Power Book III: Raising Kanan Season 1 Episode 9 had us on the edge of our seats.
And it ended in a way that was unexpected and will surely have a ripple effect on many characters as the Power spinoff officially ends its first season.
Series star MeKai Curtis took some time to talk to us about Kanan's emotions during THAT scene, his gratitude to the fans, and how he would describe this final hour.
Hi MeKai, how are you?
Hi, Whitney. I'm well, how are you?
I'm doing really well, thank you.
So, just jumping in here, after the events of episode nine, can you give us an idea of Kanan's headspace, where he's at that moment?
Oof. Well, really, I think he's just juiced off of this pep-talk that he's gotten from his mother. He's finally getting the chance directly to prove his loyalty to his mother. And the whole season, he's been saying, "Mom, I'm ready. Mom, I'm ready. Mom, I want to do this. Mom, I want to do this."
But, for her to finally give him this pep talk and its basically green light, he's excited, he's eager, he's ready to do it. While she was giving minimal information, you see him figure out what's happening in that moment, while once he comes face to face with Howard, he's like, "Whoa, she sent me to shoot a cop."
And it also worked out because it was so brilliant played that, we thought, as the audience, he was going to shoot or fight Unique, with that back-and-forth monologue dialect that was happening.
In that moment, going back and forth, the audience thinks that Raq is hyping him up to go fight Unique, essentially. Which, it can be played that way because Raq's thing is she gives just enough information, or she kind of omits the truth.
She told Kanan what was happening, "This guy's putting our family in danger; I need you to save us." That's kind of his trigger because that's all Kanan just wanted to do this whole time, is show his loyalty, prove to his mother why he needs to be here for her. And now he's finally getting the chance to, with this green light.
The sense that she gave him. So when you pull up to the park, and you see him, and you see the confusion come across Kanan's face when Howard turns around, it's because, again, Raq really omitted the information and didn't give much other than, "You're going to the park, and I need you to shoot this man."
While the other side of that story is throughout the whole season, she's been telling Kanan that Howard is... "Just stay away from him." All this other stuff, "He's XYZ, he's bad."
But there's never really been an immediate threat; she never told him about the fact that Howard is his father and that he's trying to let him know that she wants that middleman cut out. And that's what you see happening when she sends him to fight.
When she sends him to shoot Howard, he's just realizing he's shooting a cop. There's not even the explanation that it's his father. He still has no idea that that's his father. It's just that his mother had sent him to shoot a cop, so now he's struggling, trying to figure out what to do in this moment. He's thinking on his feet.
Sure, sure. And you kind of touched on this in your answer, but family is such an important theme throughout the whole season. What does that mean to Kanan, and how does that inform the decisions that he's made leading up to this point?
Family is everything to Kanan. His family is literally his influence and his world. And that's the keyword, influence, being that he sees his mother and his uncles, who are his paternal type of influences and examples in this world, doing all these things. And one thing about Kanan is he's super inquisitive.
He's super in tune with the world around him while also being super naive.
So, he's super aware of the dangers in the world that his mother's in, which makes him want to be a part of it because he wants to protect her, and he wants to be there for his family. Again, his uncles being his real only example of a father figure, aside from the game his mother put him on, he's seeing that as well.
And he thinks that's what the world is supposed to be, that's how people operate, that's how they move when in reality, his mother's trying to show him a world outside of that. But that's just not the space 15-year-old Kanan is in, he wants to be here and now because that's all he sees, and that's all he thinks there is.
Very true. So, we know where Kanan ends up, but this Kanan at 15, what does he ultimately want? Is it power, respect, responsibility, a bit of a mixture of things? What do you think it is that Kanan ultimately wants right now?
I think Kanan is still trying to figure that out himself. I think through each episode, you see him pick more of a direction. He's 15 years old, he's still trying to figure out who he is in the world and at school, really, you know what I mean? To be thrown into such an adult world throws him.
He's also trying to figure out, he's essentially the man of his household, being just him and his mother.
