This review contains spoilers.
1.10 11.53 To Odessa
It may have been billed as a “Fall Finale” in NBC’s promotional material but in truth, 11:53 To Odessa is as middle-of-the-road an episode as you’ll find this year, acting mostly as a transitional piece to lead into the final three instalments which will air in January 2016.
At the centre of the action this week is the concept of the ‘time bridge’, Renautas’ method of saving a portion of humanity from global catastrophe by relocating them to the future. The idea is a classic, if unoriginal, sci-fi trope and the question of who gets saved and who doesn’t is the reasonably compelling moral dilemma at the heart of Heroes Reborn’s final set of episodes and the conundrum that continues to divide the characters. Although the overt science fiction influence offers something a little different to the Heroes universe, the show’s decision to explain this plot point repeatedly throughout the episode wears a little thin. That said, if you’re looking for a drinking game for this episode, take a drink every time someone mentions the time bridge in some form or another.
Any fans hoping that setting half of 11:53 To Odessa in the year 9972 would lead to some interesting new visuals are in for a let-down this week as most of the action in the future restricts itself to the 2015-style, IKEA showroom-esque colony built by Renautas. Indeed, as is the case with most transition episodes, evidence of budget-spending is nowhere to be seen as far as visual effects go. There’s some truly atrocious green-screen work going on behind Quentin and his sister as they land in the future and where Phoebe’s shadow powers have looked seamless is past episodes, she spends much of this week carrying a ropey-looking black blob. Fortunately, the shape-shifting fella’s transformations back at Sunstone Manor look pretty slick, ensuring this week’s visual effects aren’t a total washout.
Though nothing in the forty minutes could be described as “stand-out”, Greg Grunberg’s impressive transformation into a bona fide villain continued this week with another convincing performance. Considering viewers are accustomed to seeing Matt on the right side of the law (literally, he started out as a cop in season one), Parkman’s heel-turn is effectively portrayed and despite being a relatively new addition to Heroes Reborn, he’s making a good case for our ‘Bad-Guy of the Series’ award. With his menacing interrogation of Farah and effortless ability to manipulate the minds of others, you can’t help but feel Heroes missed a trick by not using Parkman in this guise in season two or three, before his character became mildly redundant.
Another figure who comes out of 11:53 To Odessa rather well is the newly returned Miko, once again using her Katana-girl skills to inject some much-needed adrenaline into the episode. It’s probably wise to give up any attempts to figure out the complete backstory behind the character, her father and their relationship with Renautas, as one reveal seems often to be contradicted by the next. Simply enjoy Miko’s likeable presence on-screen and her uncanny ability to put security guards on their backside.
Unfortunately, other character arcs don’t come off quite as successfully and Luke (Zachary Levi) continues to be seriously short-changed by the show’s scripts. Levi does his level best in the role but the character’s convictions and motivations have been erratic ever since he discovered his Evo status and left his maniacal wife. The result is a very talented actor trying to work with some corny dialogue and a painfully unrealistic character that, over the span of ten episodes, has gone from murderous, to conflicted, to suicidal, to stalking a girl half his age despite her Grandfather asking nicely for him to go away. At least his powers are cool though.
Speaking of Grandpa Noah, the interaction between him and Malina was genuinely touching and the pair had a natural rapport that culminated in an uplifting final scene depicting the young girl courageously using her nature-manipulating abilities to cease a violent storm, with her Grandfather watching on proudly. Luckily, before proceedings moved too far into feel-good territory, the conflict between humans and Evos was once again brought sharply into focus as, despite her act of heroism, Malina is swiftly set upon by the nearby humans, including your stereotypical, cap-wearing, trigger-happy redneck. The question of whether the relationship between mankind and its evolved counterpart can be repaired ramps up the stakes leading up to Heroes Reborn’s finale, ensuring the show’s central conflict remains somewhat grounded in reality and real-world issues and balancing out the more fantastical time-travelling elements.
Other character interactions don’t have quite the same effect. The scenes between Erica and Tommy are frustratingly difficult to gauge, with the Renautas chief failing to come across as either a sinister captor or a genuinely insane megalomaniac and consequently falling into a murky middle ground. For his part, Tommy seems to come around to Erica’s plans awfully quickly thanks to some, apparently very convincing, greenery, before changing sides again due to the appearance of an attractive Japanese woman. Teenage boys, eh? The story arc between Carlos and Farah starts to become more relevant this week and whilst not enough time has been spent with the characters for the audience to really care about their love for each other (would it be cold-hearted to say the kiss scene was cringey), the pair do make a watchable duo in the action department, both during the flashback scenes and in the present at Sunstone Manor where the mission to rescue Micah is underway. An older Noah Gray-Cabey briefly returns to play an older iteration of the computer genius however his cameo is restricted to looking gormless and moving his hands about, so not much to report on that front.
As a “Fall Finale” then, 11:53 To Odessa doesn’t exactly leave viewers desperate for the show’s return but remains entertaining nonetheless and leaves Heroes Reborn plenty of room for a seriously strong ending. Whether having a two-month break with only three episodes to go is a good idea is a debate for another day (hint: it isn’t) but for those sticking with Heroes Reborn, see you in the new year.