There’s a fine line between being slow-burning and uneventful. And, rather worryingly, Heroes is walking that tightrope only two episodes into season two. At the moment, I’m sitting patiently at a table in a restaurant, napkin on lap with knife and fork in hand – and I really hope the last 90 minutes has been the entrée to some kinda killer main course; and I really hope that whatever it is, it comes soon… I’ve already eaten the bread.
So, where are we? And what have we learnt from the latest episode, ‘Lizards’?
Peter’s alive, well, still has everyone’s powers, including some we’ve never seen him use before, like DL’s ability to morph through things; but where the hell’s he been for four months and why can’t he remember? And why is he in Ireland? Who knows? Looks like he’s found a fire-haired love interest though – but her brothers are roping him into something dodgy.
Claire’s still struggling to fit into high school, is showing an unnatural interest in Lizards – they can regenerate, y’know – and takes radical action to discover whether or not her limbs grow back (they do, by the way).
There’s an Isaac Mendes painting – in the possession of Bennett Snr. – that depicts the death of Sulu (Mr. Yamagato – Hiro’s dad) from the last episode. Apparently there are six more in that series, HRG’s going to track ‘em down.
The squiggly sign that turns up everywhere means ‘great ability, Godsend’ – it’s Kensei’s logo, and also the logo of Papa Patrelli’s law firm. Though Peter doesn’t remember this when asked. Matt’s investigating Sulu’s death as part of his new gig, and he learns this from interviews with Ando and Mama Patrelli. Parkman’s abilities also let him know about Mama’s guilt and the idea that someone’s seeking revenge. Patrelli Snr survives an assassination attempt from the as yet unseen threat.
This new threat breaks into the police station as the lights start to flicker, then escapes into ‘thin air’ as Matt bursts in – can he/she possibly travel along wires like electricity?
Hiro’s substituting himself for the useless Brit – Kensei – whose timeline he messed up. He rescues the swordsmith’s daughter to help bring things back into line with the myth, and then encourages Kensei to accompany him on a quest to rescue her father and win her, matching the legend.
Kensei is a ‘Godsend’ (perhaps the original?) – he can heal, a la Claire.
Mohinder’s sent on his first job by the Alchemist; it’s another case of the ‘plague’ that killed his sister. It happens to be ‘The Haitian’, who thinks he’s being punished for misusing his powers. Mohinder makes the big man better using his blood, and then lets Alchemist think he’s been mojo’d and lets him escape… WRONG! Mo actually sent him to hook-up with HRG; the old team’s back together but hitting for the other side.
Claire’s Nissan Rogue’s been nicked, but why is this such a big deal? Advertising revenue, we presume…
Newbies Maya and Alejandro are on the run across the border, they’re told by a ‘healer’ that they’re cursed – that what’s inside her is ‘black’. We see that, when she cries, her tears are black and they infect other people, who die quickly with black tears too. But we’re also shown that her brother can heal her and the people in the immediate vicinity. Presumably there’s a time limit on this, as he couldn’t help the truck full of people she did for last week.
Emo-flyboy West is not happy to witness Claire self-mutilating; presumably she’s not happy that he was spying at her through her window at the time. He disappears leaving a copy of Suresh Snr’s book for her to ponder over.
Cue ‘To be continued…’, and I should hope so too!
So why, when I’ve got all of this to explain, do I feel bored with this episode? Well, it’s exposition isn’t it? It’s set up… like I said. Things are happening, but I’ve now sat through beaucoup de housekeeping; no real tension, no real drama, or anything to convince you that anybody you actually care about is in danger – and something’s gotta change fast.
In fact, Heroes may already have shot the pooch on that front by saving Nathan and Peter for series two – last I saw they were blowing up in some sort of nuclear explosion somewhere in low orbit. How do you survive that eh? Well, easily, it appears.
Let’s face it, the people who’ve died so far in Heroes were an annoying art dealer (Simone), a manipulative gangster (Lindemann), a self-destructive junkie (Isaac) and a semi-reformed confidence trickster (Eden) and Sulu… Plus some extras and a cheerleader courtesy of Sylar… We don’t know about DL for sure. Only when the show starts killing-off people we like does the idea of tension grow; right now the plot is intriguing but far from tense. Right now, it seems the script has left characters stranded; it certainly has shown no imagination on the part of the creators to keep the show fresh and interesting.
The format is rigidly unable to invest any time in anything apart from the soap opera elements of the central characters’ present lives. If something doesn’t bring these strands back together quickly, Heroes will quickly dissipate the momentum it created in the first three quarters of the last season – the slowdown’s been on since then, don’t kid yourselves, and now we’re virtually static.
Frankly, if I hadn’t have invested so much time on Heroes already, this would’ve lasted about ten minutes before I flicked the football on. But I have invested, so I’m sticking with it, hoping it’s going somewhere beyond hoppity-skipping from protagonist to protagonist – all of whom are hiding and/or stuck. The big bad better be coming soon… Be it Sylar or otherwise… If not, I’m off to McDonalds for some real service.