Powers 1.04: “Devil in a Garbage Bag”

Having dished out a lot of glitz and glamour in Episode 3—and presented a lot of confusing character interactions (Character A meets B, C meets D, A runs into D, C speaks with E, who goes back to B, etc.)—Episode 4 of Powers gets gritty, bleak, and direct. Wolfe, who seemed like a supporting character before and the key to a few of the show's mysteries, is now front and center, and Eddie Izzard's performance seems based upon some of the more hard to read parts of the Old Testament.

The deepest levels of the prison known as the Shaft, which used to hold Wolfe, are now his hunting grounds. Various attendants and guards are shredded, or rather shop-vac’ed (it's kind of hard to tell), by Wolfe, leaving him covered in their gore and with a dazed expression on his face.

Johnny Royalle (Noah Taylor), having teleported into the Shaft to collect more of Wolfe's fluids for his street drug Sway, gets to witness all of this, and hear Wolfe's confession that he's sorry—he never meant to hurt anyone.

It's hard to tell if Wolfe's appetite drives him to mass murder, or if he really enjoys the rush one gets (so I've heard) from killing people. It almost doesn't matter in this episode and the next one, as all the characters prepare to take Wolfe on.

Christian Walker (Sharlto Copley) now has his hands on some Sway, which could give him super powers again or could seriously mess him up—and the tension becomes: will Walker take the drug in order to defeat Wolfe? Copley does a great job of letting us know that the consequences either way are terrible—confronting Wolfe without powers is insanity, but restoring his powers with a drug taken from Wolfe has plenty of its own dangers. The close-ups of Walker in this episode provide a good amount of suspense just by themselves.

Johnny, meanwhile, is back at one of his secret lairs, planning to get the hell out of Dodge. Calista (Olesya Rulin) comes back to him (AGAIN. Seriously, all Calista seems to do in this series is ping pong back and forth between various characters. Pick a side and stay with it, kid), and Johnny spills the beans about his little Sway scheme.

“Sway IS Wolfe!” he yells; and sure enough, Walker, having taken a dose, begins having visions with Wolfe in them. Or rather, he and Wolfe are having the same visions.

Things get pretty Aliens as guys with rifles and flashlights move down to the dark corridors of the Shaft's basement to blast anything that pops out at them. All they end up doing is supporting my theory that this episode's budget was spent entirely on tanker trucks full of red goo. Deena Pilgrim (Susan Heyward) seems like a competent but inessential player in all of this.

In the visions, Walker witnesses a younger Wolfe in 1900s clothes as he languorously stalks a bleeding girl through tall grass, beneath a wild CGI sky. Hints of Wolfe's origins, perhaps? His weaknesses? We can only speculate.

Johnny decides not to run, and instead heads back to the Shaft to see if he can help stop Wolfe. However, his teleportation powers take him right to Triphammer's drainer, and he's done for the episode—trapped in the prison like everyone else.

Calista, who's now run off to Krispin's house (COME ON!) confesses that she had nightmares about Wolfe when she was little. “Everyone's had a Wolfe nightmare,” Krispin assures her, again reinforcing the darker side of living in a world with ever-present Powers. There are celebrities, and then there are archetypes, and Wolfe may have been on a talk show once, but he's not a celebrity.

What is he exactly? The episode ends with Wolfe defining himself to a barely conscious Walker, as he opens the door of a cell to feed on more super-powered prey: “I. AM. POWER.”

Cue buckets of blood.

See also: Powers 1.03: “Mickey Rooney Cries No More”


Hector DeJean can frequently be found in comic stores, bookshops, and the Eighties. His serialized story of a private detective who only solves food-related crimes is no longer online.

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