Powers was the first original TV show from PlayStation Network, and is based on the eponymous comic book series. It premiered on March 10, 2015, as an online streaming series. The show features human beings, known as “Powers,” who possess special skills that remain hidden until adulthood. It is specifically focused on the main character, Christian Walker, who was once a hero who had the ability to fly and was known as Diamond. In the past, his powers were taken away from him by his mentor Wolfe, after which he became a policeman, currently a member of the LAPD “Powers” Division, which is tasked to deal with the Powers who commit crimes.
Season 1, Episode 1, "Pilot"
The first episode presents a world in which individuals with superpowers are actually known and interact with society. Following a routine stop, a Power escapes and kills Walker’s partner, Stockley, who leaves a son and a wife behind. After the jailbreak disaster, Walker gets assigned to a new partner, Deena Pilgrim. In their first case together, they have to investigate the death of Olympia, another Power and former superhero who was found dead in a hotel room while having sex with a young woman named Calista. Walker and Pilgrim interrogate Calista, but before they can get any information, she is teleported outside the police station by Johnny Royalle, a Power that was believed dead for years.
Walker and Pilgrim then go to the special prison for Powers, called the Shaft, to visit an old friend of Walker, “Big Bad” Wolfe, who was captured and imprisoned by Walker after becoming a criminal. At that time, Wolfe was accused of killing Johnny Royalle, so Walker tries to find out what actually happened. But the conversation does not give him any new information, except that the prisoner repeatedly claims that he can restore Walker’s powers if he gets him out of jail. Later, Walker is able to locate Calista, right in the moment when she is about to jump off a building in a desperate attempt to activate her alleged powers. When she jumps, Walker jumps after her, hoping that his powers come back and allow him to save her. The attempt fails, but before they reach the ground, the superheroine Retro Girl, idolized by Calista, stops the fall and saves both their lives. The episode ends with Walker on the roof, recalling Wolfe’s words and feeling dispossessed of his former powers.
The premiere meets the objective of impacting the audience, generating curiosity about the history of its main characters, and enhancing the visual appearance with a strong dark tone derived from noir novels. Moreover, both the mystery of Diamond’s foregoing powers and the introduction of interesting characters with justified reasons invites us to follow the series plot with the feeling that tensions will soar to either side. The two main characters, Walker and Pilgrim, stand out as attractive and certain, while also the appearances of Retro Girl, Calista, Zora, Krispin, Wolfe, and Johnny Royalle can be highlighted.
Season 1, Episode 2, "Like a Power"
With plenty of dialogues, many humorous moments, and a decidedly lighter tone than the premiere, the second episode reviews the lost and renewed connections between characters, either rookies, experienced, or wannabes. At the opening, the Powers division tries to capture a Power super villain, but Pilgrim fails in her mission and gets frustrated. Walker wakes up on the same roof from the night before, after having slept there. Soon after, he tries to contact Retro Girl, who has taken Calista to her home after rescuing her.
The young woman has been a Retro Girl fan since her childhood, but now that she gets to meet her, she feels disappointed to learn that the Powers life is not as exciting and full of happiness as she thought. On the other hand, some progress within the investigation about Olympia’s death reveals that the cause of death was an overdose of a drug known as “Sway,” which is currently developed by Johnny Royalle and his henchmen. It turns out that Royalle had been using Calista to deliver the drug to Olympia, taking advantage of the young woman’s desire to become a Power. Walker and Pilgrim then go to Retro Girl’s home to interrogate Calista again, but upon their arrival, Calista flees. The detectives return to the Powers division, right in time to see Johnny Royalle, who is there registering his powers. Royalle, who has gone to the police station accompanied by his ally, the replicator Simons, says that he has decided to reveal himself to the public.
Right after, he attends a television talk show to openly tell his story, declaring that he once faked his death because of the rumors that arose about his association with Wolfe. Royalle states that he has come back to help the wayward youth Powers, known as Powerz Kidz, and announces the creation of a youth center for them, which will operate in a popular nightclub. Thus, Calista decides to return to Royalle’s lair, sure that there is no other place for her to go. He lets her stay with him, claiming that he has no desire to hurt her. Later that night, he teleports to Walker’s apartment and threatens him, telling him to stay out of his way.
