This review contains spoilers.
1.12 Company Woman
The news spilling out of NBC this week that Heroes Reborn is highly unlikely to return for a second season won’t come as a big shock to many. Amusing as it is to imagine Heroes head-honcho Tim Kring going full-on Partridge and telling the boss of NBC to “give me a second series, you shit”, the truth is that even before the show aired last September, the general feeling was that this would be a one-time deal. Quite frankly, it was a miracle that the project even got commissioned in the first place given the state Heroes was in when it ended its initial four season run. Viewers might not be clamouring for a second season then but what they undoubtedly do want is for Heroes Reborn to reach a proper conclusion, instead of the frustratingly open cliff-hanger of the original series.
It’s a promising sign then that Company Woman, the series’ penultimate episode, begins to wrap up some of the less wide-reaching character arcs and put some plot threads to rest. Given that she is the titular Company Woman, the core of this episode naturally concerns itself with arch-villain Erica Kravid (Rya Kihlstedt) and her daughter Taylor and to say the results are mixed would be quite the understatement. Erica and Taylor’s relationship hasn’t been one of Heroes Reborn’s most compelling elements, acting as the typical strained parental relationship that sat in the background of the show’s main story and acted as a handy plot device for Taylor to break-off from the Renautas group. For this reason, the revelation that Erica fell pregnant with Taylor after an Evo doctor sexually assaulted her is more than a little unexpected.
An argument could be made that these kinds of issues aren’t in keeping with what Heroes is all about and that the show’s darker elements should come from less real-world territory. A similar situation occurred earlier in the series with Luke’s suicide attempt, something the show underplayed hugely and whilst Erica’s rape is handled with a little more depth and subtlety, the implication that her past was the catalyst for the contempt she harbours towards Evos and for her strained relationship with Taylor seems like a clumsy attempt to humanise a character who has been robotic for most of the series. Although the scene in which Erica’s facade cracked and the barriers came down was indeed a memorable moment, Heroes Reborn would have perhaps been better off revealing her past in one of its earlier episodes. This would give the show a chance to explore the difficulties and intricacies of the Renautas leader’s motivations, rather the painting her as a heartless villain for eleven episodes and crowbarring in a rape plotline just before the show ends and ultimately, would show respect for the subject matter.
Naturally, it’s the ever-reliable Matt Parkman who brings the Erica/Taylor showdown to its climax and indeed Matt’s own Heroes story seemingly comes to an end in this week’s episode. Greg Grunberg has made excellent viewing in Heroes Reborn and to witness him crash his car whilst trying to save his family before submitting to maniacal laughter feels like a very fitting end to this Heroes veteran. Don’t completely rule out a return to heroism in the finale but if this is the end of the road for Parkman, he’s gone out on a high.
The wrapping-up of Luke and Joanne’s story arc has been a long-time coming but fares much better than the Erica material with a brief, albeit intense, showdown at Union Wells’ gym. That is, if “fares much better” means “he burnt her to an absolute crisp”. Throughout Heroes Reborn, Luke has been on a rollercoaster both in terms of his character development and how engaging he was to watch but since the Christmas break, Ol’ Fire Hands has become a far more likeable and watchable chap; his relationship with Malina has looked more genuine but he’s retained some of the ruthless assassin traits from the show’s opening episodes that give him an unpredictable edge. Joanne on the other hand has not been effective as a villain or interesting as a character and so Luke turning his wife into a smoking pile of ash does, as sadistic as it may sound, bring both Joanne’s and the couple’s story arcs to a satisfying, well-done conclusion.
Luke also endears himself to fans this week by being the man responsible for turning Quentin back to the good-guys. Bonus points to director Jon Jones who utilises the shadowy forest setting to expertly obscure the characters’ facial expressions, adding an unpredictable tension to Phoebe’s escape and Quentin’s assertion that “that’s not my sister”, incidentally the most impactful line of dialogue in the episode.
Of course while these guys are trawling through their assorted emotional issues, there is still the small matter of the apocalypse to consider and it appears that the bulk of this will be dealt with in next week’s finale as Company Woman doesn’t cover much ground in this respect. Lovesick puppy, Ren Shimosawa (Toru Uchikado) makes his return and strikes up a sweet but presently irrelevant friendship with fellow lovesick puppy Emily (Gatlin Green). They will most likely play a role in freeing Tommy from the digital prison of Evernow and hopefully they can manage it without revisiting those awful videogame graphic segments from episodes past.
As for Tommy himself, Robbie Kay gives an admirable portrayal of what happens when you place the fate of the world on the shoulders of a teenager; having to simultaneously decide for himself the most moral course of action, take care of his loved ones and come to terms with a past he was forced to forget. There are a great many layers to Teleport Tom and both actor and script do justice to this, particularly during the scenes with his adoptive mother. Tom is successfully filling the lead protagonist role vacated by the still missing Noah.
One episode left then and although Company Woman is a solid forty minutes, it’s very much a case of ‘the calm before the storm’, with little in the way of action and much time spent wrapping up lingering issues that won’t be relevant in the race to save the world from the oncoming solar flares. The path is clear, the stage is set and all the pieces are in place, Heroes Reborn is ready for its final act.
Read Craig’s review of the previous episode, Send In The Clones, here.