Fresh off another murder, Tariq is back in business.
And as usual, he's flanked by his best friend Brayden, as well as old flame Effie, who's back for Power Book II: Ghost Season 2 in an expanded role. So, what kind of trouble will these three be getting into this season? We went straight to the source to find out!
Michael Rainey Jr., Gianni Paolo, and Alix Lapri took a couple of minutes to chat with us about their characters and what's to come in this much anticipated second chapter.
Michael, can you tell us where Tariq is at, what his headspace is like heading into season two?
Michael: His mind is all over the place. Just like season one, he's fresh off of just murdering somebody. He's trying to deal with that, deal with the weight of just being in the game, trying to move diligently in the game.
And then, on top of everything, he's kind of figuring out himself as well because he has his battles trying to fight the acceptance of him being just like his father. And that's the biggest part of him, just knowing who he is, just knowing the fact that he's just like his father.
And he doesn't want to accept that, so we kind of see him battling through that. And he's in a crazy space, to begin with.
Alix, can you tell us a bit about Effie and how she'll be fitting into the world this season, the Power world?
Alix: Yeah, I think we'll definitely get to know her a little bit more, see her a little bit more. And she's definitely pulling her weight. She shows a few different levels and what she can do and what she's capable of. And I think that's going to be really exciting to see.
Brayden, he's a character. And he's shown a lot of growth, from the kid that we met in Power to the grown-up, I guess you could say, we're getting in college and such. Gianni, can you guys speak to that growth and perhaps where you'd like to see or where you think Brayden is going moving forward?
Gianni: I actually do love where Brayden is going. I don't want him to lose the funness and the comedy, and I don't think he ever will. But when life hits you in the face, no pun intended, and you start getting into the darkness of that world, it does change who you are a little bit.
So I've also had this conversation with Courtney, where she would tell me and other people on set who live this life because there are a lot of guys from a place where they grew up with stuff like this happening. They would always say that there's a funny guy. A lot of shows don't show that.
They just show the darkness of the world. And I like that it's kind of real because they are people too. And there are people who like to make jokes, even if they are drug dealers. So I just never want Brayden to lose the funness and the comedy.
But also, I like that he is getting a little bit more serious, and people are taking him more serious, as well.
For sure. Michael, Tariq, and Effie have a complicated history. How would you describe that relationship and what we'll see of it in season two?
Michael: Man, it's a rocky road when it comes to that relationship.
Gianni: She ratted us out!
Michael: Just a lot of stuff going on, then he robbed her, didn't pay her for the work at one point. But they kind of understand each other. I feel like out of everyone in Tariq's universe, Effie is the one that understands him the most. She understands him more than he understands himself.
So just seeing them and her trying to be there for him. Also, you see their differences too, so it's dope seeing their relationship this season, especially.
Do you have anything to add to that, Alix?
Alix: I guess it's a little bit like if you've ever had a toxic ex, and sometimes you guys just probably aren't good for each other at times, but then it's just like, "Ooh... But..."
Gianni: It's 3:00 AM; you're hammered. You're like, "What are you doing?" You know?
Alix: On the way. So, it's a little bit like that. It's a push and pull with us. And the dynamic, it's frustrating, and it's beautiful, and it's dope. It's dope to see.
Whitney: This is a question for all three of you with such a large cast, sometimes you don't get to work with all the different actors, or your characters don't always get to interact with everybody. But if you could have one dream storyline for your character with somebody else, who would it be? Alix?
Alix: Hmm... If it was ever possible, I really, really, really love Dru. I think that he has so much in common. There are so many similarities with him and Effie. And I think that that would be dope. And he's such a ninja on the set. He's so good at what he does, so that would be a dream.
Michael: I get to work with-
Yeah, you do.
Michael: ... everybody. I'm lucky. I'm the lucky one. So I would say I don't even know. I really don't even know.
Yeah, you do get to work with everybody. Gianni?
Gianni: I absolutely love Shane Johnson, who plays Cooper Saxe, super funny. We have very similar senses of humor. But I also say that when you get closer to the feds and the law on Power, it's not good for you. So I want to work with Shane, but I don't want to work with Shane. You know what I mean?
One of my favorite parts of season one was getting to see a different side of Tariq that we didn't really get to see in Power. Did you enjoy getting to kind of peel back some of those layers of Tariq and show the fans a different side of him?
Michael: Yeah, I definitely enjoy just getting to be able to showcase how smart Tariq really is and how intellectual he is, not even just in the streets, even in school. In Canonical Studies, he's in there putting in work in the classroom.
So it's dope to kind of go through those switches of him being in the streets, having that little gangster, professional kind of mode, and then going to school.
He's sitting up and talking politely and everything like that. And especially this season, he's going through so much more things, and everything that he's going through just forces him to grow up so much. It's just like you get to really see him become transformed this season. You really get to see him transform this season.
Cool. Brayden has always been drawn to the drug business. And why do you think that is? Do you think it's kind of a bit of rebellion on his part? Or what do you think it is about that business he feels like he wants to be a part of it?
Gianni: I think it is rebellion, but I also think when he met Tariq, personally, I think he just was like, "This kid is so fucking cool." And he obviously doesn't know everything about his life and what he's gone through, what he's had to go through. But I think when he saw the clothes, he just saw he was swaggy.
He's like, "Man, I want to be like this dude." So it is a little rebellion, but I also think he actually secretly wants to be Tariq, in a way where he's like, "Man, this dude so fucking cool effortlessly." I think those are kind of the two things that Brayden loves. And then he also meets Cane. He's like, "Oh, this mother-fucker's cool, too."
So, I think it's just he's infatuated with the things around him.
Sure, sure. So obviously, you guys can't give anything away, but-
Gianni: Oh, we'll tell you everything. What do you need to know?
Oh, okay. Well, keep coming. Come on, tell me everything. But if you could kind of tell us what you're most excited for the fans to see from your characters this season, starting with Alix?
Alix: There's a lot of action from everyone, so I think people are going to really enjoy that. You won't get bored with this season, and it's going to be so much fun. Yeah.
Michael: This has nothing to do with my character. They get to see how real Brayden as a character is. And how I'm talking about it right now, but yeah, they're going to see how real Brayden is and how tough he is and how dedicated he is to the game. So, I'm excited for that because he's such a great character.
Gianni: I'm excited for people to see Brayden kind of just get deeper in the game and be more rebellious and go off on his own a little bit. But you're also going to see that fun and comedic push and pull of Tariq and Brayden's relationship, which is always fun.
Whenever there's a scene, and I see I'm going to work with Mike, I'm like, "Oh, we're going to have fun today." We always find the fun in pretty much every scene, even if we are arguing.
Power Book II: Ghost airs on Sundays at 8/7c on STARZ.
***This interview has been edited for length and clarity.***
Whitney Evans is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.