Powers Ep. 4: Devil in a Garbage Bag Review – Geysers of Blood
Spoiler Alert: This review contains plot points that occurred in the first three episodes. If you have not watched the preceding episodes of Powers, please be aware that this review may spoil some of the plot points in the initial three episodes. Check out our spoiler free review of the first three episodes here.
The last thing we saw in the third episode of Powers was Wolfe, naked and covered in blood, devouring the doctors in his cell that were performing lobotomies. Devil in a Garbage Bag picks up right at this point as Johnny Royalle stands over the dazed Wolfe. It quickly becomes apparent that he is not fully himself, and we learn a bit more about his powers, from his rapid healing abilities to his devouring people enabling him to increase his powers. The scenes that follow quickly establish Wolfe as the power to be feared, as Walker, Pilgrim, and the rest of the Powers Division attempt to locate him in the prison.
Episode four starts strong, with lots of narrative and character information given, allowing for a stronger character development than was present in the first three episodes. Rather than focusing on events and moving through them in a methodical manner, this episode takes the time to focus a little bit more on characters through the intense and bloody breakout of Wolfe from his cell, and I don’t say “bloody” lightly. There are fountains and geysers of blood as Wolfe tears people apart and devours them. If there was any doubt of the dark or mature level that they were aiming for with Powers, this episode removes it with a bleeding ferocity.
Four characters in particular receive special attention and development that changes how you view them. Wolfe’s development is obvious, as he receives far more screen time than previous episodes. Eddie Izzard finally has an opportunity to shine in this role, even if most of that time is spent as a dazed Wolfe waking up from the perpetual mindlessness that the prison had locked him into.
Christian Walker is further faced with the despair of losing his powers, and he takes rash actions that give us a much deeper insight into where his character is at this point in his life. We learn details of his prior interactions with Wolfe, his time as a power, and why he became a detective with Powers Division.
In a slightly disconnected story thread, we learn more about both Johnny Royalle and Calista, which make each of these characters much more intriguing than in the previous three episodes. Where I formerly viewed Calista as a game piece to connect the characters and fill gaps in the story, she finally begins to gain a bit of ground as a real player in this game. Royalle reveals a side of himself that we only caught a glimpse of in past episodes, and we finally understand him on a deeper level. This pause for character development was refreshing, though it highlighted some problems with the episode.
Tension is high in episode four. Multiple people are hunting for Wolfe in the dark prison hallways, and it has many of the hallmarks of cliched horror movies. It becomes obvious that people will die, and the apprehension feels extremely protracted during the 45 minutes. Where one half of the episode gives us character development and back story, the other half is spent drawing out the tension of a single event. Pointless banter between characters that we were never previously invested in feels like wasted screen time and an excuse for more blood.
By the end, it becomes obvious that the overall narrative has barely moved forward at all since the opening scene with Wolfe naked and covered in blood. However, there are a couple of significant events in Devil in a Garbage Bag that will have powerful repercussions for the remaining six episodes of the season.
Powers‘ fourth episode solved many of the problems that I had with the first three, by giving additional depth to the compelling characters and revealing more about the dark world that Powers takes place in. It provided a couple of unexpected moments with twists that should keep people clamoring for what happens in the future. The only problem I found was the pacing faltering and slowing to a crawl, with the end of the episode barely a few steps ahead of where it began. If future episodes can find a balance between character development, narrative pacing, and unexpected moments, I am very excited to continue this dark journey with Powers.