For all the ways that the second season of Powers has improved over the first (and there are many), it still suffers from one underlying problem. Events simply aren’t given the weight and consequence necessary for them to feel impactful. Despite some excellent episodes earlier in the season, it’s a problem that has now returned in full force in Requiem.
In many respects, the rapid-fire nature of this week’s and last week’s episodes might fit in with other streamed shows from the likes of Netflix and Amazon. But Powers is different. Even as a PlayStation Originals show, streamed through the PlayStation Store, it still releases week-to-week. And that comes with the added necessity of having especially poignant story beats to keep the audience’s attention over months, apposed to a binged number of hours or days.
Beginning the second half of the season, Requiem is overall a good episode. It delivers multiple massive shocks that personally left my eyes wide and mouth agape, while also managing scenes that are hilarious and delightfully weird. While any scene in which Walker and Tricia Helfer’s Agent Lange are on screen together continues to be a highlight, it’s Wil Wheaton’s Conrad that steals the show this time.
Powers has always been hesitant to show Walker as his former-superhero alter ego Diamond. Though likely due to budgetary concerns, seeing Walker soar through the air and beat up bad guys also just wouldn’t really fit with the point of the show. As a result, it’s been hard to ever get a full grasp of Walker’s past. Seeing Conrad and Walker together quickly rectifies all of that though.
To say Conrad is a fan is a slight understatement. But watching his fan-boy level reaction to his favorite superhero is both unexpected and just the right amount oddity to stand out amongst the darker backdrop of the episode.
Wil Wheaton makes the most of his eccentric toy maker character, effortlessly flipping between an impressive range of emotions. Smiling one moment, scowling the next, Conrad comes off as much more of the manic unknown that he was likely meant to seem since the beginning.
Beyond that, the episode continues to build on Pilgrim’s character. We get a bit more of her and Kutter, but the episode also hands her a few jokes to deliver. While not all land as well as others, the effort to round out her character is noticeable and welcome nonetheless. In the comics, Deena Pilgrim is sassy and outspoken almost to a fault. The show’s representation of that still isn’t right on, but its getting closer with each episode.
Despite all of this however, Requiem is still held back by its own fast pace. The second season of Powers started off magnificently. When Retro Girl died, it sent Los Angles into a three-episode long downward spiral that not only felt impactful to watch but honestly felt important to the characters in the show.
Clearly the aftermath and consequences of every death, twist, or shocking event can’t, and shouldn’t, be given as much screen time. But following the whirlwind that’s characterized the past two episodes, giving a little space and reverence to dealing with those consequences wouldn’t be amiss.
While the end of last week’s Shaking the Tree saw a character killed off, not a single person mentions it in all of Requiem. Instead, we’re handed even more shocking events. Compare this to the building collapse earlier in the season, which then warranted half the next episode to deal with it. Simply including one shock after another, without the chance for the story to develop in a meaningful way alongside, leaves the audience desensitized.
Ultimately, the central plotline isn’t what’s suffering the most. As Powers has charged forward in the past two episodes, the side story of Triphammer, Zora, and Martinez is essentially playing catch-up. As sudden as Triphammer’s decision to train a new generation of heroes was, it’s nothing in comparison to the immediate, close-knit bond Requiem attempts to showcases between the three of them. It comes off as forced, and it sadly compromises what could otherwise be a legitimately engaging, multi-episode long subplot.
And that finally brings us to the real star of Requiem: Heavy. Ever since seeing him bring down a building and then gleefully dance down the street, Heavy’s been a weird, almost more terrifying, boogeyman. As the mysterious power steps into the spotlight though, a lot of that fascination is lost.
Though there is a bit of jumping around and dancing, not only is Heavy’s voice modulated to be deep and almost robotic, he spends much of his time trying to be big and imposing. The original reveal’s tease of a whimsical, carefree force of wanton destruction was simply scarier and more interesting. With plenty of set-up for next week however, it will be interesting to see if Powers can work more of that jolly terror back into the character.
Overall, Powers does continue to hit a few bumps along the road. But it does so at a point where the show’s production value has never been higher and its central characters and general plotline have never been more interesting. Given the ending of Requiem, there are many interesting paths the show could take from here, all of them a complete surprise. Following the past two episodes however, hopefully Powers can take a breadth before diving into the end of the season.