So, it really happened… They’d threatened it for long enough, but they did it… DAMN YOU! DAMN YOU ALL TO HELL…
OK, so the writers’ strike ending season 2 of Heroes early clearly doesn’t deserve that Douglassian level of histrionics. But you get my point. That’s all folks; that’s Chapter 2 done and dusted – and currently whether Chapter 3 will happen as part of the second season, or when it may actually air, is in the lap of the WGA and AMPTP. And do you know what? Good.
Let’s face it, it’s been a bit of a mess hasn’t it? A less-than-classic sophomore effort, but a classic situation where a team loses sight of the very things that made them. A sad turn of events that appears to have played out both on- and off-screen; bad reviews, plummeting viewing figures, frustrated fandom and eventual apologies followed… Ultimately leading to the show’s creator Tim Kring nuking the whole shebang and ending the Shanti virus arc right here.
I’ve had a real Heroes crisis over these last few months, as regular readers will know – and there have only been a couple of episodes from the last 11 that have come anywhere near to recapturing the standard achieved in the first ¾ of last season. The signs were there at the end of Chapter 1 that the production team was loosing its way a little – and season 2 bore that out. All I can hope is that the enforced break in production is just what the show needs. Sometimes the grind of getting out 20-odd episodes must surely take a toll on creativity – and what’s more, the turnaround between Chapter 1 and 2 appeared too quick in the first place.
It’s OK wanting to capitalise on a success, everyone understands that urge – and let’s face it our demand for more Heroes had reached something of a clamour by the time Peter went nuclear over New York. What’s not OK is that what made Heroes so wonderful in the first place was that it smacked of being a labour of love, it’s universe had a depth and richness that put it up their with many classic sci-fi worlds. It knew where its drama was coming from, and for those glorious first 18 episodes it seemed to know exactly where it was going… What’s more, it was way cleverer the you… And then suddenly it didn’t, and it wasn’t – and many discerning fans started to pick apart the logic of events and the exposition got more turgid.
Whilst the story arc was strong and driving forward; all the extraneous stuff – comic books covering backstory, documentaries, commentaries, DVD boxsets etc. – was manna from heaven for fans. As soon as the direction faltered, all that stuff became a pain in the ass. I want my storylines on-screen; that’s where the focus should be.
What’s most infuriating of all is that I’ve invested 500-odd minutes of my life in this second season; all for it to pretty much dump us all back where we started. Well, not quite… As we’ll see. What’s more, Powerless – for this is the name given to 2.11 – lays down some slightly worrying markers for what’s to come. It’s not that Powerless isn’t a good episode, with some very tense elements; however some of the plot devices they’ve introduced may come back to haunt them.
So here’s how it all worked out…
We kick off with Mo heading back to his apartment to find Sylar sitting at his desk and Maya innocently cooking breakfast. It doesn’t take long for the scales to fall from her eyes as Sylar over-acts his way to demanding a mix of Claire and Mo’s blood in the hope that it will return his powers. Maya’s not happy that she’s been taken for a sucker…
Nathan informs Momma Petrelli that Peter’s still alive – Matt found his fingerprints all over Victoria Pratt’s house. Momma lays down some truths about Adam and his plans to cleanse the earth – telling Nathan that only a bullet through the brain can stop the 400 year-old permanently. She also tells Matt that it’s the also only way to stop Peter if they can’t convince him that Adam’s a psychopath.
We zap back to Primatech and the showdown between Adam, Peter and Hiro – it’s not going well for our sword-carrying friend. Peter takes him down pretty comprehensively. Adam reclaims his sword and begins to plough his way through security with it.
Elle questions HRG about what Bob did to her as a child; Bob eavesdrops – and then enters the room to stop him saying any more. He dresses down Elle, and proceeds to question Noah about Claire – leaving with a threat to silence her if she goes public about her powers.
Mo takes Sylar, Molly and Maya to his lab – so he can test Sylar’s blood and prepare an antidote for him, apparently. Elle, who’s idly flicking through security camera feeds back at company headquarters, spots him. In an attempt to win some approval from daddy, she sets off to re-capture him.
