Heroes season 3 episode 20 review

A spoiler-filled look at Bryan Fuller's return to writing Heroes episodes...

Heroes already has a commitment to season four from NBC, which despite a big drop in viewers still gets more people watching this show than almost any other on that network (aside from, perhaps, The Office). So if it’s not very good then they might not be as concerned as I got as we progressed deeper into season three.

To my mind this episode had the potential to represent a turning point, or maybe even a pre-emptive strike on the fourth season. It’s the first story credited to the returning script genius of Bryan Fuller. He might not have made Pushing Daisies the hit it might have been, but his sterling work on the first season of Heroes underlines that he’s nothing if not adaptable. Whatever we would get from Heroes from his reintroduction onwards, it was likely to be distinctively different, and ‘Cold Snap’ was certainly that.

The main story arc this week is about Denko wanting ‘Rebel’, and his plan to use Tracy to track the mysterious person down. But it’s also about Hiro and Ando’s mission to save Baby Parkman, who isn’t Matt as a baby but is in fact his child with his ex-wife Janice. Those that guessed that already, well done.

Poor Hiro and Ando have suffered badly over season three, with some really annoying and stupid scenes that did their characters few favours. In this story they’re entirely revitalised, not only because they’re entirely out of their depth with Baby Parkman, but also because they get some really great dialogue for once, even if most of it is in Japanese. It’s not a great surprise that Parkman Jr has a power, which seems not entirely unlike Micah’s but with the extra twist that it can power electrical devices that aren’t even plugged in. But the ‘go’ power also returns Hiro’s ability to mess with time, but not teleport. That last power, much like Daphne’s running, was a plot nightmare, and it might not return I’d suggest.

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Janice comes back and right behind her are Denko’s men, ready to arrest them both. Ando manages to use his power as a weapon, not entirely unlike the future scene we saw early in the season where Hiro saw himself killed by a future Ando. But there are too many of Denko’s men,  however Hiro stops time and with the help of a wheelbarrow (for Ando) they, and Parkman Jr. escape. This was all great, but there was one slightly disjointed part which was at the start of this sequence Hiro’s English is very poor, but at the end when he’s talking to the baby in the bus station it’s perfect and the sentences he’s speaking are complicated. Maybe some explanation will be presented next week, but it did seem odd.

To make Tracy’s escape from Building 27 convincing Denko also allows her to release Mohinder and Parkman, who carries away the seriously ill Daphne. Parkman takes her to a hospital where they treat her for the septic bullet wound she’s got. Meanwhile Tracy gets the message from Rebel that she’s been expecting and goes to meet him at a train station. But these plot lines do not end well, yet they lead to wonderful Heroes moments in their own unique way.

Daphne wakes in hospital to find that Parkman has convinced the doctors that she’s recording artist Gwen Stefani. Her recovery seems implausibly quick, and she tells Parkman that they haven’t got a real relationship and runs. Later we see her sitting in a very Moulin Rouge setting high on the Paris skyline. Parkman appears and says he flew to her, which seems even more unrealistic, until we see him fly. There’s a very Superman sequence where he takes her across Paris at night, but she’s adamant that he must let her go. But before then could he fly her to the moon. The fanciful nature of all this is a prelude to the inevitable, they streak towards the moon which turns into the flatline of Daphne’s heart monitor – she’s gone. That’s one hero down, but the cull isn’t over yet.

Tracy meets ‘Rebel’, who as was pretty obvious is Micah. I’d known this for certain right at the start because actor Noah Gray-Cabey’s name is in the title credits. He looks much older since we saw him last, and Tracy is shocked that she’s led Denko to the boy. They try to escape and head into a parking lot (is this the most common location for all TV shows to have confrontations?). Denko’s men are closing in, Tracy asks Micah to turn the sprinkler system on, and the water pours. She tells him to run and stay ahead of the ice. The ‘Cold Snap’ occurs and everything freezes, and I mean everything.

This is a wonderful sequence, and a fantastic moment. Tracy freezes the entire parking lot, including herself. While it stops all the SWAT dressed people, it ultimately allows Denko to march up to her and shoot her in the chest. She shatters, and we see part of her face, and her right eye blinks and releases a single tear. A very majestic exit for the ice princess.

Interwoven with these main meals are some minor snacks about Angela going on the run and Peter coming to her rescue, but these are clearly set-ups for events that will come in future stories. Sylar doesn’t appear, although he leaves Eric Doyle as a present in Denko’s apartment at the start. Missing in action were the Bennetts except for Noah and Nathan, but to be honest I didn’t really miss them.

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My reaction overall was that this was good, although I think it still has some places to go to bring it back to the best of season one standard. The biggest improvements are in the quality of the dialogue and the pacing of the story, which are vastly improved over earlier season three stories.

Is Heroes ‘fixed’? No, and I think it would be unrealistic to think that a single episode or even a small run could address all that went wrong with season three. But this story was much more watchable than just about any other story since season one and it brought back a vital spark of wonder that the show has sadly lacked since.

It’s been a long time coming but at last I’m excited about where the show and the characters are going again. And about time too…

See our review of the last episode here.