I can’t decide if I’m a ‘dipshit’ or a ‘sap’. In a week that saw Kring apologise for insulting the audience which has propelled him to fame and fortune, it turns out I am both, as I had blindly hoped that episode 9 would pick up the baton passed on from episode 8 and continue to put Heroes back on track.
But unfortunately, after such a promising showing last time out, this week’s episode was so packed full with the kind of rage-inducing drivel that has had critics and studio execs sharpening their axes, that I almost felt compelled to pick up my phone and speed-dial the Beeb until I found a minimum wage phone jockey to vent my fury at.
I should’ve known I was in for a rough night when we see Ando engineer his and Hiro’s escape from Arthur Petrelli by squeezing his cohort’s face. Yes, you heard me. He squeezes his face, thus activating his ability to travel through space and time, transporting them to a bowling alley. Oh and Hiro now has the mind of a ten year old. Yep, a ten year old, leading to all manner of comedic japery with sauce bottles as he uses his mighty powers to play tricks on Japan’s squares.
We’re not sure how he’s been reduced to the mind of a ten year old, but we can only assume that Arthur’s power works in stages and that Ando’s interruption of it has caused this current pointless sideplot. Either that, or there was a Mystical Zoltar machine just out of shot. The one good thing about Hiro’s transformation is the return of his useful enthusiasm and a visit to the comic shop, a simultaneous geek out and overview of some of Marvel’s questionable editorial decisions in the last year (Captain America’s Dead, Spiderman has revealed his secret identity and the Hulk’s Red!)
Meanwhile, whilst Hiro is doing his best Tom Hanks impression circa 1988, Claire and Peter are on the run from Flint and Knox in a yawningly poor sequence, and Nathan pops by to see his old man who tells him he’s going to give the world superpowers, then make him president.
But perhaps most important of all we get to Sylar, who, once confined with the now chained Elle, learns ‘empathy’ after getting repeatedly blown to smithereens by her. Yes, Sylar is on his way to becoming one of the good guys, having realised he doesn’t have to get all slicey and dicey to steal people’s powers. But sadly, what is potentially one of the character’s defining moments is handled with about as much finesse as Mike Tyson in a pair of oversized oven gloves. It is an appalling scene that makes a mockery out of the phenomenal talent at Kring’s disposal. Both Bell and Quinto are fine performers and, given the backstory provided in last week’s episode, I had hoped that this moment would deliver more than the romcomesque bonding that Kring has reduced it to. Watch as Elle breaks down, finally accepting Sylar for who he is. Marvel as Sylar is humanised in his empathy for Elle, and vomit yourself inside out when she flirtily guides the man who brutally killed her father through the ins and outs of her power. Yuk!
The lovey dovey stuff continues as Daphne tells Parkman she loves him and Angela uses the power of love, or emotional blackmail, to convince Arthur to release them from their mental prison. But, just as you think Heroes is descending into the type of doe-eyed romcom you would rather scratch your own retinas out than watch, Kring almost pulls it back. The final scenes are a big slow motion set-up where our good and evil heroes take their sides (I don’t fancy the good guys’ chances by the way, especially given that their big hitters are a de-powered Peter and increasingly tubby Parkman). We’re also told the two parts of the formula need a catalyst, which self-centred Claire believes must be her and which the other characters seem all too happy to accept even though she probably thinks the world revolves around her.
So there we have it. The lines are drawn, our heroes have chosen their sides and another eclipse is coming which means, yep, I’m hooked in for another week. Although I’ve finally realised that Kring is nothing more than a second hand car salesman – you know he’s pedalling crap. You know even if it looks good, the chances are, under the hood it’s crap, and you’re fully prepared to walk away from the deal. Well, until he throws in that expensive-looking air freshener and new paint job. Yep, trading on those dipshits and saps: it’s a good grift if you can get it.
Read Daniel’s prior review here.