In general, the performances were funny and memorable throughout the episode, with special attention to Noah Taylor, Sharlto Copley, and Michelle Forbes. While the former is definitely a complicated bad guy who becomes captivating, the last two manage to convey their confusion, the sexual tension between them, and the frustration of being no longer who they were in the past. In addition, there is also time for a friendly rapprochement between Walker and Pilgrim, who begin to develop an interesting relationship, which will undoubtedly be worth seeing across the season.
Season 1, Episode 3, “Mickey Rooney Cries No More”
In this third episode, the superhumans truly start to steal the focus of attention. A Power called Triphammer has created a beam called “Drainer,” which is in experimental stage in the Shaft, an underground prison for criminal Powers. Triphammer works along with Captain Emile Cross in an experiment designed to eliminate hazardous Powers capabilities. But the experiment fails, and the test subject dies as a result.
Triphammer is worried about past failures with similar experiments, but Cross orders him to continue with the testing. In the city, Walker and Pilgrim are investigating the death of Levitation Boy a Power believed to have accidentally fallen over a vehicle. However, Pilgrim says that the boy’s capabilities were limited to just three feet of levitation, which indicates that something else must have happened to bring him down. An autopsy of Levitation Boy reveals that Sway, the same drug that killed Olympia, is responsible for his death.
Walker and Pilgrim then try to trace the source of the drug and discover that it works as a power booster to increase the Powers' capacities temporarily. Levitation Boy had used the drug to fly higher than his limited capabilities, and he died as a result. The chief of detectives then heads to Johnny Royalle’s club, “Here and Gone,” to investigate the distribution of Sway. Retro Girl also appears in the club with Calista, who had returned to her house to apologize for running out. Walker and Pilgrim witness how the Sway is passed around the club, in which Krispin is also present. They find out that the drug is being given away for free, with no money exchange.
Regarding Calista, she wants to be superhuman more than anything in the world. She is convinced that any given day, her powers will finally manifest. But the police are still looking for her, and at one point, Christian and Deena apprehend her at the club, although Johnny Royalle stops them before they take her away. Walker and Retro Girl try to convince her to go with them, but Calista decides to stay there with Royalle. It is not a surprise at all that she chooses to go with Johnny, who has surprisingly been the more honest with her so far. She perceives that Christian and Retro Girl are trying to use her to their own benefit, however Johnny only seems to want to protect her.
As for Wolfe, the epitome of evil chained to the floor, he is still being lobotomized every day to inhibit his powers of regeneration and his counter capabilities to literally devour people and somehow suck their energy. At the end of the episode, he is revealed as the Big Bad of the season, when Royalle teleports to his cell, and is horrified to find him dismembering and eating a doctor who had been practicing regular lobotomies on him. And of course, Wolfe begs Royalle to take him out of there.
Season 1, Episode 4, “Devil In a Garbage Bag”
Walker and Pilgrim receive a call reporting that Wolfe has escaped from his bonds, killing several guards in the process. Royalle urges Wolfe to get out immediately with him, but Wolfe is more interested in killing and punishing those who have tortured him. And as he will not stop his revenge, Royalle is forced to flee alone.
Walker and Pilgrim meet with Triphammer, who shows them his experiments with the Drainer, his invention which can eliminate the Powers' capabilities. The group develops a plan to take Wolfe by force under the device, and therefore neutralize him. Meanwhile, Royalle makes preparations to leave the city, believing that he is no longer safe with Wolfe on the loose. Calista confronts him for his decision and he reveals to her that the Sway is composed of Wolfe’s blood, which he has been taking from him routinely during his visits to the Shaft. Wolfe’s capacity to absorb powers and temporarily increase them is transferred to the drug.
The attempt to capture Wolfe goes wrong and results in the killing of several guards who were trying to stop him. Walker encloses Pilgrim inside a cell to protect her, and faces Wolfe completely alone. He first tries to reason with him to make him give up, but Wolfe is not in the mood to listen. At the same time, Calista convinces Royalle that he cannot just run away. Johnny then decides to return to the Shaft to kill Wolfe, but when he teleports into his cell, he finds that his powers do not work anymore because of the Drainer, which affects him and leaves him trapped inside. Wolfe’s wild and extraordinary powers are the main focus of this episode, in which we actually witness all the havoc and danger that can be triggered by this great villain.
