Sunday, June 16, 2024

‘The Power’ season 1 review: An electrifying feminist sci-fi thriller with potential

John Leguizamo as Rob Lopez and Toni Collette as Margot Cleary in ‘The Power’

John Leguizamo as Rob Lopez and Toni Collette as Margot Cleary in ‘The Power’
| Photo Credit: Prime Video

Teenage girls are given the power to electrocute at will in a man’s world. What could go wrong? Microwaves are being set on fire, cities are being engulfed in darkness, planes are falling from the sky and men are dying as Olivia Rodrigo’s ‘Brutal’ bursts in the background.

In 2016, Naomi Alderman won the Women’s Prize for Fiction for her dystopian novel The Power, with many critics hailing the book as our generation’s The Handmaid’s Tale. One glaring difference between the two is that Naomi’s vision of the future is built far from the gloom of patriarchy; it is electrifying. 

The Power episodes 1-3 (English)

Writers: Sarah Quintrell, Claire Wilson, Naomi Alderman

Cast: Toni Collette, John Leguizamo, Auli’i Cravalho, Toheeb Jimoh, Josh Charles, Eddie Marsan, Ria Zmitrowicz, Zrinka Cvitešić, Halle Bush.

Runtime: 48-52 minutes

Storyline: Teenage girls suddenly and mysteriously develop a special power that allows them to electrocute people at will.

In a distant future, adolescent girls around the world have their lives upended when they come to realise their power to electrocute at will and it is the “bad” ones who get it first — Cockney Roxy (Ria Zmitrowicz), the hot-headed daughter of a Bernie Monke (Eddie Marson), a gangster in London; Jos Cleary-Lopez (Auli’l Cravalho), the disgruntled daughter of Mayor Margot Cleary-Lopez (Toni Collette) who despises her mother’s job; Allie (Halle Bush), a kid suffering abuse at the hands of her foster parent whose actions of kindness get misconstrued by people around her. The trio hold the first three episodes together with Mayor Cleary-Lopez and Tatiana Moskalev (Zrinka Cvitešić), the wife of a Moldovian dictator, essaying the roles of older women who still struggle to fit into the patriarchal world. The actors are in top form and hit the nail on the head with their performances. 

What starts as minuscule sparks at the girls’ fingertips soon morphs into thunderous flashes of lightning and fire. Across the globe, from Nigeria to America, women seem to have the world at their fingertips, literally. Their response to this discovery makes for electric storytelling which is occasionally dampened by the pace of the show. 

However, The Power has its feminist gaze intact and the only two male protagonists — John Leguizamo as Rob Lopez and Toheeb Jimoh of Ted Lasso fame as Tunde — play roles of stereotypical men who support the women in their lives. While one might roll their eyes at their character sketches, the actors are successful in making them feel real and convincing.

In fantasy stories, teenage girls are often bestowed with powers that have to do with their minds — be it the telekinesis in Carrie or Matilda — powers that cannot be seen or anticipated. This reinforces the notion that women cannot be the physically stronger sex in a made-up fantasy world. However, watching teens wield tangible physical superpowers on the screen is a welcome change and adds value to the gender critique the show is aiming to work up through the episodes.

While one might find the stereotypes a little overdone, it remains to be seen if the creators leave enough space for the characters to break free from the shackles of age-old storytelling devices.

The Power is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video

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