MeKai Curtis reacts to Raising Kanan finale: 'Oh, s---, this is his father!'
"When it all goes wrong, ain't nobody checking for you but you. You're on your own. See, in this s---, the only thing that you can trust is that you can't trust. Not nobody, not ever. Not even your own momma."
With those episode-ending words from narrator 50 Cent, Power Book III: Raising Kanan has wrapped its hit first season — and set up the tension to come between ride-or-die mom and son, Raq (Patina Miller) and Kanan (MeKai Curtis).
A lot went down in the last few episodes, but none more important — or dramatic — as Det. Howard (Omar Epps) learning that he is Kanan's father, and the events that happened as a result of the discovery. The paternity information is still unknown to Kanan, who was sent to kill Howard by Raq. He pulled the trigger but didn't finish the job, as Howard awakes late in Sunday's "Paid in Full."
"It's the last thing she would ever want to involve her son in, but everything falls on Howard not being around anymore," Miller tells EW. "Kanan is also the only one who can get close enough to do it."
For more on the busy season 1 finale, EW chatted with Curtis about feeling the love from fans, trying to figure out Kanan's truth, and looking ahead to season 2.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Days away from the finale airing, how are you feeling? A lot of people right now are out here thinking you just killed Omar Epps. And people love Omar Epps!
MEKAI CURTIS: [Laughs] I'm feeling good. It's exciting, man. I can't wait for people to get into this last episode and fully see what's happening. I'm grateful that people are receiving it so well.
Yeah, what's that reaction been like through the season? I know you were understandably a little nervous coming in, considering the shoes you were stepping into and the fact that Power fans aren't shy about sharing their thoughts.
It's definitely been all love. I'm still having to correct certain people. Like, no, I didn't shoot anybody, Kanan did — and I still can't tell you why he did that. But it's been fun. That just shows that everybody's really watching and really loving and paying attention to what's happening.
I know you all jumped right into production on season 2 already, right?
We're a week into the fourth episode.
What's that been like, balancing filming the new season while interacting with the audience about the first season?
It's like Raising Kanan is fully taking over my whole thought process now. Like, if I'm not actively on set, I'm doing something for the first season. I'm grateful for it and just enjoying the ride.
Now in season 2, do you walk on set knowing, "I've got this, I'm settled in, and this is truly my character"? Or did you have that moment even earlier?
I think that was definitely way earlier. I knew early on; this show is just different. It's so good, and everybody's so incredible at what they do. So I was just excited for people to finally get to see the work we had been putting in for a year and a half through a pandemic when nobody was really watching. Because when we first premiered, [creator] Sascha [Penn] was like, "Yo, we're not just making this for ourselves anymore." So, honestly, a month after filming season 1, stepping into season 2 was literally like, "Oh, I was just here." I didn't feel any, like, I need to get back into whatever. It was another day at the office, and we went right back into it and just started creating.
That's not usually how it goes, where you get to just keep rolling with the momentum, so don't get used to it! I mentioned Kanan shooting Det. Howard, but what were you more shocked by: Howard being revealed as Kanan's father or Raq sending Kanan to off Howard?
I think they kind of led into each other. You start with finding out that Howard was Kanan's father, and then it was Raq sending Kanan to shoot Howard. Then it was like, "Oh, s---, this is his father! He doesn't even realize that he's shooting his father right now!" It's just the complication and the confusion you saw in Kanan's face. Like, "She sent me to shoot a cop?"
I can't even imagine what the face would have been if he knew the more important title that Howard has.
It's interesting, man. [Laughs] I don't even know when that'll happen or if it will, but I can't wait to see how that plays out.
Did you have any conversations with Patina about both Raq and Kanan's thinking with the different sides of that Howard hit? Because that's a pretty diabolical and f---ed up thing to do to your son!
