Powerless: No means no!

It’s cold season in Charm City! No, it’s not the season where everyone passes viral infections to each other. It’s when all the ice-theme superheroes–Mr. Freeze, Killer Frost, Captain Cold, etc–come to town and ruin the weather. Emily insists that as a Midwesterner, she can handle the frost. And cue an ice themed supervillain freezing and breaking the office windows so Emily gets cold and admits she’s wrong.

That seems to be a common way that these cold opens (no pun intended) start. I love learning about the quirky universe of Powerless but even five episodes in, it’s getting a little tiring that set up is always Emily does something, her co-workers tell her she’s wrong, she insists she’s right, but then eats crow as her cynical co-workers shake their heads in amusement. It’s getting repetitive.

“And it’s very cold-hearted! Get it? ‘Cold-hearted’?”

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Emily tells the gang she has exciting news, which they are all immeadiately skeptical of. Emily is pretty basic and thus, her “exciting news” is usually basic as well. For future reference, Emily thinks finding conflict-free hummus, being mistaken for an Anthropologie employee, and getting retweeted by Lena Dunham is exciting. I take back what I said about the cold openings needing to be less harsh on Emily. Her basic-ness must be punished in some way.

Anyway, this time Emily does have intriguing news. Wayne Corp is holding an innovation contest and the winner gets a prize of $100,000. As usual, the team is apathetic. In this case, they actually have a real reason to be. People from Wayne X, the top super secret division of Wayne Corp, always win the prize. Two Wayne X-ers mock the security team for being “nobodies” and leave. Did they just come down to the securities floor in hopes of overhearing someone talking about the contest so they could mock them?

Well, look at these guys. I guess they take their punches where they can.

Emily wants to enter Teddy’s heated gloves into the innovation contest, but he refuses. She uses reverse psychology on him, claiming that he’s not as good as he thinks is–just like The Hobbit movies. Teddy is outraged at the comparison and agrees to enter the contest. They put some finishing touches on his gloves, which by the way would really be a cool invention to have in real life. But if we’re afraid of our phones exploding, I don’t think gloves that can heat up popcorn and defrost car doors will be made.

Emily congratulates Teddy and tells him that he will prove that Wayne Securities is not irrelevant. This causes Teddy to panic and insists the gloves aren’t ready for the contest. After the Wayne X-ers come down to deliver some more badly executed zingers, Emily decides to secretly submit Teddy for the contest anyway.

Why is she so obsessed with impressing these losers again?

When Jackie finds out what Emily did, she tells Emily that she just made a huge mistake. Teddy once entered a silly contest to redesign the Wayne Corp logo, drove himself crazy, and when he lost, he went on a tragic bender. He started wearing cargo shorts, got an AOL email address, and spent all of his vacation days in Tampa. Emily doesn’t believe the contest will have that much of an effect on Teddy so she tells him. He freaks out so Emily lies that he is a finalist. Teddy does a total 180 and gets very excited about the possibility of winning. Emily realizes she’s made a huge mistake.

“Maybe they’ll give out participation trophies at this thing.”

Meanwhile, Van is going on a trip with his girlfriend and needs an office drone to put a toy model for his girlfriend’s kid.  The task falls to Ron, but only it’s because he’s the only one who can’t say no. Wendy encourages Ron to stand up for himself, but Ron insists it’s no big deal to put together a toy. However, the toy in question is a model of Wonder Woman’s invisible jet and yes, the parts are invisible too.

Still, Ron gets the job done and is about to leave work to go play in the snow but then Van orders him to assemble more jets for the kid’s friends. Ron finally says no to Van but he does it in the form of an epic blowup via Skype.

“I’m fired, aren’t I?”

The Wayne X-ers smugly inform Emily that they won and Emily goes to Teddy’s apartment to deliver the news. Too bad his parents and super successful brother are also there to hear that Teddy is a loser.  Now it’s obvious why Teddy goes into tailspins when he loses: he’s always in the shadow of his super handsome astronaut/doctor brother and can’t take anymore disappointment. I wouldn’t say that Teddy’s brother’s life is perfect. Apparently, the President calls him all the time for friendly chats and if Donald Trump is the president in this universe, I will say that must not be as cool as it sounds.

“I saw you’re following The New York Times on Twitter. What’s up with that?”

At work, Teddy doesn’t seem too devastated about the contest loss but when Emily asks for his help to redesign a product package, he declares that Wayne Corp is a garbage company and doesn’t deserve his expertise. Emily shows Teddy the winning entry–an extremely lifelike and handsome robot that belongs on Westworld or something–in hopes of making him realize that his entry was great but not good enough.

I have no idea how showing a guy who’s already angry about losing that other people are way better than him is supposed to help. I don’t think Emily has that whole “cheering people” up thing figured out.

She and Teddy get into a fight where she calls him a sore loser (true) and he accuses her of making him enter the contest for her own selfish reasons (also true). Their fight gets interrupted by Crimson Fox, who tries to urge them to run away from an incoming ice villain. However, she gets frozen herself.

Luckily, Teddy has his heating gloves and uses them to defrost the Fox. Emily apologizes and admits the Wayne X-ers made her feel insecure and she used Teddy to try to fix it. Teddy reveals he always feels like a nobody every time he talks to his parents and hates being compared to his more successful sibling. Emily tries to relate, claiming that she’s seen how hard it is for her dogwalker sister to live in her shadow.

“You really have no idea how this comforting people thing works, do you?”

Crimson Fox gets defrosted and asks to keep Teddy’s gloves to fight crime. This cheers Teddy up immensely. He didn’t win the contest but a superhero is using something he built and it even gets publicized on the local news.

Ron and Van also make up. Ron apologizes for yelling and says that he can find a way to say no and still be a nice person. Van claims that he asked Ron to build the toys because Van never learned how and always wanted to build a tree house with his dad. Ron offers to build one for him and it turns out Van only wants a tree house to give it to his girlfriend’s kid.

I guess the moral of the story is, that if you tell people “no”, they’re going to go ahead and do what they want anyway or secretly manipulate you into doing what they want and you still have to apologize to them.

Whoa, that’s a little bleak for an NBC comedy.

Most Powerful Line

“There’s fucking kernels in the fucking bag!” — Teddy, on his heat gloves not properly heating up a bag of popcorn. I don’t know what I love more: his panicked tone or the unexpected F-bombs.

Powerless or Powerful?

Despite my griping, this was another solid episode. The jokes weren’t as funny but I liked the way the writers are blending the superhero elements and the workplace comedy. Like the previous episode, they seem to be using the world of Charm City to affect the workplace hijinks of the week instead of keeping those elements separate.

Fun With Screencaps!

We got to see a shot of the different time zones in the DC universe.

I can’t tell analog clocks very well but it looks to me that Atlantis is only one hour ahead of Gotham and Metropolis. Does that feel right?

Susan Velazquez

Susan is a recent college grad and writer who enjoys all things from the 1980s, snarking on dumb television, and reveling in celebrity gossip. Oh, and she has serious interests like reading historical fiction, getting involved in social issues, and consuming French fries.

TV Show: Powerless

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  • Thomas Stockel

    Well, if Atlantis is in the Atlantic Ocean that time places it in the same zone as Bermuda, so if Atlantis was in the Bermuda Triangle I guess that would work. But I’m not sure where Atlantis is in the DCU, though.

  • It’s possible Lex Luthor is president again in this universe so…not really sure if that’s all that better though.

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