This Moment in ‘The Power’ Episode 5 Dissects the Horror of Patriarchal Oppression
You're ugly, too, bro
The Power, the new Amazon series based on the science fiction novel by Naomi Alderman, is about women rising up against millennia of violent oppression. In the series, anyone with high enough levels of estrogen develops the power to channel electricity through their bodies, which means they can stun and kill anyone who touches them. The backlash from men who want to stay in control is predictably brutal.
The power, called EOD, comes from a new organ called the skein. The skein starts as buds on the collarbone, then develops into a full organ either in puberty or when its owner is given a jolt by someone with fully developed EOD.
As we see in episode 5 of The Power, “Scarlet Winnow,” once misogynists find out where EOD is coming from, they stop at nothing to try and get rid of it.
Carpathia’s inhumane skein removals
Part of the series takes place in Carpathia, a brutal and corrupt dictatorship in Central Europe. When the power first begins to manifest, President Viktor Moskalev orders the execution of any woman who uses it. Then we find out that he’s sponsoring experiments on human subjects.
These experiments are lethal skein removals, and we soon see a video of an excised skein lying on an exam table. The skein looks vaguely like a skein of yarn, with muscle fibers connecting two large nodes and numerous nerve endings. “It’s ugly,” Moskalev remarks as Tatiana dutifully gets him a drink, trying to hide how closely she’s paying attention to the skein. And, yeah, Moskalev is right—the skein is an internal organ, and the inside of a human being can be pretty gross.
His comment is telling, though, because it’s so clearly rooted in the misogynist culture in which he’s steeped. To Moskalev and the other men of Carpathia, women are supposed to be pretty and empty. They’re not supposed to contain icky things like organs (deadly or no). They’re not supposed to be human. Even the front page of the Carpathian newspaper, with its headline announcing capital punishment for EOD users, shows an erotic photo of a girl instead of a realistic one. To Moskalev, women are nothing more than walking collections of body parts, which he has the right to own, fuck, or dissect at his pleasure.
The scene also shows how threatened men like Moskalev are at the idea of women rising up and defending themselves. Adjusting to a new reality, in which marginalized genders are more than just scapegoats and playthings, isn’t an option for him. A violent crackdown is the only solution. Moskalev’s remark on the ugliness of the skein doesn’t just refer to its physical appearance—he’s also thinking of the future it represents.
Of course, since people with EOD are more powerful than people without it, there’s a kernel of truth to Moskalev’s fears. In the world of The Power, someone with testosterone can still throw a powerful punch, but someone with estrogen can kill you with one finger. While I want the best for good guys like Tunde and Rob, I can’t muster up much sympathy for Moskalev and his ilk. They deserve the worst of what the new world has to offer.
(featured image: Amazon Prime Video)
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