejada marriage, as Monet searches for her son's killer and Lorenzo does everything he can to ensure she doesn't figure out it was him. What intrigued you about setting up that dynamic moving forward?
We wanted to set up a dynamic where she was running the family business and then he came home — and she didn't really want him home. She'd figured out a way to handle everything without him. But she couldn't control Diana, and this is what happens when you can't control everybody. Then, when he was home, she got this opportunity, this sort of escape hatch that wasn't about Zeke, that was about her first love. She could have gone with Dante, the problem is she and Dante are evenly matched. They're both liars, they're both manipulators, they're both criminals. By the end of the season she realizes she has to pick Lorenzo, even though the love is not there, the romantic love, maybe the sexual love is not there, but he is the father of her children and Monet chooses to do what's right, versus what would probably be best for her in the long run.
Just as you lost a few characters, a Power alum returned, with Monique Curnen's Blanca revealed to be Mecca's handler. After having her around briefly in season 1 of Ghost, why did you want to bring her back full-time for season 3?
Blanca was always our Columbo. And this is an old reference that many millennials will not understand. [Laughs] But Peter Falk played this character who annoyingly was like, "Well, there's just one more question I have. I just, I don't understand why." He would kind of annoy the person into confessing. And I think we started with Blanca like that, and she was an even match for Angela back in the day, because Angela was such a stone cold liar and here comes somebody who sees through all of her tricks. In the case of Blanca now, what we think is interesting is this idea of making her Captain Ahab. She is definitely going to try to get Tariq. And, as our law enforcement ranks shrink in the show, it is always interesting to have characters that the audience has a long history with. The audience is going to have very strong opinions about what Blanca decides to do in season 3 and how she plans to attack Tariq. The other thing that I like — and this is just my own preference — is that, yes, Tariq is present, technically, and is part of the cover-up of the murder of Mecca, but he's not guilty of that murder. He didn't do it.
One of the few murders he didn't do.
Yeah! So this is going to be a really interesting move, because she's going to be pursuing him for something that really he's not guilty of at all.
Speaking of Power alums on Ghost, Larenz Tate was a regular in season 2, which seemed to really tee up his Power Book V: Influence series that has previously been announced. What's the update there? Is that next up for him, or is there more Tate story to be told first on Ghost?
There are more stories to be told with him on Ghost first.
Let's stick with the theme of Power actors returning and go back to the great opening sequence of episode 9, which unites a bunch of dead characters, including recent ones like Jabari (Justin Marcel McManus) and Carrie, as well as OGs like Kanan (50 Cent), LaKeisha (La La Anthony), and Proctor (Jerry Ferrara). What was it like putting that together and getting all of these people in the same room?
I know it's going to sound funny, but it comes down to a scheduling thing. They're all working on other projects, so how do you get everybody in the room? How do you make sure that you have the time to shoot something like that with so much coverage? Those are the kind of logistical things. But, in terms of the story, you know I've always been obsessed with Richard III. I have always been obsessed with the idea of the people haunting you. And so that's what's happened, is Tariq feels guilty, Tariq feels his culpability. I had a question on the last [IG] Live, where someone asked, "Why would Ray Ray be there?" Of course, Tariq did kill Ray Ray (Marcus Callender), right? That's his first kill. But from the audience's perspective, Ray Ray deserved that bullet, so why would Tariq feel guilty? As I said to them, in a dream, everybody's you; it's all your own brain expressing that. They're not the real characters, it's your mind expressing your biggest fear around everyone. So what's nice is that Kanan, the godfather protective personality in there, says directly to Ray Ray, "You got what you deserved." So that idea is still in there.
But we wanted everyone to see the nucleus of how everything that has happened in the last few years of Power was all weighted on Tariq. How the plan to make the Ghost spin-off really started in [Power] seasons 4, 5, and 6, with putting him at the center of the action. He's responsible for so much mayhem — either indirectly, in terms of Tasha making certain decisions, or directly, in terms of him leaving the back door unlocked for Tommy so Tommy could kill Proctor. I mean, Tariq has done a lot of stuff. And what's fun is that all those reasons the audience hated Tariq, when they see the dream from his perspective, they get all that fan service and that enjoyment of seeing all those old characters, and they get a sense of how under the gun he is. The sympathy for him is still there.
Okay, I promise, just one last Power alum topic! After last being seen in the season 1 finale, we find Tasha in witness protection down in West Virginia. It feels like half a happy ending, since she's safe and reunited with Yasmine, but still waiting on Tariq to come home to her. Do you view Tasha's story as complete, at least for the time being?
I feel like it's not complete. Although, now you see a big piece of what Tariq's overarching story will be going forward, which is, he is going to really be looking for the reunification of his family — how is he going to join them? The most important thing when you set up a series is, what does the character want? And Tariq wants his family back. So we'll see. I feel like you saw it a little bit, when he's staring out the car window, like all he wants is to get out there and be with his sister and his mom. So I think the journey to manhood for him, in part, is the journey to trying to reunite his family. He's going to need money, he's going to need time, he's going to need influence, he's going to need a lot of different help to get there. At the end of the day, you saw he still needed Tameika. He still needed all these, for lack of a better way of putting it, what we would say to my daughter, he needed his grownups to help him. So the journey is still for Tariq to become a man, full on his own, and reunite his family.
Monet gives him his out after he helps her with Mecca, but he doesn't take it. At this point, do you think Tariq ever truly could walk away from the life? And would he actually want to?
I'll give you a bit of an exclusive.
You know I love a good Power exclusive!
Somewhere in Tariq's future there will be a woman in his life who demands that he make a choice between the boardroom and the street. And that choice, and that woman, that's going to become a very difficult dilemma for Tariq, as he goes forward. The quote that I just gave you is for the series Ghost, it's not for the next season. For next season, what I would tease is that there will be fault lines drawn between Tariq and his friends, for various reasons. And then those will affect some fault lines that will be drawn within the Tejada family. There will be a series of earthquakes, and then a series of aftershocks that will shake the foundation and remake the series in a really sort of impactful way. That's season 3.
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.
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