'Raising Kanan': Omar Epps and Shanley Caswell on Det. Howard and Burkes Fates in Season 2 (Exclusive)

Raising Kanan is back for a second season, and has already been green-lit for a third season ahead of its Aug. 14 release on STARZ. The third series in the Power Universe family centers on the original story of the fan-favorite character, Kanan Stark, and follows his coming of age in South Jamaica, Queens. Set in the 1980s and raised by a single mother, who ruthlessly runs the family's emerging criminal empire using her son at the helm, Kanan charts out a path through some of the city's most volatile streets while, at the same time, navigating his way through adolescence, which has its own dangers and pitfalls. 

Alongside its stars, MeKai Curtis in the titular role of and Tony® Awards winner Patina Miller as his mother, Raquel "Raq" Thomas, the show also stars Love & Basketball standout Omar Epps as Detective Malcolm Howard and Shanley Craswell as Detective Shannon Burke, Howard's partner on the force. Season 1 ended with Det. Howard coming to grips with the news that Kanan could be his son, and Kanan shoots him under the direction of his own mother. 

In its forthcoming second season, Raq has gained control over the city's drug trade, but Kanan is slipping away. After being whisked out of the city for his own safety at the end of season one, Kanan Stark returns to Queens uncertain of his future with the family business. At the same time, a secret about his mother and neighborhood antagonist, Det. Howard, threatens to upend everything Kanan thought he knew about himself and his family. While trying to allay her son's concerns,  Raq expands the family business into dangerous Mafia territory, with no help from her younger brother, Lou-Lou, who has other plans that revolve around his budding record label. 

PopCulture.com spoke with Epps and Craswell about how their characters deal with the unraveling of their personal worlds and how it collides with their professional lives. Check out the full video interview above.

PC: Omar, I'll start with you. Obviously, we are so excited that Raising Kanan is back. Now, the audience is unclear about what your character's fate is going to be. We [the audience] don't know if he's really dead or alive, but the Power Universe is infamous for using soap opera methods and bringing back characters, whether we thought they were dead or not, or continue to use them via flashbacks. What can you, at least, tease us about what Kanan did in season one, and how that will impact his journey in season two?

OE: Well, I mean, Kanan shot Howard, so there is that. But going into season two, for Howard, he's vulnerable internally for the first time in his life. Is this kid his biological son? Is that true? Is it not? But at the same time, he's fighting to keep control of his image. He's that guy, no pun intended, he has the power, whether it's in the department or whether it's in the neighborhood. From an external point, he's trying to regain that and keep that reputation. But internally, he's going through a whole thing that he's never been through before, but he has to keep that close to the vest. That's kind of where you find them at the beginning of season two.

PC: Now, for you Shanley, you working closely with Malcolm, how does what happened to him impact your character as far as Detective Shannon Burke is concerned?

SC: That's kind of the beginning of Shannon's journey as her own little lone wolf. She has the determination to figure out what happened to Howard, despite him and many others telling me to just maybe let it go. Shannon just keeps on asking some questions that may or may not get her into trouble.

PC: What are you guys the most excited about or think that audience will be the most stunned by throughout the season? We never know which characters are going to die. We're always at the edge of our seat episode to episode, and the writers do a really good job at keeping us anticipating more. What do you think viewers will be the most excited or shocked to see this time around?

OE: I don't know. You know what? That's up to the viewers. I don't know what they'll be most excited about. I mean, there's going to be a lot of shock, as life is shocking. I'm not trying to be morbid, but it's like, none of us could predict the pandemic, but we all had to go through it. And so, the show, in that way, is reflective of real life. It's like curve balls happen, this happens, and that's I think, the fun part for the viewer, is you just kind of never know which way it's going to come from, and for the characters, it's the same way like you read every script like, "I hope I don't get shot."

SC: No, I think the same thing. We see a lot of emotional shockers I think also this season with a lot of new revelations happening. I think, more internally for characters and emotionally, which is really cool. You get to see a lot more depth to a lot of the characters on the show.

PC: We know that you guys figure out what the fate of your characters will be obvious when you get the script and during table reads and things like that. But behind the scenes, have you guys been able to have any input on your character development by chance?

OE: I mean, Sascha Penn is such a great collaborator, and he has a vision, and then we have discussions about... Well, because our discussions, I'm just talking about me, it's mostly about Howard's backstory and how that informs where Sascha's idea may be. Then sometimes we sort of meet in the middle of, "Okay, maybe we can pull that off this way," because it's not just about Howard. What Howard goes through will affect what Burke goes through, will affect what Jukebox goes through... It's all moving together.

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PC: Domino effect?

OE: It's like the ultimate team play, but I think Shanley said something earlier where the internal emotions are really what start to exude themselves in season two, and I think that's great because that's great character development. It's not just salaciousness; it's more cerebral.