After the uneven pilot, Powers actually settles into a much better groove in its second episode. The theme is simple: missed calls, missed connections and, most importantly, lost opportunities.
The episode picks up immediately after it left off, with Walker asleep on the building roof he jumped off of at the end of the pilot and running into an unexpected fan. Calista, meanwhile, wakes up at Retro Girl’s house, only to discover that, once again, being a superhero isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. Surprisingly, the show skips what many would draw out: Our villain, Johnny Royale, goes public, to the degree of opening a nightclub. The episode ends with Royale making yet another threat, and Walker stuck in the middle.
It’s a talk-heavy episode, but it works because the hints of dry humor that danced around the edges of the pilot really come to the fore in places. Retro Girl (Michelle Forbes), faced with her biggest fan, can do little more than chuckle at the sheer ridiculousness of what’s happening as a teenager geeks out over things she doesn’t really understand; her “old costume” in particular is a clever joke. Royale, meanwhile, really turns into a delicious bad guy; Noah Taylor really enjoys what he’s doing, here, and it shows.
It’s also full of smart touches; for example, the opening of the episode features the Powers Division taking down a hero, mostly through hitting him when he’s not looking and making it clear that supervillains, and heroes, aren’t as strong as they think they are. And Aaron Farb continues to make some pretty amusing jokes about what it’s like to duplicate himself.
Overall, the show’s started moving after the somewhat awkward pilot. That said, there’s stuff I’d like to see as the show progresses: Pilgrim, despite being what you’d think was a fairly important character, still exists mostly to ask questions and react to stuff. But we’ve got eight episodes, and it can’t all be about Walker… right?