Secret Identity: NBC's POWERLESS Ep 103 'Sinking Day'

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NBC's POWERLESS has coasted to it's third episode, where 'Da Boss' Van Wayne hopes to get Atlantis to sign an agreement with Wayne Securities after losing his firms biggest client Ace Chemicals.

In a very Michael Scott (THE OFFICE) way, Van Wayne continues his incompetence by dropping the ball with Ace Chemical company. When he forgot to forward an important email to Emily, they built something that Ace didn't want; this led them to take their business to LexCorp.

Not wanting to disappoint his father, Van taps Emily for advice. Meanwhile the team tries to figure out if the new guy, Alex, is actually a superhero in disguise.

Once again behind the mask of comedy, POWERLESS, tackles some serious issues while poking fun at society. The comedic wit on POWERLESS is fast-paced and smart. Sometimes it can be hard to keep up with, but timing is so important with comedy. While they're slinging comebacks and one-liners, underneath it all is a commentary on racism. It's part of what makes the show so wonderful. I think it's also part of why some people just can't get into it. It's quick and sometimes you don't appreciate the dialogue until you've seen it a second time because it's easy to miss some of the best stuff.

Take, for example, when Ron mentions that he's from Atlantis, Emily thought he was from Atlanta. Teddy responds: "Classic White person making white person assumptions."

Emily: "I'm half Filipino."
Wendy: "I thought you said you were half Philadelphia?"
Emily: "What the hell is half Philadelphia?"
Wendy: [shrugs]
Teddy: "Let's just agree that we're all racist."
Emily: "We're not racist, we just don't listen to each other."
Wendy: "Filipino's are notoriously bad listeners."
Emily: "What did you just say?"
Wendy: [whispers] "Case in point."

In a scene when they're making a pitch to the representatives of Atlantis, as they're leaving, the Atlanteans, who happen to be white, hold their fists in the air; symbolic of the 'black power' fist. Ron, also from Atlantis, raises his fist in response. Meanwhile Teddy looks at the exchange in awkward silence.

Adding to the commentary on racism, is the fact that the cast is extremely diverse. Ron (Ron Funches) is black, Teddy (Dany Pudi) is Indian, Emily (Vanessa Hudgens) is Filipino, Wendy (Jennie Pearson) is white. Later, Ron tells Emily how 'underwater people' don't like language like 'hooked' or 'reeled 'em in'. Because if they're going to parody racism, why not parallel some offensive language as well?

The episode is sprinkled with commentary about today's world, under the guise of the DC Universe. They don't lose track of where they are, however, as they discuss the greatest generator of supervillains, from being bitten by something to falling into a vat of chemicals. Then Ron delivers this gem:

We don't think he's talking about Lex Luthor.

Alan Tudyk is brilliant in his portrayal of 'out-of-touch' boss Van Wayne. Asking what would appear to be a rhetorical question, when in reality he's seeking an answer. Sending himself a gift basket and playing it off as 'self care'. Making every situation about him and casting aside the wisdom Emily tries sharing from stories about her father. Given his struggle to gain his own father's respect, Emily attempts to lift his spirits when he's down:

Emily: "You put in the work and did something great. Do you know who would've respected the hell out of that? My dad."
Van: "You never speak of your mother, did you drive her to suicide with these stories?"

With every serious message, POWERLESS lightens the mood with zingers and witty one-liners. The show takes satire to another level. From racist undertones, daddy issues, the secret identity of a co-worker and Atlantis, there's so much packed into one episode it's a small miracle that the show is cohesive. The fact that it all works and ties together neatly is a testament of the creative talent behind it all.

Check out this funny segment where Ron, Teddy and Jackie discuss catching Alex in the act of being a superhero. Then, head over to NBC.com to watch the full episode!

 

Grade: 
5.0 / 5.0