Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Other Space: “Powerless”

Illustration for article titled Other Space: “Powerless”

Other Space’s most consistent plot device surrounds deprivation. Something is taken away from the crew — whether it be human contact, a boyfriend back home, or the ability to get back home in general — everything becomes chaos, and is then subsequently returned to normal where everything is reset save for robotic prosthetic leg and all. In “Powerless,” the crew experiences the same loss, one that is not difficult to gather from the title. No matter how in control these people think they are, they’re really at the mercy of the atmosphere they’re floating in. In the end, Natasha alerts Stewart to a nearby ripple, and while he makes the decision to tell the crew about it, it’s still very much a random occurrence.

Like “Trouble’s Brewing,” Tina and Michael are relegated to their basest forms. This time, going around trying to find sources of power to get rid of them in a misguided attempt to stay safe from the lightening storm that is attracted to their power source. While Tina’s descent into Ivan Drago territory was funny (“If he dies, he dies.”), we had seen these two pair up in similar ways before. Karen, on the other hand, was the stand out of “Powerless” because her character was taken to an extreme. Karen is always the ship killjoy, which works best when she gets joy out of that power. It is usually ultimately taken away from her (apt, considering the theme of the episode) but when her control over the crew is as its height, or at least that’s what she believes, Karen is at her best because she is allowed to be goofy in ways that the other characters get to be on a regular basis, but she usually has to balance with her sour personality.

One of the ways that “Powerless” shows Other Space’s limitations is through the relationship of Kent and Natasha. While the other relationships on the show have stayed largely static (Tina and Michael seem rather unfazed by the fact that his false leg is her doing, Zalian and A.R.T. are bros for life). It’s hard to show any kind of dual development like that because a character needs to be introduced before they can evolve. The love between Kent and Natasha is one of those things that may not seem entirely strange if if was written out over several episodes — some coy flirting there, some sly glances here. While they are both characters who would never have an entirely normal love or dating life, their relationship, which really only started to take form last episode, is still accelerated. It’s the nature of a short season for things like this to happen but it’s especially noticeable when every other relationship change from the other characters essentially gets the reset button every episode. (It didn’t help that I didn’t find Natasha’s regression and subsequent re-education to be particularly funny.) While the relationship between a computer and sub-human who sleeps in a pod and has gills is usually not held to the standards of what most would call a normal relationship, a show as sweet at its core as Other Space deserves to have coherent love stories.

A more graceful evolution comes from Stewart in this episode. A good 90 percent of the reason the crew is in this mess is because of Stewart’s misguided sense of adventure. It was Stewart who happily took on the antiquated ship, as well as its cracked out engineer Zalian, leading to innumerable problems for the crew. But at the end of “Powerless,” he begins to understand the difference between reckless abandon and adventure and the crew are meant to head home after the type of ripple that caused their current predicament is found. Rather than look for signs of alien life, Stewart decides it’s to go home. Considering there are a couple more Other Space episodes before the end of this season, the ship will presumably not sail smoothly.

Stray observations:

  • “I’m the creature that has the gum. Get your own niche!”
  • “That not going to go over well with the rest of the crew. Power is their favorite.”
  • “Screw you! But I get it.”
  • “I will fight you to my last breath. And I have breathing holes everywhere.”