STREAMING SATURDAY: Spoiling “The Power”

Friends, this article will contain spoilers for The Power, which is available on Prime Video.

And let me be clear, I really mean spoilers here. I’m going to talk about the book on which the series is based, and why I’m mad enough to release electricity from my fingertips at this point about both the book and the 9-part series that is available to stream. So, if you are not interested in really knowing what goes on at the end of either, simply stop reading here. In fact, what I’m doing at the moment is just filling this article with words so you will have time to dash away if you don’t want to know how it ends.

The Power: The Book (and the ending)​

I became aware of The Power, oh, it must be five years ago now. It seems like millions of years ago. It was in the late ’10s when it was very popular to show women rising up and fighting oppression. This isn’t a political blog. I’m not going to comment on the causes of that popularity, or its justification. So let’s move on from that. Let’s just take the book for what it is.

The central conceit of the book is that there’s always been some sort of dormant organ in women that turns them into van de Graaf generators. They become able to shoot lightning bolts out of their fingers. The power, as they call it, is first found in teenagers but quickly spreads to women of all ages because it’s possible to transfer it from woman to woman. The underlying science requires you to ignore any common sense, but the book’s a parable. The nuts and bolts don’t matter.

The ensuing chaos is pretty much what you would expect. Since their newfound power gives them the ability to feel equity with men, there’s a lot of commentary about traditional gender roles. Some women use the power to gain political control. Some just use it to become jerks. One in particular thinks the power comes from a supreme being, whom she and she alone can talk to.

Last warning: spoilers ahead​

The end of The Power moves us forward in time to see the long-term sociological implications of women shooting electricity out of their fingers. It turns out, it’s not the Y chromosome that turns people into oppressors of the opposite sex. All you need is an opportunity. In the future, men are the subjugated group, kept from any real political or social power for their own good. The book implies that another revolution may be brewing.

As I said, I don’t want to get into a big discussion here but I will say that I was quite surprised at that ending. Aside from the politics, I think the idea of this sort of flash forward is just a weak way of saying that you don’t have a better way to tie up things with the characters you started with. There are a lot of movies and books that ruin themselves in the last five minutes; this is just one of them.

The Power: The series

Despite my distaste for the ending, I was looking forward to seeing this show on Prime Video. I thought the unconventional casting would be interesting. John Leguizamo, more commonly known for his screwball comedy roles, played the husband of political candidate (and power wielder) Toni Collette. Most of the rest of the cast are relative unknowns, other than Auli’i Cravalho (the voice of Moana) as Leguizamo’s and Collette’s daughter, and Josh Charles, the subject of the next paragraph.

Josh Charles has made a career of playing entitled white males with a mean streak. I mean seriously. He played an entitled white male teen with a mean streak in 1987’s Hairspray. That’s a long career playing characters with one defining trait. Props, as the kids say, for doing what you’re good at. In this case, though he’s especially thinly written. He’s nothing more than a villain with no motivation other than being an entitled white male.

The series does a good job of portraying a lot of the events of the first third of the book, and it adds subplots that seem much more relevant today than when the book was written. I didn’t think I’d like it as much as I did, mostly because of the casting. But I largely did like it.

‘eres wha’ ah’ did’n like, guvnah​

Both the book and the series have a character called Roxy, who grows up as the child of a British gangster. In the book she’s probably my least favorite character. In the series my venom gets turned up to 11, thanks to the overwhelming helping of lower-class British accents used. It seems like anytime Hollywood wants to tell you that a Brit is tough, they saddle the actors with a generic central-English accent full of dropped H’s and slang. Inevitably characters will end sentences with “oy?” for no reason. It’s stiflingly bad in this series and to me it made all those scenes with Roxy and her family just plain unwatchable.

And here’s the worst part​

The series ends after nine episodes. It actually ended after nine episodes about three weeks ago. I kept expecting at least one more episode but no. The last episode is nothing but loose ends. (As I keep saying, spoilers ahead.) Collette’s character inadvertently shocks Charles’ character into a heart attack. (The jerk deserved it but still.) Roxy travels to the US to meet with Eve, the character who thinks she talks to a supreme being, but we don’t know what will happen. Collette’s male kid, who’s fallen in with a cartoonishly written toxic male, has been asked to spy. Leguizamo’s character wants a divorce.

I get the idea of a cliffhanger. I get that you want a second season. But this much business left unfinished is just bad faith. I absolutely cannot believe that season one of this show took all the good will of the first eight episodes and flushed it down the crapper. This show didn’t just ruin itself in the last five minutes. It took a whole hour to ruin itself.

It took me three weeks to realize that that’s all there is, folks. If there is another season, I don’t care. I won’t be watching it. I’m doing them more of a favor than I should just mentioning it in this column.

The Power is, for those who want to torture themselves, available to stream on Prime Video. You’ve been warned.

The post STREAMING SATURDAY: Spoiling “The Power” appeared first on The Solid Signal Blog.

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