Reviewing the Finales: Heroes – “How to Stop an Exploding Man”

Heroes’ first season has been a rollercoaster ride for fans as it reaches its season finale. For me personally, it has been at its best when it deals with either awesome comic book action (The overrated but exhilarating ‘Five Years Gone’), or investigations of the personal sacrifice of these individuals (the stunning ‘Company Man’). However, there are other episodes which fail to be either of these things. These episodes are instead complicated hours of television which follow traditional drama plotting, losing sight of the show’s comic book ties in favour of clichéd resolutions right out of, well, a lesser TV show. “How to Stop an Exploding Man”, unfortunately, falls into this latter category. The episode was supposed to be an epic conclusion with ramifications for future seasons, but instead felt like a feel good story of redemption with nothing but teases at what the future holds. And, for this unsatisfying season finale, I place the blame on series creator Tim Kring.

Tim Kring, an executive producer on Crossing Jordan, had never read a comic book in his life before creating Heroes. So, based on this profile, he worked on a clichéd procedural drama and has no real background with this subject; this is not the person you have write your season finale. The problem with this episode was that its resolutions were all on the sentimental side of things: no one got a cruel end, and everything wrapped up in an overly idealistic fashion. It wasn’t campy enough to be a comic book homage, not was it meaningful enough for me to care. Rather, I just kind of felt turned off by it all, never really connecting with it. And that’s not what I wanted from this finale.

My biggest problem was Peter’s arc in the episode, which was basically discovered entirely through a hallucination where he visited Charles Deveaux, Simone’s father. There he learned that Charles had been one of the people behind the Linderman group (along with his mother), but also revealed that he wasn’t convinced the bomb needs to go off. He tells Peter (Who, despite being a hallucination, he can somehow see), that he has now gained (Through learning “the truth” about his mother’s role in it all) the true power to stop the bomb: Love. Yes, Love. I’m sorry, but that conclusion is just hokey. Peter was a badass in the future just a few episodes ago, and now he’s solving problems with love and being scared? There was a lot more potential for this character, and it was wasted on “love”.

And the problem is that this wasn’t ironic or sarcastic: it was found throughout the episode as a recurring theme. Niki’s love for Micah and D.L. gives her the strength to channel her inner Jessica and kick Candice’s ass to save her son. Mohinder’s love for Molly (As weird as it is) gives him the strength to keep her safe. And, of course, in the end it is Nathan and Peter’s love of one another which leads to the safety of New York being secured.

While this provides a very clean ending, it’s an entirely uninteresting one. No one really struggled in this episode, as love conquered all for everyone involved. The final battle scene at the end, instead of being the Sylar/Peter battle everyone wanted to see, was a hodge-podge “Let’s do this together as one!” fight where Peter received an assist from Niki of all people. Sylar was a wimp in the fight, never really getting to be seen as a threat. I think that ‘Five Years Gone’ created expectations, and let’s also remember that we even got an earlier, more exciting Sylar/Peter fight when the show returned in April with ‘.07%’. We were not looking for a “United we stand, divided we fall” conclusion.

The episode just didn’t bring anything eventful to the table. After weeks of setup, the most impressive thing the show revealed was that Mr. Bennet’s name is Noah. Which is an awesome name (I got more excited for that than anything else), but the point stands that nothing else was revealed. There was no new heroes revealed, no new powers emerging, no new enemies being made clear, and not a single moment that really blew you away. The closest the episode came was Claire’s jump out of a window to the ground far below…but the suspense is long gone. We knew she’d get up, just as we knew Peter was unlikely to explode. Even a confrontation between Sylar and Hiro was over in a split second, and didn’t resonate (and just made Sylar look that much wimpier). There just wasn’t anything to surprise us, to provide suspense.

All of this being said, I can’t be too critical of Nathan’s sacrifice at episode’s end from a character standpoint. His decision to save the city and Peter’s life both by launching him into the stratosphere was a commendable move, although it also felt like it was being laid on a little thick. However, logically, Peter could have flown into the sky to blow up since Nathan was nearby. Or, if Claire shot Peter, they could remove the bullet and he would regenerate. The show seemed to want us to ignore this complete logical fallacy to buy Nathan’s heroic moment…but it was tenuous at best.

Nathan’s death, however, does ensure that the show’s second season (Or “Heroes Volume Two”) is heading in a completely different direction. With the finale behind us, here’s what we know for sure about “Generations”:

What We Know About Heroes: Season Two

– It’s title, officially, is “Volume Two: Generations.”

