Franchise fans who long for a Ghost and Tommy prequel may have gotten something better with Power Book III: Raising Kanan — the title character’s mother, Raquel.
From the moment Raq gives her chubby child a sock full of batteries to fend off playground bullies in the season premiere, which debuted Sunday night on Starz, she establishes herself as a not-to-be-trifled-with woman and mother. Smoking a cigarette and rocking a ridiculously chic fur-trimmed green jacket, the drug queenpin looks on to make sure her young son executes the knowledge she imparts.
Later, when Kanan grows up to be an astute high school student with boundless opportunities ahead of him, Raq attempts to switch gears. She and his principal want Kanan to test into an elite magnet school that would ensure entry into a prestigious college. After all, Raq reasons, she has taught Kanan how to protect himself in the streets. Now that’s he’s 15 in 1991, her tough love could help her progeny surpass his parents and reach for higher and bigger stars by taking the family’s Jamaica, Queens street acumen to rarified spaces. Raq wants Kanan to be book and street smart — but most of all, crime-free.
Children are more apt to do what they see and not as they’re told, and that’s why Kanan rebels against Raq’s wishes. Not only does he intentionally fail the test (bruh, why even show up?), but Kanan attempts to restore his mother’s street cred by taking back a corner within her drug-selling demarcation. There is just one problem: Unbeknownst to Kanan, Raq had brokered a peace deal with her business rival Nique where he would get that very corner and a few more.
Making matters more complicated, the boy Kanan shoots and kills also happens to be his romantic rival for Davina, the girl Kanan has been crushing on for years. None of this makes the murder easy to swallow for the teenager who had, up until that point, never taken a life. Kanan’s rash and deadly decision also creates a heap of trouble, from a drive-by attempt on his life to increased tension between Raq and Nique and their now nonexistent peace accord. Time to go to war.
By episode’s end, Raq has to accept that there is no such thing as halfway crooks. Even though she wants better for her son, at least if she teaches him the right way to be a criminal, he’ll live and thrive. Power fans also get to see Kanan and Jukebox as cousin-siblings, loving and lifting up one another against the odds. This is especially poignant and heartbreaking because, as adults, Kanan is the one who kills Jukebox, his first and only best friend.
Other premiere highlights — aside from a top-notch soundtrack — include Raq dating a dude straight out of Shemar Moore’s lookbook and Raq sending a message to a haughty club manager who talked down to her by having her younger brother Lou-Lou microwave the woman’s lapdog, reminiscent of The Godfather’s horse beheading. Because make no mistake about it: Raq is Vito Corleone as a beautiful Black woman, and Kanan is her Michael.
What did you think of the premiere installment of Power Book III: Raising Kanan and is Raq your new favorite character, too? Grade the episode in our trusty poll and drop your thoughts in a comment below.