Heroes season 4 episode 7 review

Heroes hits the skids again, as the latest episode is set firmly for autopilot...

Heroes really tested my patience this week, largely by composing an episode almost entirely out of the plot lines and characters that feel completely past their sell-by date.

The episode begins with a return to the world of Matt Parkman, who has been oddly absent for the last few episodes. In that time, apparently, Sylar has discovered that he can temporarily take control of Matt’s body. So far, so Fight Club. Matt only realises this when he wakes up to find his wife in a post-coital state of gratitude with no memory of having given her anything to be happy about. Regrettably, viewers were present for that event, even if Matt wasn’t. If the horrendously cheesy fireside bonking wasn’t enough to put you off your dinner, the silhouette of Greg Grunberg’s naked form probably was.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, we had to endure the excruciating spectacle of Grunberg’s acting range, from his embarrassing ‘angry’ to his amateurish ‘drunk’. I’ll admit, I was laughing during the scenes when he was defeating Sylar by getting trashed, but only because it was so obviously a fake-out that I couldn’t believe he didn’t realise. Perhaps his trouble with the detective exams back in Season 1 wasn’t purely down to dyslexia after all…

Meanwhile, Claire’s plotline continues to be the absolute worst Heroes has to offer. While there’s nothing wrong with characters wrestling with their sexuality, there is everything wrong about doing it in such a clichéd and formulaic way. Even so, the lack of chemistry between the two actresses is a barrier to all believability that even the best writing couldn’t fix.

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In this episode, they finally acknowledged the similarities to Season 4 of Buffy by explicitly referencing the show, but drawing parallels with the sensitive, subtle and intelligent Willow/Tara depiction of a tentative lesbian relationship doesn’t leave the Claire and Gretchen version of the storyline looking remotely competent.

Although the pair’s adventures in a rather lame Saw-style house of traps was a mildly original move for the setting, one does have to wonder how we got to the point where ‘original writing’ for Heroes seems to constitute simply ripping off different source material than usual. The cliffhanger promises a painfully familiar retread of Claire’s previous storylines, trying to keep her powers secret from those around her and eventually failing. Oh, good.

The Noah/Tracy storyline was the one part of the episode that felt as though it had some thought go into it, but even a generous assessment doesn’t suggest that there was very much of it. You can see some evidence that Heroes has grown in quality from the previous season; previously, the kid would have been killed off in his first appearance. We spent almost twice as long with him as the guy who could create tiny black holes, for example, before he was bumped off in one of those heavy-handed metaphors Heroes is so fond of. I’m just surprised they managed to stop themselves from stringing him up from a tree.

So, as you can probably tell, this wasn’t my favourite episode of the series. I never thought I’d be begging to get back to the Hiro plotline, but at the end of this episode I was more than ready for some lightly comic time-travelling fun. Next episode, perhaps?

Check out our review of episode 6 here.