If there's one thing "Power Book II: Ghost" has proven in season three, it's that nobody's safe — not even original characters who survived the spinoff's parent series. In a rather shocking and completely unexpected turn of events, the Starz series has done away with a character that viewers have been waiting almost a decade to see meet his downfall: Cooper Saxe (Shane Johnson).
For years, Saxe has miraculously figured out ways to escape a lot of close calls — including almost getting strangled to death by Ghost (Omari Hardwick) and Tommy (Joseph Sikora) in "Power" — but his conniving ways have finally caught up to him in a fatal conclusion, as with most "Power" antagonists.
After six seasons of "Power" and three instalments of "Power Book II," it's nearly impossible to list all the dirt Saxe has done through the years. In the original series, his relentless hunt to expose Ghost and his drug enterprise nearly drove him to an early grave. He even thought about killing Ghost, though the latter's son Tariq (Michael Rainey Jr.) beat Saxe to the punch. In "Power Book II," Saxe's hate for Ghost transfers over to Tariq as he teams up with ADA Jenny Sullivan (Paton Ashbrook) — whom he had a brief relationship with — to aid a RICO case she and the feds have been working on. But this time around, Saxe's twisted agenda of seeking justice by any means necessary turns him into a rat — aka a criminal informant.
If there's one thing "Power" fans know, rats in the show never stick around too long. From working as a double agent behind his partner Davis MacClean's (Method Man) back to feeding Jenny information on Tariq and his crime circle, Saxe was always playing a dangerous game by getting too close to the flames. And in episode eight of "Power Book II," "Sacrifice," he ultimately gets burned.
So, how exactly does Saxe meet his demise in "Power Book II"? Read ahead for a breakdown of his final moments in the show, and see what Johnson tells POPSUGAR about his character's long overdue exit.
How Does Saxe Die in "Power Book II: Ghost" Season 3?
If "Power Book II" viewers can recall, Saxe played a big part in helping Davis get his dying brother, Theo (Jordan Mahome), an early release from prison. Of course, Saxe's generous (and illegal) favour served as a way to get close to Davis so he could implicate the defence attorney in Tariq and the Tejadas' drug ring, as Davis represents them all. But this later comes back to bite Saxe once he's exposed to Davis as the CI who's been helping Jenny's RICO case.
Halfway through the episode, Davis informs Theo that Saxe has been working against him as a CI. This also complicates things for the two brothers because any rift with Saxe could threaten to send Theo back to prison. Theo then decides to take matters into his own hands and kidnaps Saxe, right after the latter's cover as a CI is blown on account of the RICO case falling apart.
While meeting with Tariq in his office, Davis catches wind of what Theo is up to with Saxe and rushes to reach them before his brother does something they'll all regret. However, Davis and Tariq are much too late when they finally catch up to Saxe and Theo, as they find the latter walking Saxe near the edge of a pier with a gun pointed at his back. Theo then informs Davis, "This traitor gotta go lil brother," before offering himself up as the "perfect" person to send Saxe to his death. Despite pleas from Davis and Tariq, Theo does the unthinkable and shoots Saxe in his back. The shocking slo-mo moment of Saxe falling to his death is punctuated by Theo then taking his own gun and shooting himself in the head — a moment "Power Book II" fans definitely didn't see coming.
Shane Johnson on His "Power Book II: Ghost" Exit in Season 3
According to Johnson, who was part of the Power Universe for roughly a decade, he didn't learn about Saxe getting killed off the show until it came time to film episode six and he pulled showrunner Brett Mahoney aside to discuss his character's arc. "I said, 'So listen, it kind of feels like Cooper Saxe is doing some stuff a little bit, like, much . . . Does Cooper Saxe make it out of the season?" the actor recalls asking, adding that Mahoney only shot him a knowing look. "That's when I found out."
"If I'm being real, I know that Cooper Saxe wasn't going to survive forever."
Of filming his final scene as Saxe, which Johnson shares was filmed over a year ago, the "Power Book II" star says "it was gut-wrenching." "It's just been such a culmination of so many years of the show," he adds. "[Creator] Courtney [Kemp] was there and that was incredible to have her there because she obviously started this whole thing." Johnson also says that his last scene was "really emotional" as he's "come to really love working with Method Man" and "Michael Rainey." "It's just been such a blessing so to have it ending was surreal . . . To have it come to a finality was definitely painful," he adds.
The fate of Johnson's character was unlike anything any "Power" fan could've imagined. The actor notes he too was shocked when it came time to end his character's arc. "If I'm being real, I know that Cooper Saxe wasn't going to survive forever," Johnson admits, adding that Saxe's "desperation" for a win this season made him get "sloppy." "Did I think it was going to be some random guy who was Method Man's [Davis's] brother that got out of prison? No, but it was going to be somebody."
Johnson had several alternate endings in mind for Saxe, sharing that he thought "it was going to be Tommy" to kill his character. "After Tommy, I would've thought it was going to be Tariq; maybe Tasha," he adds. Johnson also suggested it "would've been cool to see if Method Man felt like he was in a position where Davis had to kill him," adding, "And then Davis turns to Tariq and says, 'Dude, I did this sh*t. How do I deal with it?' And he's gotta deal with a body and make this thing go away. That, to me, was kind of what was going to happen, so I was definitely surprised but I knew it was going to happen."
Looking back on his Power Universe tenure, Johnson assures that he's proud of the work he's done, though he's well aware of viewers' disdain for Saxe. "It's so close to my heart because this show has been such a huge part of my life," he shares of his time on "Power" and its spinoff. "This is the longest job I've ever had — the longest most actors ever have. Most people don't get to be on a show for 10 years. My kids were 2 and 5 years old when I started this show, and they're 13 and 16 now, so it really puts things into perspective. Like my family grew up on this show and it's been such an incredible blessing, and I'm so thankful for it."
He continues, "I'm so indebted to Courtney and [executive producer] 50 [Cent] and Starz for keeping me around. I feel really, really, really grateful for this show and the trajectory that Cooper Saxe has been on."
New episodes of "Power Book II: Ghost" air on Fridays.