Walker, meanwhile, experiences an emotional breakdown when he confesses the guilt he feels for not killing Wolfe when he had the chance. The dim lighting and lack of clear location in space maintains the suspense until the end, as Walker tries to lure Wolfe under Triphammer’s Drainer. In memorable fight sequences, Walker and Wolfe share strange visions when they touch, and we learned that Wolfe ate Triphammer’s arm and leg, thus leaving him in his current state. As for Retro Girl, she looks conflicted when she has to decide whether or not to participate in the fight, while Zora uses the situation as an opportunity to finally become famous. On the other hand, we get an interesting revelation regarding what Sway actually is, and also we get to see the Drainer in action, which undoubtedly means that a lot of trouble is about to come.
Season 1, Episode 5, "Paint it Black"
The episode begins with a flashback of 1994, when Royalle and Walker were younger and were attending a nightclub for Powers called “The Sanction Lounge.” Christian feels already attracted to Retro Girl, and the feeling is mutual, but they do not know each other yet. Johnny encourages him to go and talk to her, but then Wolfe arrives and starts to give advice to his disciples about the importance of being civilized and responsible with their skills. Nevertheless, shortly after that night at the club, Wolfe loses control of his own powers and kills several people, eating their bodies. Royalle is unsure about what to do, but Walker convinces him that they must capture Wolfe instead of killing him, which will make them heroes.
At present time, Wolfe continues to wreak havoc and gets very angry with Walker when he remembers that he put him in the Shaft. When the two meet, they develop a strange communication between them, in which their eyes glow red and Walker gets into Wolfe’s mind. Their fight is interrupted by Triphammer, who intends to ambush Wolfe, but turns out defeated when Wolfe rips off his bionic arm. Walker and Wolfe then resume their mental struggle, and before Walker can attack again, Zora arrives to join the fight. Retro Girl also shows up to stop Wolfe, having decided to abandon her rescue mission in Florida. The cannibal villain manages to defeat both superheroines, and then Walker uses his distraction to strike back at him. They collide again mentally, and Walker regains his powers, after which he finally manages to beat Wolfe down and throw him under the Drainer. However, when approaching the device, Walker experiences pain and collapses. Royalle then leaves the cell in where he had been trapped, and recovers his powers, which allow him to escape immediately.
Meanwhile, Zora leaves the Shaft and takes the credit for stopping Wolfe. Later, Walker wakes up in the hospital with Retro Girl beside him. Confused with what happened after Wolfe hit her, she tells Walker that Zora saved them all. Walker realizes that he has lost his powers again and supports the lie that Zora was who ultimately defeated Wolfe. Retro Girl cries of repentance for those who she could not save from the hurricane in Florida. Walker comforts her, and she falls asleep in his arms on the hospital bed. Later, Walker opens his eyes, which glow red again, like when he took Sway and faced Wolfe. The real explanation of what happened with Walker and his powers is still somewhat confusing, but knowing that the Sway comes directly from Wolfe’s blood may explain the psychic connection that he and Walker shared when they were fighting. Anyway, we still do not know how Wolfe ate Diamond’s powers in the past. And Walker is still convinced that Wolfe is somehow the key to get those powers back.
Moreover, in some moments between all the intense action, we can see some progress in the relationship between Krispin and Calista. And the flashbacks show us the whole dynamic between Walker and Royalle, both as Wolfe’s disciples and as best friends, along with Wolfe as a charismatic philosopher, and the first flirtations between Christian and Retro Girl. Also, we learn about the heroic acts that led Walker to become famous, contrasted in the present with Zora’s actions and the meaning of heroism.
Season 1, Episode 6, “The Raconteur of the Funeral Circuit”
Wolfe is again locked in a cell which contains the Drainer, and Triphammer visits him at the Shaft. He is interested in studying Wolfe under the influence of his invention, but Wolfe refuses to cooperate. Meanwhile, the Powers division prepares to honor the officers who died in the fight against Wolfe. Pilgrim takes his father to the acts of homage, which are overseen by Captain Cross. Royalle, for his part, decides to end the distribution of Sway after realizing that the drug allowed Walker to regain his powers from Wolfe. Johnny recruits Simons to eliminate the drug traffic, and uses his teleportation abilities to remove the Sway from Simons DNA, seriously hurting the replicator in the process. Meanwhile, another copy of Simons meets with Calista. He gives her the very last capsule of Sway, unbeknownst to Johnny.
