So, where are we left at the end of Powers? Where has the journey led, and what have we discovered from this hard-to-categorize show? What, exactly, did we watch?
A little evaluation of the series, before I get to the episode summary: the reason why I said, at the outset, that Powers was a sci-fi drama more than anything else is because all of the cop-show elements provided some structure, but never really any tension (closing the case and putting the bad guys behind bars wasn't the resolution we were looking for). The superhero set-pieces made for some cool fight scenes, but the cosmic battle between good and evil wasn't exactly what we were witnessing either. Powers' most effective moments were the revelations of what life is like in a world where a handful of people have unimaginable abilities, and those abilities tend to skew destructive.
Christian Walker (Sharlto Copley) has to face this world as someone who once belonged to the dangerous set, but is now a bystander. His relationship to the super-powered Retro Girl (Michelle Forbes), aka Janice, brought something intriguing to the show, by showing a Power with a sympathetic moral dimension and giving Walker a link to his superhero past. Meanwhile, Johnny Royalle (Noah Taylor) kept us guessing about the morality of one Power in particular, and Wolfe (Eddie Izzard) made the stakes of living in a world with Powers all too clear.
So in Season 1's final episode, “F@#k the Big Chiller,” we get the resolution of these conflicts and ambiguities, and the start of several new ones.
Wolfe is now out and about, doing whatever he wants to do, and that's not good for anybody. L. A.'s Powers Unit is out to stop him, as are Powers themselves. Containing Wolfe is no longer an option—he has to be killed. Walker, his partner Deena Pilgrim (Susan Heyward), his boss Cross (Adam Godley), his old teammate Triphammer (Andrew Sensenig), and the recently imprisoned Johnny head out to take Wolfe down, armed with a portable drainer. Zora (Logan Browning) gets to Wolfe first, and she puts up a good fight before getting literally crushed.
Walker and Johnny finally find Wolfe at Johnny's club, where he's with Calista (Olesya Rulin), offering to mentor her the way he offered guidance to Christian and Johnny back in the day. He knows the emptiness she feels, he tells her, the void that only raw power can fill.
Wolfe tells Walker and Johnny that what he wanted, more than satisfying his appetites, was leaving a legacy of heroes that he had mentored; it just became too hard to refrain from eating people when everyone around was so ripe. Johnny moves to stop Wolfe, but soon, he's absorbed the life-force of all of L. A.'s Powers kids, leaving piles of corpses outside the club. Retro Girl takes Wolfe on but doesn't get far.
Yet in a swift denouement, Walker uses the drainer to rob Wolfe of his powers—thus ensuring that he himself will never be a superhero again—and Deena promptly empties her pistol into Wolfe's temporarily-non-super chest. Johnny provides the finishing touch by teleporting Wolfe's head right off of his shoulders, becoming a hero in the process.
But this only brings the main storyline to an end. Krispin (Max Fowler), witnessing all of this with his new anti-Powers activist girlfriend Kaotic Chick, steels himself to do something drastic—without letting us know what it is. Calista, now outfitted as Retro Girl, begins experimenting with her new abilities. Zora, now possibly paralyzed, witnesses the end of her stardom, but gets a visit from Walker, who lets her know that he knows what she's going through. Walker himself looks forward to more time with Retro Girl, but the last image that Powers Season 1 leaves us with is Walker getting called to the scene of Retro Girl's homicide, where her corpse lies bleeding on a banner reading KATOIC CHIC.
So what happens next? I'm guessing that the next season adheres more to the cop procedural format of the comic. No doubt Retro Girl's murder was committed by someone other than Krispin and Kaotic Chick herself (the very first Powers story arc in the comics was titled “Who Killed Retro Girl?” and opened with her murder). Without Forbes, though, the show will be missing one of its better players, someone who illustrated what it's like to be a super-powered celebrity in this world. And without Izzard, the show won't have its rocket ship into sheer insanity. Will the police suspense work to keep the series going when it comes to the fore?
See also: Powers 1.09: “Level 13” Episode Review
Images via Mynock Manor.
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.