Heroes for some weeks now has been doing an impression of a person treading water, convinced that they can touch the bottom if they try. Except this show is in mid ocean, and there is only the potential of creative drowning.
It divides events between three threads, each of which demonstrates just how far from the season one tree the apple of the third season has fallen.
Exposed starts with the Bennett household, where Claire has been hiding aqua-boy Alex in her closet for the past two weeks, it seems. This is a bonding story where Claire must allow her step mother to help her and Alex, so they can escape the two agents camped outside their house.
As this is actually the core of this episode, it’s a shame that it’s so silly in places. What it’s a prime example of is the amazingly convenient world of Heroes, where things are placed just where they need to be or happen in a totally unrealistic way.
The agents in the van get bored sitting there after four hours and come to look inside the house, because they’ve convinced themselves Alex is inside.
He is, but Sandra Bennett knows a secret Noah location, a space behind an air grill where he can hide. Alex gets in this space, and they put a box in front of the hinged panel. The female agent goes right up to this place, and moves the box, which then knocks the panel which obviously moves! Does she ask why a wall might do that? No, she ignores it and with her partner leaves.
Shortly after that incredulous scene, Sandra and Lyle create a distraction while Alex and Claire make an escape through the back garden down a steep slope into another garden with a pool.
When they get to the bottom of the slope there’s a fence around the property, which was apparently too high for the cute but diminutive Hayden Panettiere (5’1″) to scale. So, incredibly, there is a box placed there for them to get over the fence, and an even more convenient one on the other side so that it isn’t too much of a drop to poolside.
The entire purpose of all this is to allow her and Alex to hide in the pool while having a sneaky underwater snog. The word ‘contrived’ just isn’t enough, really.
It doesn’t get much better with the return of Sylar and micro-wave boy, who are going through some typical hero/sidekick angst. Sylar is now getting as bored of Luke as the viewers, and on at least two occasions you think he’ll top him. But alas, he doesn’t. The upshot of their short sequence is that Sylar remembers being taken to a diner, sold to some people, and his father scalping his mother. Not nice recollections and something he’s keen to discuss with his father when he meets him next week, I’m told. He ditches Luke, which was a relief to me.
Luke can now take up that promised career in fast food, where all he needs to do is master making the ‘ding’ sound so that they don’t realise he can heat the food without an appliance. Would you like fries with that?
The final part of this story is the ongoing Peter and Parkman plan to get cute Daphne back and generally save the world.
This embodies the very best and worst that Heroes has to offer in one package. On the upside there is a fun scene where Parkman and Parkman-powered Peter go on a short rampage in Building 26 in an attempt to find Daphne, who isn’t there.
They do, however, manage to download some incriminating video before Parkman is caught and Peter runs away. Parkman’s weakness is revealed, and it’s not donuts. He can’t do the mind control thing if he’s being distracted with a fire alarm, apparently. DC never considered that as an alternative to Kryptonite, I bet.
Peter threatens to give the video to the TV stations unless Daphne and Parkman are released, but Denko has an entirely different plan. He shoots Peter, who falls off the roof to be then be saved by Nathan, for at least the fifth time, to my reckoning. Possibly more.
He then wires Parkman to explode, drugs him and pushes him out of the van in the middle of Washington. This just proves how entirely useless the Isaac Mendez power really is, as they almost never actually work out what it all means until after it happens. Painting this image over and over again, Parkman learned nothing. And just when I thought that they’d hit rock bottom, the final scene has Eric Doyle, the Puppeteer, turn up at Claire’s, having been sent by the mysterious ‘Rebel’ to get help. I’d rather stupidly assumed that because he was disabled by Sylar in the Company facility, which then was destroyed by exploding Meredith Gordon, that he might actually be dead. But no such luck in the world of Heroes.
That’s a second week with no Ando and Hiro, suggesting they’ve given up with writing ‘comedy’, and we didn’t get to see Tracy, Mohinder or Daphne either. I’m happy that they are focusing on a smaller set of characters, but nothing they’ve done so far even hints that they can reclaim the style and imagination of season one.
We need less conveniently placed boxes, and more imaginatively developed plots and convincing dialogue. It might also be a plan to have a moratorium on bringing back old or introducing new characters until things get back on track, but given the past few weeks, I think that’s a highly optimistic thought.
Check out our review of episode 17 here.