This week’s episode of POWERLESS is a marked improvement from last week, providing decent laughs consistently, mostly by Alan Tudyk’s Van Wayne.
The episode begins with Ron and Teddy lunching on the balcony, talking about a date Teddy has with a girl named Hannah that evening. That’s when we hear “Citizen’s of Charm City!” and see the menacing Jack O’Lantern fly through the city skyscrapers tossing fireballs. This happens pretty much once an episode so the viewer shouldn’t be surprised. Teddy and Ron aren’t either. But then Jack O’Lantern tosses a fireball their way, blasting Teddy over the balcony ledge. Luckily he’s caught and placed back on his two feet by a green haired heroine Green Fury. Teddy is smitten by her. Ron remarks how he definitely has a conversation starter for his date with Hannah that night. “Who?” Teddy says wistfully, watching Green Fury fly away.
When a visitor to the office mistakes Emily for a secretary, asking for parking validation from her, Emily marches into Van’s office. She’s the only Senior Vice President that doesn’t have a real office and people have trouble taking her seriously because of it. Van tells her that there’s no space and to get out. Come to find out, Van sealed off an extra room because he saw a spider in it once. Emily takes the liberty of going and and making her new office. When Jackie tells Van this (“She opened Hell’s Gate?!” he exclaims) he is not pleased.
Van marches in to Emily’s new office where she explains to him HR said she could have it if she cleared out all the spiders. “HR was wrong,” Van tells her, as he had had huge plans to turn it into… a storage room. He tells her she has to get out. As he backs out a plant brushes his head. “Tarantula!” he screams, which got a laugh out of me. With a less adept comedic actor, the line would have been cringe worthy, but Tudy’s physical comedy is top notch.
Emily’s back at her original desk, but she’s pissed. She says Van thinks she’s just going to sit there and watch it go down. “That’s literally what you’re doing right now,” Ron points out. They explain to her what an odd guy Van is. How he won’t let people see him sneeze because he thinks it’s a sign of weakness. How he won’t even kiss Wnedy because he said it’s against company policy. “What a pussy,” she adds, which surprised me. Really? On NBC? Anyway.
Emily is quickly back in Van’s office demanding her office back. She catches him mid game of Green Arrow Darts. He says he hasn’t lost a match in his life, and she wonders aloud who is better. She’s playing into Van’s ego. “If I win, your storage room goes back to being my office,” she tells him. Van accepts.
Meanwhile, Teddy set up a dummy that looks just like him on the balcony edge. His plan? To throw it off the ledge so that Green Fury will return to save “him” and they can fall in love and live happily ever after. Simple, right? Unfortunately while setting it on the ledge Teddy falls over himself and is saved by none other than The Olympian. “You seem disappointed,” The Olympian remarks. “No, whatever, thanks, I’m alive,” Teddy says flatly. “Dick,” The Olympian says as he blasts off from the balcony, which also got a laugh from me.
The team is worried about Emily’s Green Arrow Dart challenge with Van. “You can not beat Van,” Teddy warns. Emily says she’s been playing since she was a kid and is great. Ron offers to rephrase: “You ought not beat Van.” There are bigger things at stake. They show him the Employee of the Month wall in which a plague for every month of the last four years has gone to Van. The one time it didn’t? He fired the girl who did win for taking a croissant from the office kitchen home. It’s bad for all of them if he loses. They implore her to throw this game.
At first Emily takes their advice to heart, losing on purpose. But when Van’s smack talk finally gets under her skin, she turns her skills back on, tying it up quickly at 20 to 20. They’ve fed his ego too long, she is giving him a dose of reality. Her last shot, though, she is slightly off target, and Van hits another bullseye. He wins! Which actually turns out to be good for everyone. Van is in a great mood the next day. He bought new chairs for everyone, brought in donuts, and even gave Emily the office she wanted after all. Everyone got what they wanted. Emily’s still angry, however, saying she would have won if she had been trying hard from the beginning.
When Emily demands a rematch and he refuses, she goes off the deep end, telling him that people have been letting him win his entire life. “Ask Jackie if you’ve really been Employee of the Month for the past four years,” she tells him. Van’s world comes crashing down. On the verge of tears, he demands she get out. Later, the team makes her feel bad. She had her office, Van was happy he won, everything was fine. “You’re the one who eviscerated a grown man because you lost a kid’s game,” Jackie points out. Emily knows she was wrong. She goes back in to Van’s office and apologizes, admitted that he did beat her at the Green Arrow game. They realize they are on the same team and no hard feelings.
Kind of a convenient ending, but hey, it’s not as abrupt an ending as Teddy finally going on a date with Hannah, a thief snatching her purse, Green Fury saving the day, and Teddy denying he was on a date in front of his date. It wasn’t a particularly funny scene and kind of just ended.
Overall, there were a few more laughs than last week thanks to a Van-heavy A-plotline, but the show still feels clunky, character voices undefined, and continuously fails to capitalize on the DC Universe it’s set in.
Season 1, Episode 7 (S01E07)
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