NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of “Powers” are present in this review
Powers allowed its building paranoia to boil over in this week’s episode, “Slain Dragons”, setting the stage for a climax that appears to unmask the true villain of the season… Or, the other true villain of the season, I should say. Considering Season Two’s laboured way of trying to tie together two highly separate mysteries and conflicts, this episode suffered a bit from feeling rushed, and suddenly villain-izing a character that spent most of the season not doing too much beyond exposition and brooding. Still, the mounting action made up for that, as did some more quality flashback material with Walker.
Occasionally, the episode would move between past and present sequences, similar to, “Origins” from a couple of weeks ago, with the present sequences unfolding as the world faces its new biggest threat, and the past showcasing an increasingly more arrogant Walker, back when he was Diamond, until he finally suffers his ultimate downfall and loses his abilities at the hands of an off-screen Wolfe. This also tied nicely into the new band of heroes that have to save the day in the present, though there’s also a considerable bump in that road, when Calista confronts the big menace.
So, as last week’s episode seemed to very heavily suggest, SuperShock has officially gone off the deep end in the season’s penultimate episode this week. I suppose that he’s somehow come to the conclusion that all Powers in the world are bad and must be eliminated, despite him being a Power himself (maybe he’ll commit suicide afterward?), and has started murdering them en masse, straining the resources of Powers Division, as the corpses of Powers start showing up all around the city. This was where the storytelling was quite strong, as Walker and Pilgrim are forced to split up, right as Pilgrim is vulnerable from the brush with death that Kutter had at the end of last week’s episode. Fortunately, Kutter is alive, and eventually confirmed to be stable, though he’s no doubt sitting out the rest of the season now.
The way that the episode sort of played with Walker, as Diamond, being an inadvertent contributor to SuperShock’s disdain for Powers, perhaps second only to his arch-nemesis, Morrison, was also pretty effective. As much as Diamond did a lot of good back in the day, he also had his own sordid history of drugs, sex and self-indulgence, and the parallels between show business that the show drew in this episode were also inspired, with SuperShock basically being a crazed hater of celebrity culture, which he thinks corrupts the true necessity of heroism, as exemplified by the late Retro Girl. This is what I imagine that the show is trying to do here. Unfortunately, it sometimes communicates this theme in a clumsy manner, especially since SuperShock’s fall feels very hasty, clearly suffering from the constrained ten-episode season, which already had most of its episodes taken up by a whole other major story arc.
Like I said though, the material with Powers Division generally went very well, especially since we got a great chance to see how Walker and Pilgrim operate when they’re not together. Walker theorizing that his migraines could be a sign of his body regaining its lost powers was initially interesting, though unfortunately, the episode rushed that arc to a conclusion before the end, in a pretty unsatisfying way. Still, the contrast between Walker’s former heroism and current detective history was done well, and compensated for the hasty conclusion to his obviously-incorrect theory about his headaches. Likewise, Pilgrim getting sprayed with black bile from a fallen Power’s body was nicely horrifying, and led into a pretty cool epilogue bit of Pilgrim appearing to develop superpowers of her own, even if the show somewhat tipped its hand to this result, referencing another case of a similar bile temporarily activating powers in another medic who suddenly died later. Something tells me that Pilgrim is going to be in especially big trouble during next week’s season finale!
Another strong scene came from a rather shocking character turn from Calista, who confronts SuperShock temporarily, and finally points out that she’s not the same Retro Girl that a fully-delusional SuperShock knew. This results in SuperShock nearly killing Calista, holding her by the throat and rendering her completely helpless, with Calista barely escaping with her life, and subsequently fleeing to Powers Division, where she hides in a dampener cell. The dramatic scene of Calista admitting in a fit of tears that she doesn’t want her powers anymore, and has been terrified by the experience of nearly being killed by SuperShock’s hand, was probably the best performance that Olesya Rulin turned out all season so far. The subsequent reunion with Krispin was also nicely emotional, and the reveal that Krispin can’t be killed also marked a potentially promising new direction for his character in New Unity. It was also the butt of some welcome comic relief early in the episode too, as Dr. Mars returns to duty, and she, Walker and Pilgrim all have to come to terms with Krispin being a Power that seemingly can’t be killed in all manner of amusing ways.
Finally, Morrison still did play into the story of this week’s episode, in another solid storytelling element for Pilgrim, who is now desperate to hunt him down and exact revenge on him over what happened to Kutter. It’s really too bad that the season didn’t have enough time to properly examine an unraveling Pilgrim, since the idea of Pilgrim gaining powers of her own, even temporarily, while she’s freshly enraged over the near-death of her lover, would have been another interesting story element for a potential Season Three. Still, the scene with Pilgrim finally finding Morrison, who is looking upon the city and watching SuperShock kill other Powers, satisfied that his longtime nemesis was ultimately brought down by his own hand, was pretty great, as was the shocking conclusion of the episode’s main events, which had Pilgrim hauling Morrison into Powers Division, right when New Unity is looking for a way to bait SuperShock into coming to them. That scenario seems highly unlikely on paper, but could this be a side effect of Pilgrim’s apparent new powers? Are they so mighty that they could even stop Morrison that easily? If so, we could be in a very exciting season finale next week!
It’s really frustrating that Powers couldn’t save SuperShock’s mental breakdown for a potential third season, since the show just doesn’t totally have enough time to explore its remaining ideas in Season Two at this point. We have just one episode left next week before the season is done, and most of that will probably just be the final fight against SuperShock, and little else. That could still be fun, and the fact remains that, “Slain Dragons” is still a pretty good episode overall for this week. but right as Powers seems to be finding a more consistent groove in terms of quality, it’s a shame that its current storylines have to be downscaled to fit into a paltry count of episodes in the season’s back half.
- Clever interplay between Walker's past and present
- Pilgrim's rage, and apparent new abilities
- Calista's humbling moment of defeat by SuperShock
- SuperShock's mental degradation feels rather rushed
- Walker's theory about his powers is too quickly dismissed