Oh yeah, I feel like Patina and I talk through this stuff all the time. Again, there's those differing, I don't even want to say morals, but goals that they have in mind at the time. Kanan is trying to prove himself to his mother, especially after all of the incidents and mess-ups he's had throughout the season, so to have this opportunity now, he's super excited. And that's why he doesn't really ask questions. She says, "Yo, I need you to do this. Save us," and he's ready — or so he thought he was. But that's just the fun part of getting to play it. You know how he's just so eager to help his mother, but his mother has an entirely different plan set up for him. Again. Even after Kanan nixing the first plan she had for him with going to the school, she's still trying to almost keep him on the outs, even though he's actively in it. She's still giving him very little information and kind of omitting the truth about a lot of what's happening.
You told me in our first conversation that Raq is Kanan's world and that he'd do anything for her, and that definitely played out here at the end. While you said you don't even know yet what that moment's going to be like with the father revelation, in your mind, do you think that Raq and Kanan's relationship would forever be fractured?
I think the relationship now in some ways is already fractured, especially after hearing that she ordered the hit on D-Wiz. And I feel like even though Kanan says he understands why she did it, he still doesn't take the fact that she said she was going to stop lying to him and that she went this long without letting him know. Aside from other things, losing one of his closest friends, and now there being an all-out war behind it, he's kind of just been in a blind fit of rage. So to have that thrown at him in such a heated moment strains the relationship.
Speaking of relationships, I've enjoyed the Kanan and Jukebox (Hailey Kilgore) scenes and how real they can be with each other. And when they're hiding out in finale, he says, "I know who I am," and she replies, "You think you do." For you, who do you think Kanan thinks he is right now, and who do you think he actually is right now?
I think Kanan's still trying to figure out exactly who he is. There's stuff happening that's pointing him in one direction, but it's still him trying to figure out if this is the direction he fully wants to go now. Kanan is one of those people that has to experience things for himself in order to fully make the decision. Like, yeah, you can tell him one thing, but he has to see that for himself to truly believe it. And now that he's going this way, he understands the realm he's in, but I think it's actually processing a lot of what he's done. All the episodes are everybody dealing with the consequences of their actions, and that's really where you find Kanan at right now. All the s--- he's done in the last couple of episodes are really catching up with him.
Do you think he really wants to be in this life, or does he think he's supposed to want to be in this life? That feels like the ongoing struggle for him.
It absolutely is. I feel like it's a little bit of both because he feels like he's supposed to be in it because that's where his family, his influences, and all of his examples of how to move in the world are. His mother's there, his uncles, who are like his father figures at this point in his life, are there, and so is his cousin, even though she's in the outs of it, she still understands and moves where she wants to within those parameters. So, for him, it's definitely, "Yeah, I'm here, but do I want to be here now?" Understanding the weight of the things that I have to do in order to be here, I think that's what's catching up with him. And that's something Raq has been trying to tell him this whole time, but he wasn't listening.
I do these finale interviews with actors and ask for a tease of the next season, but they often say they know nothing because production is still aways out from starting back up. Thankfully for me, you don't have that excuse! So what can you share about what's to come?
It's just the continuation of actions and consequences. There's going to be some stuff happening that, again, you're going to see how it molds and shapes Kanan and what it does to his psyche. The family's in an entirely new space and different dynamic now, so it's them navigating that and figuring out where they can step, where they can't step. It's a lot of complicated things going on. It's wild.
So with Kanan ending for now and Ghost about to return in November, does this ramp up the Power rivalry?
[Laughs] I'm ready to see what those boys over at Ghost is doing. I know they see us coming with the fire, so they better have their weight up! I just was actually talking to Michael [Rainey Jr.]. I got to hit him again to check in on what to get him for his birthday because I know everybody in the world was wishing him love and everything yesterday, so I'm going to do that probably when I get off with you. He said they're excited and ready to get it rolling. I think we both are excited to see Tommy [in Power Book IV: Force]. Yeah, we're going up, man. It's all love. If they want to reignite some beef, that is what it is. I'm going to use a 50 quote and be like, "I don't ever want a problem. When somebody says they want a problem, I say, no problem."