NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of “Powers” are present in this review
After doing a great job of resolving the Retro Girl murder conspiracy last week, Powers once again sagged a bit in this week’s episode, “Origins.” The idea behind the episode spotlighting the beginnings of Retro Girl and SuperShock is sound, chronicling how they met during WWI, and first laid the seeds for their super-team, Unity, but nonetheless, this episode felt like a filler offering that merely served to bridge the gap to another big conflict for the season, and felt too far removed from the events that came before.
Walker and Pilgrim are even back at Powers Division as if nothing happened, with the FBI even stepping away, now that Heavy is in custody and Conrad Moody is dead. There’s no rest for the weary however, as Senator Brown’s brutalized corpse is finally discovered (seriously? Nobody smelt it or anything?), and this leads to Powers Division looking into the senator’s death. Turns out, the senator’s arc still has bearing on events, and might have been surprisingly separate from the murder of Retro Girl. Could the former Cobalt Knight have been killed for a different reason?
While this is going on, Calista, Zora and Martinez discuss building a new super team, a successor of sorts to Unity, and who should lead them. The way that this played with the flashback sequences with the younger SuperShock and Retro Girl, which were arguably the best parts of this episode, was clever, even if this storyline didn’t really amount to much. Calista naturally convinces everyone to let Walker be their mentor, knowing from experience that he’s not so bad, but when Calista approaches Walker about it, he refuses. Again, the idea of Walker being a mentor to new and upcoming Powers is a sound idea, which is why it’s odd that Powers didn’t fully explore that angle when it came up with Calista earlier in the season. Maybe it will come up again, but for now, the would-be ‘New Unity’ team once again just ate up screentime, and didn’t accomplish much else.
Walker is also starting to suffer from headaches, which a doctor can’t find any identifiable cause of. It’s believed that the headaches are a result of the trauma from Heavy dropping a building on Walker earlier in the season, but Walker thinks it’s something else. The parallel between Walker’s headaches and Senator Brown’s exploded head feels like too big of a coincidence though. Could a new threat be closer to Walker than he realizes? Even the seemingly benign coroner swap comes off as suspicious, with this episode at least making a decent effort to induce a sense of paranoia in the viewer, which works fairly well.
Pilgrim also gets a more sizable arc this week, as her father’s trial plays out, but this is another arc that largely just felt like it wasted time. The drama between Pilgrim and her father just isn’t really landing, and the show can’t seem to decide whether Waldo Pilgrim is a good man or a corrupt coward. Maybe he’s sort of both, but then, that makes it difficult to determine whether we should be rooting for him. It’s easy to see why Pilgrim is so frustrated with her father, since he clearly can’t be trusted, but this didn’t translate to a truly meaningful story arc, sadly.
Something that was a bit better was Walker and Pilgrim getting a lead on the late senator’s sex tape, with Nicole Glantz helping them track down the woman in the video, whose boyfriend might have killed the senator. The boyfriend is a Power, a werewolf-like Power who proves a bit difficult to catch, but once again, this storyline amounts to a dead end, as this is a very obvious red herring. The hint at a possible romance between Walker and Glantz is a bit more interesting, but it’s very subtle, and not much is done with it at this point. With Lange seemingly out of the picture, maybe it is time for Walker to get a new woman. It would certainly help justify the strange amount of attention that Glantz’s character has been getting this season.
Like I said though, the best scenes in this episode are definitely the flashback scenes. The exploration of a pre-SuperShock Patrick is great, as it shows a weary do-gooder that quickly loses patience with the government after two World Wars. Initially, Patrick dismisses the suggestions of a pre-Retro Girl Janis, who urges Patrick to use his extraordinary abilities for a greater purpose, but after President Truman betrays Patrick’s trust, following Truman ordering Patrick to kill Hitler and steal the secret behind the atomic bombs for the U.S. (I guess this is being treated as a parallel universe where Albert Einstein never defected from Germany), and drops the atomic bombs on Japan as history dictates, rather than destroys their research, Patrick agrees to consider Janis’ proposal. This early formation of Unity as a way to fight for the world without the grip of government is a promising direction, especially given what we know about Unity as a super team in this universe so far. It’s easy to look forward to the show hopefully bringing everything in a satisfying full circle by the end of Season Two, as Unity’s formation will hopefully tie into the present conflict, especially with this episode’s epilogue ending with SuperShock coming to Walker to reveal that he has an arch-nemesis; A disappearing, ghost-like Power named Morrison.
Still, it sucks that this is a slower week for Powers, with, “Origins” being a decent episode that predictably fails to maintain the standout momentum from last week’s impressive episode. The show is yet again drifting out of focus, as it starts to move far away from the Retro Girl murder conspiracy as if it never happened, several episodes away from the season finale, and as it starts to get distracted by setting up another new villain and story direction. Maybe the season’s final three episodes will take these story developments somewhere satisfying, but for now, the peeks into what’s already happened are more interesting than the progression of what’s happening in the now.
This week's episode of Powers predictably fails to recapture the momentum of last week's especially great offering, despite some strong flashback material for SuperShock and Retro Girl.
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THE GOOD STUFF
Great flashbacks with the early formation of Unity
Glantz storyline is pretty fun
SuperShock's arch-nemesis preparing to make a big comeback
THE NOT-SO-GOOD STUFF
New Unity story thread is dull so far
Pilgrim family drama isn't registering
The show is already forgetting about most of the season's earlier storylines