Maybe it’s because I’ve been watching NBC’s other half hour comedy Trial & Error in the short hiatus POWERLESS took and liking the Lithg0w-led show so much that Powerless this week seemed especially weak and unfunny. I actually cringed at a few easy on-the-nose jokes that for the life of them the talented actors really try to sell. But in the end this week’s episode fell super flat for me, delivering the worst episode of Powerless yet.
The episode begins with the gang at Wayne Industries watching a news flash that can only spell trouble for them and the rest of Charm City: their local DC superhero, Crimson Fox, is packing up and heading to the big leagues: Metropolis. Not very hero-like to leave the town when villain Jack-O-Lantern has been terrorizing the city (and remains at large). Although all he ever does is fly around yelling “Citizens of Charm City!” and throwing fireballs. Kind of obscure what he’s trying to accomplish here. I guess that’s the point–we’re not supposed to have the context of the heroes and villains in this story. Still, it’s getting a little old. Anyway, the team is concerned that with Crimson Fox gone, petty crime will skyrocket across the city, and women will be the target.
Emily’s solution? A self defense class for her and Jackie! Of course Jackie is not into spending an extracurricular time with Emily (or anyone in the office for that matter) but when Emily points out Jackie might have the chance to punch a stranger, she reluctantly agrees. Why Emily doesn’t ask the other female lead Wendy isn’t explained other than Wendy being involved in another plot this episode. That plot? Van trying to figure out who used his private office bathroom. “Something horrible happened, round up the floor,” he tells Jackie. Once everyone is there he explains to them that a violation has occurred and that justice will be swift and fair–they’ll be fired. Naturally when he calls for the perpetrator to step forward, no one does, though he has his suspicions.
The next day Emily changes on her lunch break into something sporty, ready for the mid-day self defense class with Jackie. Her shirt just reads “Bitch I’ma…” and when Teddy questions her about it she explains that it makes more sense if you see Jackie’s matching shirt “…End You.” The point she’s making is that she and Jackie are friends and having inside jokes, though Teddy is skeptical (as am I–completely not buying that “Bitch I’ma End You” is some joke Emily and Jackie have together).
At any rate, Jackie stands her up for the class and after falling in a dumpster on her way back to work, she sees where Jackie has been all this time: sitting in her car reading a book. Emily jumps in the passenger seat and starts interrogating her as to why she would agree to come and then not show. That’s when a woman gets in the back seat, sees Emily, and asks “Is this an Uber POOL? I didn’t request a pool.” Turns out Jackie is driving for Uber in her spare time. She later explains to Emily that she needs to raise an extra $500 so she can afford to send her kids on a class trip to Six Flags Metropolis. She makes Emily promise not to tell anyone. Of course she tells Teddy, Wendy, and Ron almost immediately.
Speaking of Teddy, Wendy, and Ron, Van calls the three amigos into his office to question them further about the mystery pooper. He says he checked the logs and the three of them were the only ones in the office at the time of the crime. He then calls Peter, the maintenance man who he insists on calling Petra, and who insists back “It’s Peter” every time. He asks Peter to tell Teddy, Wendy, and Ron what he found. “A pair of small scissors and these short curly hairs–” he begins before Van stops him: “Not that!” He found a magazine. He asks which one of them was perusin’ while number two-sin’. Still none of them speak up. There will have to be repercussions: he banishes them to Conference Room B!
What’s so bad about Conference Room B, you ask? Well there’s one flickering light (which Wendy quickly fixes) and the chairs are the old chairs before the upgrade that don’t even spin (which Ron points out they do). “This hellscape is where you’ll be living until somebody tells me who did it,” Van tells them. “It’s about to get nasty.”
Emily, once again meddling in things that are pretty much none of her business, is trying to help Jackie out by going to her kids school for some reason that wasn’t clear to me. Did she want to try and pay the teacher for Jackie’s kids’ trip? Imagine if a coworker of yours who you didn’t really like showed up at your kids school to talk to their teacher? I’m with Jackie on this one. Anyway, her intent isn’t really revealed as all she can get out is “I know you’re going to Six Flags Metropolis–” and the kids start screaming with glee. Turns out Jackie lied, there is no such school trip. Emily is kicked out of the school.
With Operation: Help Jackie over, Operation: Mind Your Own Business and Just Act Cool is instated, knowing that Jackie will be furious if she finds out Emily told everyone about her money issues and even went to her kids school. When Jackie brings her kid to work, her daughter immediately recognizes Emily, blowing her cover. Jackie is pissed. She storms out but Emily catches up to her in her car again. Emily says she’s worried that their “blossoming friendship” is going to be ruined from this and Jackie tells her that they just work together, that’s it, and to leaver her alone. “I don’t need your help,” she says as she drives off, just as Jack-O-Lanter swoops in, throwing fireballs and laughing maniacally. Jackie’s car is hit.
Jackie wakes up in the hospital and a nurse tells her her emergency contact is coming. Jackie remembers she put Emily down as her emergency contact (yeah, not buying it) so Emily shows up with flowers and relieved to see she is okay. Jackie finally admits she was driving Uber to raise money for night classes so that she can get her MBA and not have to cater to Van for the rest of her life.
Makes sense. Van is awful (but Alan Tudyk is still the MVP of the show). He put Wendy, Teddy, and Ron against one another so that somebody would snitch, but nobody has. When they are all at each other’s throats, Ron says he’s putting an end to this, marches into Van’s office and confesses to pooping in the toilet. Then Wendy and Teddy do the same. They’re all there in solidarity to be fired together, when security footage shows that the magazine that was left by the toilet was used by Jackie to kill a bee Van had been frightened of early in the episode. Okay.
The episode ends with security cam footage of basically everyone in the office using Van’s bathroom. It is deleted by Peter. Overall, there were VERY few laughs, a couple questionable character moments, and at least once was a little confusing. It can only go up from here or Powerless does not have a promising future.
Season 1, Episode 6 (S01E06)
Powerless airs Thursday at 830PM on NBC
Paul transferred from the Gotham City branch of The Tracking Board offices where he used to write reviews for shows with actual superheroes starring in them.
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Paul Gulyas | Contributor