– Spoiler Review –
In Powers‘ penultimate episode, “Level 13,” the comic series’ writer Brian Michael Bendis scripts a loopy hour, jumping around in time and leaving you guessing where everyone’s allegiances lie in the quest to free/kill/steal the abilities of Wolfe. Needless to say, nothing goes according to anyone’s plans, setting up for quite the deadly season finale.
It all starts with Walker and Royalle outside Wolfe’s cell, with Walker brandishing a weapon and suddenly were flashing back several days to unveil just how these two go to that point; Thankfully it’s way more entertaining than Royalle just teleporting them inside. As good of a storytelling technique as in medias res can be, it was a little jarring here at first, considering the show hasn’t ever used narrative trickery before and it was confusing to suddenly have a set amount of days to be shoehorned into what we were watching. But I’m happy they went down that route, seeing as Walker’s intentions constantly shifted throughout the episode enough to keep me guessing and surprising me. First it looks like Walker tells no one but Pilgrim about his mission with Royalle, then he tells Cross and Triphammer, then he tells Royalle he’s working with them but really working with Royalle, and suddenly he’s letting Cross, Triphammer, and Pilgrim think he’s working for them instead. As fun as the back and forth is, it stops unsurprisingly (but amusingly enough) with Walker setting out to help the only person most important to him: himself.
Because Cross, Triphammer, and Pilgrim know exactly what he’d do, even despite him opening up about taking Sway and using other tactics to mislead them, they plan out a nearly perfect double/triple/whatever cross and move Wolfe into a different chamber and use a decoy. Those actions, while meant for good by interrupting Walker trying to steal Wolfe’s powers, ultimately lead to the worst possible outcome of all. Had they just let Walker suck out Wolfe’s powers, had they trusted him even though they knew he’d take the selfish route, what’s to come could’ve been avoided: Wolfe getting free. Ironic to think Triphammer and Cross worry about their Black Swan’s prediction about the end of the world due to the powerful Powers and they go and unleash the best candidate for the job yet.
Well, they certainly aren’t the only one to blame, but their final cross is what leads to the other series of the events unleashing Wolfe. Royalle decides to play his own game and goes off the script he works out with Walker by releasing his friend Simons. Eager to escape from inside himself, Simons unloads tons of copies and they run amok in the facility, with two fatefully overhearing a curious detail about a level 13. These two Simons’ uncover for themselves the motherload of all finds: Wolfe’s unconscious and constantly being drained body. They look to leave Wolfe alone until they overhear Triphammer on the radio about capturing Royalle, which leads them to free Wolfe out of anger for their friend. Bad idea, guys! Wolfe promptly steals all the power from Simons and begins his ascent to the surface.
Here are a few other things:
- The predictive model, Black Swan, is slightly redeemed from it’s lackluster reveal last episode by a better explanation here.
- Janis and Walker have their date, but what goes from a simple and pleasant evening turns into a true heart-to-heart, where they both come clean to each other about their breakup some 8 years prior. Could this be just another component to Janis’ tragedy I theorized about in the “Aha Shake Heartbreak” review?
- It looks like Krispin still can’t see he’s to blame for at least his mother, as he decides to take her death as just another reason to hate anyone with Powers. He acquiesces a little talking to Walker and even to Calista, but the presence of Royalle at his mother’s funeral reignites a spark of fire within his broken soul. Wonder what Choatic Chick will think of everything that has transpired.
- One of my favorite scenes in the entire show was in this episode: Royalle’s teleporting basassery as he stole all the SWAT team’s guns and then dropped them off on a sunny beach somewhere.
- If you were like me and initially wondered why Pilgrim didn’t just take the shot while she had it, remember how many shots Wolfe takes when he last broke out and realize Pilgrim never would’ve made a dent into him.
- The Pilgrim here has some of her strongest material yet and I wonder if that had to do with Bendis writing the script.
Wolfe is loose and that brings with it the promise deaths are certainly coming, but the body count as already starting rising. “Level 13” broke the so far linear storytelling of the show with a well planned out series of events that kept you guessing till the very end, making for a well-paced penultimate hour for Powers.
+ Double/triple/quadruple crosses
+ Jumping narrative
+ Royalle’s teleporting badassery
– Krispin’s stubbornness
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. 10: “F@#K the Big Chiller“