The Power universe has expanded, and if you’ve ever wondered what it had been like growing up in South Jamaica, Queens within the early ’90s, episode one among the new prequel series Raising Kanan, “Back within the Day,” transports you back in time. I with great care happen to be from an equivalent exact neighborhood (right around the corner from the McDonalds on Sutphin and Linden Blvd. to be exact) and that i grew up within the early ’90s, therefore the opening playground fight scene felt like I used to be watching the childhood experience of just about every any kid who grew up within the hood.
Young Kanan (Makai Curtis) gets into a fight within the park and is getting his ass whooped. In his defense, the fight was unfair. Two neighborhood kids who appear to be a touch bit older than Kanan, and are much bigger in stature, essentially jump him while the opposite neighborhood kids cheer in excitement. to form matters worse, Kanan’s favorite cousin Jukebox (played by the talented Anika Noni Rose in Power season three and four) is being restrained and is unable to help him, forcing her to interrupt NYC ’90s playground rule No. 1: When one loved one fights, everyone fights.
Embarrassed by the beatdown, Kanan runs home crying where he’s found by his young hood momma, who also happens to be a drug kingpin. Played by Broadway award-winning actress Patina Miller, Kanan’s mother Raquel Thomas, also affectionately called Raq, is strictly who I imagine Queens rapper LL Cool J was brooding about when he said he needed a “round-the-way-girl.” Like most moms, Raquel shows concern, but she does so within the most South Jamaica way possible: She makes him fight again. Not only does Raquel casually bring Kanan back to the park to confront the boys who jumped him, but she also makes sure he features a homemade weapon, batteries stuffed during a sock. (No lie, I witnessed this exact scene play out in secondary school, but with girls fighting!) together with his mother watching from afar ensuring he doesn’t backtrack, Kanan gets his revenge and redeems his reputation within the park.
Raquel’s complex approach to mothering is depicted throughout episode one. it’s evident that she loves her son, and she or he also makes it clear she wants a far better life for him. She accompanies her son to high school to satisfy the principal to debate Kanan’s promising future. just like the other male characters within the Power universe, James and Tariq St. Patrick, Kanan is sensible — book smart. But also just like St. Patrick’s, he chooses the streets.
A lot of this premiere episode is spent introducing viewers to the key people in Kanan’s life: His favorite cousin Jukebox; Davina, the girl he’s crushing on; Shawn “Famous” Figueroa, his Puerto Rican best friend; his uncles Lou Lou and Marvin; and Unique, the most important pusher on the southside/his mother’s competition, to call a couple of. the event of the characters is heightened by the narration of fifty Cent, who plays an older Kanan. We all skills Kanan’s life ended, so 50 doesn’t make an onscreen appearance within the series. However, hearing his voice makes the prequel feel both authentic and familiar.
Showrunner and former Power writer Sascha Penn also makes room for a few jaw-dropping, action-filled scenes. Raquel shows how vicious she really is often when she arranges for the dog of a rude-ass publicist she encountered to die by microwave. There’s also a shooting at the local diner meant to warn Raquel and her brothers, and a murder at the top of the episode (more thereon later). Thus far, Raising Kanan has all of the plot features of Power and Power Book II — drugs, guns, shootouts, and romance — but yet the storyline doesn’t feel repetitive.
It’s clear the romance within the series will believe the “good girl wants bad guy” trope. However, when it involves Raq, the writers subvert viewers’ expectations. She flirts with Symphony Bosket, the attractive bartender with one hell of a reputation, at Hugo Sanchez’s bar. Raq is that the bad girl, i.e., the pusher, while Symphony is an Urban Planning master’s student. Nice guy together with his head on his shoulders — he probably never even held a gun before. At now, the remaining love interests — Davina and Kanan, Davina and Buck Twenty, and Lou Lou and Jessica (Famous’ sister) — maintain a way more familiar good girl/bad guy narrative, so it’ll be interesting to ascertain how these love stories evolve or don’t because the season progresses.
The premiere episode presents the Thomas family as more unified and loving than the opposite families within the Power universe, the St. Patricks and therefore the Tejada’s. While at the local diner, before the shootout, they enjoy a meal together and exchange laughs. The energy feels way less tense than other Power episodes. While eating dinner, the family praises Jukebox for her vocal performance in choir rehearsal earlier within the day. Raquel also brags about the chance Kanan has received to attend a fresh specialized high school. Jukebox reveals she too was approached by the principal, but her outlandish father, uncle Marvin, shut the thought down. At the table, he forgets the comment he made to Jukebox and responds by joking about it. Although done very subtly here, the show writers are comparing the parenting sorts of Raquel and Marvin, and therefore the desires they need for his or her kids.
With no real intentions of leaving his friends and starting everywhere at a replacement school, the varying opinions about the specialized (not to say predominantly white) million-dollar high school, combined with the recent drive-by, make Kanan more adamant about not attending Stuyvesant. He tries to convince his mother he’s more intimate with her business than she thinks he’s. Concerned about the security of his mother and his future, he questions what would happen to him if she were to urge murdered. Miller and Curtis pick at viewers’ heartstrings as they portray a loving, close relationship between one mother and her only son. Despite his vulnerability and pleas to guard his mother, Raquel continues to guard her son by not welcoming him into the closed corporation. However, Kanan disregards her wishes by intentionally failing his entrance examination.
Raquel has already established herself together of the toughest women within the Power universe. (Monet Tejada is pretty damn tough. I’m unsure who would win during a fight.) During her conversation together with her competition Unique, played by rapper/actor Joey Badda$, Raquel holds her own, proving she isn’t intimidated by the male-dominated drug game. By the top of the conversation, it’s Raquel who’s negotiated the terms of who got what set of blocks: 140th street to 143rd street for Unique, and for Raq, 144th street to Sutphin Blvd. However, she doesn’t share this information together with her brothers or her son, so when Kanan gets news from D Wiz, one among his hot-headed down-for-whatever friends, that Unique’s men were on “his mom’s corner… 140th street,” he decides to require matters into his own hands under the guise of protecting Raquel.
Kanan and D Wiz mistakenly attack Unique’s corner and find yourself killing Buck Twenty, one among Unique’s men and Davina’s boyfriend. The scene slowly dramatizes Kanan’s first murder (though the 2 aren’t sure whose bullet did the damage). From the instant they turn the corner he wears his emotions on his face, which shifts from aggressive and angry to regret and remorse. The teenagers stand over Buck Twenty’s almost-lifeless body in shock, leaving quite enough time for him to grab Kanan by the neck. After realizing it had been Buck Twenty who they murdered, it makes me wonder about the important motive: protection of his mom, or jealousy?
Kanan’s decision ultimately puts the family in jeopardy and puts a short-lived strain on his relationship together with his mother. She puts her identity as a mother before her identity as a drug kingpin and grounds Kanan. Those identities are forced to merge quickly, however, when she has got to protect Kanan from being killed by Unique’s crew and questioned by the police. The episode comes full circle when Raq and Unique return to their designated meet-up location to debate business, but at this point, due to Kanan’s actions, she has no power to barter or force Unique to compromise — the ball is in his court. He takes all of the blocks and even questions her ability to be a mother and a pusher. By the top of the episode, she makes a choice that feels right for both her and Kanan.