I keep wanting to forget that Powers is a show about cops, specifically those who investigate superhuman-related crimes. For the past few weeks, we’ve been treated to episodes that truly focused on world-building, introducing a city of Los Angeles filled with faux superheroes and villains. And it’s been entertaining (and hilarious) for the most part to see every new superhuman steal the spotlight from the real subjects of the show. Because when viewed as a show about cops, Powers is just not very good.
The cliche-ridden emotions, conflicts, struggles, and confrontations the Powers Division face every day are ones we’ve seen a million times on CBS. The brass takes to the bottle to cope with the loss of partners and brothers, while spreading slurs against those they declare the enemy. Quite a bit of rogueishness comes to the surface in moments of pain, turning good men (or already bad men sometimes) into bullies. After too many drinks, the policemen start fighting amongst themselves, calling each other the wrong names and getting hit in the mouth.
Have you seen that show before? Then no need to watch tonight’s episode of Powers.
In the writers’ defense, it wasn’t necessarily the wrong time to go for raw emotion at the precinct. After all, Wolfe had just finished eating four cops in the Shaft, so there was a bit of grieving to be had. I just wish that it hadn’t been executed as the most cliche set of scenes ever.
The weaknesses of Powers as a cop show continue to become more and more evident, as the superheroes drop into scenes to literally save the day for viewers. Right when things are getting unbearable, the cops (Deena’s dad mostly) are telling loads of stories about the good old days, Retro Girl, Triphammer, and Zora pop in for a visit to express their condolences. Retro Girl’s bit with Walker is interesting, as the writers continue to build on their intimate past. Walker even confesses to her that he’s the one that stopped Wolfe, not Zora, who’s basking in the glory of superheroism.
Again, we get a nice dose of world-building, as we watch Zora work the floor, her publicist (whose husband was killed by a power) chasing after her. The young superhero can’t quite shed her party girl image, and that’s just fine. I love the clear distinction between the older heroes and the new generation. Retro Girl and Triphammer look depressed, grim, and devastated by everything all the time, while the powers kids live the club life. We need these comparisons to fully get the arc of a heroes life on this show.
As we saw in last week’s episode, the superhumans always start as self-centered, douchey party animals, but end up self-centered, douchey depressives who never reached their full potential (i.e. they couldn’t save everyone and stop all the bad guys). Retro Girl is more a poster child for young girls everywhere and Triphammer wants to drain all superhumans of their powers. Obviously, their opinions have changed through the years. They especially hate the title of their superhero cartoon.
This episode ties up thematically in a satisfactory way: Walker, Wolfe, and Deena have relapsed back into their vices. They all have to deal with their pasts, which are not allowing them to move on in the present. Walker longs for his powers. He says he wants to help people, but I think the loss of fame continues to eat at him. Wolfe, under the Drainer, recognizes his wrongs and begs again to be killed. Deena has to live with the sins of her father. She is the only character who is able to face her past head on and move past it, as she informs her crooked cop father that she’s moving out (again). Let’s just hope Powers can stop relapsing back to its many mistakes and move forward with the superhero show we all want to see.