Powerless S01E09: “Emergency Punch-Up”
Last week on Powerless, Emily (Vanessa Hudgens) enlisted Green Fury (Natalie Morales) to help her impress the Wayne Security Board while Teddy (Danny Pudi) writhed in jealousy. Meanwhile, Wendy (Jennie Pierson) hung out with Jackie’s (Christina Kirk) daughter after she was suspended from school.
This week on Powerless, Emily, Jackie, Wendy, Ron (Ron Funches), Teddy, and Van were prevented from leaving the Wayne Security building (and having fun at a retreat) when a supervillain attack engulfed Charm City. Meanwhile, Van tried to score conversation points by hiring joke writers so he can easily mock people, much to Jackie’s dismay.
This week’s episode was supposed to air before “Van v. Emily: Dawn of Justice” and therefore before Green Fury’s arc (answering the question some viewers may have had: “Why isn’t Green Fury able to help our heroes?”), and was pushed back due to current events.
This episode was a classic example of a bottle episode. Instead of relying on outside characters or crazy settings to drive the plot (which, don’t get me wrong, are not bad things), bottle episodes depend on existing sets and character relationships. Although this episode did introduce a couple new characters to the Powerless universe, the only new characters that actually appeared on screen were not there for more than a couple minutes, and it was clear that they would likely stay minor characters if they reappeared at all.
Themes in this episode of Powerless:
Theme-wise, “Emergency Punch-Up” focused on how Emily feels like she has to try to be the “responsible adult”/”mom friend” in Wayne Security. This need causes her to stretch herself to a breaking point, exacerbated by being trapped in the office when she was expecting to get a vacation. It’s also exacerbated by the fact that no one else seems to want to do the responsible thing. It’s not like Van is going to step up: he’s too obsessed with being praised to actually make any changes yet too uninterested about what his workers actually need to help them. Both Jackie and Teddy need to be the most cynical person in the room (though there are piles of evidence Jackie’s core competence rivals Emily’s, including some spoilery evidence that happens in this episode), and can’t be bothered with other people’s needs. Wendy is a bit of a cloud cuckoo lander, and incredibly selfish. Ron doesn’t seem to have disqualifying character flaws, but we know from an earlier episode that he’s a pushover and that his coworkers are far too quick to try to push him over.
However, despite their flaws, they can change for the better. This episode does lead the remainder of the main cast to realize that they need Emily to be the adult in the room since, without her, nothing will get done effectively. Without giving too much away, the main cast compromises by doing something they would rather not do so Emily will agree to be on their side again. The realization that they need Emily has significantly higher stakes than said realization would have in a “normal” sitcom, but that’s what makes Powerless so charming.
Powerless airs Thursday nights at 8:30/7:30 central on NBC.
Images courtesy of NBC.