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REVIEW: Powers 1×04 “Devil in a Garbage Bag”

Written by Scott Swartz

Alright, I can get behind Wolfe as a villain now because dear god is he terrifying. This week’s episode, “Devil in a Garbage Bag” didn’t do anything specific to blow the roof off and turn the fortunes of the show around. Instead it chose to focus on one character, and pour all of it’s creative and interesting ideas into that singular character and that my friends can be a double edge sword. Every area where Wolfe manages to succeed in this episode plenty of characters continue to stumble and flounder in the worst possible way. Powers suffers from a lack of focus in the worst possible way and basically rides or dies on the ADD pacing of it’s plot. To this point it has never managed to capitalize to the possibilities of it’s plot and to be entirely realistic I don’t know if it can. There are plenty of golden opportunities for the show to progress beyond it’s ok background and become something worthwhile, but until that point we are walking a dangerous wire.

First thing is first, I love that Wolfe is a terrifying villain and lives up to his hype. Watching Eddie Izzard stumble around and basically take over any scene that he pops up in is pretty much par for the course, but this was above and beyond his usual gravitas. I was legit afraid of him at certain points in watching him hunt down the Powers Unit one by one and the imagery despite being horribly rendered did indeed add to the terror of his powers. What managed to make him such a fun character were his interactions with Christian and Johnny, as they really showed that Wolfe as a character was in a lot of pain. Watching Johnny and Christian both be unable to kill their mentor despite him seemingly having a death wish is a nice touch, it helped to seal just how close these two were with Wolfe before he went completely over the edge. Similarly, having Wolfe constantly challenge them added another layer to Johnny and Walker that we had not seen.

It was great to see Johnny, who up until this point had been in complete control over his situation and plans stumble and be afraid of Wolfe. There are really only two people in the world who understand how dangerously powerful Wolfe is and for Johnny, despite his years of meticulous planning and scheming, to be willing to drop everything and run as far away as possible from Wolfe is truly telling to the hold Wolfe has on him. I am happy that Johnny is staying around and is seemingly going to confront Wolfe, but at the same time the more important development for him is that he is going to protect not only Simon’s but also Calista. I could not truly make out whether Johnny truly cared about her or if she was just a pawn, and much to my surprise it seems to be the former. I am glad that Johnny genuinely cares about someone else besides himself and I hope their relationship continues to develop in the right direction.

Unfortunately where our villains manage to succeed in a strong characterization, our heroes are really just a great big bag of suck. Not only has Walker become completely useless, but Retro Girl and the entire powers unit are complete wastes of space. This week was a chance to build up not only the threat of Wolfe but also that the unit can handle their shit. Fun fact they are all so incompetent that none of them can even lay a scratch on our big bad. I would have thought Walker, the supposed hero of our show, would actually be able to confront Wolfe on a real level, yet he basically castrates himself halfway through the episode and becomes even more useless. I didn’t even know it was possible for all of our heroes to be this inept, but congratulations not a single one of them even has the right to make it out of this prison alive. Add in the fact that Retro Girl is just an annoying stuck up bitch and you manage to have the least likable protagonists I have ever seen in a show.

Powers is crossing into dangerous territory where it just becomes a pain to watch. It’s not quite there but it is getting there.

Final Grade C

+Wolfe is suitably terrifying

+Johnny is still the best character

-Retro Girl is a pain

-Walker is utterly useless

-The Powers Unit is completely incompetent

Extra Thoughts

-I don’t care enough about the dead cops kid for him to be given anywhere close to the amount of screen time he received

-I will say one thing, at least the show is aware enough to have someone call the “six months till retirement” guy on his bullshit and tell him he will die.

About the author

Scott Swartz