At last! The show’s most interesting and genuinely compelling character – the enigmatic Mr. Bennet – gets his very own episode! Company Man casts a spotlight on our favourite faux paper merchant as the siege on his house by Parkman and co. is interspersed with the story of how Bennet came to be the man he is today.
Much as I like Claire, recently the show has been something of a constant parade of Terrible Things happening to Texas’s bravest little cheerleader, so it was a welcome relief to ease up on her constant angst and crying, and let her dad take centre stage.
And centre stage he does indeed take. Mr. Bennet’s back-story is the stuff of tortured anti-hero legend; a man who places what he sees as his duty above all else, including his own family and life. Company Man is the first real episode to focus on just one storyline, without the usual deviations to check in on the other, more boring characters. Without wasting time with arbitrary 30 second long scenes of “Peter having some feelings” or “Hiro waving his arms and shouting”, the pacing is helped enormously.
Taking place entirely in the Bennet home (with the exception of the flashbacks), the story remains dynamic and energetic, with some nice character exchanges and unexpected alliances once Matt realises it was perhaps not his Best Idea Ever to buddy up with a twitchy, vengeful human bomb and start holding guns to people’s heads.
The flashbacks do a nice job of filling in some of the blanks about Mr. Bennet and his mysterious work, and in true Heroes style, more (increasingly outlandish) connections between disparate characters are revealed. His involvement with Claude Raines and Hiro’s father raises more questions than ever; ones we’re probably not likely to get answers to for a long time, possibly ever.
Even if the rest of the episode had been utter tripe, its ending would have still pulled it out of the bag. One of the series’ greatest triumphs, for the first time I actually felt something for the characters other than slight irritation. Mr. Bennet’s amazingness is closely tied to the fact that you never actually know what he’s going to do in any situation, but whatever he does, it makes sense.
A pragmatist to the end, Bennet’s decision to save Claire comes at a price he’s never really had to pay before: himself. After inflicting considerable damage – both mental and physical – on himself to make sure his Organisation can’t wring his daughter’s location out of him, he sends her on her merry way with the Haitian, perhaps never to be seen again.
Mr. Bennet, you’re my Hero.