– The biggest clue we learned was that there is, indeed, someone worse than Sylar out there (Shocking). Molly, speaking to Parkman, noted that there is one person she cannot ever find. When she thinks about that person, a person so very terrible, he is able to see into her mind. While I have no confirmation of this, I will speculate that this may be the Haitian (Who was conspicuously absent for the finale). Either way, we appear to have our bad guy for the second season established.

– We know that Nathan is dead, so this means that the entire congressional plotline will close. There doesn’t appear to be a real organization to things heading forward, so this really eliminates our only known character thread for the future. This leaves us with absolutely zero idea about any of these characters…

– Except for Hiro. Hiro ended the episode zapped into feudal Japan (1671 to be exact, in Kyoto) where he found that one of the banners being held was the crazy helix symbol we’ve seen previously and yet has remained unexplained. I have been able to learn a few things about 1671 in Feudal Japanese history, and I’ve learned that the date falls within the Edo Period. I also found something which lists 1671 as a key date for the spread of urban development. Other than that, I can’t gleam much, but hopefully more is revealed with time as we head towards Volume Two

When it comes down to it, it wasn’t a terrible finale. However, I can’t help but be disappointed at its generic nature. The fighting was unexciting, the pacing was glacial, the hints for next season were slim, and the solutions were far too idealistic. I felt like no one really suffered outside of the apparent tragic hero at the story’s centre…but that seemed just a bit too simple all the same. It is perhaps fitting that an uneven first season results in an uneven finale: we shall see how Hiro and everyone else moves on in September, when Heroes is likely to return for Volume Two.

Until that point, relive the finale with an extensive recap from Cultural Learnings. It’s going to be a long 4 months, after all.

Heroes – “How to Stop an Exploding Man”

“Where does it come from, this quest?” Mohinder presents a retrospective of the series thus far, asking why we’re here. He throws out a large series of rhetorical questions and notes that human nature and the human heart are why we are here. Still, he notes, we struggle to save the world, to provide hope. “Who among the world of strangers will hold out hand?”

At the Kirby Plaza Building, we return to last week as Linderman shoots D.L. in the chest only to have his brains sucks out by D.L. before he falls to his death. Niki asks why he took the bullet, instead of letting it phase through. He has no answer, but he does have enough strength to phase them through the wall into the next room.

Now, we return to last week’s scenario with Bennet downing Thompson and ending up with his gun pointed at Molly. Bennet reiterates his case, but Parkman and Molly have an under the bed reunion. Parkman’s instincts kick in and he assures Molly’s safety yet again. He’s adamant.

Hiro emerges from the randomly placed sword shop with his father behind them, realizing that Ando has run off to his probable death. His father is quick to reiterate: he has his journey, and it doesn’t involve saving his friend. Hiro wants to own his father’s approval, but he can’t leave his friend behind. He takes the sword, not knowing what he shall do, and then warps off into his destiny.

Meanwhile, Sylar has been painting. In his eye, in an awesome shot, we see the start of the final showdown. Peter materializes on the canvas, and then Sylar on the other side. Sylar realizes it is to be Peter who challenges him, and chops Peter’s flying photo in half.


Nathan’s campaign victory speech is on the flat screen in Nathan’s office. His mother arrives, and he informs her that they’re headed to Nantucket. She isn’t worried about that, though: Linderman is dead. This is a terrible tragedy, she says…and he agrees. But he was the cause of it all. She says that this changes nothing, and he agrees: New York, America, the World, they’re all going to need him.

D.L. is still kicking himself for not phasing that bullet through, and tells Niki to go on without him. She’s always been strong! She can do it. She agrees and runs off.

Mr. Bennet and Mohinder spend some time working body disposal and ensuring that Linderman’s guards don’t spot it. They chat about the Molly issue, until each receive disturbing news: Parkman notes that Molly isn’t well, and Bennet gets a phone call from Claire confirming Ted’s death. Bennet tells Peter that his newfound power is perhaps the only thing that can stop Sylar. He makes Peter promise to keep her safe, and turns his attention to getting Molly to find Sylar’s location.

Peter and Claire pull into a parking garage, and Claire is distressed to find Nathan there. Peter believes they need him, and Claire gives a big “He cares about nothing speech”. He reads her mind to find it is unchanged from her actions, but goes out to meet with Nathan anyways. Peter wants Nathan to…help him. Because he’s scared. It’s not the most indepth an argument. Claire, meanwhile, opens the door quickly and appears to bolt.

Peter, meanwhile, decides to read Nathan’s mind…and the result is not good for Peter. He realizes his mistake: Claire was right. And Claire has fallen right into her grandmother’s clutches. That? Is not good.

