– Spoiler Review –
PlayStation Original’s first TV series Powers came to a close with the freshman season finale episode “F@#K the Big Chiller.” With Wolfe on the loose, everyone must push pass their trust issues and unite to stop the threat once and for all. As far as finales go, it was a mostly decent hour that unfortunately stumbled through the falling action on the way to ending. But the big question is: would I (or anyone) want a second season?
Before I answer that question, let’s dive into my thoughts on “F@#K the Big Chiller,” which all start with its title. Perhaps the muting of the swear word in the title was indicative of the muting which took place throughout the episode. There’s a sense of something more hanging over “F@#K” that’s hard to shake, as if there could’ve been a bigger final battle, more chaos, more time spent with certain characters, just more…something. What little more we did get comes in the form of scenes following Wolfe’s death that felt kind of like all the endings in Lord of the Rings: Return of the King–where they kept fading to black and then back into another scene–making you just wish it would hurry up and finish already, or in Powers‘ case, hurry up and get to cliffhanger/reason-why-I’d-want-to-return-next-season moment. Even that felt like it could’ve used more.
Even with reading about Retro Girl dying in the comic series in issue #1, I felt like her death here was too telegraphed for it to be anything particularly shocking. The last few weeks centered on giving her more to lose or more to gain, as she hemmed and hawed over quitting, rekindled her flame with Walker, and started a foundation to pass the baton to the next generation. In the end, what feels more surprising is the fact anyone in the Kaotic Chic movement could’ve killed Janis, and I don’t necessarily buy the information Chaotic Girl and Krispin tapped into would allow them to set this up/perpetrate it themselves. But that’s what a potential second season could explain….and I hope explain well. Really well.
Outside of the pacing issues and a somewhat lackluster ending, “F@#K” was a mostly entertaining hour that wrapped up some of the drama between characters and the saga of Wolfe, with a nice little, but somewhat sloppily tied bow on top. Walker and Royalle come to terms with their roles to stop Wolfe, even if it means doing the thing they’d least want to do. By giving up his chance to regain his powers for good by overloading the drainer pod power core, Walker has come a long way since the “Pilot,” where he was willing to jump off a building to see if his powers could return. It was also great to see him at peace with the notion he’d never fly again, handing out some sage advice to the broken Zora, getting a relationship rekindled with Janis, and settling into the “cop shit” with his partner Pilgrim. Too bad it doesn’t last very long, as his world is shattered by the death of Janis. Will this reignite his quest to regain his abilities?
Royalle assists in the death of Wolfe, if only to save Calista and undo the wrongs he perpetrated when not killing Wolfe in the Shaft when he had the chance (or not killing him all those years ago). He ‘kills’ Wolfe by beheading him, but it’s more of a mercy slaying considering Walker already weakened Wolfe, Wolfe gave the last of his abilities to Calista, and Pilgrim shot him the hell up. It’s obvious the whole thing still doesn’t sit well with Royalle, even if he basically became Wolfe like he wanted to as kids are lining up to be taught by him.
As for Calista, I was a little thrown off by her ‘friendship’ with Wolfe and the revelation she feels the same hole where her powers should be like Wolfe does, considering it was brought up in such a way it felt like we were already expected to know she was having said issue; Her connection to him felt too convenient that way. But it looks like Wolfe gets to pass on his legacy after all, as Calista at the very least got the ability to fly from him. It was a little confusing if the Black Swan algorithm going haywire was meant to either signify her potential for destruction or having Retro Girl out of the picture means more room for chaos…or both, but again that’s what a second season would be for.
Well, Chaotic Chick has already moved in with Krispin after his mother’s death and they’re planning their insanity from the comfort of their pjs. Much like Calista’s revelation about her powers, Krispin and CC’s shacking up and their movement’s growing reach and abilities all feels so sudden. How or why is their group getting to the point where killing Janis is even remotely possible? It’s been mostly glossed over and we’re just asked to accept it which was fine…up until they got Janis and suddenly it’s too much to buy. And if Krispin is obviously so torn about everything, including texting Calista “I’m sorry” before Janis’ death, why do it in the first place? Alas, another aspect that needs to wait to be explained in a second season.
And Pilgrim? Well, she basically stays roughly the same character who comes away just a little more seasoned. Her arc wasn’t much and feels like the biggest opportunity missed for the series, as her attitude and her hilariously real reactions to events around her could’ve been used a whole lot more. Let’s hope she wouldn’t take as much of a back seat in a second season.
So, that all leads into the big question: Second season, yay or nay? Overall, the series has continually given us an intriguing world and premise but has never delved too deep into it. In fact, a whole lot of the aspects in the show, outside of maybe some of the interpersonal relationships between big characters like Walker, Royalle, Janis, and Calista, have been constantly shown at a shallow level. It’s felt like the gritty nature was meant to cover up that fact, making it seem more real or grounded because everyone swears and there’s a lot of blood and guts. But with some obviously lame production values, especially regarding some of the physical fights and ‘flying,’ it’s impossible to ignore a overwhelming shallow feeling to the first season. It’s like they laid the foundation for something really great but only really skimmed its surface.
That’s not to say it hasn’t been entertaining, with some great performances from all the big players like Sharlto Copley, Michelle Forbes, Susan Heyward, Eddie Izzard, Noah Taylor, Andrew Sensenig, or even relative newcomer Olesya Rulin, making the series well worth watching considering it spends more time on the drama than the spectacle of superheroes. If they can find a way to balance that in a second season, or at least make the spectacle part worth watching as well, the show could be in a way better place.
As it stands, I would say I wouldn’t mind a second season, but it’s not urgent nor would I miss it if it didn’t return. They didn’t set up a whole lot of things to possibly change in the second season, instead ending the episode by making it feel like there will be more of the same. It wouldn’t be a bad thing, but it also wouldn’t be the right thing for the show to do. Either way, I’ll be back for a second season if it happens and PlayStation Original won’t die off as a brand because of the show, but it won’t be a completely shining star on it’s scorecard.
Here are a few other things:
- Anyone else think the drainer pod power core overload was supposed to be a little more explosion based, considering Triphammer warned anyone in the blast radius would lose their powers too? Did someone need to shoot it?
- I laughed at Chaotic Chick when she said Royalle holding up Wolfe’s head was bogus and part of some big conspiracy. Rrriiigggghhhtttt. Think whatever you want, lady.
- The song playing over the final scenes was “Warm Shadow” by Fink, last heard in The Walking Dead.
- I’m not the only one who had issues with the show, specifically it’s finale: read a more scathing review by Chandler Wood over at PlayStation Lifestyle.
- Looks like PlayStation is taking their chances with a second season of Powers and I seriously hope they take the time to address the show’s many issues. The showrunner admitted the biggest change he wants to work on for a second season are the action and VFX/
Powers‘ final hour was not its finest, but there are worse TV series to watch out there. Let’s just hope they fix all of the series’ issues if they bring it back for a second season.
+ Royale and Walker doings they didn’t want to
+ Zora stepping up
+ Wolfe’s death
– Pacing issues abound
– Continually feels like it’s missing something
– They really managed to kill Janis?
– Too much hand waving
Season One: Ep. 1: “Pilot” | Ep. 2: “Like a Power” | Ep. 3: “Mickey Rooney Cries No More” | Ep. 4: “Devil in a Garbage Bag” | Ep. 5: “Paint it Black” | Ep. 6: “The Raconteur of the Funeral Circuit” | Ep. 7: “You Are Not It” | Ep. 8: “Aha Shake Heartbreak” | Ep. 9: “Level 13“