Powerless: Sink or swim
At Wayne Security, the team gathers to watch a news report about Atlantis being attacked, days before the annual holiday Sinking Day. Atlantis is the home of the superhero Aquaman but in the Powerless universe, it’s also the where William H. Macy is from. Ron is also from Atlantis, which confuses Emily because she thought he was from Atlanta.
The team tells Emily that she’s just a typical racist white lady for assuming a black guy is from Atlanta, but she counters that she’s half Filipino so she can’t be racist. They all get into a mini-argument over whether they are all a little racist or if they are just bad listeners.
Van tells Emily that sales at Wayne Securities have risen so much that he’s going to ask his dad, Van Sr., to finally give him a promotion to the Gotham offices. Emily is confused. She’s the one who got Wayne Securities to start making new ideas instead of copying whatever Lex Corp does but Van claims that he was the one to hire Emily to make better changes so he should get the credit and the promotion.
Van’s entitled, obnoxious attitude comes to bite him in ass when a representative from Ace Chemicals, Wayne Securities’ biggest client drops by for a visit. Because most super villains are created when they fall into vats of chemicals (Although Ron claims they’re created when they lose the popular vote but somehow win the election, which is a semi-decent Trump burn. I have questions about this throwaway quip: so does this mean that the president in the Powerless and DC TV universe is also Trump? I thought Wonder Woman was the president on Supergirl. Dammit, we never get anything nice!), the R&D team built new security grates to cover Ace’s chemical vats.
The Ace guy is unimpressed; he wanted Wayne Securities to build force fields around the vats. Van berates Emily for dropping the ball but the Ace guy reminds Van that he was the one who was supposed to tell the team. “You wrote back, ‘Sounds good’ and then sent me a GIF of two dogs humping.'”
Van is embarrassed but he shouldn’t be. That Ace guy pronounced GIF like “jif.” That’s the more egregious offense.
Ace Chemicals takes theirs business to Lex Corp, causing Wayne Securities to lose a $75 million client. Emily is pissed at Van, reminding him that the rest of the workplace doesn’t get taken care of by Van Sr. However, when Van Sr. hears about the loss of their biggest client, he is pissed. He tells Van, “You are a turd in my toilet and you can’t even swim” which is an awesome insult and I’m definitely going to use it from now on.
Van Sr. doesn’t even bother with taking away Van’s boat or his trust fund. He just tells Van that he has lost the little respect he had for him. This depresses Van. He tells Emily that she’s lucky her dad is poor and unimportant because she doesn’t have to worry about impressing him. Nevertheless, he wants her help to regain his father’s respect again. Emily is smart enough not to help Van without getting something in return upfront so she negotiates for a promotion and then tells him that all he has to do is find a new client to replace Ace Chemicals.
Meanwhile, Ron and Teddy argue over whether or not Alex, the ridiculously handsome accountant is secretly Charm City’s new superhero. Alex disappears whenever the Olympian is on TV, supporting Ron’s theory. He also has the theory that Bruce Wayne is really the Flash and Stephen Baldwin is Alec Baldwin’s alter-ego.
As expected, Van did nothing useful all day while Emily secured a pitch meeting with representatives from the city of Atlantis. The meeting goes well, but also as expected, Van can’t resist puffing himself up. He claims that he will be throwing a Sinking Day party and Aquaman will be stopping by. The Atlantis people are impressed and ask to come to the nonexistent party.
Emily panics at the thought of putting together a party for a holiday she doesn’t understand and gives Van another lecture about how working at her father’s flower shop, she learned not to make promises that she couldn’t deliver. Good Lord, did Emily work at any place besides her father’s flower shop? She’s senior VP at a major firm now, but she never talks about any other business internships she had.
Anyway, the panic about putting together the party turns out to be for nothing. Besides a few minor details, Emily got everything about Sinking Day right. Ron is too busy with his boring subplot proving that Alex is a superhero but there was a missed writing opportunity to get him involved with the party planning and drop some fun facts about Atlantis.
Van even gets around Aquaman not shopping up by getting each of the Atlantis representatives some very expensive gifts. Everything is going well until Van Sr. drops by. Apparently he heard about the meeting and doesn’t trust Van to close the deal. Van mopes in his office and works on his song about how his father doesn’t love him. Emily gives him a pep talk and tells Van that now he’s shown initiative, he’s just like her father.
“You never speak of your mother. Was she driven to suicide by your stories?” asks Van.
Where is Emily’s mom? Because Emily’s obsession with how perfect and amazing her father is starting to get weird.
Van interrupts his father’s meeting with the Atlantis people and privately tells him to leave. Van Sr. admits that the Atlantis people only want to talk to Van and he’s impressed that Van did all this work. Van closes the deal and now Wayne Securities creaes products for the entire city of Atlantis.
Meanwhile Ron and Teddy continue to argue over whether or not Kyle is a superhero until Wendy hits Kyle with a chair. He goes down and she concludes he can’t be super if he gets taken out so easily. I’m not sure I buy that logic. Superheroes get knocked down physically all the time during fights and a sneak attack with a chair would probably be enough to take even Superman down.
Anyway, Van is happy he got a new client and impressed his dad and with Emily’s help, finishes writing a song about fathers.
Powerless or Powerful?
Oof. This episode was duller than the pilot episode. There was no real conflict–Oh no! Wayne Securities needs a new client! Look, Emily landed a meeting with Atlantis in less than a minute! Oh no! They have to throw a Sinking Party in five minutes without really knowing what it is! That’s okay, it comes together just fine! Oh no! Van Sr. takes over the meeting! It’s okay, the Atlantis people want to deal with Van!–so the plot line of Van finally learning how to take (some) initiative felt unsatisfactory. He didn’t even learn anything on his own; Emily constantly encouraged him to make the right moves. Van is an obnoxious character and Alan Tudyk makes him comedic but for an episode that is supposed to show the man behind the Van, there wasn’t any opportunity for Van to show real character growth because every obstacle in his path was either quickly resolved or taken care of for him by Emily.
Also, the subplot with Alex felt awkwardly shoehorned and never really went anywhere. I was expecting complicated hijinks to catch Alex in the act but they only came up with installing a security camera in the bathroom to catch him changing and Wendy hitting him.
Most Powerful Line
“Van Sr. is on the board of Wayne Industries, a scratch golfer, a devoted husband, and a dedicated lover to several mistresses.” – Van (Alan Tudyk’s character is more annoying than Michael Scott, but I’ll be damned if he doesn’t have good delivery for his obnoxious lines.)