Heroes Reborn episode 4 review: The Needs Of The Many

The cliches are back in force in this week's episode of Heroes Reborn, which lacks the action and spectacle of the last instalment...

This review contains spoilers.

4.1 The Needs Of The Many

Heroes Reborn has done an admirable job thus far of avoiding the clichéd and corny dialogue that can often plague the superhero genre, but in this week’s episode, those familiar tropes were back in force. Joey Falco’s script featured Teleport Tom delivering the standard ‘ever feel you were born to do something greater?’ spiel that I’m surprised hasn’t already been copyrighted by Marvel, Carlos spouting a typically masculine “we’ll just have to get him first” quip as he strides off to battle and Malina took a cue from Return Of The King’s Éowyn as she asserted, quite accurately, that she is not a “grown man”. It isn’t something that spoils an otherwise solid episode but somewhere between the derivative writing and unconvincing delivery, lines like this can both induce cringing and provide a jolting and unwelcome reminder that these people are only actors.

The Needs of the Many does however, have its fair share of positives. I predicted previously that Carlos may turn out to be an ‘empath’; someone who can replicate the powers of people they have come into contact with. As it turns out, the ex-soldier’s super-strength is derived not from his battle last week but from some drastic adaptations Carlos made to his brother’s El Vengador costume. If you can suspend your disbelief long enough to entertain the idea that a character can go from ‘pretty good with cars’ to Tony Stark in the blink of an eye then this is actually an exciting development for the Heroes series. The show has never before had a bone-fide hero character who lacks powers themselves but can fight toe-to-toe with those who do, thanks to skill and technology. Setting Carlos up as a self-made protagonist in the mould of Batman or the aforementioned Iron Man gives Heroes Reborn an interesting new angle to explore in future episodes and reinforces one of the show’s central themes; that anyone can be a ‘hero’.

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The episode also took the time to develop characters that had, until now, remained rather one-dimensional. Miko’s companion Ren, for example, is this series’ version of Ando, make no mistake about that. Previously, the audience would have been forgiven for thinking he wasn’t bringing an awful lot to that partnership (I’m still trying to figure out how he single-handedly infiltrated a Renautus building). Now however, the real dynamic of the relationship has become clear. As strong and determined as Miko is, Ren is the friend compensating for her lack of social awareness and real-world knowledge, seeing the opportunities that she does not. Now that Ren’s purpose for being around is clear, his unwavering optimism and humour can more effectively act as a means of emphasising the more reserved elements of Miko’s character.

Erica’s daughter Taylor, played by Eve Harlow, is also given a couple of extra dimensions this week. Initially fulfilling the role of tough, no nonsense company agent, Erica’s new partnership with Noah and Quentin has begun to display the layers of her character; the conflict between her duties and morals, the lack of trust afforded to her by the company she works for and the fact her mother has shoved a wire into her boyfriend’s neck and is harvesting his ability. Now there’s a story I’d like to see on Jeremy Kyle. Taylor’s switch of allegiance does struggle a little in the believability stakes; a quick speech from Noah Bennet acting as the sole catalyst for betrayal, but this is most likely due to Heroes Reborn’s modus operandi of not getting bogged down in a character’s emotional turmoil for too long. All things considered, and with the original Heroes tendency to do very much the opposite, it’s a price worth paying in order to avoid flabby, over-sentimental storylines.

In addition to building up the supporting characters, this week’s episode teases the idea of individuals with abilities that are on a different level than seen on screen so far; Malina (Danika Yarosh) being the most obvious example. Although the exact nature of her superpower has yet to be disclosed, the ominously vague comments made by both her companion Farah and Renautas chief Erica leave the intriguing suggestion in the minds of viewers that Malina will likely affect the Heroes world in a major way.

Similarly, an end-of-episode bombshell introduced us to ‘The Shadow’; a creepy looking Evo with some seriously evil eyes that Mohinder ‘The Voiceover’ Suresh alludes to as “inhuman”. Those looking for more information as to the origin of this character may want to check out the hugely enjoyable web-series prequel to Heroes Reborn, Dark Matters (no relation to Syfy’s Dark Matter) which explores the origins of Quentin Frady and his sister Phoebe. Both Malina and The Shadow act as effective world-building for Heroes, whilst also giving a new sense of threat for an audience that has become very familiar with superpowers in general; it genuinely feels like the stakes are high for these characters and the fictional world they inhabit.

Whilst expanding the Heroes mythology in such a way is highly welcome, it came at the cost of the visual elements that had been a highlight of Heroes Reborn so far, with The Needs Of The Many lacking in both action and spectacle. A few minor scuffles were the only set-pieces on offer this week and the CGI miracle-grow tree was both unconvincing in its execution and unnecessary to the story. Preventing the episode from being a total let-down in terms of visuals were the creative team responsible for set design due to their work on the Renautas complex. The motif of rainbow colours that indicate the company’s presence on-screen feels like a genuine marketing technique a global corporation would use and as such, the Renautas entity is grounded in the real world. The technique is even more effective when juxtaposed with the underground cavern of imprisoned Evos, a set which uses a more sci-fi based flavour, emphasising the two-face nature of Renautas brilliantly.

Heroes Reborn hit a real high with last week’s episode but hasn’t quite been able to keep that momentum, delivering a decent episode, albeit one without many frills. The return of Hiro Nakamura, teased last week in both the episode and subsequent trailer, has yet to come to fruition also. Thankfully, The Needs Of The Many manages to provide one, stand-out, genius line of dialogue that makes the drop in quality from last week a little easier to take. Step up Quentin Frady with… “I hate your face, Bennet”. 

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Read Craig’s review of the previous episode, Under The Mask, here.

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