In the funeral taking place in the police station, Triphammer shows Walker a second Drainer, which is still in prototype stage. Walker asks Triphammer how the device works, hoping to use it in order to regain his powers. However, Triphammer is skeptical about the results of using the Drainer in that way. Retro Girl also attends the funeral to pay her respects, and Walker reveals that he was the one who defeated Wolfe after temporarily regaining his powers. He also confesses to Retro Girl that he thinks the Drainer is the key to get his powers back. Zora also arrives at the station to give her condolences, but soon leaves when her publicist criticizes her behavior with the grieving families. A drunk Triphammer informs Walker and Retro Girl about the “Black Swan,” an initiative approved by Captain Cross, and this new information makes Walker face the Captain.
Suddenly, a last minute news broadcast shows Wolfe within the Shaft, delivering an exclusive statement. The dangerous criminal claims that with his powers temporarily removed by the Drainer, he has realized the magnitude of his crimes, and asks the authorities to suppress his powers for good. On the other hand, a little part of the episode was also dedicated to delve a little deeper into Pilgrim’s personality, showing us how she had to grow up with a very popular but also very corrupt father. As for the Drainer, we learned that it was built in an attempt to protect the world from some hypothetical apocalyptic Power named “Black Swan.”
But it is also clear that the device may malfunction, or ultimately be proven unreliable. Another of the most interesting parts of this episode is the development of the “Kaotic Chic” organization, created by Krispin, which is made up of fanatics who insist on the potential danger of all Powers. Calista and Krispin have a crisis in their relationship because of their opposing views regarding the Powers, and the last scene undoubtedly arouses suspicion in Walker, who does not believe at all in Wolfe’s repentance.
Season 1, Episode 7, "You Are Not It"
Walker watches a TV report on the consequences of Wolfe’s application to the authorities, asking them to permanently remove his powers. The broadcast also states that Johnny Royalle has expressed interest in meeting with Wolfe. Walker goes to see Royalle to ask him about his plans, but he refuses to tell him why he wants to see Wolfe. Later, Walker meets with Pilgrim, who shows him the second Drainer already up and running, placed in the temporary cell of the Powers division. Walker tells Pilgrim that he needs to meet with Wolfe, and confesses that he still does not understand why Royalle never took Wolfe out of jail when he visited him. They ask Captain Cross for permission, but he refuses to let Walker talk to Wolfe, and also implies that he intends to prevent the meeting between Wolfe and Royalle by any means necessary.
Simons continues his task of confiscating the Sway from the streets, helped by Calista. Again, the replicator encourages the young woman to take the capsule that he gave her, but she says she is not ready to take that risk. Walker and Pilgrim visit Royalle’s club with a search warrant, but they find resistance from Simons, who attacks them. Anyway, they are able to arrest him and throw him under the Drainer, but as Simons loses his powers, his copy who is working with Calista collapses in the street and dies. Calista runs away from the scene and returns with Royalle, telling him that Simons died right in front of her. Royalle then heads to the police station and meets with Simons, who is locked and without his powers, aching for the death of his copy. Johnny’s lawyer takes advantage of the situation, intending to force the judge to allow the meeting between Royalle and Wolfe, as it has been proved that the Drainer can cause damage to the Powers.
Royalle finally meets with Wolfe and tells him about the experiments that he conducted with his blood, which led to the creation of Sway. He reveals that Walker took Sway before facing him, and that allowed him to regain his powers temporarily. With full understanding of the situation, Wolfe tells Royalle that the Drainer occasionally goes out, and when it does, he can feel himself in the blood of many young Powers around the city that have used the drug. Finally, he confesses to Royalle that he wants to escape from prison to hunt down those Powers and consume them. Disgusted with Wolfe, Royalle leaves his cell. Meanwhile, Walker meets again with Captain Cross, insisting that he needs to see Wolfe. Cross agrees this time, and Walker goes to see him. Once in the cell, he asks Wolfe why Royalle visited him without releasing him, but Wolfe dodges the question and asks Walker to help him escape in exchange for helping him to recover his powers. Walker heads to Royalle’s lair and finds Calista, who has finally gathered the courage to take the Sway capsule, but is experiencing the adverse effects of the drug. Walker complains to Royalle about the situation in which he found the young wannabe, and Johnny teleports them both to his secret office.