Also not good: as Peter searches for Claire, his hands begin to glow. It is beginning. He collapses to the ground before any explosion occurs, but it’s certainly not a good sign.

Bennet wants to know how long it will be until Molly’s up and running, and the others are uncool with the machine talk. She’s struggling, but she says that she can locate him. She explains the process to Parkman, and she needs a pushpin. She says that there is one person she can’t locate: she says that he is a lot worse than the Boogeyman. When she thinks about him, he can see her. Well, there’s a bit of setup for next season, I presume. Bennet, meanwhile, wants to get on with the Sylar finding.

She flips through the map, and finally comes across a page which compels her to place the pushpin. Mohinder and Bennet put together that the address in question is Isaac’s loft, and Bennet calls Claire.

He finds Mrs. Petrelli on the other side of the call, and she informs him that Claire is with her family now. Bennet wants to say goodbye before he lets her go, and he makes sure he is ok. Bennet tells her to go with them, for now, but to try to get away as soon as she’s out. Bennet asks about Peter, but the phone is taken from Claire before he can get any real details.

Bennet realizes that they’ve lost the connection to Peter they needed, and Parkman decides to go out on a suicide mission to grab Sylar on his own. Bennet suggests this is a bad idea: Parkman ignores him. Peter wakes up from his unfortunate state to find himself flashing back into his own life to when he was caring for Simone’s father. He’s meeting with Mrs. Petrelli, while Simone DeVeaux and Peter meet for the first time. We get the annoying “We have sexual tension” side of the conversation instead of the more interesting possible conspiracy talk taking place outside. Peter speaks about how your death, those final moments, can make you realize that you need to be good to one another. That the person dying is the real hero. Simone seems touched.

Here we go: we’re outside. Simone’s father talks about how Peter is the one who can play his part, with his heart. Nathan is the strong one, and that’s who Linderman is betting on, and Mrs. Petrelli insists that Peter is useless. Richard Roundtree, however, remains unconvinced: he thinks that Peter has the right stuff, if you will, and that it isn’t eventual that this bomb needs to go off for hope to occur. She says goodbye as they agree to disagree on the right path forward. Mr. Deveaux knows Peter is there, and Peter comes to terms with the vast conspiracy he’s finally become aware of.

In the race to get to Isaac’s loft, it is Ando who remains victorious with a giant samurai sword of his own. Ando notices the photo of Peter and Sylar, and gets distracted as Sylar stops by. Ando drops the comic book, and Sylar finds that it predicts the future. He says that he can’t believe he would be killed by a silly little man. Sylar wants to know where Peter is, and tortures Ando until Hiro arrives. I don’t know where his sword went, but Sylar challenges Hiro: can he stop time before Sylar can kill him? Hiro proceeds to rescue Ando before Sylar can even react. That was anti-climactic.

“Micah!” Niki follows through the halls, and finds “Jessica” (Candice) waiting on the couch. She finds Micah behind the couch out cold, and after chatting with her Candice gets in a kick to the chin.

Next up on the visitor’s list for Sylar: Parkman, stopping by in a vain attempt at heroism. He sees the various images, and spots the blood on the floor just as Ando did. He also sees the Peter/Sylar photo, and immediately runs off realizing where Sylar has gone. Parkman has called Mohinder, and Sylar is coming…but Molly disagrees. Sylar is already here.

In ten minutes the helicopter is arriving, Nathan posits to Claire and his mother. Claire is having some issues with the whole “killing millions of people”, and refuses to believe that the future is written in stone. Nathan says it is inevitable, and Claire argues that Mrs. Petrelli is in fact manipulating things. Nathan says it will all make sense, and her grandmother promises her a family, belonging, and a place to live. She hugs Nathan, and while he is smug she posits that she already has a family. And then, without much delay, she leaps out the window of the office building and walks off after her. Nathan wants to go after her, but Mrs. Petrelli tells him to resist his parental urges. He stares blankly forward.

“Jessica” continues to kick Niki’s ass, until Niki realizes that it isn’t Jessica as she spots her in a broken mirror. Niki launches a mean uppercut against Candice, and realizes she has strength after all. Niki just now hears Micah in the closet (Man, he was quite for a while there), and rescues him.

Meanwhile, another adult/child pairing walks the halls. Mohinder and Molly stumble upon D.L. in the hallway, and Mohinder decides that he’s going to play doctor for…some unknown reason.

