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Sylar locks down Primatech and traps Claire, Noah, Angela and Meredith inside. Before Claire can stab him in the head, Sylar pumps Meredith with adrenaline and triggers a pyro-overload that sends Primatech up in flames. Meanwhile, Ando gets the Force lightning, which acts as an amplifier to other abilities and enables Daphne to speedyzip through time. (Don't ask. Long story short: she gets Hiro back to the present.) Finally, Peter gets back his empathic mimicry, Mohinder gets rid of his scales, Pinehearst explodes, and Nathan takes all information on the superpowered population to the president.
This time last year, we were mourning -- or, as may be the case, celebrating -- the deaths of Nathan and Niki.
It's a lot harder to feel that way about Sylar's death this season: partly because we know he's on set while Volume Four's shooting, partly because we know the show has half a dozen methods to bring anyone back from the dead, but mostly because we know the show loves Sylar so much that killing him off is even more unthinkable than killing off Nathan last season.
Which isn't to say this volume-ender lacked impact, because in a lot of ways -- especially when it comes to Nathan's storyline -- this one tops "Powerless." The Saw rip-off is as heinous as the quasi-scientific rationale for Daphne becoming a time-traveler, but where it counts, this episode achieves what I've been hoping for all season: it signals real change. It's plot-driven and rushed all the way -- the way the whole volume has been -- but the potential for characters to evolve is there. Primatech and Pinehearst have burned down, Hiro's powerless while his sidekick goes from Muggle to Super, and Nathan has turned his back on Peter and ratted the specials out. Sylar's fate might lack suspense, but everyone else's -- after an episode that turned the show's format on its head -- has become more uncertain than ever. Depending on your perspective, that's either an ominous sign that the show has no idea where it's going, or that it's about to change its format and break out of the rut it's been stuck in for much of the season.
Previously on HEROES: there was a whole lot we never got to see! I'm pretty sure we never saw Ando waving a 9th Wonders comic at Nerdeo's Boss or Matt telling him they needed Nerdeo's package to find their friend. I also can't remember Mohinder explaining to Arthur how to combine The Catalyst with The Formula. Not a huge deal, but it's mildly amusing when a recap provides you with footage you never saw before.
Sylar providing the voice-over was a great call. Appropriate in a volume predominantly about him, but also fitting given the biblical overtones in both the voice-over and Sylar's arc throughout the volume.
The camera glides across the carpet at Helix Compound, and we're blessed with an image that kills several birds with one stone:
Yes, that really is how the episode title is spelled, no matter how many times the show changed it. Yes, Arthur really does look dead, no matter how many fans insist that a bullet to the front of the head won't kill anyone who regenerates. And, yes, Arthur's blood really is red. Don't go there, fanfic writers ...
Nathan finds his brother and dead father and heaves a heavy sigh. Subtly acted, although it's difficult to get a handle on what anyone's feeling here. The way Nathan blurts out that Peter "did it," I couldn't really tell whether Nathan was relieved or grief-stricken, although I'm guessing that was the idea: the conflict of emotions is where the brother-versus-brother arc starts to become compelling.
Peter: "I tried. It was Sylar."
Nathan: "Sylar, huh?"
You'd be forgiven for mishearing that as, "Sylar who?", although with hindsight it's easy to see why the show never bothered with a dramatic reveal to clue Nathan in to his new brother. Looking back, there was absolutely no point.
Surprisingly moving, even if you hated the way Arthur was written and played. The fact that Nathan's the one to kneel down and covers his dad's eyelids while Peter sits at a distance says a lot, particularly when Nathan was the one who idolized his father. As whimsical as Nathan's character arc has been this season -- from religious fervor to superpowered rescue effort to mass incarceration -- it's easy to buy how this moment steers his actions for the rest of the episode. When Nathan tells Peter that their father's plan is now theirs, it's as if he's trying to convince himself that their father didn't die in vain, and that he wasn't a total lunatic.
Or not. Maybe Nathan really is just as crazy as Arthur was. The way Pasdar brings the fixated stare and the way he enunciates Nathan's plan to [soft fairytale voice] "make the world a better place," you could equally buy that this is less about honoring Arthur's goals and more about becoming a deluded tyrant.
The staging throughout this sequence is superb: the way both brothers stand at the same time and the way they circle their father's body is as engrossing as it is disturbing. There's also something tragic about the way Nathan's trying to defuse the tension between them ...
... which boils down to Nathan trying to sway his brother to insanity, but which also sets up why Nathan will later feel justified for beating on his brother. The fact that Nathan offered a truce between them now -- and that Peter spurned it -- underscores why he'll end up wondering if he even recognizes his brother anymore. Peter's right to trick Nathan and knock him out, but he indirectly proves Nathan's suspicions to be true: Nathan can't trust anyone, even his own brother.
We cut to Primatech, where we've apparently missed dialogue along the lines of, "Hey, Dad, remember that blonde who showed up 16 years ago to nickname me 'ClaireBear'? Yeah, that was me! Also? That Japanese dude took my Catalyst! Then Grandpa tossed him over a rooftop and told me to tell Grandma he's 'won!'" The absence of this scene isn't as disappointing as the lack of anything to bridge Meredith's split from The Company in the graphic novels and her sudden return to Primatech now. It's easy enough to speculate that either Meredith decided to stay until the Level 5 villains were recaptured or that she decided to remain an agent and work separately from Noah. The point is there was no attempt to connect this storyline to the show's other media. It's not like viewers should need to know that Meredith and Noah disagreed over apprehending Metal-Arm Danny, but a line or two to maintain some semblance of continuity would have been cool.
Sylar goes supersonic from Fort Lee to Hartsdale, eluding the Haitian and killing off several Company security guards. It's sad, but, on the bright side, at least we now know that Primatech really did have what passes for security.
The option for a facility-wide lockdown makes sense, although you have to wonder what good it would do against anyone like D.L., who could phase through the grates on the windows, or anyone like Peter, who could TK the grates right off the windows, or even someone like Metal-Arm Danny, who could probably bust his way through most restraints. You also have to wonder whether anyone on the show has heard of this movie, because the similarities are a little too close to be ignored.
The sad part is how, in spite of the appropriation, this story thread had the potential for much more really great drama. Sylar and Angela are the only two who end up revealing how they feel about what they've been through over the course of this volume. Sylar goes out of his way to prove that everyone he traps is a "monster" like him, but it's hard to tell if Meredith, Noah or Claire are affected by anything they hear or witness. This was an opportunity to go back to Meredith's guilt over blackmailing Claire's father and abandoning her; it was an opportunity to follow through on Claire's storyline last week and to show how Claire's abandonment issues are outweighed by how much she loves and depends on her father; it was an opportunity to look at how Angela feels about Arthur's death, and whether she accepts any responsibility for the present situation.
By the end of this episode, we've no real impression that anything between these characters has changed. Angela now knows that Claire has a killer streak in her, but the dynamic between Claire, Noah and Angela is more or less the same as it was at the start of the episode. Which doesn't make any of this story thread unwatchable, but it seems like the concept was underdeveloped. The point of trapping several characters together is to watch them overcome their issues and work together, but more importantly to watch the dynamic between them develop. This was a chance to explore the questionable actions of some of the most compelling characters on the show, and the storyline was over before the show even scratched the surface.
Past Rooftop of Pigeonly Delight.
ElderPigeon! It wants Hiro to deliver a message! Tell the younglings that everything is going according to plan! The younglings are delighted.
Props to whoever came up with the CG street below. Most of our attention focuses on Hiro telling the pigeon how he screwed everything up --- which we aren't inclined to disagree with -- but if you look past Hiro sobbing, there's actually traffic moving in the shot below him.
Ando, Daphne and Matt visit the Apartment of Clairvoyance. Daphne wonders how history will change if Hiro dies in the past, earning an appalled look from Ando and Matt and reminding everyone else why Daphne is the single most awesome thing to come out of this volume.
Daphne observes that "they really cleaned this place up." I find myself wondering whether "they" refers to Team Pinehearst after they recruited Mohinder or Team Primatech after they removed the numerous cocoons Mohinder made. I also still wonder whether any of those cocooned individuals survived, even though I know I shouldn't.
Other things we shouldn't ponder:
Daphne walks past an intriguing black-and-white painting of a fiery monster and some poor sap standing on a rock. Which I figured wasn't supposed to pique our curiosity, but I couldn't help wondering if there was some larger significance to it when we get a scene from a different angle on the set ...
... and the painting has moved. Were the set decorators especially proud of this prop, or is this a hint that the Uluru storyline's still getting thrown around in the writers' room? You decide.
Daphne decides to go to the Helix Compound to find Mohinder. Matt's all, "No! Absolutely not! Too dangerous!" And I just have to say once again how much I've loved the way Brea Grant played Daphne this volume, because that "I'll-show-you-who's-wearing-the-pants-in-this-relationship" smirk before she speedyzips away is priceless.
Helix Compound. Mohinder, left without anyone to talk to, tells his recorder that his infection has spread to his lungs. This causes mass panic among Sendhil fans, prompting them to wonder whether stuff like this constitutes an actual spoiler.
Peter shows up at the lab, and Mohinder rambles about what it means to be "special" and "powerful" and OH. MY. GOD. Is that it? So protecting Molly from Sylar and avenging Chandra's murder and rescuing members of the superpowered population from a serial killer HAD ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH IT? Whatever. Mohinder's motive was boiled down to its simplest form 14 weeks ago, and I won't rehash the same complaint.
Daphne speedyzips through the lab and swipes Mohinder's vial so fast you hear canisters smashing. Small detail, but it's very cool.
Flint and Knox show up to help Peter trash the lab; which is to say, they do more than stand around looking like glorified extras. Flint wanting "payback" was a nice nod to continuity, especially now that no one's around to stop him from torching the guy who beat him into unconsciousness. Would Flint feel threatened by the idea of abilities for the masses? I can buy that Knox would be nervous: he relies on fear to empower him, and giving his enemies abilities would reduce the level of fear for him to feed off. But Flint? He wanted to be a Company agent. And he's a dumbass.
Having been imbued with superstrength, Chad opts not to go on a Hulk-style rampage around Fort Lee, instead visiting his boss when "Ms Strauss" becomes concerned. He even still calls Nathan "sir." Aw. It's typical that the show makes me like a character ...
... right before killing him off. And that sadness is compounded with the nausea-inducing neck-snapping-with-added-squelching sound effect.
The question you shouldn't be asking here is what happened to Arthur. The trail of blood looks like it leads underneath Chad and out of the door, so presumably someone dragged him out between the moment Peter pwned Nathan and the moment Chad woke Nathan up. Whether it's Peter, Chad or someone else who removed the body -- and whether they took him to the Pinehearst morgue or somewhere completely different -- is likely a point that the show will never address. As gaffes and plotholes go, it doesn't stick out too prominently, but it does kind of hang there feeling as unresolved as it does amusing.
Daphne returns to the Apartment of Clairvoyance, and Matt warns Ando that The Formula won't necessarily make him a time-traveler. Daphne points out that abilities are an extension of character, predicament and temperament, and although I'm not sure what that says about Maya, it strikes me as extremely cool that the show kept this dialogue in the episode. It underscores how Ando's innate ability is to motivate and drive the people around him, and that role had been limited to Hiro for two-and-a-half seasons. By removing Hiro's abilities and giving Ando the ability to ramp up everyone else's, the show opens up enormous possibilities for the character. It sucks that one of the few non-superpowered characters now joins the rest of the special clan, but it also rocks that -- for the first time since the first season -- Ando seems to have a purpose beyond slapstick humor and listening to Hiro yammering.
