I gave the first season of Powers a rather lackluster review last year, but was totally on board to see what they did with it as they moved into season two. The show has a lot of potential, although this being a PSN production, there isn’t a lot of money being put into it and it clearly shows.
That said though, I was interested in seeing the return of Walker and Pilgrim as they tried to keep the super-powered community under control. Let’s see how they did.After the death of Retro Girl at the end of season one, Krispin and his erstwhile “girlfriend” Marigold go on the run, thinking they’re going to be blamed for it. The world is in shock that Retro Girl is dead, but with Calista appearing to have Retro Girl’s powers and, during the season, donning her costume, things start to get back to normal. At least until powers start turning up dead all over the landscape and it looks like an ancient evil might have returned from the grave.
To be honest, Walker just isn’t played very well in this. I generally like Sharlto Copley’s acting in other things, but what he’s doing here isn’t Walker and it makes him very difficult to relate to. Copley’s Walker is a jerk. He’s openly abusive, rude and obnoxious. And this is supposed to be the main hero of the story. Sure. Likewise, Deena Pilgrim isn’t all that much better. She’s sarcastic to the point of being unlikable. Both main characters, the people that the audience are supposed to root for, are assholes. That’s not the way the comics read and not the way you present a good TV series.
The best character of the season was Calista, whose hero’s journey, while not perfect, at least is passable. What hampers her is the terrible special effects that PSN uses. I’m not asking for theatrical-level effects, but you find better stuff every day on YouTube. Here’s someone who wished for powers, who dreamed of having powers and when she got them, she found that just being powerful doesn’t make you a hero. She fails a lot and that makes her story interesting.
Another clear failure this season is that they tried to do too much with too little. There were too many sub-plots active and they didn’t spend the time they needed on any one of them. It all felt rushed. They could have spent the whole season with any one of them. The gang war could have worked as a major plot, so could Super Shock’s insanity, yet they kept throwing in other extraneous nonsense, like Wil Wheaton’s megalomaniacal promoter who wanted to use Calista to make money. It’s a fine idea, but it just gets in the way. The move to shut down Powers Division, likewise, is a good idea, but has no place here. They really need to pick one main storyline, focus on it, get into much more depth and tell an engaging story. And they need to hire some YouTube kiddies to do their graphics because geez, they’re awful with a capital A.
What is it about comic book adaptations to the small screen lately? They can’t just do the story in the comics, they can’t use the same writers, or people who have actually read and understand the comics, they have to do something different and invariably, that means something inferior. It feels like the comic creator sold out. That’s not a recipe for making a good show in any genre.