The Power is our world, but for one twist of nature. Suddenly, and without warning, teenage girls develop the power to electrocute people at will.
Cast: Toni Collette, John Leguizamo, Auli’i Cravalho, Toheeb Jimoh, Josh Charles, Eddie Marsan, Ria Zmitrowicz, Zrinka Cvitesic, Halle Bush
Episodes Watched: 7 of 9
Format: Three episodes at the premiere, and then six episodes weekly afterwards
Directors: Ugla Hauksdóttir, Lisa Gunning, Logan Kibens, Neasa Hardiman, Shannon Murphy
Writers: Naomi Alderman (based on the novel by), Michelle Hsu, Sarah Quintrell, Raelle Tucket, Claire Wilson, Brennan Elizabeth Peters, Sue Chang, Stacy Osei-Kuffour
Developed by: Raelle Tucker, Naomi Alderman, Sarah Quintrell
There’s a scene halfway through The Power’s first season that features a powerful uprising in Saudi Arabia by a group of women who now have the ability to stand up to the men in their country. It’s a powerful scene, blunt in its execution but knowing there’s no need to subtly, which is where The Power may lose some viewers. This isn’t a show looking to explore its themes nuancedly- it doesn’t need to. And if you find the recent adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale to be “too preachy,” you may fall into the same issues with The Power.
The first season follows five female characters and one male in a changing world in which young girls around the world suddenly get the power to emit electricity out of their bodies. Jos (Auli’i Cravalho) and her mother and Mayor of Seattle, Margot (Toni Collette), deal with the changes in a big city; Roxy (Ria Zmitrowicz) seeks revenge and control with her new abilities in London; Tatiana (Zrinka Cvitesic), the wife of the Moldovan President; Allie (Halle Bush) uses her powers to escape an abusive household and join a group of outcasts nuns. And then there’s Tunde (Joheeb Jimoh, Ted Lasso), a young vlogger/journalist balancing his naive desire to document the events and help while also coming to terms with his place of privilege within the world. There’s a wide-spectrum cast with these characters, and their perspectives offer a different insight into countries worldwide as this global change is affecting everyone. Other than Jos and Margot, you only see characters interact with one another if they see each other on social media or the news, making the Jos/Margot sections feel like the lead arc for the series.
Even with the amount of character and globe-trotting in The Power, the show never feels bloated. I haven’t read the novel by Naomi Alderman, on which the series is based, but the show certainly doesn’t feel like it’s rushing through the book. There’s plenty of room saved for building each of these characters out and introducing dilemmas surrounding their new powers. While someone like Jos and Margot is portrayed as women leading the charge to protect women’s rights and all the allegories that bring up, someone like Roxy is left in a grey area, a character with powers and a rage that may make her go down a dark road if she’s not careful. Allie is bound for an intriguing arc as the only character whose powers also brought on a voice inside her head (Adina Porter) that she begins to accept as god talking to her.
As the global power balance begins to shift, the series builds up to a fantastic monologue by Collette concerning the government’s desire to control and muzzle these girls’ powers, just another example of control put on women’s bodies by men for history. But this time, women around the globe can fight back. But with both political and social enemies in the way of misogynistic leaders and an incel leading content creator looking to arm men to take back their “rightful place” on top, there’s a slow build of tension in the background throughout the majority of the season knowing something is going to blow-over eventually.
In a year that’s seen transgender rights challenged loudly through the actions of politicians and once-popular children’s authors, The Power, thankfully, doesn’t spout TERF nonsense. There’s representation here with a transgender Nun and an intersex character introduced in the latter half of the series. Still, there is an element of the series’ premise that leaves plenty of room for exploring the topic of gender in a more nuanced way.
With solid performances from veteran actors such as Collette, John Leguizamo and Eddie Marsan paired with the young cast, The Power has created a strong ensemble cast with intriguing characters whose stories I can’t wait to watch continue in a hopeful second season. I have my guesses on who will use their powers for nothing but good, but I also fear it’ll corrupt more than a few, making for an even more exciting story.
The Power premieres on March 31st, with episodes 1-3 available to stream on Prime Video. New episodes will release weekly afterwards. Sign up for Prime Video now.