Hiro climbs from the flagpole to the Past Rooftop of Pigeonly Delight, then finds Kid-Hiro mourning the loss of his mom. I would have advised Hiro to reassure his younger self by pointing out that he'll be running around and waving his sword when they next meet at Mama Sulu's funeral. Then it occurred to me that, with the timeline changed and Adult-Hiro posing as the family chef, Kid-Hiro really should recognize Adult-Hiro when he shows up at the funeral.
Midas Study. Claire tests the external phone line and the grate outside the window, and Angela settles into a comfy-looking couch in the middle of the room. Were the apples on the coffee table too much? Most of the biblical references and imagery work for me, but this seemed a little too obvious.
Angela describes Sylar as "a child starved for attention [who] throws a temper tantrum." Which ... kind of belittles the menace behind Sylar's Saw homage, and makes me wonder whether the show was in fact aiming for parody with this story thread.
Sylar phones Claire while casually stepping over another anonymous security guard. I find it morbidly amusing that the body count keeps mounting while Angela dismisses Sylar's actions as a "temper tantrum." When Sylar gives Claire the option to kill Angela in exchange for everyone else's freedom, Angela looks less disturbed than mildly entertained. Even when Sylar lists her main crimes -- planning to nuke a city, attempting to murder her husband and lying to Sylar about his lineage -- Angela's expression is ...
... completely inscrutable. Which was definitely the right call by Cristine Rose because it emphasizes how composed Angela remains under almost any circumstances. It also dovetails very nicely with her refusal to indulge Sylar's "tantrum" when she knows he's planning to kill them all anyway.
Sylar: "I could've been a nobody instead of the monster I became."
Great delivery by Zach. You can hear the rage beneath the surface, and you can see Sylar staring into space while he imagines what could have been. It doesn't completely explain why Sylar killed Elle, but it's something, the implication being that Sylar doesn't blame Elle for following orders and provoking him into becoming a killer, but rather for provoking him into becoming something he couldn't change back from. It's a subtle spin on the guy who last week rediscovered how much he enjoys ripping people's heads open, but it also ties in with Sylar's "nobody-ever-really-changes" speech before he killed Elle, and, perhaps more obliquely, with his attempt to go back to being "a nobody" back in the first season.
Noah and Meredith return to The Basement and release the remaining Level 5 inmates, who turn out to be Doyle, Metal-Arm Danny and Echo from the webisodes. For anyone who didn't know Echo from the webisodes, he was just another nameless casualty here. For everyone who did recognize him and looked forward to seeing his story continue on the show, this was pretty heartbreaking. I know David H. Lawrence XVII said this scene was longer and that dialogue was cut, but this final cut left Kiko Ellsworth's role close to non-existent. It's limited to standing in the background in this scene and lying very still in the next. I can get over the lack of characterization and the fact that we didn't even see Echo's ability on the show, but the lack of any dialogue? Not a single line? If it was a question of crunching it all into 42 minutes, I think we can all agree that this finale was better suited for a two-parter than "The Eclipse" was. There's very little in this episode that didn't need to be here, and there was plenty in "The Eclipse" that could have been compressed in order for this storyline to unfold over two episodes.
Anyway, Noah and Meredith point guns at Doyle like they think that'll be any use against him. I love how Beeman lowers the camera to just below Doyle's shoulders ...
... which ends up making these inmates even more intimidating and the guns even more useless.
The villains go their separate ways in a bid for their freedom, and Doyle stops to blow a kiss to Meredith. Cute detail, and very in character.
At the Apartment of Clairvoyance.
Ando: "Do I have abilities?"
Daphne: "So far, all we know is that you can pass out really well."
Funny, and in a scene that marks a surprising change of pace and tone from the rest of the episode. It's effectively this episode's Leg-Up-To-The-Air-Vent: a scene that's played for laughs and breaks up the intensity of the rest of the episode. The cool part is that, as with Sylar's lie detector last week, it doesn't disrupt the flow of the episode, it serves the characters, and it really is funny.
Matt: "Scrunch gently. You don't wanna jump back to the Stone Age."
Line of the night.
Too funny. I love the bewildered expression Daphne and Matt get when nothing happens, and how Ando feels like they're crowding him and steps forward to test his ability with more privacy.
Meredith and Sylar leave The Basement and decide it's best to split up, earning them each a Dumb As Peter Award. Meredith comes across Metal-Arm Danny's severed arm -- complete with still-twitching fingers -- before being flanked by Sylar and Doyle.
The showdown was effectively done, but it's especially remarkable for the way we find ourselves rooting for Doyle even after the Russian roulette scene. Doyle points out that he's as likely to kill Meredith as love her, but the fact that he cares enough to protect her -- as twisted as his interpretation of caring might be -- speaks for his character. Every aspect of the guy's actions -- and every nuance of Lawrence's performance -- are true to the spirit of the character. He's creepy and psychotic, but he's also disarmingly warm and protective when it comes to Meredith, to the point where he can show up to fend Sylar off. Even if you know he'll slice a broken bottle top along her neck, you're genuinely glad he's there because he's the lesser of two evils.
But then, Sylar's the one who, once upon a time, kissed his mom on the forehead and put himself in danger to save his brother. Say what you like about this volume; it came up with some bizarre stuff for its villains and screwed around with our sympathy in the best way.
Sylar's TK trumps Doyle's puppeteering, gives Doyle a nosebleed and floors him. It does look like he's back in the next volume, so it's safe to say this didn't kill him, and neither did all of Primatech collapsing over him.
Noah ends up back in The Basement and discovers ...
Damn you, editors.
Goodbye, Echo! We wish we could have known anything about you from the show, as opposed to what we already knew from the webisodes and graphic novels. We hope to see you in many flashbacks and dream sequences in which you get a speaking part.
Sylar using a shot of adrenaline to boost Meredith's pyrokinesis makes sense if we assume he knows about the connection between abilities and adrenal glands. Given the number of times he's hacked open heads and acquired people's abilities, I guess it's possible. The more relevant question seems to involve the subtext behind Sylar wanting Noah to kill his adoptive daughter's biological mother. There are several shots in this scene ...
... that seem intended to emphasize how deeply Sylar and Noah understand one another. It could be that this was Sylar's way of lashing out at Angela -- forcing his pseudo-role model to kill his daughter's mom and break her heart; or Sylar wanted Claire to hate Noah as much as Sylar hates Angela for lying to him; or he wanted Noah to feel as guilty about lying to Claire as he thinks Angela should feel for lying to him.
Or he's just a "sick bastard" (< < Quote! I don't need to censor it!) who enjoys playing mind games. You decide. Whichever it is, I don't think it's a coincidence that Sylar's dialogue here -- "You made me into who I am" -- so closely resembles Nathan and Arthur's "I made you" dialogue last week. Noah's as much of a mentor and surrogate father to Sylar as Arthur ever was, and to engineer a situation where Noah's trapped in a situation and forced to kill the way Sylar was seems like a twisted attempt to give the two of them even more in common.
Helix Compound. Nathan thwacks Knox and makes a dash for the door, and then:
Goodbye, Knox! You were a two-dimensional villain, but we loved you! You were portrayed with visceral menace by Jamie Hector, and we wish we could have gotten to know you better. We hope to see you in many flashbacks, dream sequences and alternate realities.
Tracy urges Nathan to get out of Pinehearst and deny having anything to do with it ... which earns Tracy plus points for coming up with a smart plan, as well as for being as ice-cold as ever when she's stroking Nathan's neck and fingering his chest and charming the heck out of Nathan in order to manipulate him. Her charm's even more commendable when you recall that she's keeping it up with a pool of Papa Petrelli's blood at her feet and a dead supersoldier lying in the doorw-
Wait a second, where is Chad's body?
Seriously, folks: Nathan breezes out of the door and shows no sign of stepping over a body. Is there some kind of mystical corpse-remover at Pinehearst?
Apartment of Clairvoyance. Ando's Force lightning manifests, and well done to the show's visual effects department for distinguishing it from a straightforward red Ellectrobolt, because the sparks look chaotic and out-of-control, the way they would for anyone who'd recently discovered the ability. They also earn Matt and Daphne Dumb As Peter Awards after Ando repeatedly tells them he can't control his ability and they continue touching him on the arm. I realize this was the only way for the storyline to move forward, but come on: when a guy's emitting supersparks, it's probably smarter if you DON'T TOUCH HIM!
Matt gets Ando-zapped and hears the thoughts of everyone in the city. I can't help thinking that the effect could have been better -- for a second longer, and with more voices -- but it's a very cool idea.
Then Ando zaps Daphne and sends her 20 seconds into the past ... and Matt uses his recollection of high-school physics to apply Einstein's Theory of Relativity ... and posits that Daphne can use Ando's ability to travel through time. And this is where I respond to everyone who ever told me that I couldn't suspend disbelief for this show, because I'm going to let this slide without saying a single word ... except to let you know that my BS Detector currently sounds like a World War II air raid siren.
Sulu Penthouse. Hiro and Kid-Hiro remove The Formula from Papa Sulu's safe and are immediately caught by Papa Sulu. The Kensei sword in the apartment was a nice detail, but mostly I love that both Hiros instinctively obey their father when he tells Kid-Hiro to go to bed, and that the only reason Papa Sulu sends Kid-Hiro to bed is because he doesn't want his son to see him hacking the chef to pieces.
Back up a second. This is a timeloop, right? The Formula was always ripped in half by Hiro. It wasn't an intentional effort on Papa Sulu or Angela's part to keep the two halves separate. If that's true, then Hiro was destined to always go back in time, become The Catalyst, lose The Catalyst, break into Papa Sulu's safe and rip The Formula in half. If that's true, then Hiro was destined to always be The Catalyst instead of Claire, unless there was some original timeline we've never seen in which the Formula plans were complete and in which Claire really did become The Catalyst before Hiro showed up to usurp it from Mama Sulu. But if that's the case, substantial portions of this volume could never have happened, which means Arthur would never have retrieved both parts of The Formula and Hiro would never have needed to go back in time in the first pl-
Oh, never mind. Somehow it makes sense.
Daphne speedyzips Ando and Hiro forward 16 years.
Hiro: "Nemesis, you have a chance to make up for your past, and for me to make up mine."
With that last part, I hope Hiro means opening up Papa Sulu's safe, and that he's learned not to act on his boredom. If he'd kept the safe locked, most of this disaster wouldn't have happened.
Calling Daphne "nemesis" for the billionth time wasn't as annoying as it used to be: it's cool that it's now more of a nickname, and that it serves as a reminder of how far the character's come since she was introduced.
Daphne speedyzips Hiro to the Helix Compound. Tracy ices Arthur's safe, removes the two halves of The Formula, calls Hiro "Pikachu," and then ...
Oh, boy. Oh, boy. And we were worried that this Hiro wouldn't be as proactive as the 10-year-old one.
Daphne's reaction pretty much sums it up, but I want to praise whoever came up with Hiro pausing to bow to Tracy before he decks her, because THAT? ... makes all the difference in the world.
We cut to Mohinder's lab, which Peter and Flint are still trashing. How long have they been at this? I wonder if they'll still be smashing vials and tipping over shelves when I finish this review.
Mohinder gets doused in The Formula after Peter and Flint tip a vat on its side. He loses the peeling flesh, but does that mean he lost his strength and wall-crawling? I can't see why getting soaked in a power-imbuing formula would remove his powers, but this episode wraps up the whole powers-for-all storyline, so it would make sense for Mohinder's powers to end with it. There were several intentionally open-ended story threads in this episode, but I'm not sure this was supposed to be one of them.
