“I Am Become Death”
October 6th, 2008
When “Five Years Gone” debuted last Spring, I was amongst those who were a bit lukewarm on the episode. Sure, it was interesting to see this potential future for our Heroes, but at that point the “here and now” drama of the series was actually quite compelling. Every time since that point, though, the future has been getting more and more attractive: with the future comes a promise of getting away from the doldrums of the present, of the slowly changing landscape actually getting around to changing before we all grow old or, worst of all for NBC, impatient to the point of tuning out.
What “I Am Become Death” does is follow in this same tradition, as Heroes plagiarizes itself in an effort to keep people interested. I would love to report that it doesn’t work at all, but the episode throws enough “Isn’t the future wacky and crazy?!” at the viewer to give them some (likely irrational) hope that the series is heading in some exciting directions. The entire thing plays out as, in combination, Future Peter ushering Present Peter into this new world, and Matt Parkman witnessing the thing while in a hallucinatory state in Africa, and while there are some interesting broad divisions being drawn as related to the key theme it feels like a lot for the future to live up to.
And Heroes isn’t good at living up to its promise.
“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.
“The Butterfly Effect”
Season Premiere, Part 2
[For my thoughts on “The Second Coming,” the first part of the premiere, click here]
When a butterfly flaps its wings, Heroes finally seems to emerge from a season-long cocoon.
“The Butterfly Effect” is not close to capturing the wonder that got the show’s weak writing and poor balancing of the ensemble cast through its first season, but what it represents is a show that is trying to expand its world without flailing about wildly. The show isn’t introducing any new heroes who require long periods of repetitive exposition, or trying to bring in whole new conspiracies and the like; instead, the show is letting its existing characters travel on new trajectories that all relate to a central theme of morality as opposed to a central theme of the end of the world.
If the first half of the finale was about starting to introduce these ideas, the second half puts most of them into motion: Peter’s storyline takes form, Noah Bennett finally returns to his kick-ass self, Kristen Bell is given (at the very least) something interesting to potentially expand upon, and Ali Larter’s new role certainly still raises intriguing questions.
At the same time, though, there’s a feeling that certain storylines are already repetitive, already derivative of past storylines and now dangerously going through the same motions in two straight episodes. If the show can iron out some of those difficulties, I think that the positive can outweigh the negative – if this can happen, Heroes might become enjoyable without qualifications again.
October 8th, 2007
Heroes gets off the ground with two story threads that were left hanging for its opening two episodes: Niki and Micah Sanders, the fate of their patriarch up in the air, and Sylar, dragged into the sewers after last year’s finale. Before the first scenes come to a close we get our answers: D.L. is dead, and Sylar lives. Neither of these are surprising, but the latter in particular is quite frustrating.
My view on Sylar’s resurrection can be found here, remaining unchanged since that post was written, but this episode could have made up for that. It could have used his return to chart a new path for his character, and a new path for the series. Instead, we get a complete ripoff of every superhero origin story inhistory (And Three Men and a Baby) which Sylar makes a single appearance in the opening half hour. And that? Results in yet another extremely frustrating episode of Heroes.