For any who may not know, Powers is the first PlayStation Originals show, released though, and exclusive to, the PSN, free for PS Plus subscribers. To get an idea of what the show is all about, make sure not to miss Gamespresso’s review of the first three episodes. As for this week’s episode however, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty.
The forth episode of Powers picks right up where episode 3 left off, Wolfe suddenly free inside his prison, and, as alluded to by the final scene of last weeks episode, blood, blood, and more blood ensues. For the most part, episode 4 is intense, bloody fun, with some good character moments mixed in. Ultimately however, it unravels, leaving a bit of a bad taste as the credits roll.
Unlike the first three episodes, in which the focus was the world as a whole, getting the audience introduced to everything, “Devil in a Garbage Bag” comes off as a highly focused and fast paced chapter in the evolving story, introducing the audience to Wolfe in all his blood-soaked glory. (Sorry, there is an insane amount of blood in this episode. Honestly, it makes Spartacus or even Kill Bill look tame.)
Jumping quickly back and forth from the situation at the prison and the side stories of Calista, Retro Girl, Johnny Royalle, and Krispin, the episode moves along at a fast clip. Unfortunately, while this ramps up the tension in the already satisfyingly strong prison sequences, it makes the other scenes seem almost out of place in the episode, bland filler between one intense moment and the next. While this isn’t the actual case, some of Royalle’s scenes being the best of his character so far, and Retro Girl’s scene addressing the fascinating fallout from her recorded snub of a fan, the constant jumping back and forth between high stress situations and two people simply talking turns the transitions from one storyline to an other into more of a rough ride than it should have been.
Troubles with pacing aside, in all the violent chaos of the episode, it was remarkable how much characterization was worked in. Fixing one of the primary problems of the early episodes, weak introductions of the primary villains, “Devil in a Garbage Bag” manages to add some new layers to Wolfe and Royalle, twisting the characters in unexpected ways, opening the door for more complex conflicts as the show goes on.
Continuing the practice of letting the world of the show tell us what we need to know, no one ever states what Wolfe’s powers are. While this could have led to confusion and frustration, in this case it worked, giving Wolfe an air of mystery and dread, sort of a He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named kind of thing, none of the main characters talking about his powers because everyone already knows them and is terrified of them. In fact, it is in playing off of this fear that Calista steps up from being the self-diluted ‘wannabe’ of the first episodes and starts showing some actual depth and emotion.
Overall, interspersed with the over-the-top violence, “Devil in a Garbage Bag” dealt a lot with giving each character one of two chances to shine, filling in some of the emotional holes left open in the haste to introduce everything in the shows first episodes. For example, an opening conversation between Walker and Pilgrim, in which both admit why they became cops in the first place, sheds more light on not only them, but also the world they come from, an instrumental thing considering how the tilted take on a world with superheroes is the show’s greatest strength so far.
Where things go a little downhill however, is the fact that this careful building of connection between the two primary characters proceeds to falls apart by episode’s end. Both Walker and Pilgrim make decisions that almost entirely disregard any audience-perceived partnership between the two. These decisions feel hollow and devoid of the characters we have been introduced to so far, and worse, the episode offers no resolution, simply ending, leaving the outcome for next week. While how the aftermath is handled will determine how the end of this episode ultimately feels in the grander scope of the story, for now, it just comes off as sudden and blunt, making the entire episode feel as if it didn’t manage to lead to much of anything.
While the episode as a whole featured some good moments and did manage to explain more of the backstory and connection between Walker, Wolfe, and Royalle, it did so by sacrificing its focus on Walker and Pilgrim’s partnership, which has worked as the center of the show thus far. Simply put, “Devil in a Garbage Bag” is a bridge to get us to the next major thing. It works with some interesting elements, but mostly runs clean up on the characters introduced throughout the show’s premiere, operating as set-up for new things to come, without ever giving us resolution or real pay-off. What can be said for it though is that the episode absolutely did its job. I am more than hooked enough to want to see what happens next.
- Good character moments
- Tense scenes in the prison
- Walker and Pilgrim’s decisions felt rushed and sudden
- No resolution