Tilting into the second half of it’s season, Powers lifts away from the blood and action of the past two episodes and delivers a more emotion focused, slower paced chapter. While ultimately not the most eventful slice of the story, “The Raconteur” sets up things to come and gives everyone a chance to find their feet following the insanity of the past couple weeks.
As I have said before, Powers is the first PlayStation Originals show, every one of its episodes still free for all PS Plus members. If you’re still on the fence, maybe you’ll find the Gamespresso reviews of episodes 1-3, 4, and 5, of interest to you.
Episode 6 however, opens with an awesome segment, accompanied by a brilliant choice of music, cutting back and forth between all the members of the ensemble cast, showing where each is following the events at the Shaft. And that, more than anything, is really what “The Raconteur” is about: the fallout from Wolfe’s rampage. We quickly learn the cops of Powers Division, and even Retro Girl, are all on their way to a wake for the officers killed by Wolfe, and from there, the entire episode revolves around said wake.
While this produces the opportunity to bring a lot of characters together, seeing how they all interact, the reaction to Retro Girl walking into the room being a particularly intense and noteworthy example, it also continues the trend of highly focused packets of story, such as what we saw with the Shaft. Though interesting, keeping the narrative from wandering, these intensely focused episodes have the side effect of feeling like not much actually happens. This is of course not true, a lot happening in the episode, but the lack of trackable forward momentum during the episodes themselves could become a problem if it continues.
That said however, there were some great moments involving Walker, Retro Girl and Triphammer. While their interactions weren’t anything as immediate as the flashbacks of last week, seeing Walker thrust into situations with his old teammates really helps fill in some of the gaps between the cocky teenager we saw and the grizzled cop we have now. Walker and Triphammer steal the show together, their banter hitting the right mix of mutual hatred and oddly fashioned friendship.
At one point the pair jokes about the ridiculousness of their original group’s name, ‘Powers United.’ So far my favorite aspect of the series has been how it messes with typical superhero tropes, an unfortunately slim part of this episode, save for this particular scene, the monotony of finding a good group name so often overlooked.
It’s through the scenes involving the former teammates that the whole point of “The Raconteur” takes shape. As the three argue about the being of ‘power,’ if it leaves where does it go, and that sort of thing, we also get a pretty solid hint at the conflict to come, something called “Black Swan.” I would apologize for the spoiler, but to be honest, “Black Swan” could be replaced with “Fluffy Bunny,” for all the information we are given about it. We are told it is bad. And that’s it.
While the reveal of the coming conflict, Black Swan, feels a little heavy handed, a bit too emphasized and dramatic for its own good, the reveal does set up the future episodes. It raises more questions that need answering, or, in other words, it does exactly what it was meant to.
As for the other characters in the episode, Detective Pilgrim finally came back into the spotlight. With the introduction of her father, the raconteur for which the episode is named, some of her emotional baggage finally gets exposed, a welcome sight given how little we have learned about her so far.
Following the events at the Shaft, Pilgrim and Walker were bound for a collision. While I was hoping for a bit more of an explosive confrontation between the two, it was a nice surprise to find out the real reason Pilgrim was so angry, an interesting twist that added a new layer to her character.
The only complaint I have is how Pilgrim shares a piece of secret knowledge about her father. If Powers as a show has one major problem, it is the fact it still hasn’t quite nailed the dynamic between Pilgrim and Walker. One moment they are partners, the next they are butting heads, and the next they are trusting partners again. While Pilgrim’s sharing of the secret with Walker could be taken as the two forming a bond, in the moment it felt slightly rushed, and too big of an admission to simply happen as it did.
As for Royale’s story, we finally got some more characterization for Simons, developing someone who originally seemed like little more than a convenient background character. While he and Royalle continue to mess around with Sway, it, like much of the episode, felt more like a set up for things to come.
The same can be said of the Krispin and Calista story arc, as even with their relationship developing, it still seems the most exciting stuff is still to come.
Overall “The Raconteur of the Funeral Circuit” is a bridging episode, collecting the scattered pieces following the action-packed prison massacre and establishing everyone’s place in the world going forward. Bringing a lot of the characters together in the same room produced some intriguing moments. Even small things, like being able to compare how Zora and Retro Girl gave their condolences to the grieving families, were subtle character moments that worked really well. Likewise, the banter, and straight-up drunken arguing, between the cops of the Powers Division helped solidify each as their own character more than in the first half of the season. In the end, “The Raconteur” mostly just got me excited for next week, even if the episode itself wasn’t the most exciting entry in the series so far.
- Walker and Triphammer were great
- More of a focus on Pilgrim was a welcome change
- An uneventful episode compared to last week
- Mostly just setting things up for the future