Powers 1.08: “Aha Shake Heartbreak” Episode Review

We were wrong about Johnny.

So, remember that drug Sway that Johnny Royalle (Noah Taylor) was making from DNA he stole from Wolfe (Eddie Izzard)? The drug that he was peddling to “Powers Kids” all over the place? The drug that killed Olympia (Adam Boyer)? The drug that Walker took, which allowed him to temporarily become superpowered again? The drug that Calista (Olesya Rulin) just took, even though she was warned that it would be fatal to any non-Power? That Sway?

Hey, don't be mad at Johnny. As he explains to an enraged Christian Walker (Sharlto Copley) at the beginning of Episode 8, Johnny put Sway on their streets not to harm the world, but to save it. Like others on the show, including Cross (Adam Godley) and Triphammer (Andrew Sensenig), Johnny foresaw that Wolfe was becoming increasingly dangerous, and he created Sway as a way of imparting at least a fraction of Wolfe's powers onto the next generation of heroes—so that they might have a chance of stopping him.

Only as Johnny tells Walker, the plan didn't work. The drug doesn't only give Powers a jolt of Wolfe's abilities, it also allows Wolfe to extract their abilities from wherever they are in the world, and absorb them into himself, becoming even mightier—as Wolfe did to Walker all those years ago. And, he would do it if he wasn't sitting under a drainer in his underground prison.

And, by the way, Johnny clarifies to his old teammate that back in the Shaft, when Walker took Sway and became super-powered again—that wasn't Walker getting his old powers back; that was Walker getting Wolfe's powers.

So, Johnny announces to Walker his new plan: He's done augmenting other heroes to fight Wolfe. Now, he's planning on teleporting back into the Shaft and blowing Wolfe's head off. Is Walker in?

For the second time (the first was Episode 5), we get flashbacks to the 90s, when Walker (Sterling Beaumon) and Johnny (Sasha Feldman) were up-and-coming heroes discovering the limit of their powers and gushing about how wonderful their mentor Wolfe is. The flashbacks reinforce the major shift that Johnny—whose first action in Episode 1 was beheading someone—is not, as it turns out, as bad as we all thought. Copley and the actor who plays young Walker synchronize some of their mannerisms nicely, and the flashbacks build up the characters in a sympathetic way.

Walker's partner Deena Pilgrim (Susan Heyward) tracks down Calista and brings her back to the station. As with the past two episodes, Heyward's been getting better material and a more active role, and she moves up in the series' watchability rankings.

Retro Girl (Michelle Forbes) pays a visit to Triphammer, who clarifies what he meant two episodes ago when he blabbered about a black swan. The black swan, he tells his former teammate, is a probable future scenario generated by one of his computers—a scenario where either Wolfe or Powers connected to him destroys everything.

Krispin (Max Fowler) continues his efforts to turn the public against Powers. Meanwhile, his mother (Claire Bronson)—who has become the superhero Zora's (Logan Browning) new manager—is pressured into setting up a staged fight between a paroled bad guy named Red Hawk (J. Teddy Garces) and the young heroine. The fight will take place at a staged show/concert, announcing the start of Retro Girl's mentoring foundation—an organization set up to help Powers Kids become optimal superheroes—and allow Retro Girl to quit the Powers racket.

Michelle Forbes continues to be one of the best things about the show, and here, her Retro Girl character plays another intriguing card. She's one of the most popular and visible superheroes in the world of the show, but she's done. The pressure, the emotional toil, the physical wear and tear, and the artificial celebrity role she has to play—she can't take any more of it, and she wants out.

And, one of the things she'd like to do during her retirement, she hints to Walker, is spend time with him. Again, another great phone conversation scene between Forbes and Copley.

So when Red Hawk turns up at her packed event and Retro Girl figures out right away that this is a staged donnybrook meant to flatter Zora, the woman who was looking for a way out makes her exit—dammit. She leaves Zora to clean up the (manufactured) mess, which in fact gets way messier than anyone could have anticipated.

Red Hawk takes a hit of Sway; Krispin shows up to decry Powers and is almost killed by the villain; Zora fights with Red Hawk, but he doesn't go down easy and the fight turns brutally ugly; and when Krispin's mom rushes out to protect her son, she's brutally gutted. By the time Walker shows up, it's all over except for zipping up the body bag.

The episode ends with him reuniting with Johnny. The old pals are together again, and together they shall go to the Shaft to get rid of Wolfe for good.

See also: Powers 1.07: “You're Not It” Episode Review


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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