My Letter to a Ghost
I face a harsh reality about the lead protagonist of the popular crime drama series
(This “letter” obviously contains SPOILERS from the previous seasons up until Season 6 and if you haven’t watched the series and are super-sensitive to SPOILERS — for some reason — then look away and don’t read this.)
Dear James “Ghost” Saint Patrick:
Hello. You don’t know me. My name is KJ and I happen to be a big fan of your television show Power, the primetime crime-drama sensation that swept the nation since 2014. It’s amazing that you managed to pull off six seasons of this insanely entertaining show. Congrats! Not many shows — especially with African American leads — manage to get this far but you and everyone else did. It’s a hell of an accomplishment and I must say I’m happy for your success.
But we’re not here to discuss about congratulatory affairs. We’re here to talk about you. I know you are a man of little patience and you want me to get right to the point. That’s fine and I won’t waste your time any longer.
Despite the fact that your show is a personal favorite of mine, out of all the characters you are the one I like the least. As a matter fact, I might hate you.
That’s not a joke or anything but I get annoyed whenever I see you on the screen. You might be taken aback by that statement and wondering what exactly you have done that made me dislike you. Fair enough. The issue isn’t necessarily what you have done to me. It’s more like what you haven’t done that has essentially made me dislike you and that is the fact that you are essentially the same character since the show’s inception. You never grew and you got boring.
For five seasons now I’ve watched the New York City around you change. I’ve seen characters in your story grow and make leaps from where they were in previous seasons. The best example is ironically your son Tariq St. Patrick (played brilliantly by Michael Rainey Jr.). At the beginning of your story, “Little Tariq” was introduced as a spoiled yet innocent kid who ultimately wanted to do right by his parents and live his life. Go to school, get good grades, be a businessman like his Dad, etc. His transformation from snot-nosed, mischievous brat to a full-blown drug dealer and murderer is a sight to behold. He didn’t happen to chose this path by chance. You and your wife Tasha (Nautri Naughton) pushed the kid to this journey. Whether it was your lies about your past, your affair with your high school sweetheart (we’ll get to her eventually), or the fact that you’ve failed in ensuring he and his sisters have a future where they don’t learn the truth about your past and guarantee their safety above all else. Is it any wonder why he would feel the need to connect to someone like your former mentor and (former) series antagonist Kanan Stark (Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson)? Tariq choosing the life of a drug dealer to ultimately get away from his family and establish his own legacy is a far more fascinating journey in my eyes than simply watching you repeat the same mistakes over and over again Ghost.
And that’s my biggest gripe with you my guy. You never learn from your blunders. Since Season 1 you’ve essentially played the role of “Dollar Tree Stringer Bell” by claiming you want to get out of the life of the “street hustle” and enter the “corporate hustle” by owning a nightclub like the way your father used to and called it “Truth.” However, every season some antagonist always gets the jump on you and is after everything you own and prevents you from leaving the criminal life. Whether it was Kanan, Felipe Lobos (Enrique Murciano), Milan (Callan Mulvey), or even Jukebox (Anika Noni Rose) you can’t seem to figure out how these people beat you at your own game and what you can do to learn from them so it never happens again. Plus your personality and ambitions are stagnant and you’ve became a bore. If you claim to want to leave the criminal lifestyle and live your life with your family in peace, then you should distance yourself from individuals who continuously push you down this path. Yet, you always seem to want to associate yourself with criminals and then you wonder why bad things always happen to you.
My high school drama teacher once gave me a bit of storytelling advice in a joking manner during one of my writing classes. He said, “if the plot is the moving the character and the character isn’t moving the plot it’s not a good story.” Most of the time it seems like you are a standby in your own story until something happens. The plot each season doesn’t truly kickoff unless the action is brought to your doorstep and you just do something with it by circumstance. And usually the end result is you making a dumb decision to keep the story rolling until it reaches it dramatic conclusion. Then we move on to the next step. Rinse and repeat.
I guess you could say that the dumb decision-making stems from your lust for your high school sweetheart Angela Valdes (Lela Loren). Call me crazy but maybe I was under the impression that chasing after an old flame while still married is a bad idea. Not to mention, you failed to come to grips as to whether or not you still want the marriage and the kids or you want to rekindle a relationship that hasn’t existed for over a decade. You make the selfish decision and begin an affair with her and never deal with the repercussions as to how that would have an effect on your family. Not to mention, you slept with an FBI agent. Do you know how incredibly stupid that is for a so-called “professional criminal” to sleep with a federal agent? It also impressed me she still had a job considering if her bosses ever figured out that she was associated with a criminal she’d be suspended from duty on the spot while they conduct an investigation or possibly end up in prison for a LONG time. Either way, she would lose her job and her career would be in the toilet by I digress. The point is that you double-down on this blunder and your goals as a character continuously became murky. Do you want to get out of criminal life? Continue it? Marry Angela and take the kids with you or leave the kids and just stay with Angela? It flip-flopped to the point I just stopped caring.
Oh yeah and funny enough she dies! It doesn’t help that you don’t even take responsibility for it. Her murder by Tommy Egan (Joseph Sikora) was a direct result of you manipulating the man for years to do your bidding where it got to the point where your former best friend became a rival drug kingpin as a result where he broke all ties with you and wanted to make you suffer. Plus you were forewarned to keep your distance from Angela by her family because of your dangerous lifestyle and of course you didn’t listen. As if you couldn’t be even more dickish to those you love.
It never mattered to you that the choices you make have devastating effects on those around you. Keep in mind your daughter Raina (Donshea Hopkins) died because you never bothered to keep her away from the criminal underworld and put her life as well as her brother and sister first above your own. Then you had the nerve to start a foundation in her memory but you can’t pull that because you too busy dealing with a “pissing contest” with another former disciple turned series antagonist Andre “Dre” Coleman (Rotimi Akinosho) on who controls your nightclub. It’s the same old story with you Ghost and quite frankly you keep the show from reaching its zenith in storytelling.
So yeah Ghost, you suck. We’re now entering the sixth and final season and we still don’t know what drives you to do what you do. Your family hates you. You have enemies all around New York. What exactly are you after this time? I guess right now it’s revenge against Tommy but what do you plan to do after that. What drives you to do what you do? It’s never been made clear and that’s why I have sheer apathy to your story. Other characters in the series aren’t perfect but at least I can buy into their motivations and beliefs. Tommy wants respect and has been fighting for that identity to escape from your shadow for years. Dre is tired of being the “butt-monkey” to both you and Kanan and wants to build a legacy for himself. Tasha wants a better life for her family since you’re a trash husband and a sucky Dad. They have arcs we the audience can follow and yours is always the same “revenge game” or “the go-straight game” à la Carlito Brigante of “Carlito’s Way” fame and those plot-driven arcs got real old real fast.
I honestly don’t know why you’re so popular. It’s probably because you look like Omari Hardwick (who’s a good actor by the way, you should see him in films like “Shot Caller” and “Sorry to Bother You”). Either way, your journey comes to an end this season and strangely enough I’ll miss you. You may not have been the most interesting protagonist I’ve seen on television but your world was still a lot of fun filled with heightened drama, hectic fights, and a pretty good soundtrack (not sure how I feel about the new Trey Songz centered theme song though… “mixed” is a good word for it). I don’t know how your story will end but I will be there to watch and enjoy it (I guess).
PS: Kanan really should’ve been the main character FYI. Just saying.
*Kofi Amankwaa Jr. is a freelance writer for SportsRaid and has worked for VIBE Magazine, Thrillist, InDemand, hibu, 1&1 Interent, and Amplify Inc.*