Heroes has been a real rollercoaster of quality this season – excellent one moment, terrible the next. This week’s episode encapsulates that perfectly.
In a rare moment of restraint, this week’s episode focuses almost entirely on one character and one plot thread. The single-thread approach usually works very well whenever Heroes attempts it, and it only serves to highlight how the usual anthology approach is little more than a crutch for the writers. When forced to come up with a single idea and theme to fill an episode, they actually do rather well.
For this episode, that means the terminally ill Hiro attempting to save the previously doomed waitress and Hiro’s one-true-love, Charlie (you know, her from Season One). I’ll admit, I had a lot of trepidation around this as a concept. Charlie’s initial introduction was supposed to prove that there were some things Hiro’s time-travelling abilities could not prevent. Having him go back and change them suggests that the writers don’t really understand their own show.
As if to prove that, there are plenty of things about the episode that don’t ring true. Hiro tricking Sylar into helping out at a time when he was at his most devious, brutal and focussed makes the character look like more of an idiot than he did during Season Three. Hiro’s attempts to keep the timeline ‘intact’ make almost no sense, given the lesson Edgar taught him only a few episodes ago about how it was possible to change only one thing without affecting the events around it. To be frank, these are not minor problems, and point to the lack of internal consistency that has plagued Heroes since day one.
And as if that wasn’t bad enough, the episode has a B-plot in it: a retroactively inserted story about Noah and his colleague at the Company, Lauren, considering an extra-marital affair. Quite why this tedious mush made it into the episode at all is a mystery. Certainly, we didn’t need to further complicate the continuity of an already-stretched episode, and frankly, I wasn’t sure if I was even supposed to remember Lauren from Season One. I spent the whole episode confused because she was familiar, but that turned out to be because she played Kate in Angel a decade ago. At least that’s cleared up.
However, somehow, despite all these complaints, this episode didn’t actually turn out to be as terrible as it could’ve been. Perhaps it was the clever weaving behind the scenes of continuity. Perhaps it was the immediately believable chemistry between Charlie and Hiro. Perhaps it was the fact that the episode had a point and made it, rather than stumbling half-heartedly from plot to plot. Whatever the reason, it worked quite well.
Best of all, though, we finally have something at stake for one of the characters. Whatever Edgar has done with Charlie, at least Hiro now has something to focus on sorting out, and the conflict that has been mostly absent from this season has finally arisen. Twofold, in fact, because the final scene of the episode also gave us a rare plot twist that actually made sense and gave us a reason to care about Edgar’s motivations, too.
The story possibilities this has opened up make me actually interested, for the first time, to see where the season is going. It probably shouldn’t have taken this long, but as they say, better late than never.
Check out our review of episode 7 here.