Reviewed By Eric Switzer. The world of “Powers”, however bleak, is an inviting one. In this world, a certain untold yet substantial percentage of the population is born with super human abilities, some use them for good, and others for personal gain. Like “Watchmen”, the story begins years after the heyday of traditional capes and cowls. Heroes still exist, but the “Avengers”-like super team that seemingly started it all has aged, disbanded, and in the case of our protagonist Walker, lost his powers.
This is all explained, by the way, in one of the longest and clunkiest expositional diatribes I’ve ever seen, delivered by Mario Lopez in a clip from an episode of “Extra”. Using an actual pop culture news show as a world building mechanic is not unwelcome, but this was almost impossible to follow its so dense, and A.C. Slater comes across as bored and irritated that he has to compromise the legitimacy of “Extra” by talking about something imaginary as if its real.
I’ll warn you that this first episode gets off to somewhat of a rough start. We begin in the Powers Division police station as Walker and his partner hull in a super strength bad guy. Everyone is talking about someone or something Powers related, I don’t know what, its very confusing. Then we get some gory action that ends with his partner’s head smashed open, which I very much appreciated, followed by Mario Lopez explaining too much too quickly. Now we are in Walker’s apartment, Eddie Izzard is whispering vague things in his ear. We don’t know who he is or what he is talking about. Walker runs to the window to watch some powers shoot lighting and laser beams at each other, he wants to join the fight, but he can’t. Title card.
So up to this point I was pretty worried that “Powers” was either only going to appeal to fans of the book, or suffered from such severe pacing and story issues that it was going to be a hot mess. Luckily, things smoothed out from there. Walker meets his new partner, the plucky yet hard edged Deena Pilgrim, who serves as the audience surrogate with her constant prying questions, and before he has time to grieve has to investigate another murder: one of his former crime fighting partners has been killed by an ability-enhancing drug called Sway. This leads Walker down memory lane where we will encounter old friends and foes and hopefully recover his powers, because not having powers sucks.
The villain behind sway is another former friend of Walker, the assumed dead teleporter Johnny Royalle. His agenda is not entirely clear though. It seems that he wants to kill his old super friends, but then punishes one of his underlyings with an epic beheading for doing exactly that. Despite my confusion Noah Taylor as Johnny Royalle delivers the most dynamic performance in the episode and tends to really overshadow the other performers.
“Powers” walks a fine line when it comes to whether it wants to be taken seriously or enjoyed for camp value. At times one might argue that the harsh language and extreme violence are compensating for or covering up the campy performances and dialogue. “Powers” certainly is its own flavor of show.
– Killer Performances from Noah Taylor and Eddie Izzard
– A few really intense, emotional moments
– Its a show about super heroes that say fuck and cut heads off
– Expositional nightmare
– actual displays of super powers are few and far between (noticeably meager budget)
– Walker’s character conflict is understandable but not relatable and drives too much of plot
– Campy, but not in a self aware way
Eric Switzer is an aspiring filmmaker and screenplay writer living in Los Angeles. His work tends to focus on the lighter side of entropy, dystopic futures, and man’s innate struggle with his own mortality. He can be found on twitter @epicswitzer or reached via email at email@example.com.
The first episode of “Powers” is supposed to be available on Youtube right now, but the episode is seemingly down for the moment. As soon as its back up, expect a link on the site. For now, here’s the trailer for the season.