He's trying to figure out how to balance that while trying to figure out how to balance his own love life. And again, just the things that people he's around, and how that would pull him in a certain direction. Knowing one thing, but also knowing it might do this, but also being 15 and full of emotions and hormones, he just acts, really.
Mm-hmm. That's true.
So yeah, I think that's the direction in the world you see Kanan in, he doesn't necessarily have a direction he wants to go in yet, but each episode gives him more of an idea of what and where to be. Like I said, he's very inquisitive. He's always thinking. He's always paying attention.
There's effects and actions that he takes that causes him to realize certain things. And that's what informs the next decision he makes, why he moves this way, and how he does that. That's really just the overall juggling act that you've seen happening throughout the story.
That's so true. And I got a chance to speak with you on the press day for Raising Kanan, and I had asked you, "What do you hope that the audience learns about Kanan?" And I think each episode, we learned something new, which has been nice to see this season.
It's been one of the most gratifying parts of getting to play the character, too, is because each episode has its own lesson, and you also get to see him implement those lessons quite quickly.
He's a super-fast learner, but you see the innate and raw "Go get it" from him, but he still needs to be a little more polished and mature for it to fully round out. It's fun watching that art happen.
For sure. The audience reaction to the first season has been pretty incredible, so how pleased have you been with the way the show has connected with both viewers of the other Power series and new ones that have come in for this series?
That's been the ultimate goal, honestly. I said that from day one, was to...one, bridge the gap for Power fans who were left a little confused about Kanan or even just wanted to see where how his story actually began. And then, to two, bring an entirely new audience, one, into this world, or into this franchise, I might say.
And two, into this world, into this part of the culture that was so impactful, because even though these are fictional characters that we're finding ourselves playing, these are real scenarios, real choices that people had to make in real life.
So, to be able to highlight that, and have those conversations started between generations. The people that were there, that got to experience this, and then people from my generation who don't have much information on this part of the culture and the era. To be able to do that for them is really fun, man.
It's been gratifying. It's been dope getting to see everybody so excited to watch what's happening. It's been dope getting to see people learn because even as an actor on the show, it's been an extremely educational and eye-opening experience to be put in the line of fire like this.
Obviously, there was information and things I was aware of before this, but to step into this world, to put on those shoes, per se, it gives you an entirely different perspective on it.
Without spoilers, obviously, what do you think fans will be feeling during this final hour of Season One?
Man, there's so much that's going to happen. I think there'll be some clarity; there'll also be some confusion. There will be some triumph; there will also be some loss. And there'll also be the setup of just watching these people reap the "benefits" of their actions. It's the story of a consequence now, so it's just fun to watch that unfold.
I can't wait for people to see that.
And if you had to give one word to the finale, what would you say?
One word to the finale?
Yeah. To describe it.
Ooh, one word to describe the finale. Wow. I was going to say, "Stay tuned." But that's literally, that's two words.
Well, that's fine. Two words, that's fine!
Actually, you know what, I'll say expansive, I'll say expansive, because, from the last episode, there's more that grows and moves. You can see an expansion of what's happening, along with the consequences that took place.
Yeah, for sure.
Branch, you know what, that's it. Branch, I'll use that.
Okay, I like that. And this is the last question for me here, but I did get a chance to see the finale already, and you did some amazing work, and you did amazing work all season. Just want to let you know that.
I appreciate you, I really do appreciate that, thank you.
Yep. You're welcome.
That's the goal, man. I want to give those great performances, and let people feel and understand, and bring them into these worlds that I step into.
And with season two on the horizon, how excited are you to keep telling this story?
I'm super excited, man. This is only the beginning for this story and beyond. It's just a learning curve. People are going to get to see some new stuff and experience some new stuff. And just to be a part of that, to have people be a part of my journey as well, I'm just excited, man. I'm grateful. I'm honored. I'm ready.
Well, thank you so much for taking some time today to talk with me.
Of course. Thank you.
Power Book III: Raising Kanan airs Sundays at 8/7c on STARZ.
***This interview has been edited for length and clarity.***
Whitney Evans is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.