Heroes season 4 episode 12 review

The threat of the axe hovers over Heroes, and the last episode of 2009 doesn't offer much of a case for the show's defence...

As the spectre of cancellation hovers over Heroes in earnest following Sendhil “Mohinder” Ramamurthy’s casting in a new NBC pilot for next season, those of us still watching can only wonder: is this season going to go out on a high?

As a dry run for the eventual (inevitable?) conclusion, we have this, the final episode of the year and, traditionally, the big cliffhanger to keep us chomping at the bit over the hiatus. Unfortunately, the episode doesn’t really deliver that. Come next year when the show returns, we’ll be lucky if most of us even remember the events of this episode, since it stuck so closely to the Heroes template that it could’ve come from any part of the series.

The episode’s truly big event, if we believe what we saw, was the final, actual very definitely real ‘death’ of Nathan Petrelli, from which there is no coming back, at all. Except, of course, the death scene itself was so muted that the only thing that marked it out as a special moment was the big, hammy speech Nathan gave beforehand. Let’s face it, characters on the show have come back from far worse, so when it becomes time to write an actual death scene, this doesn’t remotely cut it.

Indeed, the logic of the scene itself was already pretty tenuous. If Sylar can be de-powered and made vulnerable by Peter’s ability, and Nathan wants to die… why drop him off a roof where he can walk harmlessly away when he wakes up? Why not do the job properly? And while we’re talking about plot logic, how did Sylar even shape-shift into Nathan while he was supposed to be de-powered? There’s nothing wrong with bending the rules a little if it makes a story run smoother, but sometimes it’s as if Heroes expects us to do the writers’ job for them.

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The rest of the episode’s big plots barely even get a look in. Given that this is the final episode before the season break, it might’ve been nice to check in with some of the other characters we’ve been following over the previous ten weeks.

Matt, Hiro and Mohinder were left to their respective fates. Emma, the only genuinely interesting addition to this season’s lineup, hasn’t been in it at all for a good few episodes, while Ando hasn’t turned up in the ‘present’ for, I dunno, months, except for a brief and completely inexplicable moment in this episode. I’m all for a smaller cast, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore stories that are in progress and expect people to care when they come back.

So much of this criticism could be invalidated if the stories they actually were concentrating on made any sense at all. There was nothing at all believable about Claire’s initial caution turning into fully-fledged conversion, and the brief appearance of puppet-master Eric Doyle did very little to suggest she was in particularly good mental health. I can understand, after she helped him escape the authorities last season, that she might not be entirely upset to see him – but a hug? REALLY?

Gretchen, meanwhile, retains her status as the most one-dimensional and pointless addition to a series that seems to pride itself on being one-dimensional and pointless. If she had even the slightest amount of sense, she’d be straight on the phone to Noah, but such is my lack of faith in the series’ writing that I’m fairly sure she won’t take what should be a fairly obvious step for someone in her situation.

And so, in a meandering and confusing way, this episode presents us with Edgar’s actual aim: to create a homeland for people with abilities. Whether or not he ever intends to achieve that goal is another matter, but certainly, people believe he will. The fact that less than two months ago he was a drunken, workshy man-child under the constant supervision of his brother apparently doesn’t matter to those around him. Should it matter to us? Well, the writers don’t seem to care (or have noticed) so I suppose not. Oh, well.

Given that this is the last episode of Heroes for a while, I feel like I should, at least, come up with something positive to say so that it doesn’t end on a sour note. So, here goes: at least they managed to justify the romantic subplot in that flashback episode a few weeks ago. Noah and Lauren were the one good thing about this episode, so there might actually be some hope for the series yet. But let’s not hold our collective breath, hmm?

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Check out our previous review here.