Great scot! This week’s episode of Heroes has so many time paradoxes in it that I doubt even the eminent Dr Emmett Brown could unravel it. You see time travel brings with it a whole heap of complicated issues (just look at future Peter’s cat’s cradle of timelines way back in the early part of the season). It’s a tricky subject but there are rules which offer writers a narrow path that skirts the boundaries of ridiculousness to offer safe passage to entertainment nirvana. But sadly, whilst Hiro may be the master of time and space; Tim Kring and Co most certainly are not.
Now, I’ve enjoyed time travel in Heroes and it certainly has its place, but the problems come when the characters start to interact in the timezone they find themselves in, and it is that deep flaw which runs through the entirety of episode 12. My Father had more paradoxes than a temporal anomaly’s day out to the time paradox convention in time machine land, and only marginally less than the insipid Van Damme gaffe-fest that is Time Cop.
It all starts because Hiro and Claire go back in time and begin engaging with their past selves, a series of events that present so many problems it made me go cross-eyed. By far the most gargantuan of cock ups comes when Noah and Claire quarrel over her identity and what she’s doing helping out with the care of her baby-self. Surely the adoptive mother and father who come to dote so heavily on their daughter would think at some point around her 16th birthday how she looks strangely familiar to that nice young lady who opened the door to the apartment and helped out with the baby some time. Of course, I bet you they don’t.
Still, whilst the time travel made me want to hunt the show’s writers down, put them in some rudimentary stocks and pelt them with the rotten contents of my fridge, the episode wasn’t without it’s plus points. Sylar makes a superb return to form and after killing Elle (which is a crying shame) goes on to cherry pick more powers from people’s freshly diced brains. The thing about Sylar is that he’s so good at being bad, and throw in the macabre humour exhibited as he goes about his gruesome business and you’ve got the makings of one of my favourite moments of the season so far. The shame is, though, that the writers have wasted the opportunity to do this more consistently, as the previous 11 episodes have seen him flipflopping between hero and villain.
Sadly, it is this failure to settle on any purposeful direction for the show’s cast that has overshadowed the entire series. As one reader put in their comment on last week’s article: “Heroes tries to have it both ways.”. It wants to be accessible with standalone episodes and an unchanging consistency that encourages familiarity amongst the audience; but it also wants to join in the current trend of serialised drama where characters, plot and the show’s landscape change over time. Obviously, these are conflicting approaches and inevitably what appear to be huge plot developments are undone one or two episodes down the line, leaving the audience feeling cheated, or in my case, that I’ve wasted the time and energy engaging with the events of previous episodes.
You can understand then the sense of anti-climax I felt when Peter, aided by the Haitian and ultimately that devilish rogue, Sylar, turns up at Pinecrest, bypasses the lax security and goes about killing his father whilst his brother is down the hall creating a regiment of supersoldiers thanks to the formula and the catalyst (which it turns out it just a cheap light effect which is easily transferable from person to orangey gloop).
Obviously, I’ve bypassed a lot of what happened including Ando, Parkman and Daphne tracking down the lost sketches for the latest 9th wonder comic. Ultimately, however, the episode doesn’t blow me away which, when it is the penultimate instalment of this volume, it really needs to. Still, next week is another opportunity for Kring to excite, or ultimately disappoint me all over again.
Read Daniel’s prior review here.
19 December 2008