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‘Power’ recap: Tariq and Tommy in a race against time, but Tariq runs out

Raina catches a bullet to the chest while trying to protect her brother

Season 4, Episode 9 | “That Ain’t Me” | Aug. 20

We could talk about Tommy and Teresi having the oddest father-son bonding experience in quite some time. We could talk about Tasha’s plan to divorce Ghost, marry Silver and open up a franchise of weave shops with LaKeisha. We could talk about Dre screwing Tommy out of his connect deal, thus leaving Tommy on an island by himself, getting high on his own supply. We could talk about Angela’s promotion. We could talk about Councilman Rashad Tate (Larenz Tate) getting Ghost right where he wants him — he made sure Simon Stern’s contract was revised, giving Ghost his fair share of the real estate revenue, but now he has to “pay” the block. And we could talk about the brief return of Kanan — and actually, we will.

But only one storyline really matters now. We’re talking about the one character who has pissed Power fans off for the better part of two seasons: Tariq St. Patrick. Tariq’s sister, Raina (Donshea Hopkins), is dead all because Tariq wanted to run the streets. Raina caught a bullet to the chest trying to protect her brother. The same brother who got caught up with the wrong crowd while their father was not only sleeping with a federal agent but was also on trial for murdering one. So while Tariq straying wasn’t all his fault, let’s not act like he hasn’t been the most miserable character all season.

Tariq has to live with the fact his own actions killed the one person who wanted the most out of him.

After witnessing the botched home robbery/attempted rape in last week’s episode, the fallout was bound to lead to this. All season long we’ve talked about why Tariq needs to go. He’s a lean addict. He skipped school. He was incredibly rude to his sister. He befriended a grown man, Kanan, who won him over by giving him countless cups of lean and taking him on field trips that included breaking and entering. And he still had a soft spot for that same person well after he almost got his brains blown out.

In private conversations, I’ve criticized Power’s direction. Many bits about the show — the conversations, the predicaments — seem unbelievable, even for a show priding itself on being a melodrama. Had the show finally reached its breaking point? Was this when people would finally begin to turn? Viewers needed a moment like Raina’s undeserving death. Everyone in the show is extremely flawed: Ghost, Tasha, Tommy, Tariq, Kanan, Angela, Dre, Julio. Everyone. The only person on that show with some sense of innocence was Raina. Killing Tariq would have been the easy way out. Then what?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7FZcS0leD6I

But Raina being killed? A new playbook is opened. Don’t kill the culprit. Instead, kill the closest person to him. Ray Ray wasn’t planning on this when chasing Tariq down at his school dance, but the opportunity presented itself. While Tariq hid, Raina was writing her own eulogy in defense of her brother. All the lean-sipping, all the licks Tariq hit with Kanan, Ray Ray and the crew, all of the back talk to his parents, it meant nothing when his sister was the one with the bullet in her. I think all Power fans knew he wasn’t going to make it to his new school in Connecticut without some sort of consequence. I doubt any of us suspected Raina would die as a result. But Tariq has to live with the fact that his own actions killed the one person who wanted the most out of him.

The most shocking death in the entire series — even more than Shawn because, you know, he was still sleeping with and planning to run away with his uncle’s wife — leads to what should be a helluva season finale next week. There’s Tommy meeting his father’s side of the family in hopes of gaining new backup for a war that Dre helped incite. Tasha thinks she’s in the clear, and going legit with LaKeisha and their plots for total weave domination. Ghost is learning he can’t escape the streets no matter how hard he tries. And Kanan continues to be the superthug, fending off death as easily as wiping sweat from his brow. Raina’s death will impact everyone.

Justin Tinsley is a culture and sports writer for The Undefeated. He firmly believes “Cash Money Records takin’ ova for da ’99 and da 2000” is the single-most impactful statement of his generation.