It seems ridiculous that almost halfway through the season of Heroes (20 episodes were ordered) it’s only just becoming clear what the stakes are for most of the characters. Admittedly, we know Hiro has to figure out how, when and where Edgar has stashed his true love Charlie, but he wasn’t even in this episode!
Consider, for example, the fact that Peter has been hanging around the hospital, occasionally playing the piano with Emma, ever since the start of the season. Admittedly, he appears to be over-extending himself, but this is, thematically, a new development. A few episodes ago the worry was that he wasn’t connecting with people enough. Luckily, he connected with Emma, but… that’s not a story arc in itself. This is exactly the kind of flip-floppery that made Season 3 such a chore. It’s possible that it could still be tied together, but by now we should have a better idea of what’s going on, and we simply don’t. Do the writers? Who knows? Based on previous seasons, I’m not so optimistic.
One thing that was good to see was the Matt Parkman/Sylar head games finally being taken to their logical conclusion. It’s taken a while for this plot thread to truly warm up, and has given us some of the absolute worst scenes of this season, but in some ways, that made the sight of Parkman being gunned down all the more pleasing. It’s just a pity that it’s such an obvious fake-out. I don’t trust Heroes to kill even one of its main characters without a back door to bring them back, let alone two in one go.
After Noah’s crisis of faith this season, it was mildly fun to see him back in Company Man mode, with the Haitian back at his wipe first, ask questions later best. That said, the sorority girls did seem a little too accepting of the strange old guy wandering around their house and occasionally unbidden into their rooms. But again, expecting logical behaviours from characters in Heroes is a bit of a lost cause at the best of times.
Unfortunately, the one time a character actually displays a hint of sane behaviour – Gretchen hopping on the first plane out of murderville – one can’t help but get the impression that it’s largely motivated by the writers going ‘Phew, now we don’t have to deal with all that strange sexual tension we created’. At this point, the whole lesbian subplot looks more like pointless titillation than ever. Oh, and look, the result of all this is that Claire is upset with her dad. I was wondering when we’d get around to that plot again.
The unexpected return of Nylar is, at least, a cliffhanger that’ll keep me interested, but one has to wonder why no-one has noticed that a fairly prominent US Senator has been missing for what appears to be substantial amount of time. Or has it just been a day or two? It’s never really clear, and one suspects that the internal chronology of episodes is the last thing on the Heroes writers’ minds.
Truth be told, this wasn’t even a particularly bad episode, and that’s what worries me. Most of the problems with this episode are those that are endemic in the series.
Say what you like about Dollhouse, but at least it was trying. It’s a damn shame when a show with such a clear authorial voice gets canned and a show like Heroes, which struggles to retain its voice from one episode to another, is allowed to coast on and on, and on. Is this really what we want?
Check out our review of episode 8 here.