By: Simon Button

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As Power Book II: Ghost returns for a second season, leading man Michael Rainey Jr. promises: "The stakes are so much higher."

The actor, who plays college student/drug dealer Tariq St. Patrick in the spin-off show, told RadioTimes.com: "In season one Tariq was just getting into college and building the foundations for his life. Now he’s a grown man and he’s thinking a little differently."

Specifically, the son of the late drugs kingpin James "Ghost" St. Patrick from the original Power series is seeking to increase his own drugs empire after killing a professor at the end of season one.

"So he’s got a lot going on, a lot on his shoulders," Rainey Jr. explained. "As he tries to cover his tracks as far as the murder goes. He has to move diligently through the world with all the heat that’s coming down on him."

A Power regular since the show began its six-season arc on Starz in 2014, he recalls laughing off the idea of getting his own spin-off when creators and producers Courtney A. Kemp and Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson first mooted it.

"Then Fiddy pulled me to the side one day on set and he said 'You know you’ve gotta start getting ready soon' and I was like 'Ready for what?' and he said 'You’re about to have your own show'. I though, nobody likes Tariq, there’s no way they’re gonna base a show around him and nobody’s gonna watch it. But it’s been a blessing."

It’s also been a success as one of the network’s flagship shows. Picking up where Power left off, it charts Tariq’s attempts to flee his legacy whilst slowly being drawn into the drugs world and entanglements with the cut-throat Tejada family.

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As an integral part of the Power universe (which also includes prequel series Power Book III: Raising Kanan) it is overseen by a very hands-on Jackson, who is a frequent visitor to the set. "And when he comes in," Rainey Jr. said. "He brings such a lively energy, making sure everyone is laughing and smiling and in a good mood. He also makes sure everyone is focussed."

Jackson makes a cameo appearance in the second season as fellow drug dealer Kanan Stark but when and why is being kept under wraps. Larenz Tate, who has been promoted to series regular as James St. Patrick’s former political rival Councilman Rashad Tate, couldn’t spill the beans even if he wanted to "since I don’t have any scenes with him".

But like Rainey Jr., Tate sang Fiddy’s praises. "He really enjoys his position now as a creator of great content. He’s finding a way to get stories made. It’s not always easy to have these kind of stories told because oftentimes networks or studios might think 'Here’s another story about the drug life' but it goes so much further. That’s just to get people in, it’s just to get their attention, then once you have their attention there’s so much more going on."

The actor teased about the councilman’s season two storyline: "He’ll cross paths with Tariq and the question is: Is he going to have a similar dynamic with Tariq that he had in the Power series with his father James?

"And we get a chance to learn about other characters, not just the St. Patricks. Once you get beyond the idea that this is a show about the underworld and illegal activities, you really get a chance to see what it’s like for good people who find themselves in bad circumstances and have to make the most of that. And of course at any moment in the Power universe anyone can go. It’s continually evolving."

Also back this season is Method Man as stop-at-nothing lawyer Davis Maclean, who is basking in the glory of having cleared Tariq’s mother Tasha of homicide charges.

"He’s riding a high from winning one of his biggest cases ever," he noted. "And he’s dealing with this brand new stardom that he has, but he doesn’t care about stardom, he cares about having a seat at the table. He doesn’t care about the money, he cares about the power."

With only two of 10 episodes available to press ahead of transmission, it’s anyone’s guess where Davis Maclean - or indeed any of the other characters - will end up by the finale. Method Man isn’t revealing anything but when asked if things are left open for a third season he smiles: "I’m not at liberty to say but I’d lean more towards yes than no."

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Power Book II: Ghost season 2 comes to Starzplay on Sunday, 21st November – visit our Drama hub for more news and features, or find something to watch with our TV Guide.

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