Meanwhile Monica, who was trying to be a hero in the mould of St. Joan from Micah’s copy of 9th Wonders, is about to be crispy fried. Micah enlists the help of a powerless, virus-effected Nikki to help him.
Nathan and Matt arrive at Primatech in a nice comedy moment – I think Nate’s feeling the weight of flying Air Parkman.
Claire finally ditches West when he reveals that he doesn’t want her to go public… Then Noah walks in to try and convince her to stay schtum too. He’s struck a deal to stay ‘dead’ – and working for Primatech – in exchange for the rest of the family being left alone.
Maya asks Molly to tell her where Alejandro is. Her response is to say he’s ‘not anywhere’ – suddenly it all clicks into place and she’s realises Sylar’s killed him. She gets a bit mad, Sy caps her on the spot. Dead.
Ahhhh, but y’see… There’s healing blood around. Making her a perfect guinea pig to test Mo’s cure for Sylar on.
Peter finally gets the vault containing the virus open, only to be confronted by Hiro again. Whom he dispatches, again… Whilst Pete’s busy, Adam slips into the vault and retrieves the 138 vial. Nathan and Matt show up, putting doubt into Peter’s mind about Adam’s motives. Hiro picks himself up and goes after Adam. They face off in the vault – with Adam holding the virus behind his back the whole time. As Hiro zaps himself and Adam away, psycho-boy drops the vial… Luckily Pete bursts in a holds it in mid-air before it is released. He destroys it with a hands-of-Sprague nuclear-boy routine.
Mo tests the super-blood on Maya, it works… But before he can restore Sylar’s powers, Elle shows up… It’s gun vs. lightning for a few moments, but Sylar gets away with the blood and his life. Elle’s annoyed at first, but quite proud of herself when Mo thanks her for saving them all. Don’t think Dad’s going to be as chuffed.
Micah uses his powers to track the GPS on Monica’s cellphone… He and Nikki find the building she’s trapped in. Nikki gets Monica out, but gets trapped inside as we see the building explode.
Hiro’s sitting at his desk clicking at his mouse. Ando asks him if he managed to get Adam… Hiro informs him that Adam will never be able to hurt anyone again. We cut to Adam screaming… Hiro – rather darkly, for such a likeable character – has buried him alive in the same cemetery as his father.
Nathan prepares for a press conference. He’s decided that the only way to stop the company is to reveal his powers… Big mistake. Just as he’s about to say the word ‘fly’, he takes two slugs to the chest from an unseen assassin.
Cue Title Card: End Of Chapter 2
Cue Title Card: Chapter Three: Pandora’s Box
Sylar injects himself with the blood Mo prepared. He concentrates on a tin of canned spinach… It wobbles, and then shoots across the alley and into his hand; with the raise of a Spock-like eyebrow he says, “I’m back”.
And that’s it. Hang on… Dead Petrellis, characters with bullet holes, explosions? Doesn’t this sound a little familiar? Haven’t they just shuffled the Cluedo deck on this one? Nathan Petrelli at the Press Conference with The Gun. Nikki Sanders in the Restaurant with the Petrol… It’s all very low key, and well… normal. And not a little disappointing.
But here’s my real problem; and it’s a problem that the three main series in my life – add 24 and Lost to this one – all suffer with. Where’s the tension? We know that neither of the two Jacks can die… that’s kind of a given, so any danger they are put in is underscored by the fact that they’ll be back next season. This often renders both of those series a little impotent. This instantly bursts a bubble of belief. However, Heroes has taken this a step further. It’s placed itself between the devil and the deep blue sea. Now, ANYBODY in the Heroes universe can be saved by an injection of blood. No one EVER has to die… Ever again. Period. Kill a character and then revive them? Well, that’s lame and been done before – twice… But kill a character and let them die and fans will just ask ‘why?’
When no one can ever die, there’s no tension. This is the biggest problem I see with Chapter 3. I don’t know where Kring’s going with this logic, I really don’t. Unless, that is, he really is brave enough to leave one or both of the in-trouble characters dead (with a convincing logic behind it) this time around – something they simply didn’t have the kahunas to do last time.