Heroes s2:01 review

The new series of Heroes has started in America! And Curtis has watched it! And reviewed the first episode! Result!

Heroes! Lots of them!

SPOILERS LIE AHEAD!

Well, the wait’s over and Heroes is back, amidst the usual barrage of product placement and plugs – this year ABC are heavily pushing’s Wednesday’s premiere of The Bionic Woman. And, from the opening lines of Mohinder Suresh’s introductory monologue, it’s familiar stuff that seeks to do as little to break the mould of series one as possible.

So, who turns up? Well very quickly we establish Mohinder’s ploughing a lonely furrow across the world espousing his father’s theories to a largely unresponsive world, attracting the attention of Mr Bennett’s former employers along the way. A contact comes in the form of an Alchemist with a job offer – specifically to carry on research into the genetic mutations and the ‘virus’ which kills Heroes, and which killed Mohinder’s sister. But is this deal with the Devil a two-way street for Dr Suresh Jr?

We catch up with Claire and the man formerly known as Horn Rimmed Guy on the first day at Claire’s new school in sunny California. And guess what? High school is rubbish, all cheerleaders are a-holes with an attitude problem – and very quickly Claire hooks up with a cute dude, called ‘West’ – yes, really.

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Ahhhh, Heroes – its ability to craft an ensemble of rounded central characters is matched only by the sheer frustration induced by its crayon-drawn periphery. Good to have you back!

It’s a frustration further compounded when we glimpse Bennett Sr’s working day at ‘Copy Kingdom’, and his crappy interactions with a young, ludicrously moustachioed boss, solely placed there to give the scriptwriters an unlikeable character against which they can riff, completing his transformation from Dark Side to Light Side.

Hiro’s been zapped to feudal Japan to carry on his role as light relief and the ‘heart’ of the show. Specifically, he’s been transported into the presence of his hero Takezo Kensei, who – to say the least – doesn’t quite turn out to be exactly what Hiro had in mind. His faithful assistant, Ando (‘my hair is like a cone of steel’) has been spending the ensuing months with Hiro’s dad, Mr. Sulu – who’s dutifully waiting to see if his son will ever return. No sign.

Their interaction provides the first big storyline leap of the new series though; upon discovering a picture of himself bearing Kenei’s ‘S’-type insignia across his face, Sulu declares to Ando that he’ll be dead within 24 hours – and, come the end of the show, he surely is. Pushed of the pigeon-loft rooftop by an anonymous hooded assailant, while the hapless Ando searches for a sword.

During the course of the 51 minutes we meet four new ‘Heroes’; you already know about the Alchemist and you’ll soon know about Maya and Alejandro. Actually, only one appears to have a power, but they’re both on the run for murder, and on their way from South America to find Dr Suresh Snr (presumably unaware of his Sylar-assisted demise, did they not watch series 1?), following a scriptworthy route involving nefarious characters and people smugglers.

It seems this may allow a little bit of political comment to mix in with the Patriot Act-bashing overtones of the last run, but we’ll see.

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Whilst appearing to be good people, Maya’s ability to kill those around her in a what appears to be a particularly unsavoury manner, resulting in them crying blood – we’re not shown the process – makes it look like these are two not to be crossed. As for the last, ahhh, wait and see.

Moaning Matt Parkman’s finally made detective; taking the four months which have passed since the end of series one to recover from that nasty-looking bullet-induced case of collinder-chest he suffered, divorce from his philandering wife and adopt a munchkin-sized tracking device called Molly. Amazing what you can achieve in this country when you’re the star of a major network TV show!

Anyhoo, Molly’s having Sylar-induced nightmares – he’s telling her he can see her in her dreams. Matt’s trying to talk her into telling him where Sylar is, but she’s having none of it – assuming, probably rightly, that fat Matt would resemble a soft-boiled egg-head in about five minutes flat if faced with Zachary Quinto and his amazing performing eyebrows. No one can resist them!

Talking of performing facial hair, somehow Nathan’s still alive after his highflying fireworks show with brother Peter ‘Rocky Jr.’ Petrelli. Don’t ask me how – we’re not told – but there you go! Nathan’s obviously not Senator any more though, not with that ‘tramp du jour’ look he’s rocking – at least three inches of Hollywood beard; essential mis-en-chin denoting depression, alcoholism and a general distrust of the world. Apparently, depressed people don’t own razors. Actually that’s probably for the best.

We’re just re-introduced to him for long enough to see a showdown with his ‘let’s blow up New York together’ harridan of a mother. She blames him for Peter’s death, he blames her – but is not willing to give up on Peter yet… Yes, you are firmly in TV-land where a large nuclear explosion does not necessarily rule out renegotiation of that contract for season 2 (see Dallas and Simon’s recent 24 news). Wait for it…

After spending the first 20 minutes establishing the focus of the action, in the familiar Heroes methodology it then spends the next 30 hopping between the established plans to make its point. The problem with the show is that there really wasn’t one, there are loads, giving the episode a distinct lack of cohesion. Yes, I know it’s the way of Heroes, but now it’s firmly established in our schedules I hope the creators can find time for the show to breathe a little. It can certainly take a little more sharpening of focus, as – not being as geographically limited as Lost – there’s a big world to explore.

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Four Months Later is a foundation episode in virtually every way; ‘here’s where we are, and here’s where we’re going’ – until, obviously, we decide to pull the rug out from under like you’re not expecting that.

So here are the major points for all you spoiler-kinder out there; Claire’s enigmatic new cutey-boy friend has an inkling that she’s not normal – takes one to know one as they say, with the penultimate reveal of the episode being that he’s got a case of the Nathans, and is using his Superman-skills to spy on Claire in her bedroom. Well, you would wouldn’t you..? Erm… He looks a bit like Peter too; so they may want to think twice before pairing off, thus avoiding a potential Luke/Leia/post-BACTA tank moment – or potentially spawning a six-fingered flying indestructable mutant. At least get a DNA test, eh guys?

Someone is wiping out members of the company, Sulu being the latest – there are now nine. In a particularly well-scripted encounter between him and Mrs Petrelli, he blames the cull on the things they did, and lays down some home-truths about her role in it all and the effect it had on her family. Oooh, and she’s had a picture delivered too – so is potentially next (and who is the hooded assasin?).

Mohinder will now be working for the company, but that’s what he wants – ‘cause he, Parkman and Bennett are planning to bring down the organisation from the inside.

Hiro’s gotta help Kensei to become his legend, or otherwise risk altering History forever. Silly boy.

Though some believe him dead, Sylar’s still out there…

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The Virus must be stopped…

And the final reveal of the show? Peter’s alive, half-naked, with a case of amnesia, chained up in a ship’s container in Cork, Ireland… No, really.

Hey, don’t laugh.

I’m pretty sure most of these threads will be dropped next week to focus on some of the other protagonists; I guess it may be Sylar’s turn… Check back to find out.