by Derek Lawrence | via Entertainment Weekly
“I want to be a better man.”
Well, considering all the murdering, drug dealing, and cheating that he’s done, that should be pretty easy for Ghost, who hit rock bottom in “Happy Birthday.” The season 5 midpoint was billed as a big one, especially with the high-profile casting of Kendrick Lamar — but not even the rapper’s appearance could save this downer of an episode.
Not that there weren’t some positives. I mean, how good was it to see Tommy get at least a little bit of his swagger back? And Tariq standing up to Ghost was an important and impressive moment for the character and his portrayer, Michael Rainey Jr. Let’s see where both of them land on this week’s Power power rankings.
Strap in and strap up, because this is where it goes down.
1. Mak and Saxe
“I love it when a plan comes together” is probably what Saxe and Mak are thinking right about now. They’ve been locked in on taking down Tommy, Ghost, and Angela, and they are now that much closer to their goal with Blanca’s investigation discreetly continuing and Teresi tipping them off to Ghost laundering Tommy’s money.
Look who made a new friend! While Kanan has been busy stirring up trouble for his old friends Tommy and Ghost, he gets into some trouble of his own with Laces, a homeless drug addict played by Kendrick Lamar. The street hustler, who talks a mile a minute, becomes Kanan’s latest partner, helping him kill members of Cristobal’s crew. What do these guys do when not blowing out the brains of Tianos members? Talk about dinosaurs and the pros and cons of being a vegan, of course? “I tried it,” admits Kanan, “but they said I couldn’t eat p—y, so I quit.” I don’t think that’s how being a vegan works. Luckily and shockingly, Laces doesn’t meet the same fate of most of Kanan’s companions. Instead of shooting him, Kanan gives Laces his gun to sell. “You don’t have any friends, do you?” asks Laces, who could have a future as Kanan’s shrink.
Tasha is drunk… on Terry. “If anybody has me under their influence, it’s you,” Tasha tells her lover, who wants her to move in with him and stay away from Ghost. Later, he gets to show up and play the hero, both by bringing a birthday cake for Tariq and showing off his lawyer skills when the cops come looking for Tasha’s gun. Although, it’s not all good between Tasha and Terry, as we see when he storms out after she continues to insist that she killed Ray Ray.
I’ve never been a big fan of Tariq. Teenage characters on adult TV shows are always hard and rarely successful. Even when there is a good one, it doesn’t usually last long (looking at you, Homeland and Dana Brody). But this is the episode where Tariq St. Patrick became a man. Standing up to his father and trying to be there for his mother was a big step up from drinking lean and pulling stick-ups with Ray Ray and company. A few more episodes like this and I might be ready to fully buy into the storyline of the son following in his father’s footsteps.
Well, something finally went right for Tommy — kind of. The episode starts with Vincent confronting Teresi, Sammy, and Tommy about Tommy lying to him about Dre. Vincent orders Teresi to kill either his BFF or his son. “I’m sorry,” Teresi says as he pulls the trigger on Sammy. Luckily for Sammy, the gun wasn’t loaded. Unluckily for them all, Vincent is done with them. Teresi assures Sammy that he could tell the gun wasn’t loaded (convenient story) and that he’s going to get something from Tommy because his son now “f—ing owes me.” And Tommy, unknowingly, delivers, sharing that he’s laundering his money through Ghost’s club. This is great news for Teresi, who happily relays the info to Saxe and Mak, allowing him at least another day on the streets.
As previously mentioned, Angela is soon going to be facing some real issues at work, especially with her boss Tamika clearly starting to suspect the worse (and she has no idea how bad it really is). But Angela has something up her sleeve — Tommy. She interrupts a meeting between Tommy and Proctor, revealing the tracker on Tommy’s car. Why? Because she wants him to flip on the Jimenezes, offering him full immunity. “All this time and you don’t know me at all,” he says when he later shows up at her apartment. “I’m not that f—ing guy. I never have been, I never will be.” But that doesn’t mean he isn’t going to work with her. He takes the tracker with him, seemingly as a way to bring down the Jimenezes. At least she might win one case before she gets disbarred and thrown in jail!
Click HERE to read the rest of the recap, “Happy Birthday.”