This week on Heroes: a very slow development of existing subplots with no clear indication where the show as a whole is heading. But you knew that, right?
The episode represented a rare Hiro-less outing for the series – a sure sign that things have moved on from the early days when Hiro was one of the characters who bound the show together. That said, where once his absence would’ve been immediately apparent, I didn’t even notice it until I sat down to write the review. It’s a far cry from the days when Hiro was the only character worth tuning in for, and highlights the character’s slow descent into mediocrity, spurred on by tedious power-mangling plots and uninventive time-travel paradoxes. Mercifully, we didn’t have to deal with any of that this week.
Instead, the focus is back on Peter, the series’ once-and-future star. Although it’s difficult to reconcile this version of Peter with some of the earlier ones, the character is definitely benefiting from a more streamlined premise, where he can copy one power at a time and uses them to help him in his job as a paramedic. The idea that he’s neglecting his real life to save people is a classic super-hero theme, so it’s a pity that the need to tie the character into a series-arc via Samuel’s carnival of weirdness is getting in the way of exploring that element.
Samuel himself does, at least, have an interesting plot, even if his motivations and interests are only ever referenced in the kind of vague conversation that poorly written TV characters have. We now know, in unequivocal terms, that he’s a bad guy with a dark past. It might be cheap, it might be cliché, but it’s hard to deny that it works. Exactly what he’s up to will probably take plenty more episodes to come out, but for now, it’s enough to be amused by the fact that he killed a bunch of satirically haughty rich people. God knows the rest of the episode lacked a sense of humour, so I’ll take it where I can get it.
With Nathan-Sylar (Nylar?) put aside for yet another episode, Parkman’s plot remains easily the most interesting, as Sylar demonstrates just how dangerous he can be even without a body. Matt’s plot thread is one of the few that actually builds on past seasons in a subtle and interesting way, as Parkman inadvertently heads off down the same path as his villainous father. It’s a rare thing for Heroes to reward, rather than punish its long-time viewers, so let’s assume it’s an intentional choice and savour it while we can.
On the other side of the coin, Claire’s plot is actually getting more excruciating. More than ever, it feels as though the scenes are being re-used from other episodes as we face the rather wearing Noah/Claire argument about whether someone needs their brain wiped or Claire can handle things by herself. It feels like we’ve seen that exact scene about 50 times before. Surely there must be something new that can be done with Claire? And I’m not talking about the rumoured lesbian-kiss ratings grabber, which they started setting up with some rather un-subtle candle-and-music scenes in this episode.
The introduction of a deaf and newly-synaesthesthic woman, Emma, is probably Heroes‘ most interesting move since the first series. Her introduction was efficient, but didn’t give too much away and managed to leave her as an intriguing figure. The eventual discovery of her light and sound-based powers was a beautifully ethereal moment for a series that usually relies on the most bare and mechanical direction to tell its story. Scenes like this suggest that someone, somewhere on Heroes does actually know what they’re doing – although, as the saying goes, even a stopped clock is right twice a day.
Episode 3, then. Not the worst Heroes has ever been by a long shot – but there still aren’t enough new ideas. Unfortunately, the best thing I can say about this episode is that at least it wasn’t double length like the season opener. As ever, the potential is there, it just failed to be realised – and as the series spins towards almost certain cancellation at the end of this series, that feels like it’s going the be the epitaph for a show that once bordered on being the next Buffy or Lost.
Check out our review of the season opener, episodes 1 and 2, here.