The third episode of NBC’s new DC Universe-set sitcom POWERLESS got the most laughts out of me yet, and finally utilizes the universe in a funny, clever way that related to its characters.
We open with our crew watching the news report that Atlantis, home of Aquaman (and character actor William H. Macy) has been attacked. Turns out Ron is from the mythical underwater city as well. “I thought you were from Atlanta,” Emily tells him. He points out that that’s Donald Glover, and that’s also racist.
Van calls Emily into his office with some good news about the latest sales report. They’ve grown 35% since January, when Emily was hired. “That kind of effort deserves a reward,” he tells her before explaining that that reward is actually for himself because, though she’s great at her job, he is the boss, and she’s just there to execute his vision. He’s going to telling his father it’s time he was promoted to Gotham office. But as Van Senior is on the board of Wayne Industries and doesn’t have time, it looks like he’s going to have to fly to Gotham and talk to him while he walks to his car.
There’s a new accountant in the office named Alex who Ron, Teddy, and Wendy begin to believe is actually superhero The Olympian in disguise. They see a news flash about a school bus full of children hanging off a bridge. Alex tells them he’s gotta go. They originally think he has diarrhea, since he runs to the bathroom so often. But it just so happens whenever he runs to the bathroom, The Olympian flies to wherever he’s needed and saves the day, as he does for the children on the bus.
When Van has a long-standing customer in to see some new products, he thinks it’s an easy homerun. However, turns out he dropped the ball when he didn’t read an email saying the client wanted to switch from chemical to force field filters. The customer desides they are taking their business elsewhere, which loses this branch of Wayne Industries $75 million annually. Dad’s probably not gonna give Van that promotion after all. And indeed, he just landed his helicopter angrily on the roof. He’s livid with Van for “pissing away” the relationship he created thirty years ago. He’s overlooked a lot of his son’s transgressions in the past, but this time he is going to make him face the consequences. He’s taking away the last remaining shred of respect he had for his son.
And so who does Van call upon to help him get back in the good graces of his father and the company? You guessed it. Emily. “In a way I envy you, Emily. Your father was a poor so you didn’t have to earn his respect,” he tells her. She tells him the only way to get his dad’s respect is to go get another client. Start making calls.
Instead he starts playing guitar and making up songs about how his dad doesn’t love him. Luckily, Emily doesn’t wait around for other people to do things. Recalling that Atlantis got attacked, she puts in a call to them and sets up a meeting. They could supply security products to all of Atlantis! “God bless those weird little fish people,” Van exclaims.
The guys from Atlantis visit the office and Emily and Van make a presentation demonstrating how they don’t always have to rely on Aquaman to protect them. They say they’ve given them a lot to think about, but they are going to think about it over Sinking Day. It sounds promising, but then Van goes ahead and starts talking up how much he loves Sinking Day (he doesn’t know what it is) and how Aquaman comes to his party every year. “You know Aquaman? Could we celebrate with you tomorrow? And meet Aquaman?” they ask. Van of course says yes. They all laugh with delight. Except Emily. “Laughing’s fun,” Van notes.
Meanwhile, Ron reveals he’s been tracking Alex’s bathroom habits very closely. Next step is Operation fake lady getting mugged. “Oh my god, that real lady is getting mugged down there!” he shouts looking out the office window. Alex quickly ducks away. There’s a camera in the bathroom hooked up by Ron to see him change.
And before you know it, Van’s infamous Sinking Day Party has come (it’s the first one he’s ever thrown). The Atlantis guys show up and are disappointed to hear that Aquaman can’t make it. BUT Van cleverly supplies the three each with a gift: Cognac, the complete works of Brandon Fraser , and perfume for the man’s wife and “second bottle of perfume for whoever.” It works. The Atlantis businessmen are delighted. They point out they were going to leave the original meeting and go with a local vendor but now…” They definitely want to go with Wayne Industries! “I guess there are things I can learn from you,” Emily tells Van. That’s when his dad swoops in, just as Van is about to officially close the deal, and says he is going to do it himself. “This is far too important for you to screw up.”
Back in his office, forlorn, Emily comes in for one of her famous pep talks. “You put in the work and did something great. If you want your own father’s respect, go in there and be the boss.” Van realizes she’s right. “This is my account to close,” he tells his father outside the conference room where he was about to seal the deal. That’s when his dad tells him that the Atlantians only want to deal with him and Emily. “I was also gonna tell you I’m proud of you for the first time in my life.” Van begs him to anyway but the moment has passed. He lets his son go in and complete the deal.
Finally looking through his bathroom footage, Ron sees that Alex the accountant is NOT actually changing into The Olympian’s outfit every time there is danger in the city. “The only thing this footage proves is Garrett from marketing doesn’t wash his hands.” Settling it once and for all, Wendy breaks a wooden chair over Alex’s back, and he collapses. “See, he’s not a superhero,” she says. That certainly settles that.
Overall, the episode had plenty of laugh out loud worth one-liners, some great visual gags, a few nonsensical ones which I’m partial to (complete works of Brandon Fraser?!) and revolved its A storyline around Alan Tudyk, probably the most talented cast member. This made it the best episode yet, and I’m excited to see how it grows.
Season 1, Episode 3 (S01E03)
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