POWERLESS: Will it “Wayne or Lose”?

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Season 1, Episode 1: “Wayne or Lose”
Written by Ben Queen
Directed by Michael Patrick Jann

[All photos courtesy NBC Universal]

Just a note, since this is the pilot, the recap will be longer and a bit more detailed than normal. (I have to introduce a lot of characters and settings. You’re welcome.)

Welcome to Charm City.

We meet Emily Locke (Vanessa Hudgens), on her first day at work for Wayne Security, a division of Wayne Enterprises.  She witnesses a battle between the superhero Crimson Fox and the super villain Jack-O-Lantern. Luckily the train she is on is saved by Crimson Fox (Atlin Mitchell).

Emily goes on a tour of Wayne Security.

Arriving at work, Emily meets her new boss, Van Wayne (Alan Tudyk). He’s Bruce Wayne’s cousin. Emily, as the new director of R&D, has been charged with turning Wayne Security around.  Emily is then introduced to her team. Teddy (Danny Pudi), Wendy (Jenni Pierson) and Ron (Ron Funches).

Welcome to the team. Now inspire them.

Wendy built a device to detect when Emily is near. The team’s ideas have been turned down so much, they no longer want to try.

Van calls a meeting. Everyone is fired, the division is being closed. In a world full of superheroes, the products are “Powerless.” Van, however, is failing up. He’s going back to corporate.

You’re all fired.

Emily tells the team they have one chance to save their jobs.

She talks with Jackie (Christina Kirk), Van’s assistant. During the chat, she get’s inspired to create something new. She gets the team working on something that may save their jobs.

The next day, they show the product to Van. It works! Van acquiesces and says he’ll take the product to Bruce.

Terrible news. Van won’t be going to Gotham as the division will stay open. Bruce loved the device, putting it in Beta. Van blames Emily, but she’s happy.

The team celebrates victory.

The team celebrates at a bar. On the TV, they hear a report that Gotham PD has finally apprehended The Joker. Batman found him using a device, sounds a lot like what they just made…

Analysis:

So a new show to add to the DC Universe of shows. This show, however, has no relation to Fox’s Gotham (which is a good thing) or the CW DC shows (kinda of a bad thing). This show has to stand on its own! The show runners, at the winter press tour, have told us this takes place on Earth-P.

I wonder how many superhero references we’ll get. In this episode alone, we get mentions of Batman and Superman. If there were some others, let us know in the comments section.

It’s a pretty straight forward introductory plot; we get introduced to our main cast of characters, our setting, etc.

Charm City is a brand new DC Universe city. It has never been used before, so location is questionable. If it has shipping docks, then it might be East Coast, otherwise, my guess is somewhere around Ohio. Maybe they’ll let us know in a future episode.

I loved the “fly-over state” reference. Being in one of those states myself, I’m sure that’s the only way I’d ever see a superhero if I was on a planet with them.

Crimson Fox is a long-time DC Universe hero, but this version is different. The Crimson Fox of the comics had pheromone powers that would cause men to be super attracted to her, super speed and agility and steel talon gloves. This Fox has some flight and super strength and a deep red costume.

Jack-O-Lantern is questionable. There has been a super hero in the DC Universe called Jack O’Lantern. The descriptions of the character that appeared in DC Comics bears little resemblance to the character that is portrayed in Powerless. I think it’s likely that they just used the name for the character and not the character itself same way they made Crimson Fox a different character than her DC Universe origin. It will be interesting to see if that’s a trend.

Now let’s talk about our team. Emily is the hopeful Pollyanna type of character, full of wonder and hope. Vannessa Hudgens is very good in this role. She makes me smile with her sense of optimism.

We also meet Teddy (Danny Pudi), Chief Design Officer. He…disrupts. Trying to think of new ways to use things. Wendy (Jenni Pierson), Lead Software Engineer, and Ron (Ron Funches), Head of Engineering and “Chief of Child-like Wonder”. All the actors worked well together. I particularly liked Ron Funches’ character. I think he’s described by Teddy accurately as he tees off on that Lexcorp product with glee.

Alan Tudyk’s Van Wayne was very good. Very smug, clueless and self-important. No wonder Bruce doesn’t want him in Gotham.

He’s a big picture guy.

I liked that the key to their dilemma was with Emily all along. Wendy had half of the answer, but it took Emily’s spark of inspiration to focus it.

I see they made some use of the original pilot in setting up the story. You get a very brief view of what would have been the setting of Ret-Con insurance. I was very unsure about this show when I heard they pushed the big reset button, but after seeing this episode I think it might have been a good idea.

I also thought the title sequence, with its use of classic comic book covers, was very impressive and fun. The theme music was fitting. Big and pompus on the full picture and then small when it focused on the actor’s title card.

The only real problem I had with the whole show is the special effects used during the Crimson Fox/Jack-O-Lantern battle. It was a bit third rate, probably due to the budget, so I won’t ding Powerless too much on this point.

So, what do you think? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts on the episode.

 

Powerless airs Thursday at 8:30/7:30 Central on NBC. It can also be found on Hulu, and NBC.com. For more information, visit the official website.

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Thomas Townley

Thomas spends hours playing games, reading books and comic books and watching genre tv. You should too.

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