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REVIEW: Powerless 1×01: “Wayne or Lose”

Powerless, developed by writer Ben Queen, premiered on NBC on this past Thursday. It is set on one of the DC Universe’s Earths in the fictional Charm City. Starring Vanessa Hudgens as Emily Locke, Director of R&D at Wayne Security, Alan Tudyk as Bruce Wayne’s cousin Van Wayne, and Danny Pudi as Teddy, Powerless’ first episode was not spectacular but it was fun, amusing, and an alright way to spend a half-hour.

The whole episode was an introduction to the main characters and their roles to be. Emily Locke, the bright and optimistic new Director of R&D, jumped right into her first day at work with much enthusiasm and hope that she was going to make the world a better place. As most comedies based in office/corporate setting, she quickly learned that mostly everyone had long since grown cynical about their job.

The main obstacle of the episode was Van Wayne announcing that they were all being fired and Wayne Security being shut down because it was “obsolete.”  Of course, it all turned out fine when Emily had the bright idea to create something that can track super-villains by scent (since one of her new coworkers made an “Emily-detector”).  No one lost their jobs and Emily provoked Van, who was not going to lose his job and simply be incorporated into the Gotham branch of Wayne Enterprises.  Yay, simple happy ending for the episode.  The plot was something that had been done over and over again in many sitcoms over the years.

Crimson Fox, the superhero of Charm City (a minor character in the DC Universe), verses Jack O’Lantern (another minor character in the DC Universe) was a pretty amusing backdrop to the whole story. The hero v. villain will be not the focus because the story from the bystanders.

Powerless takes its cues from shows like The Office, Silicon Valley, and The Big Theory, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing since all those shows are successful. An “evil” (more like a jerk) boss running a company of scientists/geeks, who are trying to invent something set in a world of superheroes. Doe it not sound familiar to anyone? Is a good thing or a bad thing? It worked for the first episode, but I don’t know how well it’s going to last. It’s a neutral point of the show.

Subversive humour is mostly awesome in this show (some of the jokes fall flat). Everyone got a chance to do a one-liner, but the best part was when Van’s announcement about how Wayne Security was obsolete. Not only was the talk about super-villains trying to destroy the world and superheroes fighting against each other because of vague reasons shots fired at the MCU, but at the DCEU as well. The show is not afraid to poke fun at its own. I always find self-deprecating humour amusing.

Even though Emily Locke is the main character, the stand-out character for me is Tudyk’s Van Wayne. He’s the guy that you’re supposed to hate.  Van’s the evil jerk boss who only wants to succeed for himself and move onto Gotham. He’s actually pretty funny, I mean, seriously he calls Bruce Wayne/Batman by a ridiculous name that I’m not sure I know how to spell the right way. He kind of reminds me of the comedian Jon Stewart. He’s far more interesting to me, anyway, than the other characters. The characters of Emily Locke, Teddy, Ron and the others are all static characters in terms of personality.

The episode itself I enjoyed. I want to see it grow into its own show rather than taking cues from other successful shows. The characters need to become better than they are now. Sure, it’s a comedy show but that’s mean that it can’t have character development and inventive plots.  The high expectations for show exist because it is set in the DC Universe and it is ultimately about average people in a world of super-beings. I will have to watch the next few episodes just to see what happens next.

Final Grade Overall: B

+ Humour is pretty good. Hopefully, it won’t grow stale.

+ Tudyk’s Van Wayne was awesome.

+ Crimson Fox v Jack O’Lantern as a backdrop was pretty fun.

+ The shout-outs and Easter eggs were also fun to spot throughout the episode.

– The plot has been overdone to death.

– The other characters are static. Emily Locke needs to develop more in personality to become a compelling character.

What did you make of Powerless‘ debut? Let us know in the comments section below or send us a Tweet!

About the author

Dara Berkey

Superhero nerd. History nerd. Favorite personal hero--Shazam/The Original Captain Marvel. Favorite female hero--Any of the Batgirls. Favorite male hero, other than Shazam--Any of the Robins.