I can see that some people, those who liked the showy and brainless stories that dominated the early part of season three, will hate the latest Heroes episode. But it made a connection with this reviewer, and not just that I was born in the year in which most of 1961 is set.
The gameplan that Bryan Fuller put in place when he came back to this series is now unfolding, like a butterfly hardening its wings for a first flight. First he re-established some sort of practical existence for his characters from which they derived a common perspective. Phase two, which this story represents, is to connect them to past events on which the events in the future will have some bearing. The joy of any show like this is to understand why people do things, often entirely against their nature, providing characters with personalities that have both light and shade.
In the mythology of Heroes, Angela has been a difficult character to follow as it’s rarely explained why she does things and often they seem to be totally at odds with what she says and her parental instincts.
This story attempts to build a long overdue foundation for Angela, and make her a much more complex character in the process.
It begins with the grave digging in Coyote Sands where we left Angela, Noah, Nathan, Peter and Claire previously. It then flips between character interactions in the present, and back to 1961, when Angela and her sister Alice entered the Coyote Sands Relocation Camp where they’re met by a young Chandra Suresh. The government has become aware of gifted people, and wants them brought together so they can be tested and maybe cured of their abilities.
As the story progresses we are introduced to younger versions of Doc Zimmerman, Robert Bishop, Charles Deveaux and Daniel Linderman, along with Angela and her younger sister, Alice. They’re all teenagers here, and rightfully nervous of what the government has planned for them. Angela is especially concerned because she has such frightening dreams about what happens next.
Her sister is also fretful, and her emotional state is reflected in the weather being her power to control it.
The story works best when it’s back in 1961, mostly because the excellent Alexa Nikolas pulls off the young Angela so well. The flipside of that is the bickering that goes on in the present, as they reveal what happened at Coyote Sands and how it so dramatically coloured the future.
The pivotal point comes when Angela is convinced to escape the camp and head to a local diner with the boys, leaving her young sister with Dr. Suresh. She panics, an electrical storm ensues and people start dying in large numbers. An event that haunted Angela ever since and was the catalyst for the creation of the company. So that super-people could be kept secret, and not be experimented on in camps.
The twist, and frankly without it this story would have been a dry gulch of character development, is that Alice isn’t dead. Although given nearly 50 years has elapsed, it’s something of a stretch. In that time she’s gone a bit bonkers, and is living in an old nuclear bunker, but she’s still alive. She creates a tornado and whisks Angela away to the bunker where they confront their past.
The theme that ties the whole thing together is forgiveness, and how difficult it can be to forgive people even if you’re close to them. In the end, it appears that Peter can forgive Nathan, but Alice can’t forgive Angela and disappears in one of her manufactured weather events. The storm covers over the graves, showing just how silly they’d been digging them in the first place.
I’ve left out that along the way Mohinder Suresh joins them, led there by a file he found in his father’s belongings. He’s guilty about what part his father played in Coyote Sands and stays when they leave to consider those lessons.
The five family members all go to the diner where 48 years earlier Angela and Charles Deveaux danced, and share a cholesterol-packed meal together. Their family fries are spoiled by a TV broadcast where Nathan appears to be ‘bringing real purpose back to the White Hhouse’, or would that be Sylar?
People who watch this show for super-powers to be used every five seconds will hate this story, but I actually found it quite interesting.
With just two stories left in this season, however, I think the action will ramp from here, as the character chess pieces are almost all now in position. I suspect we’ll probably see some more characters die, but they must, for the greater good of the show, I suspect.
Check out our review of episode 22 here.