I’ve watched Into Asylum twice over now, and I’m no closer to deciding if this is actually good or just narrative treading water.
It’s not a plot that I want to recant in its entirety because, except for one plotline, not much actually happens. From a positive perspective, its seems to be about trying to emotionally ground characters that have been broken by previous episodes, giving these lost children a purpose again.
The focus, therefore, falls on the parings of Angela and Peter, Nathan and Claire, and Denko with his new best buddy Sylar. The last two represent the bulk of the story, while the other two plotlines are more about resetting or rationalising those characters.
Angela and Peter take refuge from the rain in a church, and look for absolution and guidance, retrospectively. Angela’s power is to dream the future, but she’s also an insomniac, which isn’t a helpful combination. There’s some great dialogue between them, but the only development is that she eventually sleeps and dreams a future for both of them. One nugget we’re given is that Angela has a sister, although what her power is or if she even has one isn’t discussed.
If that doesn’t sound substantial, then the Claire and Nathan piece, where they hang out in Mexico for one day and drink tequila is even less so. It’s about mutual understanding, I guess, but I was slightly thrown by a side effect of the flight there is that Claire has a new hairstyle. But on the upside, Claire wasn’t annoying or exceptionally stupid, and Nathan wasn’t irrepressibly smug for the most part. At the end they decide to return north of the border, although what they plan to do when they get back isn’t clear.
That leaves the Denko and Sylar dance, where the most powerful mutant offers to help the show’s second nemesis to catch all the others. Some people might follow why he’s doing this, but I’m less convinced that I understand his motivation. There’s a short conversation at the end of the story where Denko points out that eventually there will only be Sylar, which seemed like a odd allusion to Highlander. But on the basis that people with powers are presumably being born all the time, it didn’t quite add up.
The worst aspect of this section is that they pursue another mutant who can shapeshift into different appearances. At one point he’s running away and changes his appearance to that of a cleaner he passes. At the time this looks like a dumb move, because he was a fit and agile person before, and now he’s a fat and slow one. He escapes anyway but they then catch up with him in a nightclub later – where he makes himself look like Sylar, before being shot and then killed by Sylar – who, you guessed it, can now shapeshift.
Giving him more powers is a bad plan, unless they intend to really kill Sylar soon, because being overpowered has been a big problem for numerous characters in this show. The problem with all the powers is that, in any given situation, you wonder why he doesn’t use that power. I’m sure in all the powers he’s had, some of them we’ve never seen him use.
As the shapreshifter dies in that form, it also makes people think that Sylar is dead, although you get the distinct impression that Noah doesn’t actually accept that when he sees the body.
Overall, this all played like moving the chess pieces around the board than actually moving them into any strategically advantageous position. The best I can say is that I didn’t slap my forehead with something they did that was crazy or entirely left-field, but it wasn’t a story I’d label as pivotal. It also wisely didn’t put Hiro and Ando, or Parkman in here for no good reason, instead keeping them for another week.
With four stories left this season, I’d like to see the pace quicken somewhat as it needs a better conclusion than the recommendation that it didn’t get worse.
Check out our review of episode 20 here.