The signs from 2.8 were good, Kring’s back on the reins and Heroes may just be moving along those rails again. However, I certainly didn’t expect 2.9 to be the best Heroes episode since Company Man (1.17)… No, really, it’s that good. In the last 90 minutes, Kring himself (with his script for Four Months Ago) and Joe Pokaski (with this episode, Cautionary Tales) have pulled out all the stops to put right the problems – it’s Heroes at its best, and classic comic book fayre; tense, fantastical, touching, funny and centred in down-to-earth dilemmas amplified to the nth degree.
For whilst Cautionary Tales involves lots of time travel, many guns pulled, lightning bolts, healing girls and flying guys – what it’s really about is children and their parents. How, at some point, we realise they’re flawed, why we sometimes hate them and don’t understand why they did what they did and do what they do, how we reconcile with them – hopefully – and ultimately how we remember them when they’re gone.
I’ve complained this season that Heroes has become pedestrian soap opera, and at points it has. But interestingly, what has been so brilliant about the last two instalments is that they’ve managed to include much of the pleasure of that genre (exploration of domestic issues, family struggles and everyday work/home problems) with fast moving action, and all within the much-refined parenthesis of a tense larger story arc.
This is the stuff, ladies and gentlemen. Heroes has started to realise its own powers is starting to use them in a far more focused manner than any of this season’s first seven episodes hinted it could possibly manage.
So what’s new since we found out what happened in the lost time between S1 and 2? Well, Hiro can’t resist the urge to hop back and save his father. Only to be confronted with a wise old man who doesn’t believe that they should be allowed to play God… Unfortunately that man is his father, and after much soul-searching Hiro begins to see that Dad knows best.
However, Hiro cannot resist the temptation to get a glimpse of the killer – finding out what we already know, namely it’s Takezo Kensei/Adam Monroe. Hiro is, to say the least, a little shocked to find that the man he thought he’d blown to smithereens 400 years ago is actually still alive and looking pretty good. And obviously it doesn’t bode well for their future relationship that he glimpses Kensei’s face as he’s diving off a building with his father for company.
Claire’s got issues, especially when daddy declares that the whole family’s leaving Cali. West believes Claire is a spy for her father; but to find out the truth he abducts HRG and scares him into admitting he knew nothing about him. 20,000 feet between you and the ground with only a scrawny emo-boy safety harness will do that to you, I’d imagine. Instead, Noah convinces West that Claire’s in danger.
Suresh is conflicted about who the bad guys are anymore – and has been teamed-up with Elle the newbie (to us, anyway) – aka lightning bolt girl – to ‘take out’ Bennet Snr and capture Claire, whose blood they believe will help Nicki – who’s been infected with the virus, remember?
Turns out that Elle is the daughter of company man Bob… I thought she was just being sarcastic on the phone from Ireland!
Suresh abducts HRG at gunpoint, and takes him to Elle; though apparently West has been spying on poppa Bennet a little more after their first encounter, and intervenes. Fly-boy also saves Suresh, by acting as Bennet’s conscience as he’s about to pop the Doc. End result: HRG’s got Elle, and leaves Mo unconscious on the deck.
Unfortunately, Bob’s tracked down Claire, and the rest of the family… So he’s got here.
HRG gets Elle to propose a hostage swap with daddy the alchemist. But only after he’s imparted some home truths to lightning girl about the way her father treated her back in the day, giving a nice insight into exactly why he’s so determined to stop them getting their hands on his charge.
Bob agrees… But only after we see him take a pack of blood from Claire.
The swap does not go down well… Elle shoots West, HRG shoots Elle but – just as he’s about to shoot Bob – gets iced by Mohinder, fulfilling the prophecy from Isaac’s paintings. Is that it for HRG…? Claire, West and the rest of the Bennet clan certainly think so. Bob, weirdly, looks very sad when this happens.
But no…! Remember that pack of Claire’s super-claret (I’ve seen Lock, Stock… y’know)? Well, apparently Noah’s important enough – or they hate him enough – to use it to bring him back from the great beyond! Yay… I think.
In other news: moody Matt is still trying to piece together history of the company, and is especially interested in one, as yet un-revealed subject in the picture of the company’s founding fathers, Angela Pratt. He has to use some of his new-found talents on Angela Patrelli to get a name; not pleasant and indicative that Matt may be more like daddy than he cares to admit.
The fact that there’s a lot of action in this episode is great, but what’s really good – ironically, considering some of my past criticism, is that the personal relationships are back on track. No news on Sylar, Maya and Alejandro (I think their story may get snipped a lot courtesy of the potential for a shortened series ‘cause of the WGA strike). Nor is there anything on any other new Heroes, Niki, Micah or info on what Peter and Adam are up to – apart from offing members of the company hierarchy, that is.
But, thankfully, that doesn’t matter, ‘cause there’s little doubt that there’s a storm a-comin’. Great stuff.