After several eons of vandalism, Flint decides he's ready to set fire to the lab. Nathan shows up to club Flint over the head, and then proceeds to start beating on his brother. And the look on his face ...
... is of a guy who no longer recognizes his brother.
And this, right here -- Nathan brutally beating Peter while discordant strings tell you this is an Overwrought Moment -- is where you either buy into the episode's brilliance or write the whole thing off as garbage. This is inarguably asking viewers to take an enormous leap. I bought into it, but that's mostly because I bought into the idea that all of Nathan's experiences led up to it: his parents used him as a lab rat, his father tried to have him killed, his wife left him and got a restraining order to keep him from their kids, his new girlfriend went behind his back and conspired with his father, his future-brother shot him, and his present-brother pointed a gun at him, told him he was crazy and knocked him out.
It's hard to ask viewers to buy into the transformation Nathan underwent in less than four episodes, but the rationale for turning on Peter -- when he and everyone else had already turned on Nathan -- is there. It wasn't established in dialogue, and maybe it should have been, but when Nathan tells Peter that he broke his heart, Nathan's admitting that Peter was the one person he was counting on to not betray him; and when Peter does, the only thing Nathan's left with is his own sense of right and wrong.
Flint regains consciousness and torches the lab, and Nathan ... just stands there. Which I'm tempted to award a Dumb As Peter, but at this point I wonder whether Nathan even knew where he'd go or whether he cared if he lived or died. The way it's depicted, Nathan comes across as a broken man who's got very little left besides a warped set of principles and the conviction that he's doing the right thing.
Peter finds a vial of The Formula intact, injects himself, and apparently gets back his absorption ability, immediately soaking up Nathan's flight and pulling Nathan out of Pinehearst before it explodes. So, presumably, Peter now has the option to either visit every super he ever knew (and who's still alive) with the aim to re-absorb the abilities he used to have ... Or Peter (and for that, read the show's writers) will be a little smarter about which supers he comes into contact with, and this time he won't end up with an armada of abilities that can only be controlled by amnesia, body-swapping or power-sucking.
We go from one Overwrought Moment to another as we cut to Angela and Sylar AND ABOUT FIVE BILLION TICKING CLOCKS at the Midas Study. Seriously, the clocks in this scene are deafening.
Angela: "So, you killed Arthur."
Sylar: "I certainly did."
Angela: "Then you saved the world. I was right about you all along. You are a hero."
Great dialogue. As with pretty much all of Angela's dialogue, it sounds crazy on paper but ends up sounding reasonable when Cristine delivers it. The staging and camera also do a lot of the work: Sylar forcing Angela into the chair and dragging her across the office reinforces how he's overpowered her ...
... and the way Sylar's a hair's width away from Angela brings out how much the dynamic between them has changed since Angela first visited Sylar in his cell.
Sylar asks Angela if she's really his mother, she tells him she's not, and the clocks freeze. If this isn't the first time a show used ticking clocks as an expression of a character's emotional disposition, it's got to be the most awesome.
Sylar replies that, for a moment, he wishes Angela was his mother, and Angela's expression when she hears this ...
... absolutely kills me. I wish we'd seen more of this throughout the episode, but in a way, getting little doses of it like this gives it even more impact.
Angela skips the BS and admits that she wanted Sylar to be everything that Peter and Nathan weren't: a destructive unethical Company drone who'd willingly become a tool and wouldn't balk at the idea of taking out a few million innocent individuals every now and then. Angela's admission that she's "a monster too" is in character, tying in very elegantly with her admission to Matt back in "Cautionary Tales" that the ElderSupers "mortgaged [their] souls" for the sake of their children. It's also a brief but illuminating window into the way Angela feels about her life and her actions -- the underlying idea being that she knows she's doing good but that it comes at the cost of her soul and any sense of inner peace.
Sylar: "Is there any good in this world? Tell me something -- anything. Just make me believe that you're not the same as me..."
The dialogue alone doesn't do it justice, because Zach -- like Cristine -- nails this scene. In spite of the about-turn the character underwent over the course of 13 episodes, Zach sells it. You can buy that Sylar wants to believe in something to counter his own evil.
The revelation that Angela knows who Sylar's biological parents are kills the suspense behind Sylar's death. You can see the show's love affair with Sylar saving him a mile off, but it's also that there's no way the show would drop in a line about Sylar's parents and then make the revelation a moot point by killing the character off.
But let's pretend, if only for a moment:
Claire sneaks up on Sylar, and ...
Goodbye, Sylar! You were a magnificent villain! You were complex and entertaining and terrifying, and even though a lot of us think you should have died a lot sooner, we're sorry to see you go. We hope to see you in many flashbacks and dream seq-
Oh, why bother? Nice try, Heroes. You're not fooling anyone.
Noah somehow overrides the lockdown, lifting the grates over the windows and flooding the Midas Study with light and highlighting ...
... just how daaaaaaaaark Claire's become after not-killing Sylar, and ...
... just how traumatized Angela is after watching her granddaughter stab a killer with a shard of glass after months of pretending to love him like her own son.
Claire rediscovers her heart in time to say goodbye to Meredith.
Claire: "I love you, Mom."
There's not enough aww to capture how beautifully that scene was done. It was poignant and well-delivered and captured everything that was special about the relationship between these two.
Goodbye, Meredith! We'll miss you! You were fun and unpredictable and incredibly gorgeous, and you were a great role model for Claire. We hope to see you in many flashba-... Ah, you know the rest.
Damn. I really liked her. I guess it's possible she survived becoming a human fireball, but all of Primatech collapsing over her? I wouldn't put it past this show, but I'd be surprised.
Peter lands Nathan in a clearing outside Pinehearst.
Nathan: "Why'd you save me? Why'd you do it?"
Peter: "Because you're my brother."
And again, the aww is off the charts, not least because Peter's expression here ...
... is one of a guy who's appealing to his brother the same way that his brother appealed to him an hour earlier.
The look from that brother now ...
... is one of a guy who doesn't know who he's looking back at anymore. Nicely played by Pasdar, because that look underscores how the whole relationship between Nathan and Peter has disintegrated.
Primatech burns. Shenkar wails. V.O. Mohinder ... uh, v.o.'s. And Tracy pulls up in a sports car to save Mohinder from having to hitchhike back to Chandra's Crib.
Try not to be too proud of yourself, Hiro. Most of this is your fault.
... Or not. It might just be a specter of Matt's spirit walk. I guess an apparition of the turtle would have undermined the profound nature of this closing montage. Usutu inexplicably appearing in New York is admittedly much more effective.
We zoom into Claire's eye -- because you know this show will be all about her from now on -- and thus ends a volume that's been at times incoherent and exasperating, but at times also entertaining and thought-provoking.
4 out of 5
Aaaaaaaaaand we're off. Nathan meets the president, and he turns out to be ...
Well done, Heroes! Picard couldn't be prouder! Prophet-Sisko sends his congratulations! Kahless finds it an honorable vocation! Alexander and the House of Mogh say "Kapla"! Jadzia's Trill spots are glowing! Troi senses your confiden-
OK, I'm done here.
Nathan hands Worf a dossier containing everything he knows about -- among others -- Tracy, Micah, Mohinder, Matt and Hiro. Nathan wants to round them all up and lock them in a secure facility, but I'm guessing Worf's going to take a bat'leth and slice open their necks before ripping out their intestines and returning to Qo'noS to celebr-
OK, now I'm really done here.
Nathan pauses to look as photogenically conflicted as Pasdar can make him. He should: his storyline was the crux of this finale, and, at least from the look of it, the springboard for the central storyline in Volume Four. It's also a big part of what helped the show to finally move beyond the rut it's been stuck in for most of Volume Three. With Primatech NY and Pinehearst gone, the superpowered society exposed and two of the ElderSuper offspring at one another's throats, the status quo has been dismantled. It'll be close to impossible for the show to fall back on the story conventions it followed before this finale, meaning the only direction the show can now go is forward. This preview was detailed -- more so than either of the previous volumes' -- which is a hopeful sign that the show has a very specific idea about where it wants to go, and -- perhaps more importantly -- a specific plan about how it wants to get there.
Here's hoping it turns out that way. In the meantime, thanks to everyone for reading, enjoy the vacation, and we'll see you in the spring.
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Sixteen years in the past, we learn that Mama Sulu was the host for The Catalyst and that Papa Sulu selected Claire as her successor. Claire changes her own diapers (!) while Hiro bonds with Mama Sulu, gets his memories back and persuades her to put The Catalyst in him. Having robbed Hiro of both his abilities and The Catalyst, Arthur combines The Catalyst with The Formula. He doesn't get to see his superpowered army take shape, however, because Peter and the Haitian show up to shoot him. After establishing that Arthur definitely isn't his father, Sylar helps the bullet along its trajectory.
These birds are pissed, Heroes! They want to know how you could go back to the Rooftop of Pigeonly Delight and not show either the ElderPigeons OR The Bearded One. And how, instead, you could tell a story that involves -- of all things -- a dove.
They might not have loved this episode, but I did. After half a season of secret formulas, catalysts, cocoons, amnesiac main characters and soap-opera plot twists, it's a delight to finally get an episode that's as poignant and thought-provoking as this one: an episode that deftly reverses several of the problems that plagued this volume, and one that -- for the first time this season -- truly showcases the brilliance of the show's cast, writers and directors.
If you can get over Christopher Eccleston's conspicuous absence after the last time this scene played out, the episode plunges into its story with astounding pace. Papa Sulu and Noah are talking in Japanese, Kid-Hiro's playing his brick-sized GameBoy and BabyClaire's peering up at her adoptive father. Papa Sulu hands BabyClaire over to Noah, and it might just be the way this was shot that makes it so much more obvious than it was in "Company Man," but when Noah takes BabyClaire in his arms ...
... he actually bends his legs. It's a tiny detail, but it's one of a million nuances Jack Coleman brings to his character. It shows how tentative and uneasy Noah was about this assignment being thrust onto him.
Claire realizes that the baby in Noah's arms is herself, and I'm guessing it's 10-year-old Hiro's incomprehension that spares us any dialogue along the lines of, "Oh, me as a baby! Aren't I pretty? Look how everyone loves me! Me me me me meeeeeeeee!" Remarkably, we're this week spared any of Claire's self-adoration or typical passive-aggressive whining. At first, I struggled to put my finger on why the Claire/Hiro scenes were so much more effective than any scenes Claire's had with almost any character who's not one of her parents this season.
Then the reason hit me:
Claire can't bemoan what a lousy parent she thinks Noah's been lately because it'd be like talking to a wall. Hiro probably wouldn't even stop to listen.
Hiro: "'Where is train station?' 'I must use toilet.' 'More waffles, please.'"
Very cute. It's designed to be cute, but it flies because of the context and the delivery. It's bookended by the adorableness of BabyClaire and Kid-Hiro, and its qualified by both 10-year-old Hiro's proud smile when he recites the lines he remembers and by Claire's "Yeah, that's nice" look of disdain when she realizes who she's stuck with. Well done, show: you've officially suckered me into liking these characters again.
Should 10-year-old Hiro remember living in a New York apartment? It was easier to explain in "Company Man" when the implication was that Papa Sulu had brought Kid-Hiro on a one-time business trip, but the revelation this week that the Nakamuras actually lived in the Deveaux Building -- presumably even before Papa Deveaux did -- makes it a tougher sell. Unless they're repressed or Haitian-whammied memories, you'd think Kid-Hiro's recollection of Mama Sulu dying here would spark off at least some associations when he ended up standing on the same rooftop in "The Hard Part."
