Does Power ever miss?
It's a question to seriously consider when you think back to the original Power series, which was a Starz mega-hit and a critically acclaimed crime drama. A series that then bled directly into Power Book II: Ghost, which ended up being another juggernaut and a fascinating follow-up to the original.
Now we're going back in time to see where it all began. More specifically, back to where it all began for Kanan Stark, the prime antagonist of the original Power.
Power Book III: Raising Kanan Season 1 Episode 1 drops us right into the life of the young man and introduces us to the people who helped mold him into the man we'd come to know oh so well.
Kanan was an essential part of the original story, even though he's probably not many people's favorite character. But to deny his importance or the value he brought to the original series would be misguided at best.
Centering an entire series around his upbringing and his path to becoming a villain could be considered a gamble, because on the surface, how high on the list of things you have to know about was Kanan's backstory?
But it doesn't even matter if it's not what you were looking for because the pilot is so much more than anything you could have imagined.
The show is a bonafide hit. Period. And one of the best parts is that you can jump into the series blind.
It's crystal clear immediately that you don't even need a rudimentary knowledge of Power or who Kanan Stark was to enjoy the story. You dive headfirst into the life of a smart, capable teenage boy and his headstrong, insanely intelligent mother, and you watch their story play out with bated breath.
We know Kanan becomes a drug dealer and is the person who brought Ghost and Tommy into the fold, but who brought him in?
Raq Thomas, played by the stunning and charismatic Patina Miller, is Kanan's mother and a powerful player in the drug scene. She's got her crew, and she's earned respect, and she's doing what needs to be done to support herself and Kanan.
She's flanked by her two brothers, Marvin and Lou-Lou, who are loyal but seem to approach things differently from one another. Marvin seems to be a little looser and less inclined to follow the rules to a tee, while Lou-Lou is nothing if not professional and a bit more mild-mannered.
It makes for an interesting dynamic between the three siblings, with Raq the true and decisive leader and her two brothers taking more of a sidekick role. Throughout the pilot, both men prove to be essential pieces of the puzzle.
It's all three working together and fulfilling the various roles that make them successful.
For his part, Kanan is a teenager, and he's hanging with his friends and crushing on girls like any other kid his age, but he seems to gravitate to the drug world. And it's a pull that only gets stronger after a rival sends the family a message after a night out to eat.
I don't want you to die.Kanan [to Raquel]
From there on out, it's clear that Kanan feels a sense of duty to the business, though Raq does everything to push him away from that life. She wants better for him, but at the same time, she wants him with her as well.
However, once Kanan knowingly bombs an opportunity to further his education, it's obvious Raq won't get her wish to have Kanan away from the violence.
The mother and son bond is set to be the heart and soul of the Raising Kanan series, and their scenes together, just the two of them, are among the highlights of a rather brilliant pilot.
Their push and pull, which comes to a boiling point when Kanan makes a poor decision that costs a young man his life, is likely to continue as Kanan gets further ingrained into the drug trade. Will this relationship flourish once Kanan is in the know? Or will it deteriorate?
Kanan would do anything for his mother, but he's still just a kid. He's emotional, and as much as he thinks he knows everything about everything, there is still so much to learn.
Raquel: So just so we clear, you and your friends killed that boy for a corner I already gave up.
Kanan: I didn't know you gave it up.
Raquel: Exactly. You don't know, but you think you do. You all do.
One thing about adult Kanan was he was clever. It just so happened that in the end, his students ended up outsmarting the teacher. But this Kanan seems far away from the older man, and it's going to be a treat to see what he goes through and how that future Kanan comes to be.
Much Like Raq has her crew, Kanan has one as well, with a number one in cousin Jukebox, whom original Power fans will remember, and a few other characters who don't stand out as much as the adults of the series.
Jukebox has her own separate storyline in which she's secretly rendezvousing with a fellow white teen from a different area of the city.
No one seems to be aware of her existence outside Kanan, but that relationship and its secrecy are sure to come up again at some point. Especially when dad, Melvin, catches wind of it.
The series antagonist is set up as rival drug lord Unique, played to perfection by rapper turned actor Joey Badass. He's cool, calm, and collected, but you can tell he's dangerous and not someone to take lightly.
That's why you could feel the tension ramp up to a hundred once Buck Twenty was killed and Raq and Unique were officially on opposite sides.
While the episode ends without a clear idea as to whether or not the two sides are headed for an all-out war, it's pretty apparent they aren't going to be able to broker a deal as easily as Raq did the first time. But, of course, they both want the same thing, and it doesn't feel like either one will back down, so what will that mean for Kanan?
Will there be a bounty on Kanan's head now, and how does Raq protect her son? Those are questions that will have to be answered moving forward because there's no way a man like Unique lets bygones be bygones.
Rounding out the main cast is Detective Howard, and although his introduction is brief, there is something off about him. It's not even that he comes across as a bad or dirty cop, but perhaps one that had his own self-interests that may end up conflicting with Raq and subsequently Kanan down the line.
There's a palpable tension between him and Raq, and if I had to put money on it, there's a backstory there that we'll hopefully learn about through the course of the season.
A good pilot should present you with a story that hooks you in enough to want to see what happens next. And damn if Raising Kanan doesn't do that and a whole lot more.
So, I ask you again. Does Power ever miss?
Everything Else You Need To Know
- There is a pretty triggering scene of a dog and a microwave, and while disturbing, it shows you just precisely what Raq Thomas is capable of. You will not disrespect her and think you can get away with it.
- The gag of Melvin always eating is terrific, and it should continue forever.
- The 50 Cent voiceovers work much better than you think they will. It can be a little heavy-handed at times, but it adds necessary information, and it keeps that connection to Power strong. It's also incredibly poignant one second and laugh-out-loud funny the next.
- Not sure what role Symphony will play moving forward, but he is lovely to look at, and he and Raq have ALL the chemistry.
- RIP Buck Twenty. We literally hardly knew you, but your death has caused a ripple effect throughout the community.
Alright, guys, the floor is now yours, and I want to hear what you thought about this next chapter in the Power universe!
Who was your favorite character?
What storylines are you most interested in?
Will Kanan have a price on his head for Buck Twenty's murder?
Drop a line down below, and make sure to come back and watch Power Book III: Raising Kanan online with us this season!
Whitney Evans is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.