So it’s back and I didn’t realise quite how excited I was about the third season of Heroes until I settled in for a double bill of episodes one and two. I’d sat down confident that I could watch the start of the season objectively, carefully deliberating over the first episodes so that I didn’t feel the crash of disappointment I felt after my initial excitement had dissipated during the second season. However, as soon as I saw that solar eclipse and heard Mohinder’s familiar voiceover my plans fell by the wayside as I yelped like a small girl that had just been handed a bag of kittens. And I carried on yelping, repeatedly in fact as my first dose of Villains showed that Heroes is back to its best.
Tim Kring had said that he’d gone back to the basics that made Heroes such a success in the first place and so I don’t think it is a surprise that the first couple of episodes remind me a lot of season one at its finest.
Instantly recognisable is the return of the complex plot that involves several different characters and narrative strands shooting off in every direction (something that didn’t really come together in Origins). For me this is where the show triumphs, as it takes seemingly unrelated characters and events, then binds them together throughout the course of the season.
This is very much in evidence at the start of season three as our heroes, and villains, are literally scattered across time and space and the narrative repeatedly jumps from storyline to storyline. There are also other familiar ingredients that made season one so successful: time travel, a cataclysmic image of a city blowing up in the future, bad-ass future Peter, Sylar on the rampage, the cheerleader getting into trouble. Oh, and Hiro and Ando back to their comic best.
There are also some new and welcome additions to the complex themology Heroes, most notably those of religion and politics, which are woven in thanks to Nathan Petrelli’s ‘rebirth’ and political positioning. This is perhaps only coincidence but it is hard to imagine that the current presidential election and American political landscape have had no influence on Kring here, and it will be interesting to see how this continues throughout the series.
The second season was criticised for the way it drew out mysteries and dragged in places, but season three is all action, right from the word go. And Tim Kring and co give us a few answers right from the off, most notably the identity of Nathan Petrelli’s shooter which formed the cliffhanger for season two. But, each answer throws up a hundred more questions in its place, so in the absence of Isaac Mendez I thought I’d take the opportunity to look into the future to try and paint a picture of what might happen to our heroes in the coming weeks based on what we know after the first two episodes.
First and foremost, for me anyway, the biggest question of the first two episodes has to be what the hell is going on with Niki, or should that be Tracy Strauss? Not only does she fail to recognise Nathan when she visits him in the hospital, but also flatly denies that the pictures of a Vegas stripper dug up by the investigative reporter are of her either. Finally to top it all off she freezes a guy to death; an ice queen she may have been but Niki could never do that so what’s going on?
My current working theory is that Jessica (Niki’s super strong and sultry alter ego from seasons one and two) is only one small part of her multi personality disorder and that she in fact has several different characters, each with their own individual powers and personalities that she can slip into. Now I’m not basing this on anything in particular but it would tie up nicely and provide a useful female counterpart to Sylar and Peter’s abilities.
I think probably the second standout moment and biggest WTF? moment of the first two episodes is Mohinder jacking himself up on some sort of superhuman serum that after an initial rush of power and indeed charisma, starts to mutate and degenerate. I think we are going to see Mohinder become a kind of powers junkie, continually shooting up to retain his superhuman status. It looks like season three will spend a lot of time playing with the idea of heroes becoming villains and villains becoming heroes so this would be an interesting little idea. Especially as he has to take the serum from Maya’s adrenal gland, and so, to a degree, it would put him in a similar position to Sylar, feeding off of other people’s powers to augment his own.
Sylar is also back to his brilliant best, especially in the Halloween inspired scene as he steals Claire’s power, but by the end of the season premiere a whole can of worms has been opened about his true identity and his role in upcoming events.
At the end of episode two after he has been re-captured after the level five breakout, Angela Petrelli implies that Sylar is her son too and that she will ‘feed’ him so that he can do what her other sons couldn’t. So is Sylar deep down a Petrelli, or is Angela implying that he is a creation of the Company?
Whatever the case I think in upcoming episodes we will see Sylar unleashed by the Company as a monster to catch other monsters and they will tool him up with the powers he needs to catch those that escaped from level five with the promise that if he catches them he can take their powers too. If this is the case it will temporarily put him in the role of the hero as he hunts them down but will no doubt also make him a more fearsome prospect and one which the Company will inevitably lose control of.
Peter, or should that be the Peters, also looks like an interesting prospect for the next few episodes. Future Peter seems to be trying to make up for the impact he has had on the timestream and something I found particularly interesting was the map and string he was putting together in his apartment which reminded me a lot of Mohinder’s father’s research that we saw early in season one. Present day Peter is also trapped in the body of one of the level five villains (the body being Francis Capra who makes a welcome return to primetime television after an excellent stint as weavel in Veronica Mars), will he escape, does he have his powers and what will happen to him as he joins the villains who seem intent on a murderous rampage.
Finally I thought we’d take a look at Claire because, after all, you save the cheerleader, you save the world, and after Sylar’s examination of her brain she is once more the most important character on the planet. So why is she special and what significance does her loss of pain have? For me it is particularly interesting that her mum is back on the scene at the bequest of Noah so I would expect some more fall out over the next few weeks exploring her genetic make up.
The chances are I’m going to be wrong on many, if not all of these counts, but part of the fun of Heroes is trying, in vain, to work out how all of these different strands will come together and then being pleasantly surprised when you are completely and brilliantly proved wrong.