Too cute. There's a comedic element which keeps you wondering if they're going to trip and fall, but the other half of the appeal is that neither character really knows what they're doing here until this scene; unlike the other instances when Hiro and Peter traveled through time, no one's on a mission here. Even after Hiro and Claire realize what they need to do, the focus remains on the emotions rather than the objective. The pretext about The Catalyst takes a back seat to Hiro bonding with Mama Sulu and Claire meeting a hapless Sandra. The plot drives the episode in the end, but the emphasis throughout is more on what Hiro and Claire are feeling than what they're working towards.
We meet Mama Sulu, who's brilliantly played by Tamlyn Tomita and whose attachment to her son is so beautifully conveyed that you grasp how her death left Hiro emotionally stunted, and how it forced him even deeper into a fantasy life of comics and video games. Mama Sulu's also so stunningly gorgeous that -- between her and Sandra -- I this week find myself torn between the show's bountiful selection of hot moms.
Mama Sulu: "We must face the inevitable. I think it will happen tonight."
A surprisingly crucial line, if only to establish that Mama Sulu was going to die whether she transferred The Catalyst or not, and that Hiro's insistence on getting The Catalyst wasn't the direct cause for his mom's death.
"We must make arrangements for The Catalyst before it is lost forever."
... Which would suck because ...?
Seriously, why not let it die with Mama Sulu? The Nakamuras obviously knew enough to leave Arthur out of the loop; even if the ElderSuper photo was taken about now, it's obvious the group was splitting off into separate factions and distrust was rife among them; Papa Sulu's whole argument for nixing the decision to make his boy the next host is that he's irresponsible and can't carry the burden, so he obviously knew there were risks attached to keeping a part of The Formula active. So besides the potential for drama, what was the benefit of keeping The Catalyst? It's not a plot hole, but definitely something left undeveloped. Papa Sulu's rationale for keeping the project alive is never explained beyond the vague suggestion of scientific curiosity.
It looks like he's ready to start bawling. Wonderfully played by George Takei. Solemn and affecting, and very consistent with the guy we'll next see crying his eyes out at Mama Sulu's funeral.
Papa Sulu growls contemplatively, then tells Mama Sulu that Noah's baby is "the perfect candidate," which has me cracking up at a moment that was meant to be earnest. I guess Papa Sulu might have known about the circumstances leading up to Claire's birth, but the suggestion seems to be that he was mindful enough of his own son's incompetence to choose some random baby he knew nothing about as the recipient of the family's life-altering legacy.
Kid-Hiro sees the dove dying in its cage. The symbolism's appropriately underplayed and Hiro's cluelessness about what's going on is nicely underscored, but get this, folks:
They used a Japanese newspaper in the cage. Now that's attention to detail. Whoever came up with that -- Ruth Ammon, Dena Allen, James Clark -- they need a bouquet. The entire set for the Sulu Penthouse was beautifully made, the Manhattan skyline outside the window was so convincing you'd never realize it was CG, but details like this in the set production exemplify how much work went into this episode.
Mama Sulu: "This conversation isn't over yet."
Great dialogue, mostly because -- even at this point -- you trust that Armus and Foster are crafting their script with care. You know the dove isn't just a diversion to a conversation that'll never be mentioned again: you trust that they're going to come back to it, and they do. This episode shines because there are ramifications, within the episode itself if not within the rest of the show. Conversations are interrupted, but they resume instead of ending up ignored or forgotten.
Kid-Hiro retrieves the bird from its cage and hands it to his mom. Looking back, it's even more of an aww moment than it is at the time, because you realize Kid-Hiro had no idea his mom had a superpower. He was handing it to her because, like most kids, he believed his parents were infallible and omnipotent and could fix anything. In this case, Kid-Hiro's parents pretty much are, but the point is he's tapping into our own sense of childhood wonder and innocence.
We learn that Mama Sulu's ability is essentially the same as Linderman's, only it seems like she needs to kiss her benefactors instead of just touching them. Hiro realizes his mom can help him get his memories back without stomping on too many butterflies. Claire, on the other hand, seems a lot more gung-ho about rewriting history and preventing herself from becoming The Catalyst. And this, right here, is the first of very few complaints I have with this episode. It's a defensible decision: Claire probably figured that if she never became The Catalyst, it wouldn't matter if Team Pinehearst ended up capturing and vivisecting her. The problem is the way that rationale never becomes clear. You don't get the sense that Claire's trying to throw a wrench into Arthur's plans; it's more as if she's trying to undermine Papa Sulu's plans because being a component in a superpowered formula is an inconvenience for her.
To be fair, it could be even more straightforward than that: Claire might simply be thinking about how she can alter history so that she doesn't end up getting shot and Sylar never ends up choking her father to death in their home. But this is where the language barrier with Hiro poses a problem, because if Claire couldn't explain her motives to Hiro -- which would be dumb, because he'd have no idea what she was saying -- the alternative would be to explain them to Young Noah, which would screw up the timeline even more. There's no obvious solution, but the result is that Claire's attempt to avert disaster in the future ends up unclear. You never really get a handle on why she's so determined to prevent Papa Sulu from turning her into The Catalyst.
Papa Sulu discovers Hiro and mistakes him for the chef who was supposed to prepare breakfast. Should we be wondering what happened to the real chef? Probably not. But I wouldn't want to be him if Hiro hadn't gone back in time and been standing here right now to cover his ass. That glare in Papa Sulu's eyes is paralyzing. I love how Takei can move from tearful-and-torn-up to madder-than-hell in less than a minute.
Costa Verde Beachfront. Hiro wins a retroactive *PING!* Dumb As Peter Award for keeping the psychotic supervillains within comfortable traveling distance. Would it have killed Hiro to teleport Sylar to a deserted island?
Sylar answers his cell phone, and the impatient "What!?" he gives Arthur captures the shift in his storyline. "Dad" and "Sir" have become "Arthur." Sylar's eagerness to please has become brazen defiance. Nicely played by Zach, and a sign of how much he seems to be enjoying his role now that the whole Petrelli-with-a-Hunger arc has come to an end.
Elle's cell phone turns out to be a Sanyo. I'm pleasantly surprised that the show resisted turning this into a Sprint plug, but also appalled that a Company agent stored a list of supers AND THEIR ABILITIES on a cell phone. I guess anyone who found or stole the phone would assume that "strength" and "superspeed" and "pyrokinesis" were dirty euphemisms, but what kind of idiots at Primatech and Pinehearst came up with this policy? Can you imagine the security breaches they're dealing with every time a Company agent loses their phone? Or, you know, gets murdered with their phone on them?
Sylar pours lighter fluid over the woman he scalped, but pauses for long enough ...
... to rest a hand on her arm, and then long enough ...
... to look like this murder actually affected him. Or confused him. I'm not sure. Again, it's a part of a story I wish could have been better developed, and something that shouldn't have been left to speculation. It's still unclear why Sylar killed Elle, and whether it was the eclipse or Noah's revelation about his parents that snapped Sylar back into his first-season self.
Visually stunning, but also a subtle nod to the passion both actors put into their scenes together. As confused as the storyline turned out, there was no part of it that Zach and Kristen didn't act the hell out of.
Angela: "One shot to the back of his head and it's done."
Angela: "Three teaspoonfuls of sugar and a dash of nutmeg."
Peter: "You want me to kill him?"
Peter: "You want me to leave out the cinnamon?"
Angela: "Why do you think I sent your brother and you to find the Haitian?"
Angela: "Why do you never listen to me when I tell you to add the cinnamon with the flour?"
Peter: "You poisoned Dad with the soup. Plus, you didn't really send me to find the Haitian. I had to hitch a ride on my brother's back and nearly got shot to prove I was useful."
Angela: "I don't think this is our actual dialogue, but as you may know, the Haitian can block Arthur's powers."
Peter: "Wow. Thanks for letting me know. I'd never have guessed he could do that after the time he blocked my own powers, wiped my memory and sent me to Ireland in a cargo container with nothing except my pants and my passport."
Angela: "It's all up to you."
Peter: "Why can't you do it?"
Angela: "There's no other way..."
Peter: "Look! There's Zach Quinto's name in the credits! I can't believe that popped up the exact moment you said there was no other w-"
*HAITIAN DEATH GRIP!*
Peter's hand pausing over the gun was a neat touch, as was Angela's barely-audible whisper when she recounts how she tried to kill the man she loved. Milo does a solid job with the furrowed brow and Cristine Rose reveals a layer of inner turmoil beneath the controlled exterior. But this is a transitional scene, and it doesn't seem like anyone -- the writers or the actors -- quite knows what to do with it. The last time Peter and Arthur met, Peter was furious with Arthur and spurring Sylar on to "kick his ass." The last time Angela and Arthur met inside a nightmare, Arthur tacitly acknowledged that he still loved Angela, and Angela seemed to have swayed Arthur. The shift in Peter and Angela's perspectives here was jarring: Peter's gone from "I've seen the future! Kick his ass! He's going to end the world!" to "Oh, but is he REALLY evil? Do I really have to KILL him? Angela's gone from "We were in love -- you're a vicious b*****d but I know a part of you still cares..." to "You're a monster! Die!"
Peter was angry at Arthur in "Eris Quod Sum," and Angela's feelings for Arthur were palpable in "It's Coming," and the way the resolution to this storyline was set up in this scene seemed to overlook parts of the arc that led up to it.
Nathan returns to the Helix Compound to tell Papa Petrelli he's taking over the business. The brief appearance by Flint and Knox was a nice nod to continuity, if only to remind us that they're still alive. As with Doyle and Danny in "The Eclipse, Part I," it's also a sad reminder that the show never did as much with these villains as we hoped it would, and that the actors' roles are more or less limited to standing in the background and looking menacing.
Tracy: "Your father sees the problems in this world -- war, terrorism. He wants to make it a better place."
And that might just be the most informative line we've gotten about the Daddy Villain's endgame since he was introduced. It might actually be the only informative line we've gotten. It sounds a lot like Candice telling Micah that Linderman wanted to "heal the world," the difference being that Linderman had four or five episodes -- and one phenomenal scene with Nathan at the Corinthian -- in which to set out a rationale for his drastic measures. Arthur never got that. He never got a scene to make his motives clear, or a moment to explain why he was so determined to finish The Formula and build his superpowered army. Robert Forster's performance as Arthur was exemplary, but you have to feel sorry for an actor whose insight into the character was limited by a chronic lack of workable material.
We cut to a pre-Canine-Central Casa Bennet, where Claire poses as a neighbor's niece and volunteers to be Sandra's new babysitter.
Too cute. I'll leave it to you to decide how ironic it is that Claire gets to fuss over herself, but the irony in no way undermines the cuteness.
Is that Sandra? She really does look like she's 16 years younger. Part of it might be the tone of her scenes; we've never really seen her outside the golden glow of Odessa and Costa Verde, and the blue New York hue brings a fresh novelty to the character's role this week. Part of it's also that Ashley Crow plays Sandra the way she played her at the start of Season One -- minus the dog obsession.
Sandra: "Noah's very busy at work ... Apparently, he's very good at what he does."
Brilliant dialogue, and brilliant delivery. You can hear a tinge of the pre-"Company Man" cluelessness, and her loneliness before Claire showed up.
Sylar visits one of the supers on Elle's list. We learn that she has the ability to detect lies, which is accompanied by a whoosh, a shake of the camera and a pinging sound in the background. The execution's a little cheap, but the ability itself is extremely cool. So cool, in fact, that you wonder how successfully the show will handle it. So much of the show's storyline involves deception or manipulation, and now that Sylar has the ability to detect those, it's going to be hard for any character to lie to him.
