This review contains spoilers.
1.6 Game Over
Game Over is not an easy episode to wrap your head around. It continues Heroes Reborn’s rapid pacing and an awful lot happens in each character’s story arc but worryingly, much of this week’s action comes out of leftfield, contradicting previous character and story development.
Luke’s suicide attempt, for example, wasn’t how most viewers would’ve expected the character to develop, yet it’s baffling how quickly his resolve to end his life disappears after being rescued at the hands of Malina and some shoddy special effects. Watching the farcical scene in which the ex-Evo hunter is looking rather sheepish after his attempted drowning and Malina passes him a hot drink, you’d think the guy had just fallen off his bike and twisted his ankle, not filled a rucksack full of bricks and jumped into the sea. This isn’t the first time Heroes Reborn’s characters have been guilty of displaying an unrealistically rapid change of attitude and whilst this can probably be attributed to the show’s limited run of episodes, a suicide angle should be done properly or not at all.
Similarly, it has become something of a challenge to keep track of what Teleport Tom is angry about at any given moment. You could argue this is a pretty accurate representation of teenage life but for the audience, it’s difficult to keep up. Tom’s bugbear last week was, understandably, his adoption, but this takes a back seat in Game Over and instead, he begins to rage at France’s treatment of Evos. In Heroes Reborn’s opening episodes, Tom was a definite highlight and immediately better than any of the child characters from the original show, but the teenage angst is beginning to grate a little now and the teenager constantly feels moments away from dying his hair black and putting on some Linkin Park. It’s also hard to overlook the fact he just pulled his buddy’s girlfriend by teleporting her to Paris. Not cool, Tom.
Perhaps the worst offender though, relates to the Evernow plot mechanic. Back in the first episode of Heroes Reborn, this was one of weaker storylines introduced; there was no obvious connection to the previously established Heroes universe and the computer-generated videogame scenes felt out of place and visually unimpressive. Despite some of the enigma regarding the fictional videogame’s purpose being resolved, these problems remain. We know that the world of Evernow was being used as a prison for Hiro Nakamura, therefore someone (presumably Miko’s father) must have a game-manipulating superpower. While one can reasonably suspend disbelief enough to entertain the idea that human evolution could lead to enhanced strength, flying, pyromancy, etc., an ability to manipulate videogames somewhat jumps the shark. Watching Noah, Quentin (we’ll get to him later, oh God we’ll get to that) and the rest of the gang stand around a computer monitor, watching Miko fight in the Evernow world simply felt like a completely different TV show. I was expecting Heroes, I got Digimon.
Without wanting to sound morbid, mid-season character deaths are usually a good thing. Game Of Thrones and The Walking Dead greatly benefit from the added tension and unpredictability that comes from main characters kicking the bucket unexpectedly. The art of this however, is in the timing and if you’ll forgive the pun, the execution, neither of which Heroes Reborn got right with the apparent deaths of Miko and Quentin. Of course, with Hiro Nakamura now on the loose, both characters have a fair chance of appearing in future episodes in some form and hopefully this will be the case. However if the deaths are genuine, Heroes Reborn has made arguably its biggest mistake yet.
Quentin Frady was one of the show’s brightest characters, not only providing excellent comic relief but also acting as the most relatable and human figure in the current Heroes world. Whilst Noah’s “you did good buddy” send-off undoubtedly tugged at the heart-strings, having Quentin die at the hands of the sister he’s trying to save would be an unsatisfying demise for a thoroughly likeable character. Likewise with Miko, she may not have been particularly three-dimensional (literally, as it turns out) but was entertaining to watch, had a nice developing relationship with Ren and could kick arse with the best of them. After the shock revelation that she was in fact merely her father’s digital creation, it could have been interesting to explore how Miko dealt with this fact in the real world and to see her unpick the remaining questions surrounding her father’s ability and her own existence. It may not be overly-cynical to suggest that Miko’s origin reveal functions primarily as a plot device to justify her sacrifice in the minds of the audience. In other words, it’s fine that she died in order to save Hiro, she’s not real. Hopefully some Evo-related tomfoolery will ensure one or both of these characters returns to the show swiftly as without them, Heroes Reborn would certainly suffer.
Usually, Heroes thrives when it brings previously unconnected characters together to achieve a common goal, so it’s strange that Game Over fares as poorly as it does in this regard. The link between Malina and Luke is tenuous at best, based purely around coincidence, and while the meeting of Miko and Noah’s groups is more convincingly played out, it’s ruined by the needless character deaths. Subsequently, Carlos is the only remaining main character yet to connect to the main story, although it’s clear the mysterious Sunstone Manor (another facility, keep up) will soon change that. Carlos himself didn’t have much screen-time this week, however drinking the mysterious bad-guy potion was this episode’s low point in terms of writing.
There are positives to be found within Game Over however. Most notably, Hiro is back! And even better, he isn’t doing that annoying thing where he refuses to use his powers! Masi Oka’s time traveller was one of the original Heroes cast’s standout performers and where other characters limped through the show’s later seasons, Oka ensured Hiro remained an engaging and wholly watchable feature of the show. His return therefore, is very much welcome. Admittedly, nostalgia accounts for part of the excitement, however his geeky-coolness and endless enthusiasm will surely help Heroes Reborn get back on track after its poorest episode thus far.
Another highlight this week was Renautas’ resident science-guy, Richard, as played by Michael Therriault. After a brief introduction last week, Game Over developed Richard into a believable and effective villain. His mocking amusement at Miko’s quest to free Hiro and the callous delivery of “well I guess it’s her destiny to die” immediately sets Richard up as an unlikeable bugger and a different strain of bad guy when compared to the business-like, deadly serious Erica and Harris. More of this fella would do the show a world of good.
Not a belter this week then, as Heroes Reborn strays a little too far outside of its remit and takes a few too many liberties with its characters. Last time show delivered a duff episode with its fourth outing, The Needs of the Many, it returned strongly the following week and with Hiro back in the fold, as well as Heroes’ tendency for doing excellent flashback/forward episodes, this will hopefully be the case once again with next week’s venture. Until then, R.I.P. Ginger Seth Rogen.
Read Craig’s review of the previous episode, The Lion’s Den, here.