Powerless 1×03 Review: “Sinking Day”

Here we go again.

What an ominous way to start a review, isn’t it? But that’s pretty much how I felt as I sat down to watch the third episode of the show’s season – kind of like: okay, let’s get this over with.

Not a ringing endorsement, I know.

The problem with “Sinking Day,” no, the problem with Powerless in general, is that even when it makes you laugh – and they do manage it at times – they still don’t make you feel.

Feel what, you ask? Anything, really. Any amusement one might feel is short-lived, because there’s no attachment to anything or anyone. We don’t want to be like Emily, we think Teddy’s an ass, Jackie comes off as more mean than quirky, Ron’s not as funny as he thinks he is, and Van is just …there, bumbling around in what I assume is supposed to be a charming way.

This episode, they even manage to be offensive while trying to be edgy, which proves that Powerless just doesn’t have it in them to be that. They’re meant to be the light, fun show that you can watch for the laughs and the fun references to superheroes, not the type of comedy that can play on stereotypes and come out looking smart.

Which is a damn shame because, from the original Pilot, I was convinced Powerless could do both, while also providing us with the female heroine we needed, no, the one we deserved.

The issue is not with the acting – Vanessa Hudgens brings an earnestness to the role that’s refreshing, and she has great comedic timing, she just doesn’t have the best lines. Alan Tudyk is a genius who’s woefully underused in this, and even when the show does manage to pull of fun gags with Teddy, Jackie, Ron and Wendy, the resolution always seems to go to the exact place the audience was expecting it to go.

And three episodes in, that continues to be Powerless’ biggest problem. It never takes a chance; it never goes for the unexpected, not in characterization, not in the jokes, not in plot. It’s all very carefully designed to be funny, and though that means that, inevitably, the show is funny at times, it also means it’s not endearing or relatable.

Viewers have gotten smarter. They want more than the superficial, expected joke. They want their comedies to have heart, to speak to the human experience, to be relatable.

Can Powerless ever be that? At this point, it seems hopeless to ask for more. Can it at least be entertaining and fun? Hopefully. Because, so far, it seems like people are not connecting to it, and as much as I haven’t loved the execution, I still love the idea and I think it’s a damn tragedy that we’re close to losing a female-led comedy that had the potential to be the best new show this year.

So, for Vanessa, for the possibilities, I’m still gonna be watching. But you’re dangerously close to losing me, Powerless. Make me care about something.


Best Quotes:

  • Emily: “Brendan Fraser?” Van: “He’s revered in Atlantis for some reason…”
  • Ron: “I’m from Atlantis.” Emily: “I thought you said you were from Atlanta.” Ron: “No, that’s Donald Glover, and it might be racist that you heard that.”
  • Van: “You never speak of your mother. Did you drive her to suicide with these stories?”

Fun Easter Eggs:

  • Do people really think Bruce Wayne could be The Flash or is that just a fun thing to throw around? Because, if so, DCTV universe people and I need to have a LONG talk about common sense and deductive reasoning.
  • The election jokes! The election jokes! In this case, would Hillary be the supervillain or Trump? Because I’m not saying he’s looking more like the answer, but he kinda is.

What about you? Do you love the show? Hate it? Share with us in the comments below!

Powerless airs Thursdays at 8:30/7:30c on NBC.

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