Scoring 2.26 million in live viewership Power‘s 3rd season premiere broke the record in becoming the most watched TV episode of any Starz Original series. It might even be the most watched program Starz has ever produced (well most likely), but even so, Power is still miles away from being the best Starz original series in terms of quality. When it premiered in 2014, Power was able to engrossed viewers with its promising premise, intriguing story and compelling characters. It wasn’t all ‘original’ so to say, we’ve had TV shows telling tales through the perspectives of drug dealers before, but what made Power worth it was its production values, visuals and unlike most others Power is contemporary. Season 1 is still the show’s strongest, with season 2 being good follow-up, but its 3rd season is where Power suffered from landslide drop in quality. That 3rd was so subpar the stability Power had worked so hard to maintain came tumbling down. But where did season 3 go wrong exactly, and could Power get back on track with future seasons? Let’s take a deeper analysis.
As we all (should) know each and every TV show begins with the writing. It can sometimes be the sole deciding factor in whether or not a TV series is good, and this is the case with Power season 3 because almost all its flaws leads back to the writing. Since the series began Power has always been a bit unrealistic, a bit over-the-top, sometimes cheesy, and occasionally soapy, all while trying to keep a serious tone. The series is quite the all-rounder, meaning it comes with a lot of elements the writers have to feed. From drugs trafficking, law, business and love affairs; one or more of these elements were used to draw-in specific viewers, but what kept Power good for this long was its ability to maneuver all these elements for a well connected story-arc. But how long could the writers keep this up, not for more than 2 seasons it seems as the script is starting to face the consequences of their refusal to change their narrative style and expand on the show’s premise. Power relied on plot twists and dilemmas to keep viewers at the edge of their seats in its first 2 seasons, so it seems this is something the writers think should be a driving-factor for the entire series. Putting characters in constant dilemmatic situations where they don’t know who to trust, centering a whole story around plot twists that affects the plot in no way when they are revealed; these are accompanied by bad decision making which not only affected the plots but the genuineness of the characters themselves. For e.g. The plot twist in episode 6 (of season 3 titled ‘The Right Decision’) where Milan revealed himself to be Dean, James St. Patrick’s head of security, was way too far-fetched even for a series like Power, and honestly, just made no fucking sense. It left me wondering, why someone so “powerful” (as he is portrayed) pose as the security for a man that doesn’t seem to mean that much to him after the twist was revealed? And the funny thing is, Power had a good-enough build-up to its ‘The Right Decision’ episode, where we also saw Tommy and Ghost execute Lobos, a man who’ve been quite a nuisance in their plans; but the revelation of the plot twist was the moment things started to fall apart. It seems the writers just did not know which direction to take the story after that point. For the remainder of the season were served badly paced, overly-dramatic episodes with vague writing and messy storytelling.
Could Power’s season 3 downfall been avoid or did the series just succumb to the inevitable? It became evident in season 2 that the writers might’ve taken up too much to handle. Too many plots and characters to write for, some of which they might might not even know how to. In season 3 we saw the writing stray away from the drug trafficking/night club drama Power initially was, into more of a legal drama with drug trafficking elements. Like, we rarely ever see any dope getting pushed but the characters sure do talk about it a lot. Instead of a the tactical drug trafficking series that Power should’ve continued being after the first season, it became a cliche criminal-relationship drama where the characters can’t ever seem to trust their closest friends. Like seriously, how many times are Tommy and Ghost going to have conflict due to them lacking basic communication skills? How many times are Angela and Ghost going to do the same? Why do the writers feel the need to make every character keep secrets and tell lies constantly to their peers? Most times their reasoning does not suffice.
There’s no doubt about it, the writers have dug themselves in a hole of repetitive ideas and it has affected the character’s development in such a way they get stupider with each season passing. Whatever happened to the bold, intimidating and militant James St. Patrick a.k.a Ghost we knew in season 1? He’s is now just a mere shell of his former self. Somewhere in the latter season he became anxious, whiny, fearful, and not being able to do what is needed to be done for the greater good. And while we’re at it, let’s talk about how stupid the season 3 cliffhanger was and how idiotic it made our main character look. He breaks into Greg’s house looking for a tape (with Ruiz’s murder) he’s not even on, wears gloves when entering the building but for some reason takes them off to close the window and left his finger print at the scene.
— lenny (@Kush_Daz) June 20, 2017
Well, he wouldn’t have known Greg would get kill that exact night, but the whole thing just seems oddly specific and far-fetched don’t you think? And even if the writers wanted to take the story in that direction, wouldn’t it make more sense if Ghost got arrested in connections to the Lobos murder? James isn’t the only character that have been tarnished. The writers seem determined on making his on and off sidekick Tommy Egan depressed and disgruntled despite him being a successful comic relief for the series thus far. The writers need to know the strengths and weaknesses of their characters instead of making them go from being content in one scene to displeased in the next. Tommy is a better character when he’s amusing, so putting Holly’s death on his hands was a bad idea. Though she wasn’t the most likable, the writers decided to kill her off just as she was finding a purpose on the show. She was killed off for mere shock value and the aftereffects it would have on Tommy. So in other words, her death was a bit unnecessary, though I do agree killing her off in season 2 would’ve made more sense than Ghost ‘sending her away‘. Tasha and Andre seems to be the only main characters the bad writing hasn’t been tarnished yet, while Angela’s underdevelopment seems to stem from not just the writing but also the actress who plays her.
— lenny (@Kush_Daz) June 20, 2017
Angela Valdez is played by Lela Loren and she’s pretty much the worst actor/actress on Power. I feel the series must move on without her if it wants to be better. Her character on the show despite being a main, is struggling to find relevancy and seems to only be there for relationship drama and gratuitous sex scenes (with r&b music playing in the background of course – how cliche), both of which aren’t really necessary at this point. The love triangle between James-Tasha-Angela might’ve been a selling factor for many viewers in the first season but it has run its course and needs to end. Angela-Ghost sex scenes were fun at first, but has become annoyingly repetitive. And even worst, there’s no chemistry whats-o-ever between Omari Hardwick and Lela Loren. I could imagine Angela developing into a Carrie Mathison (from Homeland) type of character, but Lela Loren takes such a effortless and bland approach to portraying the character she could never pull it off. Her acting was OK during the first 2 or so seasons, but in season 3 she was so expressionless and bland she made Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson (who plays Kanan) look like a good actor. Power being a series that thrives (or at least try to) off plot twists and shock values, would benefit from killing off Angela Valdez not only in the short-term but long-term as well. With her gone the series will be able to get rid of many cliches and repetitiveness.
On a positive note Anika Noni Rose’s portrayal of newcomer Jukebox was pretty much one of the better aspects of season 3. That character was straight up chilling, fearless and bold, like Ghost once was. The side-plot involving her, Kanan and Tariq was enjoyable and though occasionally cringe-worthy (in a humorous type-a-way), was pretty much the only part of season 3 that felt genuine, urgent and of course non-repetitive. 50 Cent who’s usually (or should be) the worst actor on the show wasn’t too bad this time around, maybe thanks to limited screen-time and being outshone in that department by Lela Loren. But Ghost and Kanan’s rivalry is something that has been going on since the beginning of the series and I think it is time for it to an end. As I said at the beginning of this article, Power’s main problem is its writing. The writers inability (or refusal) to expand on its premise and come up with new ideas is bringing the show down.
Season 4 of Power premieres Sunday June, 25th 2017.