Powers Ep. 8 Aha Shake Heartbreak Review – Awkward

Last week I mentioned that things were getting a bit better for Powers in terms of the pacing, but that its biggest problems of having disparate story arcs and meaningless coincidences to drive the plot forward had not yet full been resolved. My closing comment was “I’m interested, but I’m not engaged.” That interest turned to disgust this week as I watched the opening moments of the show. The terrible actors that portray the younger Walker and Royalle are back to remind us that these two characters were once friends. The whole episode isn’t bad, but I’m getting ahead of myself. 

If young Walker and Royalle were up on stage in a second-rate stage production that you’d be embarrassed to be seen watching, they’d fit right in. The beauty of film and television is acting out the subtleties, yet these two decided to amp up their performance to really make sure that it would hit you way out there on your couch. There isn’t anything subtle about their performances, and watching them makes me cringe. Sure, it offered us a scene that has a nice little juxtaposition in the current day portion of the story, but all these two are doing is handing me the information. They aren’t selling me on the emotion, and it’s a gauche scene to watch.

Disrupting the Natural Flow

This leads into the awkward reemergence of the friendship between Royalle and Walker. It feels forced more than anything, and written for the sake of the plot as opposed to the natural flow of the characters’ stories and emotions giving the surrounding events. Fortunately the issue of disparate story arcs is resolved by tying together many of the shows hanging threads at a benefit concert for Retro Girl’s foundation.

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When I say tied together, keep in mind that the knot is still kind of messy. These guys must be Star Wars fans, because they’re forcing each point to stick together, even though it naturally ought to drift apart. The most intriguing piece of the puzzle is getting to see the corruption behind powers’ fame and fortune. Like Hollywood celebrities, we are shown that powers are staged and created. Events are crafted to make them look like heroes to the public. Being a power is a business, and this episode dives much deeper into the dark side of their agents and the things they do to bring them to the public eye as a brand image.

Krispin is quite literally taking the stage this episode as he learns more about this corruption, which only deepens his hatred for powers and those that support them. The climactic scene of the episode plays out in a most graceless fashion. It’s painful to watch as the ungainly Red Hawk attempts to fulfill what he was hired to do even after being called out by Krispin. It hurts even more to watch him sit and talk to Zora on the stage about “giving them what they want.” Then we get his awkward flailing around and a scene that is supposed to hold some emotion, but in true Powers fashion, it fails to really strike that chord, because the scene came together like a Frankenstein’s monster of coincidences and conveniences.

Getting From Point A to Point B

We’re finally getting the tying of many of the threads into larger story arcs, but these pieces are being jammed together in a maladroit manner that renders them unbelievable or downright silly. The creators are looking at a multiple pieces of the puzzle, and instead of asking how the puzzle all fits together, they are tactlessly jamming bits together, whether they fit or not. The best route from point A to B is not always the straight line.

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I’ve said it time and again. Create compelling characters, put them into a compelling situation, and allow your story to play out naturally based on who these characters are and how they would react and respond. The moment you have to start building your story on coincidences and forced plot elements that make little sense, you’ve lost the emotional tie to your audience. Once again, Powers doesn’t fail to deliver interesting pieces to its puzzle, but as usual, it fails to gracefully put them together in a way that makes me want to care.

Oh yeah, and Black Swan? That huge, potentially apocalyptic thing we heard about a couple of episodes ago? Turns out it’s essentially just Jeff Goldblum’s chaos theory from Jurassic Park, and gets brushed off as quickly as it is passively brought up.