Not that you stop to think about that as this scene plays out, because it's so morbidly amusing -- from Sylar's delivery uniform to the excited smile he gets when he asks if the ability "tingles" -- that it's hard to find fault with it or wonder how the show will get around it.
Sylar promises that stealing Sue's ability won't hurt a bit ...
... then admits that he lied ...
... and that it's going to hurt a lot.
It's as hilarious as it is scary, mostly because the horror's undercut with humor, and because Zach -- like David Anders earlier in the season -- brings terrific comic timing to his scenes.
Sylar: "I almost forgot how good this feels."
So did we. For all the complaints about how dull Sylar's character arc will be if he's limited to this, watching him fall back on a straightforward "want-power/take-power" impulse is oddly appealing. You know there are no ramifications: no guilt, and no attempts to rationalize the kill or foist the blame onto side-effects of a root ability. This is Sylar: a villain who taunts and terrorizes victims, and who enjoys inflicting pain while he gains an ability that makes him "special."
Line of the night. It's funny for Zach's "Oh, you shouldn't have!" delivery, but also because it taps into the chasm between normality and fantasy.
Lair of the Nerds! We get an establishing shot of Daphne speedyzipping two people along with herself -- one of whom (and I say this with the greatest respect for Grunberg) is Matt. I now have a renewed respect for both Daphne and her ability, because someone as petite as Daphne pulling a guy as big as Matt can't be a small feat.
Matt actually apologizes to Nerdeo's Boss for mind-reading him. Surprising and admirable. You'd expect Matt to Parkman-whammy people left and right as he became more adept at it, but the fact that he stops at mind-reading and even feels bad about it is a nice sign of the character's growth and adjustment to his ability.
Helix Compound. Nathan pulls up a chair with Chad Faust. I'm not sure if this is an homage to The 4400 and a nod to both Kyle Baldwin and promicin, but the "similarities" are becoming alarmingly overt. Nathan warns Chad that this trial will "change [his] life in ways [he] can't possibly imagine -- forever." Chad has his reasons and recounts how he lost 10 comrades while stationed in Iraq. It's harrowing, but the appalling part is the way Nathan then plays on Chad's guilt and decides he's the guy to test the new version of The Formula on. By doing that, he's effectively renouncing his role as a hero on the show. I'm willing to bet that Chad will be dead before the end of the next episode, but even if he doesn't die, Nathan damns him by authorizing Mohinder to test the serum on him. Nathan condemns this guy to the same fate he suffered: the one where, if you're not plagued with scales and bug-slime or dissected by a covert organization, you're manipulated, exploited, pursued, isolated and left feeling like a freak. Nathan willingly inflicts this on an individual out of a sense of serving a greater good, and -- at least where Nathan's concerned -- that's what distinguishes this storyline from the bomb plot in Season One. Back then, Nathan was a tool. This time, he's the one calling the shots. It's sad to see the character become corrupt, but it makes for brilliant drama. It's consistent with the character we've seen, it dovetails with the character we saw in "I Am Become Death," and it's a chance for the show to work with the kind of complex moral ambiguity it should have been playing with throughout the volume. Well played, writers.
Sulu Penthouse. Hiro tries to cook breakfast for his mom. Aww. Papa Sulu laments that his son is "irresponsible." Mama Sulu tells him to "give him a chance." I love the vigorous nod Hiro gives when he hears that, and I have to say, I'm going to miss this version of the character. Masi used this storyline to capture everything that was entertaining about his character at the start of the show, and the writers wrote him with more courage, heart and initiative than they ever wrote Adult-Hiro.
Papa Sulu concludes that Hiro "will never amount to anything."
Double aww. It's nothing new, but it never gets old, and it never fails to be adorable.
Casa Bennet. Claire warns BabyClaire about the perils of fifth-grade romance. Aww.
Hiro -- what have you done? You've brought Jack Coleman forward in time from his Dynasty days!
Noah interrogates Claire, and Claire's pretty much, "I'm ... uh ... Damn, Dad, what is your secret?" Well done, Heroes Make-Up Department.
Props to Coleman for the Company-groomed glare of suspicion. Props also for the way Noah barely looks at his daughter, and for the near-total lack of empathy he shows either BabyClaire or Sandra. You get a sense of how little he wants to let BabyClaire mean to him, and how little he trusts Sandra with the truth about how the baby ended up with them.
Noah stares at Claire with so much ferocity that you wonder if it's possible for his eyeballs to pop out of their sockets, sprout knives, slice their way down Claire's throat and rip out her entrails. Sandra nervously asks if this has "something to do with how [they] got the baby." Well done to the writers for at least addressing the issue: at least we know Sandra asked how a paper salesman ended up having a baby dropped in his lap; presumably, she didn't push too hard because she bonded with BabyClaire so quickly.
Claire articulates Noah's reluctance to care about an assignment that could be snatched away at any time.
Claire: "This little baby will be in your life for at least 16 more years, and many more -- hopefully -- after that."
Was I the only one whose ears pricked up at the hopefully?
Even BabyClaire gets an alarmed look at that part. Or maybe it's more, "Am I really going to become this melodramatic?"
Noah looks like the steely Company surface is cracking. Damn, even I'm kind of moved. Noah gets a call from Papa Sulu, Claire insists that his "ClaireBear" is fine the way she is, and then:
Claire will probably find she's messed the timeline up irrevocably with this stunt, but, damn, that was a moving scene. A little theatrical on Hayden's part, but very moving.
This would usually be the part where Ando grins over a bar of gold or Hiro gets a leg up to an air vent. In defiance of the trend this season, Hiro's next scene trumps the previous one by not only being even more emotionally draining, but also advancing the story and opening a door for Hiro's character arc that's as promising as Claire's.
Hiro prepares waffles, syrup and orange juice and tells his mom he doesn't know how to make Tamagoyaki. Damn, even that gets an aww out of me. This episode really is trying to turn me into an emotional wuss. Stop it, show!
Beeman mentions on his blog that he took the reins on these scenes, and looking at Masi's performance, you can tell. As with every Beeman-directed episode, there are nuances that the actor and director almost certainly came up with on the spot: Hiro's nervous shuffle with the tray, the deferential nods and half-bows he gives his mom while he's still pretending to be a chef, and the soothing voice he uses to greet his mom because he knows she's sick.
Mama Sulu immediately recognizes something familiar about Hiro. You could write that off as a necessity for the plot, but it also says something about Mama Sulu's perception and the bond between her and Hiro. The way Masi delivers the line about not even being sure how his ability works, you also realize how scared and confused the 10-year-old Hiro must have been, and how much he must have wanted to fall into his mom's arms from the moment he saw her.
Mama Sulu gushes about how proud she is to see her son grown up, then learns that he's a tabula rasa from the age of 10 and restores his memories.
Now that Hiro has his memories back, please don't turn him into a d*%k again. He sucked as the guy who was so bored that he opened his dad's safe and started this whole mess, but he turned out to be pretty cool when he was a 10 year old because he actually felt bad about Charlie and Kensei and his dad's death, and he actually got stuff done by teleporting around really fast. Please don't screw the character up because we kind of liked him better as the 10 year old.
P.S. Please don't bring Maya back.
P.P.S. Guys: Mohinder, a bug? Seriously, what were you thinking?
Mama Sulu asks Hiro to tell her about his life. Where to begin? Became a dork, learned to travel through time and space, went on a mission to America, fell in love with a hot waitress, stabbed a guy, went back to the 1600s and pissed off another guy so much he became a lunatic and founded the group Papa works for, let Papa get pushed off a rooftop by the same lunatic, buried the lunatic alive, took over Papa's business, lost a magical formula, went to an African desert, lost memories, played spitball in a bowling alley, read lots of comics, and teleported here.
Or he could tell Mama Sulu he "saved the world ... twice." Which sounds a lot more impressive, but isn't really truthful, because the first time it was the frying man who saved New York from exploding, and the second time it was his little brother who incinerated the virus that was going to wipe out the population.
She's so proud of him!
Mama Sulu: "I always knew you were meant for greatness."
Aww. Who cares if he bent the truth a little?
Hiro volunteers to become the next host for The Catalyst. I want to praise Hiro for his determination, but given that he lost his father's half of The Formula within seconds of unlocking it from the safe, I have to agree with Papa Sulu.
Mama Sulu disobeys Papa Sulu by agreeing to give Hiro The Catalyst. Between this, Sandra and Angela, I'm beginning to wonder if the show's trying to make some kind of statement about overbearing husbands and the smart-and-capable wives who stand up to assert their authority.
At this point, I kid you not:
Hiro's glasses are misting up. It's about the millionth aww of the episode, but it's so well deserved.
Cool effect. Nothing extravagant, but the warm glow's a nice contrast to Chad convulsing after he gets The Formula.
Mama Sulu dies, and I find myself wishing the show would find some way to bring her back -- Magik Blood, dream sequence, flashback, whatever -- because Tamlyn Tomita and Masi knocked this scene out of the park.
We cut to present-day New York and catch a glimpse of another world-split-in-half painting splashed across a building. I suddenly realize we've nearly reached the end of this volume without those ever being explained. This painting's so high up that it must have been painted by someone who can fly; and if it isn't someone who's clairvoyant, it's got to be someone who traveled back in time with several tins of paint. Maybe I'm overthinking this.
The Haitian: "To kill one's own father is a horrible thing."
Indeed. So horrible that you wonder why Angela gave this sucky assignment to Peter instead of undertaking it herself. I get that she's running Team Primatech and delegating field ops, and I get that this is probably a grim rite of passage for the wimpy son whose idea of rebellion was becoming a nurse. But we know Angela has no issues with killing Arthur. It would have made more sense for Angela to come along, and to supply the Haitian with his own gun as Plan B. Angela wins a *PING!* Dumb As Peter Award.
Sylar leaves the Office of Normality and steps into an elevator. There's probably a lot to analyze about this scene ...
... but the image says it all. That, and, "It does kind of tingle."
Lair of the Nerds. Nerdeo's Boss lets Matt, Daphne and Ando know that the sketchbook was found in a locker after Nerdeo was fired, and that "every fanboy in the city's been trying to grab it." Daphne opens the sketchbook, and the first page seems to be "Hiro Lost In Time." If Hiro and Claire were hiding in the greenhouse in the first edition of 9th Wonders and this is the first sketch in Isaac's sketchbook, the implication seems to be that Isaac painted events in near-chronological order, including events altered by people traveling back through time. Which is way too much of a continuity headache for me to contemplate, because it implies that Isaac's clairvoyance includes events that take place in the past, and events that have been altered by people knowing what happens because of clues they've found in Isaac's comics.
Rooftop of Pigeonly Delight. Hiro lets Claire know that he's taken the burden from Claire and that The Light is in him now. Astonishingly, Claire's not pleased to have gotten what she wanted:
^ ^ Furious!
Wasn't she trying to stop herself from getting The Catalyst? Shouldn't she be jumping for joy? IS THERE NO PLEASING HER?
Arthur shows up.
Did he just to decide to teleport to the day Claire was born and grab The Catalyst then and there? Did he sketch that he was going to meet Hiro and Claire on the Rooftop? Did he read a bunch of 9th Wonders comics and find the same clue that Breckin did last week? Did Peter absorb Molly's ability at Superhero Square, did Arthur get Molly's ability when he stole Peter's abilities, and does Molly's ability extend to finding people in different timeframes?
I'm going to go with the simplest one: he knew when Claire was adopted from her file, and he teleported to a couple of timeframes to establish where and when The Catalyst was transferred to her.
Arthur TK's Claire across the terrace. Hiro ... stands there and babbles about stopping Arthur and saving the cheerleader. OH. MY. GOD. It's started already? You know the 10-year-old version would have grabbed Claire and teleported out of there immediately.
