Friday, March 31, 2023

REVIEW: 'The Power' - The Development of Powers Changes Jos, Roxy and Allie's Lives in 'A Better Future Is In Your Hands'

Amazon's The Power - Episode 1.01 "A Better Future Is In Your Hands"

Across the world teenage girls are experiencing a strange sensation beneath their collarbones, a tingling in their hands and sudden jolts of electricity sparking from their fingertips. This new power is an agent of both liberation and destruction.

"A Better Future Is In Your Hands" was written by Naomi Alderman and directed by Logan Kibens

Across the world, teenage girls suddenly develop the ability to emit electricity. Despite that, there is really no uniformity across the storytelling. It's odd. The narrative is clearly divided to focus on a select group of characters throughout the planet. It's not contained to one sole environment. That provides the opportunity for many different reactions to occur. However, the pace is so glacial while the experience and confusion are largely the same. It's annoying. Yes, the underlying message about female empowerment is strong. It more than likely will become even more pronounced as the series develops. The story promises a radical shift in societal power dynamics. That's teased through an in media res opening that features flashes of events to come. It's mostly unnecessary. That's annoying too. It doesn't particularly feel like the story is being driven with much purpose. Instead, it's all about this big idea. The execution needs to measure up to that ambition. The stakes are high. So much is promised. The experience isn't uniformly the same. The powers develop at different times. When Jos starts questioning what's happening to her, another girl at her school already has two weeks of experience. They work together to overpower a street light. Sure, that may have unintended consequences of knocking out power elsewhere. However, it's a display of their power. They are now suddenly capable of so much more. They have an answer as to why metal detectors suddenly fail and why people near them suffer from static electricity jolts. Before that, Jos is nothing more than the jaded daughter of the Mayor of Seattle. She views her mother as a hypocrite who doesn't genuinely believe in the issues she supported in order to get elected. Her mother is never given an opportunity to provide an alternative perspective either. Everything is grounded in Jos' perspective. This is happening to her. As such, she gets to be the focal point. That's true in her particular segment of the story. That's only a quarter of the overall episode. Jos shares similarities with Roxy as they are both the daughters of powerful people. Jos lives openly with that experience while Roxy is never acknowledged officially. Set in London, her story is the most outwardly going for laughs. It's a weird tonal whiplash. As such, it's jarring when everything suddenly turns to the brutal murder of her mother. Her family rallies behind her. However, the audience really has no context for why any of this is happening. It's clear and concise when detailing how her emotions fuel her burgeoning powers. That plays out a couple of times. It comes after her father tells her she is too emotional. That's seen as a hindrance to her ability to do the job she wants. She needs comforting afterwards. She seeks support from her family even though they don't always want her around. Part of it comes through the context of gender. But it's also just an extremely exaggerated dynamic that almost comes across as satire. That's confusing.

Meanwhile, Allie's experience with the power is incredibly different than the other teenagers spotlighted. She hears a voice offering her guidance. That provides a sense of narration to the proceedings. That provides a comfort to Allie when she needs it the most. She is traumatized because her foster father is abusing her. Her foster mother is willfully ignorant to it. When Allie retakes her voice, she is immediately silenced for not saying the right things. This couple wants to control what she believes. The voice could be seen as a nurturing presence that allows Allie to come into her own power. It also serves as an explanation for how this evolution occurs. It's just as natural as the existence of an electric eel. Allie seeks out that display of power. It has now become present within her. This is what makes her unique. She uses it to kill her abuser. She takes her power back. She will never submit to his abuse ever again. She doesn't have to. She is strong enough to resist. All it takes is the right push. After that, she's on the run. She survives because of the guidance she receives. That could suggest how the development of these powers is connected in some larger way. This action has to be taken so Allie is available for what comes next. It's so specific to Allie though. As such, it defines her story while leaving everyone else isolated in the wake of these developments. And finally, Tunde is the sole male character to command a central story. That too is unnecessary. It's meant to convey how those without powers react to those who are suddenly capable of so much. But it's mostly about the tragedy he is meant to witness because people lose control. He is eager to get the scoop on this story. His friend has put in the hard work and resources to develop it. She is invited to a compound where women display their powers. When Tunde enters, he spies on these personal moments. His presence is essentially a threat to their existence. They respond accordingly. His friend gets caught in the crossfire. She suffers. It's still all about his personal reaction. Sure, he could very well be a crucial ally who uplifts the voices within this community. That's not the basis for his story. That's not how he is introduced. As such, it's difficult to be reassured about what the narrative is hoping to achieve. His life experiences are different than the stories set in Seattle and London. That's notable. And yet, it's difficult to sell the rationale behind centering him over a woman from this corner of the world. That complexity may come at some point. Right now though, the show is simply too scattered without enough driving purpose to convince the audience that every single development is crucial and building to something greater. It all has to function as an overall piece. Instead, the various stories clash with one another to the point where none can accomplish the necessary momentum to make the big twists resonate.