NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of “Powers”, including a major character death, are present in this review
Powers concluded this year’s three-episode season premiere selection on a bit of a whimper with, “Hell Night”, though this week’s new episode, “Stealing Fire” was fortunately an improvement. Powers still isn’t representing A-grade television at this point, but this episode still did a solid job of furthering the Retro Girl mystery, as well as delving into some surprising history between Walker and Lange.
Turns out, Lange is a Power, and that’s only the beginning of her backstory that is gradually unraveled as the episode goes on. Not only is Lange a Power, but she was also a criminal, and one that Walker was romantically involved with, back when he was operating as Diamond and still had his abilities. When Walker first lost his abilities and joined Powers Division as a cop, he was forced to turn in Lange, which resulted in a huge rift between the two. This also led to Lange being recruited out of prison by the government, and somehow turning into a respected FBI agent.
This explains why Lange is initially hysterical with fear that Walker has been killed in the collapsed building that the mysterious villain brought down at the end of the previous episode. Obviously, Walker is alive, and after a temporary hospital stay, he’s right as rain. Marigold isn’t so lucky however, and a severed arm is later identified by Doctor Death, confirming that Marigold died in the building collapse. It probably serves her right, though it’s still a bit unfortunate, considering the fact that, much like Krispin, she was a misguided young adult whose convictions ultimately led both her and Krispin to their deaths.
Fortunately, the show doesn’t drag its feet in identifying the perpetrator of the collapse, which Triphammer and Cross manage to piece together from the evidence of the destroyed building. The man who collapsed the building is a very rare kind of Power called a ‘Lifter’, who has the ability to defy and manipulate gravity. Only two Lifters have been identified in the past fifty years, with the one in question being a former government black ops agent named Heavy. At this point, Heavy is the one who is most likely to have killed Retro Girl, pinning the attack on Marigold and Krispin with the ‘Kaotic Chic’ stamp at the scene, but the question remains; Why? Why was killing Retro Girl necessary for Heavy’s mysterious agenda?
The progression of the Retro Girl mystery felt smart and satisfying with these story elements, especially as the Retro Girl mystery inevitably goes a lot deeper than angsty youngsters and opportunistic thugs. It looks like the very government itself was involved with Retro Girl’s murder in some way (possibly the way I suggested a couple of reviews ago), and this quickly looks to have Powers Division taking on a foe that they are definitely not equipped to handle.
Speaking of not being equipped to handle something, Walker is given the thankless task of having to distract Lange while Pilgrim and Kutter nose in to the FBI’s possible connection with Heavy. Walker decides to go with the tried-and-true seduction route, resulting in a scene that is equal parts disturbing, hilarious and just plain weird, as we get our first proper look at on-screen foreplay with a Power on this show. Apparently, Lange, who was formerly known as ‘Lynx’ under her Power identity back in the day, sprouts a tail and becomes overcome by aggressive feline instinct. Yes, seriously. This explains why Lange seems to have superhuman senses, though despite this scene being pretty light-hearted and comedic, there are a few points where Lange’s powers fully spin off into the realm of head-scratching and ridiculous. How was Lange ever taken seriously as a Power, even a reformed, government-sponsored criminal Power, when she plunges headfirst into cartoon sensibilities as soon as her abilities activate?
Regardless, Lange eventually detects Pilgrim and Kutter roaming around, and after a brief struggle, she throws them all out. The three get the intel that they needed after using a convenient gizmo from Triphammer, but Lange isn’t done with them, and the next morning, she marches into Powers Division with an army of soldiers, and declares that Powers Division is being placed under the feds’ control. Apparently, the President himself ordered it. Uhhh, what? Maybe this will be explained in next week’s episode, but for now, even considering the bad press that Powers Division was recently suffering from, would the President seriously sign off on just up-ending the management like that? Why would he think it’s a good idea to have Powers Division identify the criminal, produce evidence of said criminal, discover that said criminal is one of the most dangerous Powers that the world could be up against, then respond to that by shutting out the division? It’s dramatic, and maybe next week will offer a sensible explanation, but for now, how the hell is this a good idea?!
Rounding things off was a subplot with Calista, who is trying to carry on with a peaceful living as a waitress, while she grooms her successor Retro Girl identity. After the media starts catching on to Calista’s presence however, helped along by her father ratting her out (a great way for Calista’s one genuine act of heroism to unexpectedly bite her in the ass), Calista is exposed in front of Nicole Glantz, Craig Sherman, and a bunch of other sleazy folk, resulting in her simply flying through the roof of her workplace and jetting off. Calista’s still got too much of a mean streak, but at least her actions were a little more understandable this week, since she was being harassed by paparazzi, and honestly trying to meet the world halfway in this case.
“Stealing Fire” had a questionable ending, but at least it does set up an interesting new direction for the rest of Season Two, just as the new threat of Heavy should hopefully lead to a worthy new foe to succeed Wolfe. The new developments with the Retro Girl mystery continue to come along pretty well, and the sense of the mystery constantly feeling bigger and more imposing with every episode is very effective. Of course, this still begs the question of what the characters and Los Angeles are supposed to do, now that Powers Division has been shut down. You’d think that the city would learn already that they can’t always count on SuperShock to break up any given Hell Night that’s waiting to happen.
- Interesting new developments in the Retro Girl mystery
- Heavy seems like a promising new foe
- Fun, surprising history between Walker and Lange
- Lange's powered nature is a bit too silly
- Would the President really shake up Powers Division now?