The family business rules everything in the “Power” universe — but in Season 2 of “Power Book III: Raising Kanan,” some new characters might have a few plans to shake up dynamics as fans know them.
LeToya Luckett, Omar Dorsey, and Paulina Singer have joined the series this season, and each of their characters step onto the scene with something to prove.
As the second season opened with a regretful Kanan (Mekhai Curtis), the teen reunited with his mother Raquel (Patina Miller) and the rest of the Thomas family in New York following the Season 1 blowout between him and Officer Howard (Omar Epps). But he soon learns of new family affiliations, and business is expanding faster than before.
The game looks different in Season 2 in more ways than one. Lou Lou (Malcolm Mays) wants to continue building his recording studio with a new singer, Zisa (Paulina Singer) — and Raquel’s attempt to move business into New Jersey hasn’t come without some bumps in the road.
The move is proving treacherous for the members of her team. Despite that, being the force that she is, she forges on in all directions –– protecting her business, protecting her family (which could prove dangerous), and potentially building a new relationship with local businessman Cartier (Dorsey).
Dorsey is a newcomer to the “Power” Universe, but he’s quickly proving himself among fans as a potential wildcard, as he promises Cartier will become “more and more integral to the world of Raq and Lou Lou.”
On the outside, Cartier doesn’t have the same look as some of the men in Raq’s past (i.e. Symphony, played by Toby Sandeman), but his suave demeanor and almost seamless integration into the Thomas family’s inner circle puts him on everyone’s radar. After introducing himself to Lou as Zisa’s manager, viewers watched him get into position to later invest in Lou’s recording studio.
The bankroll is an unwitting move against Raq, but now that she knows the truth behind his mysterious status, he may prove to have answers to some of her other pressing problems.
“From the outside looking in, Raquel seems like the perfect match for Cartier,” Dorsey says. “She is driven, powerful, wealthy and she does not need him. She could be the perfect Queen…but Raq is a different beast. She’s not made to play the ‘helpmate.’ She is a ‘sun’, and the world revolves around her. Cartier is also a ‘sun’, so this dynamic will be very fun to watch play out.”
If one thing can be grasped from this “Power” iteration which is now five episodes in, it’s that the testosterone takes a backseat to the female power pushing this vehicle forward. With Miller at the helm as the queenpin, she wields a team of smaller bosses whose outside ties stand to potentially threaten the operation Raq has built by using whatever powers they hold at their disposal.
Singer, the songstress playing Zisa, also joins the cast this season as a vocal standout to Lou. While her character seems small in the early episodes, the actor warns that Zisa has more to offer than looks and small singing reprieves.
“I think when she meets Lou, she’s still a bit unsure, and allows herself to be fit into certain boxes by those who’ve told her they can make her a star,” Singer tells Variety. “It’s important for her to realize she’s already a star, without validation from others. I think it’s important for other artists, especially in the music industry, to see a woman taking charge of her own sound and direction in a very male-centric and lead space.”
Outside of the series, Singer hopes to strike a high note with viewers as she releases her own album “Freaq Wisdom.” She joins fellow singers Hailey Kilgore and Luckett as another multi-hyphenate on the series (who also showcase their vocal talents on the show). Though, the former Destiny’s Child member makes no promises of new originals to come anytime soon, despite her lending vocals to two episodes in the season.
Luckett, a mother herself, was added to the series as Kenya –– the long-lost mother of Kanan’s cousin Jukebox (Kilgore), who walked away from her daughter as a baby. Due to the sensitive nature of Kenya’s relationship with her child, and having had some apprehension about her role upon reading the script, Luckett stepped into the driver’s seat with a desire to understand Kenya’s place as a young, Black mother in a desperate situation and without answers.
“I wanted [the viewers] to have some empathy for her,” she tells Variety. “Being a mom and deserting a child, this wasn’t something that I could just breeze over. I had to put every emotion, remove every judgment and go in as best I could because I wanted to tell her story well.”
As Juke feels the tension between her father Marvin (London Brown), she turns her focus toward her mother-daughter relationship.
Even with its new branches, family remains at the root of the series. They’re the ties that bind the characters together — or raise divisions. As outer forces pull at the sides of the Thomas family, each side sways with the wind, with one mother holding them altogether.
“I think that Raq is the rock. She’s the heartbeat and as it relates to me it’s the same with my grandmother, my mom –– they are the rocks,” Luckett says. “But we lean into my mom, we lean into the women of our family and I think that that’s what I love most about the show. It’s showing a woman in power, and it’s very empowering.”
Relatability is the anchor keeping audiences embedded in the show’s overarching story, she adds. As the fans relate to the grit of each story unfolded in the episodes, she also gives a nod to the show’s writers who’ve given the new and previous characters equal ground among each other.
“They all kind of tie in, but in so many different ways,” Luckett says. “They have an understanding and a respect for one another.”
“It’s a story that makes you wanna be there for the characters instead of judging them,” Singer says about the connection with viewers. “This then affects how the audience sees people in their own lives, who may look like or remind them of our characters, and and helps them to judge less there too. Breaking down walls between worlds.”
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