Powers: “Like a Power” Review
Warning: Full spoilers for the second episode of Powers follow…
While the second episode of PSN’s Powers, “Like a Power” wasn’t an expedition dump like the pilot*, it remained clear that there were still kinks to work out with regard to the show’s overall tone and the chemistry between the two leads.
*Some may debate whether or not the role of a pilot is to catch the viewer up to speed on everything about the show. I feel it doesn’t have to be. A lot of pilots do, but some don’t. And within those that do, some do it way better than others. Powers was not among those that did it well.
Michelle Forbes playing Retro Girl added a big boost to the story, as we only caught a glimpse of her at the end of the premiere. Forbes is in everything, it seems, but she always brings a likable, often-authoritative presence to whatever she’s in. The hunt for Calista was a big part of “Like a Power,” and Retro Girl – along with her swanky Retro pad – were a big part of it. And while Retro was in hero-mode last time, here she got to be herself more or less. She was played off as an ex, really. Walker’s ex, who still might have feelings for him but also doesn’t know how to treat him now that he’s normal.
And speaking of blasts from Walker’s past, Johnny Royalle was the other big focus here. Namely, Royalle coming in out of the cold and telling the world that he wasn’t dead like everyone thought. Walker’s rage over his return was quite potent too, causing him to cause a big brawl at the precinct when Royalle was “registering” himself as a Power and open fire on the guy in the final moments of the episode (if for no other reason than swiping his favorite ties). I actually liked that closing beat, with Royalle blinking out at almost the exact time Walker pulled the trigger. And, of course, Fink’s “Pilgrim” playing in the background made for some good musical accompaniment. The Blacklist used that song a few months back too. It just works well on TV.
I also liked that the rookie hot-headedness of Pilgrim became a serious issue this week. During a tactical takedown of a Power named “Zerotron,” of all things, when she charged in. Her chemistry with Walker is still a hurdle. And I don’t mean “new partners” storyline stuff. I mean just actual actor chemistry. I’ll watch and wait for partners to gain trust, empathy, and understanding and other character arcs, but waiting for them to find their screen presence is different.
I’m hoping that Royalle’s scheme, whatever he’s up too, pays off well. The whole nightclub/drug plot feels recycled from a ton of other TV shows, so I really want this to be something worth (essentially) coming back from the dead for. Though I liked that whatever it is still seems to be connected to Royalle’s (and Walker’s) past as lost “Powers Kids.” The hot potato game with Calista has grown a bit weary though, as she’s now back with Royalle after escaping from his clutches.
Fans of the comic will have no doubt noticed Krispin creating the Kaotic Chic graffiti tag (named here after the girl he was playing that Powers MMO with, trying to gain some sort of revenge on Iron Impact). I have an idea where this might be headed, but you never know. The show’s not exactly mirroring the original story and Krispen’s not even a character from it, so everything’s fair game.
There was a bit of rehashing in “Like a Power,” but it was a little more digestible. Albert, a security guard, tried to reminisce with Walker on top of that skyscraper. Remembering the days when Diamond and Retro Girl flew through the night skies. With Retro being Walker’s ex, it came off more as an awkward reminder of a lost love than a time when he had powers. Which was good because this episode seemed to focus more on Walker still carrying a torch for her than anything else. And Albert was sort of a fun nod toward a “Willie Lumpkin” type.