Arthur absorbs Hiro's ability and The Catalyst, sadly proving Papa Sulu's suspicions about Hiro's inability to protect The Catalyst correct, and gets ...
... the maniacal gaze before TK'ing Hiro over the rooftop. And doesn't even check for a body. In theory, Hiro now has 16 years to climb from the flagpole to a window and plan how he's going to overthrow Arthur. He also has detailed knowledge about events leading up to Angela's first attempt to kill him, and who he needs to find to stop Arthur in the present. Arthur wins a *PING!* Dumb As Peter Award for failing to wipe Hiro's memories, snap his neck and Ted-nuke the corpse.
Arthur teleports back to the Helix Compound and transfers The Catalyst from himself to The Formula. Peter and the Haitian stroll through the Pinehearst lobby, apparently only meeting one incompetent guard on the way to the top-secret about-to-change-the-world-with-a-scientific-breakthrough lab. You'd think Arthur would have recruited better security for this building.
Arthur predicts that Peter doesn't have the nerve to kill him, and he's pretty much proven correct, which leads me to wonder whether -- on top of the statement about formidable wives defying their husbands -- the show's trying to make a deeper statement about sons inevitably disappointing their fathers. Looking back, I have to ask: shouldn't this volume have been titled "Families"?
The Haitian looks like he's about to barrel over from the exertion of blocking Arthur's abilities. Interesting detail, because it suggests the power involves a level of focus, and that there are different degrees to blocking abilities.
Peter finally gets the courage to kill his father. And, sure, it wasn't actually Peter who sent the bullet into Arthur's head, but he shot with the intent to kill his father, so it's close enough.
Incredibly well done. I love how you can still see the bullet spinning when it's frozen, and how the camera lingers on that shot and allows you take in the one moment when Arthur looks genuinely afraid.
Let me get this straight: Peter pulled the trigger, Arthur TK-slashed Peter across the face, Sylar froze the bullet and TK'd Arthur and Peter to the spot, and the Haitian regained his mojo and re-blocked Arthur but not Sylar.
It's elaborate, but not so much that it pulls you out of the intensity of the scene. Amazingly, the pause in the confrontation helps to make it even more intense, because at this point -- after half a season of flitting back and forth between allegiances -- you can't predict how Sylar's going to let it play out. You don't know if Sylar's going to let the bullet fall or ricochet it back to Peter.
The lie detector serves a purpose to the larger story arc. So the morbid humor contributed something to the main story as well as reestablishing Sylar's role as the central villain of the show. With hindsight, it reaffirms how carefully structured this episode was, and how every scene counted.
And *BAM!*, away goes the bullet, and down goes Arthur.
Goodbye, Arthur! You were a formidable villain, you were expertly portrayed, and you scared the heck out of me. We wish your character arc had been better realized, and we wish we could have known what your real motives were. You were a pivotal part of several main characters' lives, so we're sure to see you in many flashbacks and dream sequences.
I can't figure out if Peter's also hoping to see Arthur in many flashbacks and dream sequences. It looks like a lot of his issues have been resolved, and honestly, I'm kind of getting used to pretending that this whole Sylar Petrelli arc was something in an alternate reality, so it might be for the best if every part of this volume's story comes to an abrupt end.
Sylar tells Peter there's nothing Peter has that he wants. Well, sure, but the quiet dude behind him? Blocking your opponent's ability isn't something you'd be interested in? No? OK then ...
The Haitian pursues Sylar and leaves Peter to practice his furrowed brow. We cut to Nathan looking earnest in the lab. Chad's been injected with The Formula, finished convulsing and ripped a chair from its hinges. All of which look a lot cooler than when Mohinder did pretty much the same stuff 11 episodes ago. It's as if we've come full circle.
It's also as if this episode belonged to a different show, and in the best possible way. There were plotholes, but none of them too critical. There was little to no Angela and Mohinder's role was close to a non-speaking part, but everyone was here, everyone was in character, and -- surprisingly so far this season -- everything they did was consistent.
Will that last? Probably not. We've seen Claire experience something life-changing and grow up, only to turn bratty the following episode. We've seen Hiro experience loss and become wise beyond his years, only to end up sitting in his father's office feeling bored.
I want to believe that won't be the case this time, and that this is a starting point for the show to head in a new direction. With Arthur gone, all of the time-travelers either dead or powerless and the Pinehearst storyline looking like it's drawing to a close, the show has a chance to change and to build on the character arcs it developed in this episode. Claire gained a deeper understanding of her father; Hiro had a chance to say goodbye to his mother and to see his life through his mother's eyes; Sylar once again became a villain who delights in his own villainy and who's free of soap-opera baggage; Nathan's slowly becoming his father; and Peter managed to put the greater good ahead of his own feelings, even though he kind of biffed it.
How much of that will be relevant five episodes from now? If you're optimistic, all of it. If you're cynical, little to none of it.
Either way, does that undermine this episode? In no way. Even if it only works as a standalone episode or an alternative continuation of the show that created "Company Man" and "Cautionary Tales," this was a defining moment. This was on the same level as the show's previous highlights, and it's proof that Heroes is far from unsalvageable. The writing was exquisite, the storyline was heartfelt and amusing, and Hayden and Masi each delivered some of their finest performances on the show.
More of this, please!
5 out of 5
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The eclipse ends. Peter and the Haitian rescue Nathan, the Haitian overpowers Samedi, and Nathan defects to Team Pinehearst. Claire dies from her gunshot wound and Sylar gets his throat slit by Noah, but both of them regenerate. Daphne gets her ability back and makes amends with Papa Millbrook. Hiro reads lots of 9th Wonders comics, decides heroism sucks, then gets a pep talk from Seth Green and teleports Claire to the day Noah adopted her. Hiro also interrupts Sylar's rampage (and Noah's revelation that Sylar is NOT a Petrelli) by teleporting Sylar to a beach and letting him scalp Elle.
When people look back on this episode, odds are there's only one thing they'll remember it for. And, depending on whether you loved or hated Elle, odds are there's only one reason you'll have to either love it or hate it.
Elle's death will likely overshadow anything else that was good or bad about this one, which is a shame because parts of it worked surprisingly well. Nathan's transition from helpless captive to altruistic do-gooder is abrupt but believable. Hiro's storyline is for once less annoying than it is entertaining. And Jack Coleman, evidently relishing the chance to play a vengeful badass, owns every second he has in front of the camera. Even Maya showing up doesn't bug, although that's mostly because her dialogue's limited to four words, none of which are prolonged projections of the words "Alejandro" or "No."
We start out in the jungle outside Samedi's village. The Haitian's running like a madman and Peter's desperately trying to keep up. It's a well-paced opening and helps to bring a sense of urgency to the episode. Jimmy Jean-Louis gets to play the Haitian with agitation, which stands out for the same reason that Arthur's frustrated swipe at his sketches stood out last week: it's unusual for a character who's usually so composed.
The dim tone from the eclipse means it's as hard as ever to issue praise for visual elements, but one particular shot ...
... showcases Holly Dale's penchant for sweeping, cinematic angles. In this instance, the sprawling jungle helps to convey how isolated Peter and the Haitian are.
Peter and the Haitian pause for a theological debate about the eclipse and the silver lining now that Samedi lacks his impenetrable skin. The focus shifts onto Peter's mission to topple Arthur's empire, and his need to demonstrate he can be a hero without abilities. Peter all but admits that a sense of heroism matters more to him than stopping Arthur; and, sadly, the focus in this storyline remains almost completely on the Petrelli drama for the rest of the episode. There's almost no attempt to flesh out the bond -- or the conflict -- between the Haitian and Samedi. It's not like I wanted it to last all season, but it would have been nice to gain a little more insight into the Haitian's life and background with his brother.
Sandra brings Claire to Costa Verde Hospital. We learn that Claire's "whole system has been infected," indicating that she's never been sick before. In all fairness to Pokaski and Coleite, it's possible Claire's ability really does make it look like Claire's never been sick. If you wanted to nitpick, there's a touching scene early on in the first season in which Sandra recounts how Claire had a cough when she was a baby.
We cut to the Vortex Safe House, which needs to drop the "safe" part after gunshot wounds and coition occur on its premises. We learn that Noah squandered his opportunity to take a perfectly-aimed shot at Sylar and Elle, opting instead to spectate while Sylar and Elle ... you know:
I guess you could argue that Noah waited too long and lost sight of both of them. Or that Noah wanted to lull Sylar and Elle into a sense of security before bursting into the house and scaring the heck out of them. But the thought of Noah watching Sylar and Elle strip down and go at it? It's the immediate conclusion that jumps to mind, and it's as disturbing as it is disappointing. Noah had a clear shot at the end of the previous episode, so how Sylar and Elle got a chance to have sex while Noah waited across the street with a sniper rifle trained on them boils down to either voyeuristic proclivities or sheer incompetence. Either way, it's a *PING!* Dumb As Peter Award for Noah. Next time, Noah? Don't watch them have sex. Just shoot them.
All of this aside, the scene sets up Sylar and Elle's shared uncertainty over what they're going to do now that they're powerless. Perhaps more importantly, it also foreshadows the way Elle will end up a victim. You get a sense here that Elle cares about Sylar; not just because he helped her to channel her ability and accept the death of her father, but also because he was someone she could confide in. The dialogue does part of the work, but it's mostly the actors who convey that trust.
Noah gets tired of watching the post-coital rambling and starts shooting. He bursts through the door ...
... and I have to ask: is there really that much difference between that and this? Seriously, someone needs to start a petition: Jack Coleman for Bond. He totally gets my vote.
Beautifully shot. It's grandiose and atmospheric, and it creates enormous tension when you realize how close the killer is to his victims. The amazing part -- throughout this episode -- is it's hard to begrudge Noah for his bloodlust.
At the Helix Compound:
Is this some kind of bizarre psychological warfare? Are you trying to scare me, show?
Flint playing with the cigarette lighter was a nice detail. The flame's probably a source of comfort after losing an ability he'd become so accustomed to.
Mohinder tells Arthur he's "checked every imaginable connection" between the eclipse and the loss of everyone's abilities. Every imaginable connection? Within a few hours? My BS Detector sounded, but when I tried to research the stuff Mohinder theorized about -- eclipses, gravity and electron density -- all I got was a little pop-up message that said, "YOU IDIOT! THIS IS HEROES SCIENCE! IT'S NONSENSICAL! LET IT GO, OK? JUST LET IT GO!" So, at the start of "The Eclipse, Part I," we had no idea how or why the eclipse removed people's abilities. At the end of "The Eclipse, Part II," we still have no idea. It's a little disappointing. I'm tempted to say that even if the explanation had come down to pseudo-scientific babble, it would've been something.
Flint: "You keep talking, but all I hear is 'blah, blah, blah.'"
Line of the night. I love how Blake Shields snarls it out.
Backyard to the Vortex Unsafe House. Sandra calls Noah to tell him Claire's in critical condition at the hospital, and that the cops were alerted to the gunshot wound. Noah seems genuinely surprised by this news, so I'm wondering if he really didn't realize he was leaving Claire to die last week. If he did, he's feigning surprise now.
Noah: "Tell them what I would tell them."
Sandra: "You mean lie."
It's telling dialogue. Sandra's generally the one who defends Noah when Claire throws accusations at him, but here, you start to sense Sandra's misgivings about the way Noah deceives everyone around him.
The look Sandra gets when she realizes what Noah's asking her to do only supports that. I hope there's at least some fallout from this. Sandra has every right to blame Noah: for refusing to bring Claire to hospital sooner, for not being there when Claire died, and for hiding the reason why Team Pinehearst sent mercenaries after Claire in the first place.