Meanwhile, in the city, a young Power tries to stop a robbery, but the heist turns out to be a trap from the Kaotic Chic organization. A masked attacker grabs her from behind and slit her throat with a knife. The episode finally reveals the real purpose and effects of Sway, and hints that perhaps Wolfe could somehow be able to take advantage of all the Powers that once consumed the drug. There is also time for a meaningful conversation between Retro Girl and Zora, where the young Power admits that she has taken credit for defeating Wolfe unfairly. Towards the end of the episode, Krispin’s involvement in the murder of Jump Striker, the female Power, is also hinted, and we get to see Calista alive after having taken Sway, which means that, indeed, she has powers.
Season 1, Episode 8, "Aha Shake Heartbreak"
Johnny Royalle has teleported Walker to his secret hideout, where he tells him that he needs his help to kill Wolfe. Johnny also reveals that the source of Sway is Wolfe’s blood, and states that the purpose of its distribution was helping the Powerz Kidz to enhance their powers. Walker says he actually believes that Royalle simply wants to replace Wolfe and replicate his influence over the younger Powers. Royalle replies that Walker is the one who wants to be like Wolfe, and informs him that the Sway only allowed him to borrow Wolfe’s powers for a while without truly regaining his powers during the fight. Walker still refuses to cooperate, so Royalle reveals the real reason that Wolfe has to be killed, which is that he has the ability to absorb powers from anyone who has taken Sway, including Walker and Calista.
Royalle gives Walker 12 hours to decide, otherwise he is going to try to kill Wolfe by himself. Meanwhile, Calista wakes up, apparently affected by the Sway she took, but as she is not dead, she takes this as an evidence that she actually has dormant powers. From there, she tries to activate her abilities in different ways, but Pilgrim arrives at the club and arrests her. Retro Girl visits Triphammer and asks him about his cryptic remarks at the funeral. He reveals that “Black Swan” is just a code name for an eventual global catastrophic event that could happen because of one or more Powers. His experiments with the Drainer intend to be a solution to stop any uncontrollable Power that could cause the destruction of the Earth. Walker investigates the crime scene of the Power whose throat was cut by a member of Kaotic Chic. Later, he meets with Deena, who wants his help to interrogate Calista, since there is evidence in her phone that involves her with Kaotic Chic and Krispin. Moreover, Krispin’s GPS reveals that he is about to attend a charity gala hosted by Retro Girl and Zora. Walker and Pilgrim head there to investigate, but before they arrive, Krispin disrupts a staged fight between Zora and another Power, hired to act as a villain.
In the confusion caused by the interruption, the hired Power accidentally kills Krispin’s mother, who was Zora’s publicist. Walker and Pilgrim arrive just in time to see the consequences, and they find a devastated Krispin, who has lost both of his parents by attacks from Powers. After discovering that the hired Power took Sway, Walker is convinced that Wolfe has to be eliminated. Then, he meets with Royalle and accepts his plan to kill Wolfe. Extreme tragedy, fame and superpowers are the hot message of this episode, which ends up being satisfying and very moving.
Season 1, Episode 9, "Level 13"
Loaded with multiple betrayals and intrigues, this effective and entertaining episode shows us Christian increasingly obsessed with recovering his powers, which ultimately is perceived in some way by his own team and costs him their loss of trust. After agreeing with Royalle to kill Wolfe, Walker meets with Pilgrim. He tells her that Royalle has invited him to a conspiracy to commit murder, and assures her that this is his opportunity to stop Royalle. However, he insists that they must catch him in the act in order to present convincing evidence. Later, Walker talks with Captain Cross and Triphammer, and both note that Royalle needs to be neutralized immediately after being caught infiltrating the Shaft. Walker proposes to lead Royalle into Wolfe’s cell with the Drainer, but Triphammer and Cross and are reluctant to allow Royalle to come close to Wolfe. Anyway, their concern about the “Black Swan” and the possibility that a Power may destroy the Earth forces them to accept Walker’s plan.
