“One of Us, One of Them”
September 29th, 2008
Is it wrong that, at the end of the day, I’m so satisfied by an episode of Heroes that doesn’t suck, acting as if it’s as much a triumph as an episode that is extremely good? My standards have certainly fallen for Heroes in the past two seasons, but that doesn’t mean that “One of Us, One of Them” isn’t still a good indicator for the strength of the coming season. There are some elements, including a smart return to the dynamic of the Company’s two-man teams and Hiro and Ando’s comic escapades, which feel like a return to a Heroes that knew what it was doing.
But let’s be frank: the strength of this episode is based on what is missing as opposed to what is really here. It’s an episode that focuses on the most interesting characters (HRG and Sylar), the most well-tested ideas (such as our new Isaac that Parkman met in Africa), and those storylines that could actually improve the show in the future (Claire training to become a hero in her own right). On those fronts, the show is smart: it’s what viewers like, what offers hope for the future, and what doesn’t outright suck.
Really, though, the reason the episode works is that the parts completely dragging the show down (Maya and Mohinder, in particular) are wonderfully absent in this third episode; when the show returns to their characters, something tells me that I won’t be willing to give them a free pass on some of the weaker execution seen in parts of the episode.
I can’t say enough positive things about the potential for the Sylar and Noah pairing, something that seems a little far-fetched but in the best possible way. As Angela Petrelli tries to say to Noah before he interrupts her, “You can take the man out of the company, but you can’t take the company out of the man.” By the same principle, they can try to separate Sylar from his killing but there’s no way they can take the killer out of Sylar.
I’m still not a fan, though, of the revisionist history that is making Sylar a Petrelli, apparently for no real reason other than to justify bringing him into the Company’s fold. I like that we’re getting a bit more of a sense of Sylar’s inner thought process and struggles, but the whole “Mommy” side of the coin doesn’t feel anything even close to organic. Once Sylar gets into the field, though, there is something much more pointed about his struggles: he falls very quickly into a strange acceptance of some attempt to do good, having found some sort of identity, but in the end he is just a killer and nothing more.
What it does, though, is let us spend some time with Sylar in this investigative fashion: yes, Noah is planning on murdering Sylar once he finds a weakness, but in the meantime we have two of our most fascinating characters searching for themselves. With the Haitian back in play, we now have a really interesting view into the Company that feels more familiar and smarter. Yes, I miss Bob (Stephen Tobolowsky) and Elle (Kristen Bell), but with Mohinder gone and our favourite characters back hunting down the remaining Heroes (Of which there is now only one, our favourite Marlo Stanfield) I’m finding this a new interesting dimension for the series.
Speaking of new dimensions, or old ones as it is, Hiro and Ando are back to their comic antics, and the show is smartly surrounding them with people who fit into that universe. There was something really charming about situating it in a French Silent Film Theatre, and Daphne continues to impress as a nemesis who is clearly only in this for the money, and thus could easily be brought into being more of a love interest than an enemy for Hiro in the future. I liked the continuation of the Ando split based on Daphne getting into his head a little, and how their hijinx intersect with, of all people. the ultra-serious Haitian. It’s just like their Las Vegas-type storyline in the first season, but it’s moved a lot faster: them ending up at The Company is going to be a really intriguing twist that could give them a new purpose (and potentially divide them up) with time.
The episode doesn’t go too much further into other storylines in the episode: we spend a bit of time with Peter, trapped in Jesse’s body, working within the bank robbery, but eventually Future Peter shows up and takes old Peter away to the future to see what he needs to help stop the world from ending. Similarly, we get a little scene of Claire’s mother testing her defensive abilities in an attempt to show her that it is only her drive for revenge against Sylar for hurting her that is making her want to be more of a hero; of course, all it does it make her run off and try to find Sylar and the other escaped villains on her own. And Parkman has his vision quest, finds that his guide is just another Isaac, and that him arriving in Africa kept him from having a baby with Daphne and now, instead, he carries some sort of burnt person.
Of these smaller vignettes, the most potentially interesting twist as a Dr. Zimmerman being tapped as Niki and Tracy’s “creator,” that they were born on the same day and perhaps share something beyond their looks. It makes one wonder how many people are out there with similar looks or, dangerously, similar powers (Isaac and the vision quest dude in Africa). Combined with Mohinder’s (unseen in this episode) engineering, and there are some really interesting questions about these powers that go beyond the series’ initial eclipse.
As a whole, the episode spends almost all of this time in the areas where it is (relatively) thriving: it’s almost a cheat considering that Mohinder and Maya were so awful last week, but for now let’s just thank Tim Kring for giving us one more hour before we start to lose any faith all over again.
- Love Ando and the popcorn, and the sandbag, at the movie theatre: Ando, in general, is just much more fun than Hiro since he isn’t so worried about the end of the world and all of that. Also, the best line: asked by Hiro what he’s doing, Ando replies “I’m being awesome!” Love him.
- Interesting to stop in to Micah for a quick moment, as he commands the internets for Tracy, but is there really anything for him to do anymore? And on that note, what exactly happened to his gymnast/copycat cousin? Not that I want the show to return to her character, but it’s kind of an issue at this point.
- I am curious why they bothered to bring in Francis Capra to do such a small little appearance, especially since we barely ever saw him outside of mirrored surfaces, but he was a good choice for the moment where he turned back into Jesse.
- Nathan gets almost no screentime, but he is reading Genesis, which is also the title of the show’s pilot: I’m presuming that the Bible is a better read than that awful, awful script.