Noah's decision to finish the hunt was an interesting moment for the character. You wouldn't think he'd put anything ahead of his family, but the implication is that he's so hellbent on avenging Claire that his rage outweighs his love. You could argue that Noah's goal-oriented Company streak overrides his compassion, and that he can't let go of a mission until he's completed it; but at the same time, it's surprisingly cold-hearted of Noah to put the apprehension of his daughter's shooters ahead of his daughter's life.
Speedster Farm. Daphne reveals she's wearing leg braces.
Matt: "What are those?"
Brea Grant delivers another superb performance as Daphne recalls how she couldn't walk ...
... getting a fleeting smile of nostalgia as she remembers discovering her ability and leaving the leg braces behind.
Daphne describing herself as a "villain" and "nemesis" seemed carefully planted: it underscores how far the character has come since being introduced, and, perhaps alarmingly, it draws attention to the way Daphne's becoming a more compelling character than the one who labeled her a "nemesis" in the first place.
As with so many shots of the eclipse, both this week and last week, it's beautifully realized. Even if the science behind it falls flat, it's a visual treat.
Helix Compound. Mohinder prepares a serum of unknown properties.
Flint: "You really think I'm that kinda stupid, Doc?"
Outwitting Flint is hardly an achievement, but the deadpan raise of the eyebrows Mohinder gives when he says he really does think Flint's that stupid is priceless.
We cut to Sam's Comics, Kansas, which is where we meet the Robot Chicken guys. I know they're supposed to be named Sam and Frack in the story, but they're never named on screen, and, honestly, I have no idea which one is which. By their own admission, Seth Green and Breckin Meyer are essentially playing themselves in this episode, so I'm sticking with "Seth" and "Breckin."
Both actors do a solid job with their cameos. Breckin Meyer ...
... brings his innate charm and boyish goofiness to the role. Seth Green ...
... brings exactly what he brought to every scene on Buffy: an ability to exude confidence, warmth and charisma.
The problem is neither of these guys needed to be here. There's no function they serve in the plot that couldn't be served without them. Ando spends most of this episode translating back and forth between these guys and Hiro, and most of what Seth and Breckin come up with -- the theory on everyone's abilities returning, the speech about being a hero, the comic with Hiro and Claire hiding in the greenhouse -- could just as easily have come from Ando. It's more entertaining this way, but somehow both characters come across as extraneous.
Hiro's not thrilled about growing up and becoming a hero. We get a montage of 9th Wonders images depicting Hiro stabbing Sylar, Charlie at the Burnt Toast Diner, Hiro dueling with Kensei and Papa Sulu dying. It's an effective selection of images, and evidence that at least someone on the show realizes the impact these experiences should have had on Hiro. If the 10-year-old equivalent is affected by it, you have to wonder why the adult Hiro seems to have forgotten it all.
In the Haitian jungle, Nathan rambles to one of the Haitian girls about how there's no one to protect her. It feels slightly forced, like Pokaski and Coleite knew they needed to set up Nathan's decision to join Pinehearst and worked their way backwards to this scene. But part of it also rings true. It makes sense that, after losing his family, his admiration for his parents and his role as a congressman, Nathan's only pride would be his ability. It also stands to reason that Nathan's sense of powerlessness would drive his ambition even harder, and that feeling like a victim would make him lash out at his captors even more fiercely. Nathan sounds deranged when he later talks about giving the "right" people abilities, but the rationale behind his decision is established in a way that helps to make Nathan's eventual decision seem less out-of-character.
Peter and the Haitian show up to unchain Nathan and rescue the two captive girls. Peter resolves to "hold them off" while Nathan, the Haitian and one of the remaining girls escape into the jungle. My BS Detector was already ringing at this point because I couldn't figure out how one guy was going to stop an army. How long did Peter think he could "hold them off"? A minute? Two minutes? Was that really going to help Nathan and the Haitian escape -- on foot -- through the jungle? Peter's resolve is courageous, but it's also extremely dumb. Dumb As Peter, you might say. It's almost as hilarious as Peter's next line:
"You're a senator! You're important!"
Alternative versions of this line:
"I'm not a senator! I'm not as important!"
"I'm a nurse! I'm nowhere near as important!"
"You're a politician! You're not supposed to actually fight for anything you believe in!"
Nathan gets a look that seems to say ...
"Who are you and what have you done with my brother?" Or maybe it's, "When did my brother become so brave?" It's hard to tell.
Somewhere near Costa Verde, Sylar and Elle take cover ...
... in a convenience store? It's jarring for the most appealing reason: because it's mundane. It makes sense that Sylar would seize the first chance to patch Elle up, staunch the wound and stop the blood trail, but the location jumps out at you because of its normality.
The way the next few scenes intercut between Claire's death and Sylar's is superbly done. The editing never disrupts the flow of the scenes; the way it turns out, Sandra's lack of support and Noah's ruthlessness play off one another and become even more vivid.
Should we wonder where Lyle was this week? I guess you could speculate his absence away with a dozen explanations, but it made me feel even worse for Sandra when she covered for Noah and accepted Claire's rebuke. No one seemed to care that Claire's brother was as guilty as their father for not being there.
Claire goes on a voyage of self-pity, calling herself a stupid teenager and lamenting how she used to wish her ability would go away. It's nothing we haven't seen before, from the time she tearfully asked Noah why he let Sandra get Haitian-whammied to the time she thought he was dead. But after several episodes in which Hayden played Claire as abrasively smug, it's oddly reassuring to see that Hayden ...
... is as adept at emotionally fraught scenes as ever. The performance is visceral, the emotions are raw; and, even knowing there's no way the character will die, it's hard to watch a scene like this without finding it affecting.
Claire flatlines. You know it doesn't mean a thing; you know Claire will pull through. But when Sandra lets out that hysterical shriek, it blunts our ability to think clearly. Ashley Crow carries the scene and evokes despair that's intense enough to override the whole "Nah, Claire will pull through" supposition.
Noah tracks Sylar to the storage warehouse behind the convenience store, and the scene in which Noah beats the bejesus out of Sylar intercuts with -- look away if you're eating --
-- Claire getting sliced open. Homage to the time she was on an autopsy table? It's eerily reminiscent and equally grotesque, but three seasons later, after seeing Claire's brain opened up on a coffee table, it lacks the same dramatic punch.
Noah beats Sylar into semi-consciousness, then discovers the box cutter. I have to praise Coleman for the way he plays this particular moment, because the expression Noah gets when he notices the box cutter ...
... is so clearly a "Hey, that's something I can use!" expression. It feels so spontaneous, you almost wonder whether Noah thought of it while the camera was rolling.
Noah brings the cutter to Sylar's throat ...
... and the context and performance are such that you feel invested in the character who's about to slit a guy's throat. You share Noah's satisfaction in killing the guy, but you also share Elle's horror while she watches it from the freight elevator. This is what I wish the entire volume could have focused on: conflicted characters, morally complex predicaments, and a storyline that divided the audience's sympathy.
Welcome to BEHIND THE PSYCHOSIS, where the villains of the show answer YOUR questions about what it's like to be a villain on Heroes.
This week's villain: Sylar
It's been 10 episodes since you last took part in one of our Q&A installments. What's changed since then?
Well, I turned out to be a Petrelli. That was interesting, because now I might not be. I sliced a few heads open, then discovered I could control my hunger and tried to be a useful member of society. I helped Mom out at Primatech, then I helped Dad out at Pinehearst. I hooked up with the girl who made me crazy back when I first discovered my ability, then learned I could absorb abilities by getting in touch with my feelings. I also just got my throat slit, which was very interesting.
This volume has focused on moral ambiguity. How would you say our perception of you -- as a character -- has developed?
You've seen a few surprises, and that's what I've loved about this volume. In the end, you're kept guessing. You're never quite sure if I'm going to slice your head open, let you electrocute me or work alongside you. It's a sign of excellent writing.
Describe Noah Bennet in 10 words or less:
Resourceful, devious, treacherous, charming, multi-talented, and a wonderful role model.
Describe Elle Bishop in 10 words or less:
Attractive, quirky, complex, tortured, free-spirited, and a cooperative murder victim.
How would you compare working for Angela and working for Arthur?
Angela pretty much lets us do what we want and doesn't lay a lot of ground rules. She encourages initiative and always responds to suggestions. Arthur's a little more overbearing and much more specific about what he wants. You don't feel like you have a lot of input into what goes on, but you trust him and you know he'll get the job done.
Your victims so far this season include Bob and Elle Bishop, Trevor Zeitlan (via flashback), Jesse Murphy, several Company agents, a Hotspur employee, and, in one potential future, 200,000 Costa Verde residents. How do you think this factors into your depiction as a morally ambiguous character?
Some of those were victims of my hunger, so don't blame me. Blame my hunger. The rest of them were because my son died, so don't blame me. Blame the people who killed my son.
If the show ever kills you off, which song would you want playing at your funeral?
The Ramones, "We're a Happy Family." Mom says she was in London when they played. That was right before she met those other old folks with abilities. I can't see her in the audience, but I can't believe she'd lie about something like that.
Looking back on the season so far, do you have any regrets?
I wish I could have spent more time with Mohinder. I worry that we created the wrong impression for all the viewers who only tuned into the show this season. I wasn't sure the scene where he bashed my head against the floor conveyed our relationship accurately.
The eclipse that seemed to last forever finally ends; the sun comes out; Claire regenerates; Sandra looks like she's seen a miracle. And, as well executed as all of it is, all I can wonder is how Sandra will get Claire out of the hospital unnoticed.
Speedster Farm. Matt tuning in to Daphne and Papa Millbrook's thoughts at the same time was a cool touch. You get the impression that he's able to overlay thoughts and listen to them at the same time. It's not clear whether that's an indication of Matt's ability being amped up, or Matt being more tuned in to his ability than ever after getting it back, but it was cool either way.
Daphne tells Matt she's talking to the scarecrow in the field. Matt asks whether the scarecrow ever talks back.
Daphne's expression says it all.
The story about the scarecrow saving the field was nicely delivered. It gives an insight into the character's background and roots her in the real world (as opposed to a world of superpowered criminal activity), and it's heartwarming without becoming overtly nostalgic or sentimental.
Daphne jumping into Papa Millbrook's arms is equally heartwarming, but I wonder how much sense it would make without the context from the graphic novels. If you didn't know about Daphne saying she wished her dad had died instead of her mom, and if you didn't know about Daphne up and leaving as soon as she got her ability, would Daphne's need for forgiveness make any sense? I guess Papa Millbrook worrying that he drove Daphne away achieves something, but this reconciliation was the emotional resolution to the storyline at the farm. Without the backstory established in the graphic novels, you're left to speculate about what exactly Daphne needs forgiveness for.
In the Haitian jungle, Samedi's soldiers mobilize. Milo Ventimiglia fans have reason to squee with delight when Peter aims his rifle and does his best to resemble Rambo. Then he runs out of ammo and surrenders. As near as I can tell, this attempt to "hold them off" buys Nathan and the Haitian approximately 45 seconds. If they hadn't come back to rescue Peter, I'm struggling to understand how Peter thought this display of bravery would make a difference.
^ ^ The Haitian Death Grip!
I get that he can wipe memories and turn people into zombies, but what was that?
Nathan levitation-slams Samedi into the hood of a car. Nice effect, and nice way to demonstrate Samedi's invulnerability. Is this really how impenetrable skin works, though? Does impenetrable skin add up to impenetrable bones and internal organs? Because if it doesn't, you have to wonder why this ...
