This review contains spoilers.
1.7 June 13th Part One
After last week’s muddled and lacklustre effort, Heroes Reborn does a decent job of making amends in this wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey first of a two-part affair set entirely in the past at the Odessa summit bombing that triggered the events of the show.
Heroes traditionally has a great track record of episodes set outside of the main story’s time period and part one of July 13th is, for the most part, no different. Things do however, take a while to click into place. The opening conversation between returning characters Mohinder Suresh and Angela Petrelli should be a treat for the show’s long-time fans but comes off as an awkward and contrived exposition dump. Both characters recover as the episode progresses, Angela in particular warming to her all-knowing matriarch persona but nevertheless, it’s a limp start to the episode. Whether this is down to a fiddly script or two actors reprising roles they haven’t played for years is uncertain (a bit of both, perhaps) but it’s a disappointing scene that starts proceedings on a duff note.
Thankfully, July 13th only improves from there with Hiro Nakamura on hand to deliver a much-needed jump-start. Masi Oka picks up the comedic slack from the deceased Quentin with some hilarious one-liners but manages to be intimidating and goddamn cool all at the same time. His partnership with Noah is natural and engaging and it’s impossible to argue that Heroes Reborn doesn’t hugely benefit from his presence.
The episode takes great delight in connecting the dots; weaving the events of the previous six instalments together and integrating characters into the story in new and unexpected ways. Because of this, the revelations come thick and fast, so much so that very few of the show’s mystery elements actually remain by the end of the forty minutes. Viewers now know the ins and outs of Erica Kravid’s masterplan, who exactly the odd chap with a suitcase full of spare change is, what happened at the Odessa Summit, and most significantly, the origins of Tommy and Malina. All of the important questions appear to have been answered and while, right now, it’s great fun having everything out in the open, it’ll be interesting to see if the remaining episodes suffer because of it.
By far the most compelling of the many revelations this week concerns Tommy and Malina. It became reasonably clear over the past two episodes that the pair were brother and sister but the reveal that they are in fact children of Claire Bennet is something not many would’ve seen coming. How the situation actually comes about is quite mad but the idea of Noah sending his grandchildren into the past to be raised as the world’s saviours is actually a really intriguing concept. Tommy’s adoptive mother going home to wish him a happy birthday shortly after delivering his infant counterpart at the hospital is classic time-travel storytelling that provided a collective “oh I get it now” moment. After last week’s letdown, it was sorely needed. As with most time-travel fare however, it’s probably best not to think too deeply about the mechanics here; surely having two Tommys and Malinas wondering about creates some kind of paradox, why does Hiro’s trip to take the kids to the past give Noah enough time to wander off when he could’ve just returned to that exact moment, etc.
The biggest reason for this episode’s success however is without doubt Jack Coleman’s performance as Noah Bennet. Before Heroes Reborn was announced, the idea of the show returning with Noah leading the cast probably wouldn’t have excited even the most hardcore Heroes fans. However, over the last six episodes, Jack Coleman has remained an engaging spectacle, adding new facets to a complex character and establishing himself as the show’s most consistent strength. July 13th is perhaps the moment Noah completes his transformation into a bona-fide leading male. Equally at home in action scenes as he is in emotional ones and expertly balancing sensitivity and strength, Jack Coleman, with Masi Oka’s help, absolutely carries this episode.
He’s so good, he almost manages to mask Heroes Reborn’s embarrassing attempts to skirt around Hayden Panettiere not wanting to come back. Ultimately however, not even he could make up for the fact Claire was this week represented by some blonde hair poking out from under a sheet. But should the cheerleader have been under there at all? The explanation given is that she was killed during childbirth but remember, this is a character who previously survived a nuclear blast. Perhaps what actually killed Claire was in fact Hayden’s success in Nashville? Hopefully, this will be expanded on further and a more legitimate reason behind Claire’s apparent death will be offered.
Another element of July 13th that didn’t quite hit the mark was the introduction of Miko’s father, Hachiro Otomo. Last week’s review fearfully predicted that Mr. Otomo’s power would be the ability to manipulate video games and this episode seems to confirm that theory. Considering the superpowers in the Heroes mythos originate from natural human evolution, Hachiro’s power is a bit of a stretch, even for this show and the CG ‘digitising’ of Hiro Nakamura wasn’t particularly easy on the eye either. Indeed, the computer-generated effects were, for want of a technical term, pants this episode, the worst offenders being the very stiff flying fella during the Summit and Angela Patrelli’s vision featuring some very dodgy looking speed-gardening.
The first part of July 13th is generally however, a return to form that opens the lid on all of Heroes Reborn’s secrets. Admittedly, they’ve thrown everything at it in terms of returning characters and big reveals but the episode still does a great job of bringing together various plot points into a cohesive narrative. Next week will hopefully provide an action-packed payoff to the story development covered here in part one and will most likely feature some Noah-on-Noah action. Perhaps the producers have decided that Jack Coleman has done such a good job, he should just act opposite himself and be done with it.
Read Craig’s review of the previous episode, Game Over, here.