Hiro, meanwhile, re-emerges back at the paper company in Japan. Hiro is dropping Ando off at Daycare, it seems, and says that this part of the journey he goes on alone. He says that Ando has taught him a lot about bravery, and Ando responds with a callback to the pilot: like those stories of Star Trek before, Hiro will be remembered and told again. Ando tells Hiro he looks badass as he warps back with the weaker sword.

Peter, meanwhile, is trying to figure out what exactly is going on with him and Richard Roundtree. Peter arrived here in this vision because he needed to hear the truth before saving the world. Charles posits that Peter’s unconditional love is what makes him different, and that’s all that really matters. Really, show? I’m not with you on this one.

Peter wakes up to find that Bennet has found him with their tracking system. Bennet refuses to leave, he wants to help Peter: he wants to make sure that he can pay him back for saving his daughter’s life. And then, oh my god! Mr. Bennet’s first name is Noah! That’s awesome, best part of the episode yet.

Meanwhile, Micah and Niki meet up with Mohinder, Molly and D.L. and work together to lock some doors and then Micah makes the elevator work. They escape, and head down to the ground floor.

On the ground, however, the confrontation begins. Bennet and Peter arrive on the scene, and Sylar immediately reveals himself and tosses Bennet aside. “What took you so long?”

Sylar jokes that he’s killed him before, and Peter says it didn’t take.

“You think I’m going to let you ruin it all, take all the glory?” Sylar is interrupted when Parkman shoots at him, but he stops the bullets and tosses them back at him. He’s choking Peter, and nails him with a parking meter but Niki stops him and nails him down. Peter takes over, smashing Sylar down, but then Peter starts glowing. Sylar smiles: “I’m the hero Peter, you’re the villain after all.”

And then Hiro arrives. And he stabs Sylar. Peter asks Hiro to kill him, and but Sylar throws Hiro into a building with his last breath. (Hiro warps away). Peter then begins to explode, uncontrollably. Claire arrives just in time to take the gun from his father, and aims the gun at Peter. She hesitates, but Peter says there is no other way.

Nathan, however, flies in to disagree.

“You saved the cheerleader so we could save the world.” Peter and Nathan share I Love Yous and then Nathan grabs Peter and flies him into oblivion. Claire, Mohinder, Parkman, Niki, D.L., Molly, Micah, Noah…they can all only watch as the bomb explodes in the sky, a giant flash against the dark night. Niki wants to know what happened to them, and Noah comforts Claire while Molly curls up next to Micah.

Sylar, meanwhile, lies dead as the police and the authorities arrive. Parkman is being taken away, and Molly stops the stretcher to hope that he survives (She’d be crushed!). Mohinder voiceovers that the need to solve life’s mysteries solves itself like the glowing light of the new dawn. Noah tells Claire that they can go home, and she notes the destroyed house. He, however, has a plan of sorts. He and Claire limp off, as Mohinder talks about a struggle for meaning. It is about a shared experience, he says.

It is the sumple human need to find a kindred spirit. Meanwhile, the sewer grate is open, and a trail of blood leads into it.

“The End of Volume One”

We open to an eagle flying in the sky above the grass as “Volume Two” begins. It appears to be titled “Generations.” Hiro falls from the sky, and then is alarmed to see that he is in Kyoto, Japan in 1671 in the midst of a feudal conflict between two sides (One, blue, bearing the helix symbol we know so well). As the two sides prepare to go to war, they are stopped in their tracks by a solar eclipse.

“To Be Continued”


Filed under Heroes, NBC, Television

19 responses to “Reviewing the Finales: Heroes – “How to Stop an Exploding Man”

  1. Matt

    As far as what we “know” about Hiro’s new situation is very little, but I think that we will learn that he is actually the ancient samurai warrior whose stories he had been hearing ever since he was a child.

  2. hm

    I for one was also very displeased with the finale, it lacked punch, had just a small nudge into the next season. a wimpy easy fight was unexpected…
    ah well

  3. Pingback: "How to Stop an Exploding Man" - 'Heroes' Season Finale Recap and Analysis « Tons of Fresh News

  4. Maybe someone reading this can explain something about the ending to me.

    The first time I watched how the whole Nathan/Peter/Sylar thing played out, I thought it was the stupidest thing ever. I couldn’t understand why Nathan would fly into the air with Peter to have the bomb go off (thereby killing two people) when he could have shot Peter instead (thereby only killing ONE person).

    But then I was informed that it was really Nathan sacrificing himself so that Peter would live (since Peter can regenerate) which certainly makes more sense…that is until I started thinking about it some more.