... doesn't cause massive internal injuries and kill Samedi before the Haitian gets anywhere near him.
Does the Haitian actually kill Samedi? It looks like it. Based on Nathan's mention of this as a "sacrifice," the implication is that, even if Samedi only got his memories wiped, he'll still be left a vegetable. I can't see the fraternal parallels extending this far, but the way Samedi appeals to the Haitian's brotherly love -- and the way the Haitian ignores his bond with Samedi in order to stop him -- seems to point the way to a storyline between Peter and Nathan in Volume Four.
Folks, I'm peering between my fingers, so forgive me if I miss anything here.
"Maya? It's me, Mohinder ... [Edited for time?] The guy who trapped you in a cocoon. So, uh ... wanna grab some coffee?"
I wonder why Maya needs "just a minute" before she answers the door. Was she checking her hair and make-up? Hiding some stud in the closet? Grabbing a cricket bat? Whichever it is, they're all in character.
Mohinder sees the scales on his wrist ... and, what, realizes that the absence of those scales wouldn't be enough to win her back?
Maya finally answers the door, calls Mohinder's name in an empty hall, and finds the note with her address. I'm trying to figure out the worst case scenario here: they're not really going to bring her back, are they? This was a one-off scene to highlight the life Mohinder forfeited because of the serum. Truth be told, I liked it that way. And I choose to believe there's no possible way that Maya will forgive Mohinder, decide he deserves another chance and come back to him. Let's not even go there.
Moving hastily on!
Sam's Comics. Seth delivers a speech about heroism, reciting every superhero maxim ever delivered by someone and somewhere else. You know Seth doesn't believe it for a second, and he barely finishes the speech before Breckin points out that Seth doesn't believe it. But apparently Hiro believes it, because he's either a gullible 10 year old or a true hero. The way this scene undercuts Seth's conviction, I'm leaning towards the first of those.
Breckin pulls out a magnifying glass and studies the first issue of 9th Wonders, then he and Seth debate whether two characters sharing a scene counts as meeting one another. Is this how the show sees us? I'd feign indignance, but it's an alarmingly accurate portrayal, so I can't really berate the writers for misrepresentation of their fanbase.
Cute. I can't help thinking it's already been done after Peter found himself in the same greenhouse at the end of Season One, but the thought of going back to that storyline is so appealing, and provided the twist doesn't wreck the storyline in the process, it's something to look forward to.
Sandra, presumably too furious to ask Noah whether the people who shot Claire will look for her at their home, brings Claire back to Canine Central. Noah, presumably assuming Elle bled to death and Sylar won't retroactively regenerate once his abilities return, doesn't think to take Claire to Primatech to protect her. And Claire, presumably traumatized by dying, contents herself with the latest Love-Noah/Hate-Noah/Forgive-Noah cycle. There's a lot of presuming going on here, but this scene establishes that Claire's ...
... definitely up to the Hating-Noah part, so forgiving him's probably right around the corner.
I can buy Claire hating her father for not being there to hold her hand and tell her it'll all be OK, but did we really need another scene where Claire accuses Noah of putting his work before her? Claire was there when Noah took a bullet and had his memory erased for her. She was there when he died trying to protect her. She was there when he gave up his freedom in exchange for his family's safety. And even if Claire's suffering from selective amnesia after flatlining, she admitted on several occasions that her father does what she wishes she could be doing: stopping superpowered villains and averting global disaster. So, all in all, I think I'm justified when I say, SHUT UP, CLAIRE!
Noah twigs that Claire regenerating after dying without her ability means Sylar's live and kicking, races down the stairs and demands to know where Sandra is. Again, poor Lyle.
Sylar and Elle show up, and Noah gets TK'd to a wall.
Noah: "You're following Daddy's orders, now? Trying to be a good boy?"
Sylar: "Not a good boy, not exactly. Something else, something like ... like you. Home, family, but not afraid to do the job I have to do."
Great dialogue. It's funny for the mildly insulted look Noah gets when he realizes Sylar wants to emulate him, but it also dovetails quite elegantly with Sylar naming his son after the man he admires.
Sylar TK-chokes Noah. Claire agrees to leave with Sylar and Elle if they'll leave her parents alone. Sylar looks like he's going to kill Noah anyway. And Noah comes out with the revelation that Angela and Arthur aren't Sylar's parents.
Just writing it sends a shudder down my spine. The expression "WTF?!" doesn't begin to adequately capture my reaction to this.
I want to believe that Noah was desperate; that he was thinking on his feet and messing with Sylar to buy some time. But then, Elle's expression when he comes out with this line ...
... isn't so much "Oh, please!" as it is "OH, S**T! HE'S REALLY GOING TO TELL HIM?!"
Noah: "They're manipulating you; Arthur, Angela. I've read your files, Gabriel. You're not their son. They're just leveraging your mommy issues to turn you into their weapon."
So, to recap:
We've spent half of Season Three adjusting to the appalling idea that the villain and the hero are brothers, and now it turns out it was all a hoax?
Angela and Arthur, who have barely communicated over the past year, both decided to spin what's more or less the same story (give or take the circumstances surrounding Sylar's birth and adoption), and now it turns out it was all a ploy?
The show went to exorbitant lengths to establish visual, thematic and conceptual ties between the family members -- from physical attributes to key traits and abilities -- and now it turns out it was all one giant coincidence?
Seriously, Heroes, ARE YOU KIDDING US?!
I hated Sylar turning out to be a Petrelli, but this? This is worse. This is taking a storyline that turned everything on its head and AGAIN turning it on its head. It's essentially telling us that Sylar's heritage, the central storyline of the season -- above and beyond The Formula or Arthur's plan to build a superpowered army -- was just an elaborate fake-out. At this point, I'll take Sylar being a Petrelli. However questionable it may be, it's preferable to the whole storyline turning out to be a ploy.
Noah points out that Sylar killed Elle's father, and Sylar gives Elle a look ...
... that seems to foreshadow his decision to give up on his humanity. It's not so much regret as realization; as if he realizes he doesn't deserve Elle's forgiveness and he doesn't deserve to be loved. It doesn't make Sylar's transition over the course of the season any more consistent, but it serves as the moment he realized that his dream of a happy life with Elle wasn't going to happen.
Hiro teleports in, teleports Sylar and Elle out, then returns to teleport Claire to the Rooftop of Pigeonly Delight 16 years earlier. It's probably the single most awesome display of abilities we've seen Hiro demonstrate. Between this and his distress over what's happened to Adult-Hiro over the past year, I'm inclined to hope Hiro keeps his 10-year-old mentality. He's more self-aware, he's more heroic, and he's infinitely more competent.
Sam's Comics. Seth tells Ando, Matt and Daphne that "the well is dry." No more 9th Wonders. No more prophetic comics. "This is it," you think. "Goodbye, Meester Eeezuk. This plot device has finally come to an end."
Oh, come on. YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING US!
In the Haitian jungle, Nathan praises the way Peter's decisions "always came from [his] heart." It seems like Nathan's underhanded way of telling Peter he makes dumb decisions, but I love how Peter's all, "Aww, bro, you're too kind," and how Nathan's like, "Oh, yeah, by the way? I'm totally ditching Mom's team and heading over to Dad's. Good luck stopping us!"
And Peter's reaction is just ...
But the best part?
The Petrelli Hands of Manipulation!
Nathan decries Samedi's tyranny, extols the Haitian's ability to stop him, and decides the prospect of superpowered megalomania, corruption and greed isn't enough of a reason to ignore Team Pinehearst's ideology. Because if the ~*idea*~ is sound, the risks are worth taking. Nathan gets the crazy eyes, so the show pretty much guides you to the conclusion it wants you to draw when Nathan talks about the "right" people being granted abilities. It's largely to the show's credit, however, that it decided to move past soap-opera drama and address the global ramifications of people having abilities. It brings the story full circle. It takes us back to Mohinder and Peter's conversation in "Collision" about abilities representing a natural response to environmental factors; it takes us back to Nathan and Peter's conversation about the potential for people to do good with their abilities in "Nothing to Hide." And, sure, it's a sign of a show's delusional self-importance when characters in a fictional world talk about resolving crises in the real world; but provided the show avoids taking a political stance, this development has the potential to bring contemporary relevance to the story. If nothing else, it's an opportunity to get away from waffles, spitballs and prophetic comics.
We reach the scene this episode will be remembered for. Sylar and Elle pop up on a deserted beach, Elle unconvincingly tries to placate Sylar after the scene at Canine Central, and Sylar decides that slicing Elle's head open is the surest way to find out whether she's telling the truth. Or maybe he slices Elle open for the hell of it. I'm not sure.
Elle flinching when Sylar tries to brush away a strand of her hair was a nice touch. I'd love to know if it was in the script -- "Elle acts jumpy before Sylar kills her" -- or whether someone came up with that on the spot. It says a lot about the broken trust between the characters, so I choose to believe it was planned.
Sylar: "I've been thinking ..."
Elle: "About what?"
Sylar: "About what you said; about us finding ourselves free of parents or powers."
Come on, writers: I appreciate that you might not have the time to check when Nathan first flew or when the invisible man stopped tackling people in alleys for The Company, but this dialogue was in this episode -- and it was Sylar's dialogue, not Elle's.
Sylar: "Nobody ever really changes."
Elle: "You did. I saw you ... [Edited for time?] Even after I goaded you into killing a car rental employee."
Sylar gets in a line about him and Elle being "damaged goods," and at this point, you can just about buy why Elle wouldn't struggle as Sylar slices her head open. Between hooking up with the guy who killed her father, losing all sense of purpose and realizing that she created a mass murderer, the implication seems to be that Elle had given up.
The editing could have been better; you can see what the show was trying to achieve by cutting away and leaving the horror unseen, but an obsessive portion of the fanbase is now living in denial because we didn't see Sylar finish slicing Elle's head open.
Goodbye, Elle. You were inconsistently written, but a lot of us loved you. We hope to see you in many flashbacks and dream sequences. We also hope that somehow L'il Noah turns out to be yours, even though we can't fathom the grotesque depths the show will plunge to in order to make it happen.
Was I sorry to see Elle written out? Yes. And that's proof that the character thrived and developed, because when she was introduced, I really couldn't stand her. Perhaps that's a good sign, and perhaps that's the way it should be when any character is written out. An outcry from fans who vow never to watch the show again is oddly preferable to viewers celebrating the departure of a character who no one could stand. The fact that the show killed off a popular character with an abundance of story potential restores a sense of peril to the show. It underscores the fact that almost no one is safe -- regardless of their popularity -- and that, no matter how convoluted this volume might become, the central villain's capacity for evil has in no way been undermined.
Could it have been executed better? Probably. Elle's despondent resignation on the beach made sense, but a character defined by her spark and energy deserved a dramatic send-off, and Elle's final scene felt as damp as the sand on the beach where it happened. But then, the fact that the show was willing to kill her off at all speaks in its favor, and suggests that perhaps the show is willing to strap on a set of balls, take risks and challenge our expectations every now and then.
This episode was a mixed bag, but it restored the sense of peril which previous episodes lacked. It resolved the eclipse storyline with only moderate success, but it also set up several storylines that are likely to resonate throughout Volume Four. We had several entertaining scenes at Sam's Comics, Hiro demonstrating surprising resourcefulness, Ashley Crow perfectly capturing her performance as the distraught mother, Nathan emerging as a potential new villain, and a charmingly written and performed scene between Matt and Daphne.
Despite several minor issues, it's a vast improvement on last week.
3.5 out of 5
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Heroes stars Hayden Panettiere, Jack Coleman, Tawny Cypress, Leonard Roberts,
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