There are people who read my Heroes reviews and conclude, wrongly, that I hate this show. No, I don’t. What I do really object to is where what was a very good show went, which was down the toilet at some rate of knots. While I was willing to accept the problems that the writers strike last year caused with season two, what happened to the plot and characters late last year was a complete travesty. Heroes lost its way entirely, and become entirely disconnected from any of the strong ideas that its original season so cleverly built on.
Now after its year-end hiatus the show is back, and has show runner Tim Kring learned anything from the barrage of abuse he’s received from TV critics across the globe?
Well curiously, the answer seems to be ‘yes’.
One of my biggest complaints was how none of the heroes was remotely connected to reality, as in having to earn a living. And almost immediately at the start of A Clear and Present Danger (Volume Four: Fugitives) that’s what we get! Cute Daphne is working as a cycle courier, Parkman is a policeman again, Peter a medic and Clare is going back to school. Even Nathan is actually doing the sorts of things that state senators actually do, even if it’s the same twisted plot steal from X-Men where the government sees the threat of mutants and starts bagging them, starting with Tracy Strauss.
The only exception to this is Hiro and Ando, which presumably based on the funding of his father’s company, has allowed Hiro to create a ‘lair’. He’s obviously been reading too many comics, which is what Ando concludes when he shows his friend the spandex outfit he’s had made for him, and the Ando-cycle. I don’t think Tim Kring likes the Hiro and Ando characters, and makes them act like ten-year-olds at the slightest opportunity.
Sylar is dead you might recall, except he isn’t, as Claire suspects. He goes looking for the man who is supposedly his father, looking for answers to how he’s a super-human and his dad repaired watches and his mother collected snow globes.
The answer, if you didn’t guess, is that he was adopted from the brother of the man he finds tending his watch repair business.
Meanwhile, almost powerless Peter is getting frustrated working as a New York paramedic, knowing that with super-strength and speed he could save more road accident victims. He has his learning ability back, we assume, but without coming back into contact with more abilities, he’s not the Peter we once knew.
He gets a call from Claire, who’s overheard a conversation between Nathan and Angela about catching Parkman, and asks him to help. He gets in a cab, driven by Mohinder! They chat, he gets out, and the man who then gets in works for Nathan’s hit team. It wasn’t obvious if Mohinder had lost his powers when he stopped turning into The Fly, but when they try to capture him, he’s still super strong. He manages to escape and runs smack into Noah, who now also works for the new government agency collecting mutants. Doh!
Peter meets Nathan back at the Petrelli home; it isn’t a happy brotherly exchange as Nathan wants to know what Peter can do, so presumably his people know what to expect.
Parkman is visited by Usutu who tells him that he’s been chosen to have pre-cog paint power, like he had a choice. We still have no explanation as to how he reattached his head after Arthur removed it, but you can’t have everything, I guess.
The abductors get Hiro, while he’s talking to Ando, who’s hanging out at a strip joint on the Ando-cycle – holy pole dancers!
These Swat-dressed blokes get around, because a minute later they turn up for Parkman just as Claire comes to warn him. The drawings he created predicting this aren’t very useful, as he’s still trying to interpret them when they tranquilise him.
Peter and Nathan meet again, and it’s a trap where Peter is caught. We’re rapidly running out of free heroes!
We then cut to Sylar: is he the only hope for mutant-kind? He’s turned up at his real father’s place, who, rather humorously, is a taxidermist. He’s attacked by SWAT-R-US, but they forgot to bring nuclear weapons. He’s far too strong!
The rest of the captured mutants are experiencing the joy of ‘rendition’, with matching orange jumpsuits and an unregistered air flight to a sunny destination – Cuba, perhaps?
That’s almost all of them, apart from Claire, who Nathan decides to let go, stupidly. But she escapes and stows away on the plane, helped by her extra tight fitting jumpsuit, I suspect. Her power isn’t always useful, but she’s young, pouting and gutsy with it.
Then she sneaks into the interior of the plane and starts disconnecting the heroes from the drug systems they wear to keep them docile. It’s all exciting stuff of the type we’ve not actually seen for some time on this show. Very soon the plane changes its call-sign to ‘Mutant 1’, but in the ensuing fight Peter ends up with Tracy’s freezing power and puts a big hole in the aircraft – they’re going down and ‘Sully’ isn’t at the controls. Who will live, and who will die? Tune in next week, fans.
Gosh, this was really entertaining, something I wondered if I’d ever say about this show again. It still fell into the trap of flitting around too much, but in general, it was the best episode since the end of season one. In fact, if you’re willing to forgive the new characters since then, it could so easily have spliced onto the show at that point, and had us avoid the abyssal lows of seasons two and three so far.
The symbolism of a crashing airplane is obvious to parallel; this show was going down, out of control, and now someone has taken control. It still has some work to climb back to altitude, but at least it’s no longer on fire! I can’t wait for Bryan Fuller’s influence to be felt again. We need snappy dialogue and character development to go along with the plot resurgence.
Check out our review of episode 13 here.
3 February 2009