The Powers season finale was one part exciting, two parts awful fight scenes, and three parts boring. An episode that begins with a thrilling chase for Wolfe, who’s escaped the Shaft and is murdering teenagers, slowly degenerates back into the more serious stuff that no one can take seriously.
I’ve said this too many times in these reviews, but one final time: Powers is just too poorly produced, written, and cast to ever approach the serious tone of some of its comic book contemporaries. This show, as long as Sony keeps making it as awful as its been this season, will always be at its best when it accidentally stumbles onto the Lynchian.
I guess stumbling on the Lynchian isn’t as cool as doing it on purpose. That’s the whole point of a Lynchian production, right? Making things bad for bad’s sake, proving points about perception and narrative by intermixing the comedy and drama genres. I promise you that Powers does none of these things on purpose, but has somehow found that threshold at its worst (best) moments.
The fight scenes have, for the most part, hit a note for me. The terrible effects, combined with the less-than-stellar drawn-out Dragon Ball Z exposition mid-fight, make for some of the worst television you’ve ever seen. When you look at the fight scenes in Arrow, Flash, or Daredevil, you know that Powers is on a completely different level. A much lower level. But for the most part, and I’ve said this plenty of times as well, the fights have held up for me as really campy X-Men bouts that probably only someone like Wes Anderson could pull off with style. On a parallel earth, X-Men perhaps wishes it could be as campy and Lynchian as Powers. But that’s not here.
Yes, the season finale’s fights were really disappointing. First, we see a rematch between Zora and Wolfe, which doesn’t last very long, since, you know, Zora sucks. She manipulates little cubes of purple light with her hands that could barely hurt Christian, and he doesn’t even have any powers anymore. Zora’s arc reaches a convincing mid-point, as she’s crippled by Wolfe in the fight, sent to the hospital, and fired by her publicity manager (douche). If this show gets a second season, we’ll see the Zora redemption story, where she steps up and becomes the hero she is meant to be. Or she’ll at least die trying.
You have to hand it to Zora. For being fame-obsessed, and I think she totally tries to stop Wolfe for some more of the spotlight, she at least tries to do what’s right when it counts. But now the veil is gone. Everyone knows Zora couldn’t hurt a fly.
Speaking of the fame-obsessed, Christian makes a pretty selfless choice by draining Wolfe at the Johnny’s club for dead Powers kids. By draining Wolfe, Christian loses any chance of gaining his powers back (he thinks, anyway), which effectively ends his super annoying arc (for now). But a note on the second fight of the night, the one that brought down Wolfe: it was pitiful.
I mean, everyone shows up to fight the dude, but there’s barely a punch thrown. Wolfe just stands there (you could argue that he let the good guys “win”) and lets everyone take their punch. Retro Girl gets thrown against a Ferrari, Deena hides, Johnny gets smacked around, Calista watches, and Christian…Christian simply runs up to Wolfe (who is not even distracted at all) and drains him with that weird, green box. Wolfe doesn’t even put up a fight. He just provides some more exposition (“You’ll lose your chance to gain back your powers blah blah blah”). And that’s the end of Wolfe. Literally. Deena shoots him a couple times and Johnny decapitates him. End of story….HALFWAY THROUGH THE EPISODE.
With the tension defused, the rest of the episode is a collage of “what have we learned, how do we feel about everything that’s happened this season” scenes that feel completely unearned. Christian and Retro Girl, who barely interact beyond one or two meet-ups during the season and a date in the last episode, decide to start seeing each other again. Christian and Johnny talk about their friendship. Are they friends now? It’s not clear. The writers don’t take the extra step to conclude that complicated relationship in a satisfying way. Instead, we get another flashback with the two worst actors on the planet.
So it all really falls to the next generation, Krispin and Calista, to take the best arcs of the season and close them out convincingly…or at least get us excited for their continuation in season 2. In a moment that I can’t believe no one at the club noticed, Wolfe passed on all his power to Calista as he fell to his death. Throughout the season, everyone’s been able to see currents of energy being sucked out of them and into Wolfe. They’re big red rings and shoot out of people’s chests after all (it’s awful). But for that one scene, no one can tell that Wolfe is holding out his hand and passing on his powers to his successor. Calista seems to have the same powers/hunger for power as Wolfe. The last we see of her, she’s leaving Johnny and flying around the city. It’s nice to see that twist that may very well lead her to become a formidable villain…
If it weren’t for Krispin murdering Retro Girl in cold blood at the end of the episode. Although we don’t see it happen on screen, Retro Girl is found dead on the stage where Krispin’s mother was killed. Above her head are the words “Kaotic Chic” sprayed onto a white sheet. And before all that, we see Krispin texting Calista, “I’m sorry.” And before even that, Krispin’s co-conspirator says she’s found a way to see all Powers movements in the city. WHO DO YOU THINK DID IT? Unless, Powers takes the long way around and shows that this is all a conspiracy to frame Krispin. I hope not, though. I want Krispin to be the next big bad in training. Calista vs. Kaotic Chic in 2016.
– I don’t really care about Triphammer, but I’m glad he’s back on the wagon.
– I’m sad Simons died. They were cool guys.
– Sad Johnny makes me sad. I hope he’s able to keep Calista safe next season. She’s bound to get herself into some trouble.
– Christian can’t catch a break.
– Deena didn’t really have any kind of story this season, which sucks, but she hasn’t really been an interesting character, either…
– Can’t wait to see what Calista’s costume looks like next season. Is she the new Retro Girl?
– Speaking of which, it looks like Sony spent half of their budget on Calista’s flying scene at the end of the episode. It actually looks really good, like when the Atom flies around on Arrow. I want to see more of that.
– If this show gets a second season, I’ll be pretty happy, because it’s such sweet, fatty dessert, but I just don’t think it will. It’s just so bad.
– Last but definitely not least, I’m going to miss Michelle Forbes, who brought this show some major nerd cred. The Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica alum went too soon. But this is sort of according to the original comics. I thought Retro Girl had dodged a bullet, Olympia taking her place as the MacGuffin that sets the events into motion. Wrong. Brian Michael Bendis and company took the long way around. R.I.P. Retro Girl.