Heroes season 3 episode 24 review

The penultimate story of the third season of Heroes has serious ‘mommy’ issues…

I’m still coming to terms with the major change in tone that Heroes underwent after Jeph Loeb and Jesse Alexander got the chop. Not that I’m pining for their confused and disconnected era, but this is a very different show now and some parts I like, and others I’m less keen on.

In a story entitled I Am Sylar there’s a strong hint who will occupy the most screen time, and that’s not an idle threat as this sociopath superman gets most of the exposition. Instead of taking on the other heroes he spends much of his time fighting his inner demons.

The story starts with him waking in the apartment of the FBI agent whose life he’s taken over. Confusingly, he looks like the agent until he transforms back into Sylar, at which point he discovers that he’s got an extra tooth!

This is the first carriage in a train of events that explores the identity loss that Sylar is experiencing by being other people. At one point he scores the words “I Am Sylar” in flesh on his arm, before his powers erase it. The events covered by this episode are concurrent to those in the previous story, and lead only a little past the point where the extended Petrelli family in the diner see Sylar being Nathan for the TV cameras.

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There are two sideplots, neither of which have any direct bearing on the Sylar portions, one with Matt Parkman and the other with Ando and Hiro. The Parkman parts are about addressing all the angst around the relationship between Matt and Janice, and how Matt Jnr. might re-kindle their relationship. As touching as this is, and as much as I love the Parkman character, its use here is to segment the Sylar sequences. And that is also true of Hiro and Ando parts, where they spend most of their time bickering about which known superhero character they associate with themselves. While they do have more believable conversations these days, the whole hero/sidekick issue here is getting tired and they need to move on or separate them.

The only positive aspect to their contribution is that at the end of the show they’re about to attack Building 26 when Hiro’s power causes him to have a nose bleed. I see the capping of powers like that of Hiro to be crucial, because unfettered they can so easily undermine almost any plotline.

But back to Sylar, or whomever he happens to be at any point. He turns up at the home of another special person, and befriends them before doing his usual party trick of partial decapitation. The victim is played by none other than original Trek child actor Clint Howard (incidentally, brother of Ron Howard), although, sadly, he doesn’t offer Sylar any ‘tranya’ before he’s turned into a Pez dispenser. His power appeared to be harmonic resonance, so that’s another to add to Sylar’s stupidly long list of abilities.

But given that he’s supposedly dead, Sylar then takes the somewhat rash action of daubing the words “I am Sylar” in the blood of his latest trophy. This is making Denko nervous, but if he knew what was going on in Sylar’s mind he’d be really concerned.

The identity issue is beginning to unhinge Sylar, to the extent that he conjures up his step-mother Virginia played by Ellen Greene, which now brings both ‘Lillian’ and ‘Vivian’ Charles from Pushing Daisies into recent stories. As Sylar keeps transforming into her to speak in her person, we realise that she loved him, was the only person who did, and the only person he really regrets killing. It’s borderline Psycho in the way this is presented, and goes some way to explain a little about what motivates him.

The crunch for Syalr comes when he’s called to capture ‘Rebel’ Micah. Even for Sylar, killing kids is a bit dark, and as such they step firmly away from that abyss when Sylar decides to let him go, and, in fact, facilitates his escape. Is this a turning point for Sylar, who admits that he’s got about as many powers in his head as he can practically use?

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His speech as Nathan, that ended the previous story, is then the catalyst for some key events that wrap up this story.

Nathan flies back to Washington hoping to meet the President before Sylar can become him, yet runs smack into him in his own Senator’s office. There isn’t much love lost here, and Sylar is about to take his power when Nathan collapses, shot with a tranq dart by Denko. We briefly flip away to hear Mohinder’s voice talking about answering the question ‘who am I’, while he, Claire, Angela and Peter are being caught by Denko’s men, and Ando comforts a disabled Hiro outside Building 26 before returning to a final twist of the blade with Sylar.

He emerges from the bathroom, and Denko notices he’s not become the agent ‘Taub’ persona again. While Sylar is explaining how uninterested he is in what Denko wants, he stabs Sylar in the back of the head with a small blade, killing him. But in this show people don’t generally stay dead long, and much to Denko’s amazement, Sylar is soon up and removing the blade. I’d be curious exactly how long he lives in the next story, as I can’t see him surviving to season four.

Overall, I liked some of the Sylar bits in this story and hated others. I got bored with the is-Sylar-bad-or-good angle in season two, so having him swing from one extreme to another isn’t helping me like the show any more. Having good-bad, yin-yang is fine, but it’s been a rather overplayed element in the series so far.

On the upside, I’ve no idea where the final episode will take us, but I’m confident that it will be spectacular. Somehow I think next week’s body count might be high, but who exactly gets burned in this bonfire of vanities, I’ve no idea.

Check out our review of episode 23 here.

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