SPOILER ALERT: This interview contains spoilers for “If Y’Don’t Know, Now Y’Know,” the Season 2 finale of “Power Book III: Raising Kanan” on Starz.
Rebuilding Raquel’s empire after all her decisions backfired will be an uphill battle, but she may not have to walk the road alone.
Season 2 of “Power Book III: Raising Kanan” ended with an explosive shoot-out between Raquel (Patina Miller), Lou (Malcolm Mays), and Marvin (London Brown), who battled Sal’s (Michael Rispoli) Mafia in New Jersey. The exchange resulted in the deaths of newcomers Zisa (Paulina Singer), Cartier (Omar Dorsey), and Kenya (LeToya Luckett).
Raquel had hit rock bottom with her plans to extend her operations to Jersey, D.C., and the south thwarted, and her son, Kanan (Mekai Curtis) choosing his new relationship with his father over hers. And at a moment where death was knocking on Raquel’s door, she’s saved by her former rival, Unique (Joey BadA$$).
Throughout the season, Raquel and Unique’s relationship has had the most growth — despite Raq’s obstinate nature — amid its twists and turns, from Unique kidnapping Raquel’s connect Juliana (Rosal Colon) and robbing her stash, to Raquel eventually offering him a job after initially setting him up to be arrested in Season 1. According to showrunner Sascha Penn, that growth could potentially evolve into more than a mutual respect, and turn romantic.
“It’s not always uncommon that your greatest rival is also someone that you sort of admire,” Penn said. “You always have some measure of respect for your competition, to a certain extent.”
“Over the course of these two seasons, the chemistry between the actors Patina and Joey has been pretty electric,” Penn said of Unique saving Raquel in the finale. “And I just felt like it was a natural progression of their relationship — that by the end of the season, they would have somewhat of a meeting of the minds you know, because they are so similar in many respects.”
With Raquel’s former partners out of the picture following the exit of Symphony (Toby Sandeman) and the death of Cartier, and her son not at home to take her focus, that leaves room for a new man like Nique to get in the picture.
“She doesn’t have a lot of confidants,” Penn said. “On a certain level, Unique provides that in ways that some of these other characters can’t.”
Whether that new closeness means a friendship or a love connection, Penn only teases that a potential romance isn’t off the table.
“I wouldn’t rule it out,” Penn said. “You know, because who knows? In the finale, Unique sort of presses up on Raq. It does feel romantic, and I think the question is whether that’s something that feels reciprocated.”
Rebuilding Raquel’s empire will come in two ways: emotional and professional, Penn says of Season 3. Not only will she have to respond to the people who crossed her, but she’ll also address some of the skeletons in her closet that have been dug up: “There’s a real emotional journey that she has to go on, and something that we’re super conscious of is we want to make sure that as much of a boss as Raq is –– and everyone sort of prefers her that way — she also has humanity.”
In addition to her other troubles, because her relationship with Kanan has become tense, her son has grown closer to his new family connection: his father Det. Howard (Omar Epps). But “so much of what she does is motivated by her connection and love for Kanan,” Penn told Variety. Because of that love, a large part of Raquel’s reconstruction in the show’s third season will be to mend her relationship with Kanan.
“For her in Season 3, it’s a real sort of reconciliation of all these things,” Penn said. “To a certain extent, she was coming to terms with her own fallibility, and the mistakes she’s made and the choices she’s made — and really trying to figure out what that all means.”
While Penn is invested in making sure the fans continue to follow Raquel’s story, outside of the show’s plot, there are still concerns about “Raising Kanan” receiving attention from mainstream media. After the show’s first season ended last year, the showrunner made waves on social media when he expressed in an Instagram post that he felt the series was actively being ignored by most popular publications. In the Sept. 30, 2021 post, Penn wrote: “If you don’t like the show, shit all over it. That’s fine. But to ignore it altogether is to say that these stories, this work, these actors, THIS audience doesn’t matter. And that’s…We all know what that is.”
Over a year later –– especially considering the attention he didn’t anticipate his Instagram account would receive in light of the post –– the question is does Penn feel the same way? “Let me be clear, the show has gotten a lot of response and reaction, specifically from Black media.” But he says that the show’s “challenge” is to draw attention from the “mainstream media,” because, Penn said, “we want the largest audience possible.”
“It does feel like more people are noticing,” Penn said. “And again, I believe that’s a function of the work that specifically a lot of these actors are doing, whether it’s Patina Miller or London Brown or Joey or Malcolm or Haley. I put this ensemble up against any ensemble out there.”
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