Heroes season 4 episode 4 review

Has Heroes found its footing again? James celebrates the arrival of season four's best episode so far...

This week Heroes delivered a rare episode. One that could almost be called…quite good. Not only were all of the plot threads featured quite interesting and feature actual character development, but was there a clear theme that bound all of those threads together within the context of the episode. Whoever it was that wrote this one should be pleased. It’s about time Heroes started acting like a proper, big-budget TV series instead of a superhero-themed soap opera.

After a two-episode gap, we finally get to catch up with Nathan. It’s easy to forget that Peter isn’t in on the whole Nathan deal, but it seemed strange that he saw nothing suspicious or worrying in Nathan’s newly-emerged powers. Thankfully, the exploration of those powers takes a back seat to his struggle with his identity, a sure sign that the plot is on the right track. Angela made clever use of Nathan-Sylar’s psychometry (object-reading) powers, and if the mystery that emerged was a bit melodramatic, its purpose became clear in the bordering-on-classic final scene.

Of course, now that Sylar’s out of his grave (quite literally) it’ll be interesting to see how that affects Matt – will Nathan be in control of Sylar’s body, or will there be a Sylar in there too? The fact that these questions are interesting at all says good things about Heroes‘ current direction. I’m actually interested in where it’s going.

Even Noah had a fairly good week, although in true Heroes fashion, his ‘retirement’ plot started off unconvincing and quickly veered off in an entirely different direction to how it was set up. Had there been slightly more build-up, it might’ve been believable, and although the character moments themselves were successful, the plot itself was under-developed.

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Finally, it was a pity that Emma, the new character from the previous episode, wasn’t included in this one. With four new characters already in this series, it’d be nice if some time could be taken to establish them. Indeed, if any part of the episode fell flat, it was the Evil Carnies. Four episodes in, we know nothing of their motives, and the characters are still complete ciphers. We have some idea of their powers, but that’s not enough to make them interesting. These guys need serious work if they’re going to become credible antagonists, because right now they’re being upstaged by things like Peter’s personal issues.

There are still larger concerns about the writing, too. This week, it struck me that the exact nature of Tracy’s powers has altered significantly since her earliest appearances, but without any explanation or acknowledgement. They used to be ice-based, but now they’re water-based. Although the change is logical to a point, I’d feel better about it if there was any indication that the writers themselves remembered this.

Similarly, there’s a sense that the show is taking itself too seriously, and crediting itself with slightly too much intelligence. This episode was peppered with philosophical-sounding one-liners that were incredibly trite, but delivered with grave seriousness. I’m not opposed to a show aiming high, but when Hiro’s rather comedic plot illustrated almost effortlessly how he came to terms with his current, rather ambiguously-fatal disorder, it makes the meaningless proverbs that Nathan, Angela and Noah started spouting look all the more ridiculous.

Overall, episode 4 was a large step in the right direction for Heroes, and the most enjoyably written episode in some time. A few more like this and we might really have something to be pleased with.

Check out our review of episode 3 here.