NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Powerless” are present in this review
Powerless seemed to be better finding its groove over the past couple of episodes, though unfortunately, it hit another speed bump this week. “Cold Season” seemed to go back to a few of the show’s early problems, namely under-developed conflicts that were mixed into over-stuffed storylines. It also strangely wastes an opportunity to make the most of expanding the show’s DC super-villain lore, likely because of budget constraints, though that’s no less disappointing.
The strong core idea behind the episode has ‘Cold Season’ coming to Charm City, which is apparently when several ice-themed villains from the DC Universe attack en masse, whether it’s Mister Freeze, Captain Cold, Killer Frost or, apparently, Frostbite, a rather obscure DC villain from the Antimatter Universe that turns out to be the ice-wielding villain who visits Charm City this year. It’s too bad that an ice-themed villain with higher billing couldn’t be used in the episode, especially when so disappointingly little of it actually revolves around the titular ‘Cold Season’, but it’s possible that proper appearances by Mister Freeze are off-limits due to FOX’s Gotham, while Captain Cold and Killer Frost are probably similarly barred off due to The CW’s The Flash.
Whatever the case, the lack of focus on Cold Season is an immediate bummer, especially when a specialized season of ice villains attacking this rendition of the DC Universe all at once is already a pretty novel, if slightly strange idea. Instead, most of the core plot involves Teddy inventing some heat-generating gloves, right around the time that the more cutting-edge Wayne X division comes to harass Wayne Security. Eager to prove her division’s worth, Emily enters the gloves in a corporate contest for $100,000, against Teddy’s will, which leads to Jackie immediately warning her that she’s going to ‘break’ Teddy, after a bad contest incident several years ago.
The idea of Emily having to face her ego at the office by forcibly submitting Teddy’s invention for the contest could have been interesting, but it’s not properly established that Emily has an ego problem, so the conflict kind of rings hollow. Similarly, Teddy refusing to submit the gloves feels illogical, since nothing happens if he doesn’t win the contest. Teddy also never gave any previous indication of having an ego problem to boot. Considering that this show is beginning on the premise that Wayne Security is an underdog division full of people that expect to be under-appreciated, it just feels weird to have a storyline about two characters that are struggling with their egos. It makes sense for Van, but not so much for Teddy or Emily.
The hasty introduction to Teddy’s family in this episode also felt like a waste. Teddy, naturally, has an overachieving older brother that his parents appear to love far more than him, which is allegedly a major cause for Teddy’s rather inconsistent self-esteem issues. Emily trying to comfort Teddy by saying that she sympathizes with her sister for being a dog walker is sort of funny, but it just never felt like this storyline properly came together, which is a shame. All is well in the end regardless, since Crimson Fox ends up frozen by Frostbite, with Teddy’s heating gloves saving her, and after Teddy gives Crimson Fox the gloves, she stops several ice-based villains with them, restoring Teddy’s confidence. Again, this idea with Crimson Fox in Cold Season would have probably been a better, more consistently-realized storyline, so it’s too bad that we didn’t get to see it.
On the bright side, the episode’s subplot was at least significantly funnier, pairing up Ron and Van to reasonably good effect. Van didn’t appear in the flesh for most of this episode, instead communicating with Ron over a long distance via web chat (this might have been due to Alan Tudyk being unavailable during filming), but Ron trying to hook up with an attractive mother, only to be harassed by the mother’s brash daughter, is kind of a funny issue to rope Ron into.
This also leads into a conflict for Ron that makes significantly more sense; Ron is a pushover that has a hard time saying no to people, especially Van. Wendy demonstrating this by outright demanding Ron’s car keys to go have sex in his vehicle was fairly funny, even if the turn of Ron exploding at his boss towards the climax of the episode is fairly predictable. Likewise, the hasty and unrealistic make-up between the two in the following scene is a let-down, especially when Van probably would have more logically fired Ron for his outburst. Still, at least some of the jokes with Ron bending over backwards for Van were amusing, particularly a point where Ron has to assemble a smaller toy rendition of Wonder Woman’s invisible jet, which he naturally can’t see, and which Emily predictably knocks over and destroys in her rush to help Teddy.
It’s tough to see Powerless find its footing and then lose it again this week, but hopefully, the show can get back to fixing the kinks next week. “Cold Season” is a pretty disappointing episode overall, with faulty storytelling and rather uneven humour. It also noticeably fails to fully capitalize on its concept, with Cold Season itself frustratingly pushed into the background, and many potential jokes about the heritage of DC’s ice-themed villains sadly left on the table. Frostbite being the villain to ultimately attack Charm City is also a let-down, since there surely had to have been another more recognizable ice villain from the DC Universe that Powerless could have featured, without stepping on the toes of competing DC shows like Gotham or The Flash. Hopefully, the show gets back on its feet next week, since Powerless was doing pretty well over the past couple of episodes, and still deserves to succeed.
- Teddy getting a bit more (hasty) development
- Some funny moments with Van and Ron
- Cool concept for the core idea
- Cold Season itself is barely explored
- Teddy's and Emily's ego conflicts are too out-of-character
- Van unrealistically forgiving Ron for his outburst right away