    1. If Peter can regenerate, where did he gain the superpower to BREATHE IN OUTER SPACE that would be needed to survive?

    2. If we presume that Peter CAN somehow survive in outer space, why didn’t Nathan just fly him up into the sky, leave Peter, and then rush right back down to earth again before it exploded? Wouldn’t that have made more sense than self-sacrifice?

  5. Matt

    RE: McNutt

    1) Peter doesn’t have to be able to breathe in outerspace, *because* of the fact he can regenerate. It’s like when Claire shotup Ted to knock him out – she was in a place where anyone else would have died, but her regeneration kept her alive.

    2) What I am more curious about is why peter himself didn’t just fly up in the sky. After all, he had absorbed his brothers ability to fly long ago.

  6. “2) What I am more curious about is why peter himself didn’t just fly up in the sky. After all, he had absorbed his brothers ability to fly long ago.”

    I think it’s a question of whether Peter can use two powers at the same time, and whether he had lost all control when the Ted-stuff happened. He didn’t seem to be in the state of mind that would allow for flying.

    I have another solution: Sub-Orbital Catapult.

  7. Quinn

    Remember the invisible guy told peter how to lock in on his powers and so far, each power Peter absorbs, seems to only go one at a time. If he flew to space or whereever, then there would be no nuclear build up. I believe the same is true for Sylar. Like D.L., I’m surprised he didn’t wipe Mr. Linderman’s blood on his wound to heal himself, however he and Nikki still were under the notion they were the only one’s with special abilities.

  8. Pingback: Top Posts «

  9. Pingback: Reviewing the Finales: Lost - "Through the Looking Glass" « Cultural Learnings

  10. Jelly

    Well, i think Nathan stopped Claire from firing at Peter for a reason. He wanted Claire to have a clear conscience. She wouldn’t be able to live with the knowledge that she killed someone, in fact, someone she’s close to.

    Nathan’s parental instincts kicked in and saved Claire from having to kill Peter. In my opinion, that’s the first time Nathan acted like a true father & brother.

    Anyway, we don’t really have confirmation that Nathan was killed. He may have tossed Peter and flew off.

  11. Will

    I couldn’t agree more with your review. Oh so cheesy. And the best Peter could do was punch Sylar? It doesn’t take a superhero to do that. And Sylar basically let Hiro stab him. It’s not like Hiro appeared directly in front of him…he actually had to run and we’ve all seen how fast Sylar can react in the past.

  12. Will

    And also a note from “Five Years Gone,” couldn’t Peter still be alive? He exploded and still survived in “Five Years…”

  13. Regarding the comment on Micah being quiet for a while during the Candice/Nikki scene, it was not an error or an omission. Candice is not simply a shapeshifter, she is an illusion caster.
    Although the actual extent of this illusions has not been cleared yet, I think it´s safe to assume that they are pretty complete, being able to fool most or all senses.
    She could also be someone with the power to manipulate matter, not illusions, but that would be way too powerful, it´s unlikely…

    On the season finale subject, i´m kinda sentimental, sometimes i like corny/cheesy, so… I actually liked when Simone´s father tells Peter about love ;P

  14. deeyouareoh

    “D.L. is still kicking himself for not phasing that bullet through, and tells Niki to go on without him. She’s always been strong! She can do it. She agrees and runs off.”
    DL took a bullet meant for Niki watch that scene again he steps into the path of the bullet and if he did phase Niki woud be dead

  15. Jelly

    He could’ve phased niki instead. Or perhaps he might’ve been able to phase the bullet itself, to pass through both of them.

    Either way, I think D.L didn’t have much time to think and react accordingly (What, he had like, half a second? =O).

  16. JEd

    Does anyone know that song that plays at the end when nathan and peter fly up? on the Exploding man episode?

  17. Rich

    Jed, I’ve been trying to figure that out since the episode aired. It’s not on the soundtrack or anywhere else. I’ve been searching like crazy and no luck.

  18. oh, i thought you are going to chip in with some

  19. Shaun

    pretty cool episode but the final fight was a bit of a let down. I was really hoping peter and Sylar would like totally use all of their powers and have an epic powerful fight. But never mind. I still liked how everybody sorta met up finally

    By the way is it just me or is it a little weird that they all seem to know eachother and their situations? I mean like Niki and DL were at a completely different side of season 1’s story and never even knew who Sylar was but Nikki still runs up and smacks him with a pole (Did she and Peter even know eachother? I don’t think they ever even met but still talked as if they had known eachother for ages)

    Ah well. All objections aside I still felt like this was a good way to end season 1.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s