“Four Months Ago”
November 12th, 2007
Remember when Heroes began its season by jumping four months into the future, thus robbing us of true resolutions to the few burning questions that last year’s mediocre finale left us? Well, this week’s episode is supposed to make up for the unfortunate start to the show’s sophomore season by filling in the blanks. However, that isn’t its effect, and Tim Kring knew this enough to apologize ahead of the episode airing.
You see, all this episode does is make you realize how much the producers screwed up the first time around. If this had been our first introduction to new characters, or our first visions of returning ones, this season might have started on a completely different note: a good one, even. It’s an attempt at a do-over that was, bizarrely, built into the season structure. And, even though Tim Kring apologized, I still think that there is a lot of blame to be thrown around. Because, while certainly worthwhile, this episode did not resolve every problem that Heroes faces.
I’ll focus on the good first – the episode rewrote our introductions to Maya and Alejandro, our Mexican death twins, and Kristen Bell’s Elle, left mostly undeveloped in her single appearance two episodes ago. And, in both cases, the introductions are much better this time around. Specifically, in the case of Maya and Alejandro, we see the important moments – rather than jumping right into their problems, we are able to see Maya’s first episode, and the discovery of Alejandro’s role. Their story opens with a wedding massacre – that’s how you make characters matter.
Elle, meanwhile, wasn’t quite able to get the same treatment, thanks to her similarity to season one’s pixie company assistant Eden. There just wasn’t enough unique character development – their powers are obviously very different, Elle’s remaining fairly obscure, but she treated Peter much as Eden treated Isaac. It felt like more rehashing, even if the sexual tension Kristen Bell brought to the table kept things interesting. Plus, she was able to use her powers to great advantage at the end of the episode – it was at least better than the rather abstract introduction previously.
Speaking of Peter, he was one of two characters to gain some more background in this week’s episode. After exploding, Peter dropped Nathan off at the hospital and attempted to disappear before Elle and Bob stopped him. He was then brought into a facility where he was told to take pills to suppress his power, and he started communicating with Adam (Kensei, also) who was in the cell next door. Over time, of course, Adam led Peter know the truth about this “facility”, and he eventually escaped with Adam and, in the process, was cornered by the Haitian, who erased his memory to give him a better life.
Niki was the other character to gain more back story: turns out that D.L. survived the initial shot. While I found this storyline just as boring as most Niki storylines (Company takes control, she refuses the pills, she becomes another personality, some random dude kills D.L. over it, it makes no sense), it at least connected with the show’s mythology and provided character growth.
However, the problem with all of this talk is that it’s all rewriting history: it’s not as if this makes Niki’s storylines thus far this season any more worthwhile, or the introduction of the twins any less clunky. Everything was “good”, but the writing was still rough and the pacing still strange – it provided some decent answers, but it certainly didn’t make up for the mistakes made earlier. Sorry, Kring: apology or not, I remain a skeptic as to your ability to pull this show together.
- Okay, seriously: what kind of prison allows for two inmates to talk to one another? Why were there slits in the wall? Would they have had surveillance in those rooms? How would Peter and Adam REALLY be able to escape that easily, even with Peter using D.L.’s power. It was a ludicrous plot contrivance, yet another in a long line.
- Speaking of Adam, he really could have used a better introduction – the episode didn’t really add anything to our understanding of the character, and his motivations are still largely unknown. We might need a “200 years ago” for him in the future.
- Nathan was the other character who was oddly left out: considering how much his bearded struggle was played up early in the season, we really weren’t able to understand why he blamed himself in this scenario. I thought this was a great opportunity to investigate his character, but we didn’t really get much out of it.