A series that craves more depth, but also one that could have benefitted from straying away from the beaten path a tad.
BY JOHN MCDONALD APRIL 5, 2023
It often becomes a struggle to adapt an electrifying novel and turn it into an equally enthralling television series – many have tried and failed and unfortunately, The Power (Amazon Prime) is quickly falling into that group. Naomi Alderman’s 2016 bestseller ‘The Power’ was a ground-breaking novel with fantastic characters and littered with an array of thought-provoking what-ifs. However, perhaps the book's intelligence and daring nature were just a step too far for a series to try and emulate.
Raelle Tucker, Sarah Quintrell, and Alderman herself have adapted the latter’s work into a nine-part series which often flatters to deceive. Right across the world, and without warning, teenage girls begin to develop the power to generate electricity from within and release it from their fingertips. This new power is hereditary and cannot be taken away from them, and it leads to women all over the world banding together to create sparks in history. A revolution starts to evolve, and with that, the men of the planet start to suffer from emasculation and envy, which could lead to catastrophic events that shake up the future of this world.
This globetrotting series follows a variety of characters based in several countries, all of whom have their lives turned upside down by this sparkling discovery. In the US, Allie (Halle Bush) escapes her foster home after killing her abusive foster father, and guided by a god-like voice in her head, sets out on a mystical quest to find herself and reshape history. Also in the US, Margot (Toni Collette) the mayor of Seattle must use all her powers to navigate the political problems that have ensued since the phenomenon occurred. She must also try and help her teenage daughter Jos (Auli’I Cravalho) cultivate her own powers while dealing with the strain that everything has brought onto her marriage with her husband Rob (John Leguizamo).
Over in the UK, Roxy (Ria Zmitrowicz) the illegitimate daughter of feared London mob boss Bernie Monke (Eddie Marsan) is struggling with being left out of the family business and coming to terms with her brand-new power. Tatiana (Zrinka Cvitešić) is the trophy wife of the ruthless Moldovan president and someone who wants to harness the power herself and change the country’s fortunes for the better. And finally, Nigerian video journalist Tunde (Toheeb Jimoh) is offered his dream job working for CNN after posting a video online of an attack on his friend, he must now travel around the world making friends and uncovering truths during this testing time.
The large and impressive cast goes a long way in making this adaptation somewhat watchable, but there are some stronger characters (and performances) than others – Roxy is one of those characters that become a little overbearing and very annoying at times, whereas the others do offer something to proceedings, so far that is. The series suffers massively from being incredibly slow and ponderous, which is completely opposite to the structuring of the book, which was known for being slightly too quick. It is only until the third episode that we actually find out what is going on, and that’s if you haven’t lost interest by then, but the overall pacing is hugely inconsistent and a little bit difficult to comprehend.
The concept is a great one though, the interesting thought of women beginning to control the world with a power that their oppressors (and by that, we mean men, of course) become intimidated by. Ironically, it is the complexity of the woman’s body that causes the shake-up in this male-orientated world for good – it becomes a feminist experiment that’s intent on making its own mark on society and history. The problem is, for all the series' slowness, it fails to expand on the progression of the movement and the characters involved, instead, it skips over things far too quickly, which just seems like a gigantic missed opportunity.
The fact that the series only covers a fraction of the book (roughly about a third) is one of the determining factors as to why it feels so sedated and unhurried. This is a series that craves more depth, but also one that could have benefitted from straying away from the beaten path a tad. It’s almost too loyal to its original source material, and clearly, it became too much of a burden to carry. It leaves you wanting more, which it should because a fictional world where women are the dominant sex is one that attracts a large amount of intrigue.
Unfortunately, the final two episodes were not available at time of review, so let’s hope they offer all the resolution that is needed to make The Power a lot more interesting – and maybe, just maybe, it will be these final episodes that decide whether or not this series gets a second season or not.
*Rating for episodes 1-7 only (Full season consists of 9 episodes)
The Power is streaming weekly on Prime Video