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TV Review: Toni Collette’s The Power is a Passionate, Intense Sci-fi-driven Television Drama Series That Celebrates Women’s Authority

Captivatingly intertwining the intimate nature of characters’ personal and professional agendas with the sweeping, radical national political movements that are intricately chronicled in books for television can at times be an arduous task. But Prime Video‘s new sci-fi show, The Power, offers an effortless, freeing examination into how the world would change if girls and women were suddenly granted the titular authority.

The Power is the television series adaptation of author Naomi Alderman’s acclaimed 2016 sci-fi novel of the same name. The writer developed the show with Raelle Tucker and Sarah Quintrell, and also scribed the initial episode of the series’ current first season.

The Power features an ensemble group of characters that’s led by Margot Cleary-Lopez (Toni Collette), the mayor of Seattle and a mother of three. She must deal with the personal and political ramifications of the phenomenon as her angst-ridden daughter, Jos (Auli’i Cravalho), develops her power and the world begins to realize that there’s a potential revolution that may soon begin.

Meanwhile, the selectively mute Allie (Halle Bush) is on the run from South Carolina after she killed her abusive foster father. Then, guided by an internal voice, she embarks on a spiritual quest during which she’s given sanctuary with a group of rebel nuns, who inspire her to remake religion.

Internationally, Roxy (Ria Zmitrowicz) is the illegitimate, neglected daughter of the infamous, London-based crime boss, Bernie Monke (Eddie Marsan). She has always been ignored by her father in favor of his sons, despite being twice as capable as her brothers, even before she developed her power. She not only wants to be given power within her family, but also revenge after her mother is murdered by gangsters.

Tatiana (Zrinka Cvitešić), meanwhile, is the wife of a brutal eastern European dictator. She not only wants to harness her own power, but also the power of other women, as the spread of the ability starts to transform her country.

In Nigeria, after exploiting a female colleague’s early awareness of the phenomenon, journalist Tunde (Toheeb Jimoh) is  offered a job with CNN. As a result, she begins traveling around the world as the new order’s most avid chronicler.

The stories of the distant, but equally disparate, characters are intertwined throughout the drama’s first season. The show expands the novel’s story beyond its essential characters, including Margot’s husband, Rob (John Leguizamo), and Jos. While the characters are all contending with their own personal dilemmas, the world as a whole is also grapple with the teenage girls developing the power to electrocute people at will.

While The Power is a stunningly emotional character study and examination into the personal and professional lives of its main protagonists, the overall story truly thrives when it focuses on the young girls as they realize they’ve been unexpectedly granted their superpowers. The teens are unique, fully developed characters who learn how to wield their power a bit differently, whether they’re using their electricity to their own benefit or to help improve and protect humanity.

Allie’s arc throughout the series’ first season is the most gripping and engaging, particularly through her inner-monologues (which are voiced by Adina Porter). Bush shines as she highlights Allie’s newfound calling to becoming prophet, under the influence by the nuns who have taken her in and begun caring for her.

The Power is a thought-provoking reflection on the dynamics of gender equality in countries around the world in contemporary times. The intense, thorough development of the drama’s adolescent girls, particularly as they learn how to wield their newfound power, helps contemplate how society would contend with an overhaul of the patriarchal order.

Bush gives a star-making performance as Allie, who fearlessly helps lead the fight against government officials who start banning the use of the girls’ power. Under the guidance of the actress’ gripping performance, the television show capture the book’s feminist-supporting message that if girls and women were suddenly granted the titular authority, they can help improve the world’s governments and society as a whole.

The first three episodes of The Power‘s current nine-episode first season are currently streaming on Prime Video. The remaining six episodes will premiere every Friday, until the season finale debuts on May 12.

Grade: B+

Check out more of Karen Benardello’s articles.

Karen Benardello
Karen Benardello
As a life-long fan of films and television shows, and an endless passion for writing, Karen Benardello decided to combine the two for a career. She graduated from New York's LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic in 2008. Karen has since been working in the press in New York City, including interviewing film and television casts and crews, writing movie and television news articles and reviewing films and televisions series. Some of her highlights include attending such local events as the Tribeca Film Festival, the New York Film Festival and New York Comic-Con, as well as traveling across North America to attend such festivals as the Sundance Film Festival, SXSW and the Toronto International Film Festival. She has been a member of the Women Film Critics Circle since 2012, and the New York Film Critics Online since 2019.


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