Power, Season 1: Episode 4 – “Who Are You?”
Written by Sascha Penn
Directed by John David Coles
Airs Saturday nights at 9 on Starz
Already halfway through its first season, Power has shown no interest in leaving its story in fifth gear. There are moments when the pace quickens to what you might expect from a thriller, but they are few and far between–and for good reason, it seems. With that style of storytelling, Power allows itself to pay more attention to its characters than its plot. The enigmatic Ghost demands attention all on his own through sheer force and confidence. Tommy, however, is a bit more tricky to structure episodes around. Yet, “Who Are You?” is a great example of how that character works within Power and how Joseph Sikora brings him to life so well and believably.
Tommy’s date with Holly is actually kind of cute in a “this guy is totally out of his element” kind of way. Having made dinner reservations, he instead drags her into the first bar they pass on the street, which is certainly where he feels more comfortable. What’s most enjoyable about Tommy as a character is that he is never putting on a facade, and he’s never asked to be someone he’s not (something that almost every other character in the series has to do at some point). He tells stories about growing up fighting as he pounds his drinks back. And, when given the opportunity, he throws down with some guy who is trying to make a move on Holly. That is who he is, and people will either find it repulsive or weirdly charming.
Maybe more indicative of the character, though, is what Ghost asks of him in the episode. It’s not just that he’s able to (kind of) stand in for Ghost at the sit-down and take charge in a way that’s probably unnatural to him (Tommy is best used as an enforcer, not a leader). It’s also the way Sikora’s face lights up when Ghost is essentially telling Tommy to take care of the drug dealer who brought in the bad coke in last week’s episode. Tommy loves this part of his job, and when he’s in full attack mode with that twisted grin on his face, it’s impossible to see Sikora acting on the screen–he is Tommy. That’s a rare gift and it’s one that’s easily taken for granted in a secondary role, but it gives the episode an added layer of entertainment that it’s somewhat in need of.
It’s not that the other developments going on in Power are poor. It’s more that that deliberate pacing isn’t doing any favors for some storylines. The Tasha/Shawn scenes in the episode, for instance, feel like missed opportunities to do something new, so they drag to some extent. Might it have made more sense to juxtapose Ghost and Angie’s sex scene with Tasha manipulating Shawn rather than cutting back and forth with Tommy and Holly? On paper, it feels like Tasha experiences the distance between her and her husband more than he does, so the fact that we’ve seen him act on that instead of her is somewhat inconsistent even if the chemistry and draw between Ghost and Angie is much stronger than between Tasha and Shawn. Tasha has certainly proven herself to be incredibly sharp and capable, so keeping her in a position of frustrating isn’t make the most of her character. I do, however, like the way the Ghost and Angie story unfolds in this episode, mostly because of how that sex scene is shot. There is a conservatism and intimacy to it (and also to Tommy and Holly’s scene, though to a lesser extent, in how he kisses her at the beginning). Both performers are clothed, more or less looking at each other–or at least facing each other–and it takes place in Ghost’s office, which is the one area in Power where even Tasha feels like an intruder. So, all the technical qualities of that sequence work rather well in making it feel like a powerful moment for the characters. And as long as the crime plot is not being taken care of very well, those character moments become more and more necessary.
– Sean Colletti