Christian then meets with Royalle, and tells him that he informed his partners about their plan to kill Wolfe. Soon after, Royalle goes to the Powers division and compels them to release Calista ASAP. Later, both attend Krispin’s mother's funeral, where Calista tries to comfort Krispin, but when he sees that she has brought Royalle with her, he asks her to leave. Walker meets again with his colleagues to let them know that he is willing to betray Royalle, but in the meantime, he has to make him think that he can trust him. The day appointed for the infiltration, Walker and Royalle penetrate the Shaft and move towards Wolfe’s cell. But suddenly, Royalle deviates from the original plan to release Simons, who is also imprisoned there. Johnny entrusts Simons the mission of wreaking havoc with his copies to distract the guards, and returns with Walker. After entering Wolfe’s cell, Walker betrays Royalle as it was planned and traps him under the Drainer. However, after arresting Royalle, Christian tries to confront Wolfe to recover his powers. That’s when he finds out that Wolfe has been replaced by an impostor, because Walker’s partners did not trust him and they thought he was going to jeopardize the mission from the beginning. Captain Cross and Triphammer, on the other hand, go down to level 13, where the actual Wolfe is being held in a cage with a portable Drainer. But then, Simons kills the guards and Wolfe manages to release himself from the cage. After detecting that Simons has taken Sway, Wolfe consumes his powers, killing him in the process. Right after, he faces Walker, Pilgrim, Triphammer, and Cross, and easily overcomes them with his powers, this time without a bloodshed.
Finally, before leaving level 13 by elevator, Wolfe asks Walker to bring him Royalle, since he needs to talk to both of them. We can also see interesting things about Royalle’s personality, and about the friendship he had in the past with Christian. It is certainly ironic how they both end up betraying each other, and even if Wolfe’s escape is predictable, it still generates intrigue enough to anxiously await the outcome of the season, which surely will bring us the dreaded scenario of “Black Swan.”
Season 1, Episode 10, "F@#K the Big Chiller"
With Wolfe wandering through Los Angeles as a fugitive, trying to find the Powers who have taken Sway, the Powers division is in a state of despair. Zora decides to confront him on the street and even if she plants a good fight, Wolfe is too powerful and overcomes her, although without killing her. Wolfe finally detects a congregation of Powers who have taken Sway inside Royalle’s Club and heads there underground to avoid being followed. When he meets Calista, Wolfe tells her that she is special and wins her trust. Meanwhile, Pilgrim evacuates the Powerz Kidz gathered at the club, but not before Wolfe finds them and manages to simultaneously drain them, killing them and thus becoming an almost invincible Power. Royalle, present in the club, tries to rip Wolfe’s head through teleportation, but fails.
Retro Girl, in turn, faces Wolfe in an aerial battle, but also fails in her attempts to stop him. Walker then attempts to absorb Wolfe’s power, without success. Finally, Christian detonates an explosive Drainer device conveniently located between them, which causes Wolfe to lose his powers and himself to lose any chance to regain his own. Before the explosion, Wolfe manages to pass his powers to Calista through the connection they share via Sway. Deena shoots him repeatedly and then Royalle appears and successfully rips off Wolfe’s head. Right after, Royalle is hailed as the hero of the day and forgiven. Later, we see a recovered Retro Girl and Zora still in hospital, but stable and with a good prognosis. Krispin and his friend seem to be conspiring via Internet, and then, the unthinkable happens: Walker is called to a murder scene while he is visiting Zora at the hospital. When he reaches the place, he finds Retro Girl with her throat slit, and the words Kaotic Chic painted all over the scene. At the end, Calista is located in the same roof from the pilot episode, and jumps again. But this time, her eyes glow red and she gets to fly, finally activating her powers.
Having come to know the character of Retro Girl, with her emotions, motivations, strengths and weaknesses, the sadness of her loss is inevitable, even if it also represents an excellent excuse for next season’s plot. Also, we will miss the great moments of action related to Wolfe, undoubtedly a powerful and attractive villain who caused us terror, as well as the interaction between Wolfe, Royalle, and Walker, who gave us amazing moments together. Moreover, the transfer of powers between Wolfe and Calista was unclear, preventing us from knowing whether she absorbed his powers or she had her own dormant powers that finally awakened. And without a doubt, the biggest regret from this season is Walker’s apparently permanent loss of powers, since we saw him fight for this retrieval throughout the 10 episodes. But here is hoping that his grief over Retro Girl’s death triggers an emotional motivation for him during next season, in which would also be good to see more scenes between him and Pilgrim and some development in their relationship.