The Power - Official Trailer | Prime Video

One of the challenges of adapting a book for the big or small screen is that the level of detail a book can accomplish is often hard to match, but the economy with which exposition is delivered in this show is impressive. And not just that: It’s resonant. There are scenes added to this version of the story, like the way in which it’s revealed that Roxy is not recognized by her father’s family, that break your goddamn heart while establishing backstory and character motivation. And some aspects of the world the book creates are updated to reflect the current political and social landscape, which makes the show feel more grounded in reality. For example, when gender conflict erupts in Saudi Arabia, the Moldovan president, watching the coverage, says, “I told them women driving was a bad idea.” At the time of the book’s publication, this ban had not yet been lifted. The show also reimagines an existing character, the sympathetic nun Sister Maria, as a transgender woman (Daniella Vega, star of the 2017 film A Fantastic Woman), loyal to the mean main nun for taking her in back when no one else would. But while we see her, we don’t know, early enough, how the narrative will treat her.

And here’s the thing: Apart from Vega’s character, this show doesn’t do much in its first few episodes to include intersex and transgender folks in the conversation about how the power is distributed. Addressing it later, as in the book, just does not make for a satisfying twist for any viewer with an awareness of these identities. It feels too late, like a glaring omission in a real-world climate where gender-nonconforming people are policed and intersex erasure is still hair-pullingly rampant. It makes you worry that you’ve punched a ticket to TERF town, and presents the central conflict of the show as so binary at first that it’s hard to accept the world The Power presents, however well-researched it is. If not for this, the show would get an easy A-. The performances and storytelling are really that good. As such, it’s a B, with a zap, and definitely worth the watch.

The Power premieres March 31 on Prime Video.