It takes three hourlong episodes for The Power to finally say the thing that it wants to say — namely that teenage girls have manifested the shocking (ha) ability to electrocute at will.
While some shows do admittedly need three episodes to establish lore and world-building, The Power pretty much takes place in a world like our own, save for that particular quirk. So in order to hammer home the point that young women develop this power because of how much society mistreats them, we have to see nearly three hours of women being mistreated — from workplace microaggressions to sexual assault and everything in between. Nothing about it is subtle, which is the point, but at the same time, being so blatant for so long makes for one drawn-out experience that might just have you going, OK, OK, I get it.
[Ed. note: This post contains spoilers for the first three episodes of Prime Video’s The Power.]
Based on the 2016 novel of the same name, The Power isn’t restricted to just one facet of womanhood. The cast is expansive, showing the different kinds of discrimination that a wide variety of women face. Margot (Toni Collette), the mayor of Seattle, struggles with the double standards placed on women in politics, while Roxy (Ria Zmitrowicz), the illegitimate daughter of a London mob boss, fights off a home invasion that kills her mother. The most painful scenes to watch, however, involve Allie (Halle Bush), a teenage runaway whose powers manifested after her foster father sexually assaulted her. It is important to be reminded that women all over this world suffer, and in various ways. However, having three episodes of women suffering while the plot crawls slowly to a revelation that the audience basically figures out in the middle of the first episode is excruciating. We get it! Do we really need two and a half more hours of women suffering?
Clearly the creators of The Power want the audience to feel just as frustrated as the women in the show. The women know something is up, but they’re being kept in the dark about any information. They’re degraded when they ask for help; they’re villainized when they don’t. Margot learns in the third episode that the government actually knows about what’s going on, but it’s just refusing to do anything about it because it doesn’t want people to panic. (This comes with a comment about how the people who initially warned about COVID-19 became the bad guys, so, once again, not subtle.) Drawing out this period of confusion and aggravation does make sense to some extent. But at a certain point, the show needs to trust that the audience gets what’s going on and knows that the way society treats women is unfair.
After three episodes, though, The Power finally takes off, with the plot aimed somewhere instead of meandering around in circles. Now that the plot is finally locked and loaded, it seems poised to completely smash into the target that is a patriarchal society bent on keeping women down. And it definitely feels like it’s going to do that, because this isn’t a show that is going to leave anything unaddressed. If anything, The Power will purposefully turn over every single stone to make sure that the audience understands what is going on.
And maybe that works for some people who live blissfully unaware of the horrors of the world. But others are well acquainted with the bitter truth that society treats women unfairly and don’t really need more reminders than necessary.
The first three episodes of The Power are now streaming on Prime Video.