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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An eclipse temporarily removes everyone's abilities. This strands Nathan and Peter in Haiti while they try to find the Haitian, and Matt, Hiro and Ando in Kansas while they try to track down Daphne, the last of whom turns out to need leg braces without her superspeed. Nathan and Peter find the Haitian, but Nathan gets captured by the Haitian's brother, Baron Samedi. Meanwhile, Angela assigns Noah to protect The Catalyst. Noah brings Claire to Vortex-Stephen's empty house and trains her to fight, but her prowess doesn't help when Sylar and Elle show up and Claire ends up getting shot.
This is an episode that tries to break from the status quo. It's fundamental flaw is it demonstrates the show's fear to go through with it.
The concept is there, and the chance for real change is there: the superpowered villain of the volume is powerless, and one of the staple characters bleeds out while her father moves to kill off a key villain and a beloved recurring character.
On most shows, that would be a turning point in the series. You'd be riveted, wondering how Claire's death would affect the show, how the story would continue after Arthur's lackeys trampled over themselves to kill their former boss, how we'd ever look at Noah the same way after he killed Sylar and Elle. On this show, you know whatever one episode achieves will be undone by the next.
That's especially true of this episode. Friendships and feuds don't resonate: they give way to requirements in the plot. Central characters don't die: they return in the form of twins or spectral ghosts. Villains aren't redeemed: they flipflop between sides and their actions are dictated by circumstances.
It's not a train wreck. The episode has several remarkable moments: Brea does a solid job of playing the freaked-out farm girl who's ashamed of a disability, Hayden displays a commendable performance as she moves from pent-up aggression to self-realization, and Milo and Adrian have what's possibly the most overdue scene since Noah and Claire came clean about their issues in "Out of Time." But whatever its merits, this episode underscores why the show struggles to sustain any tension: by the time we see Noah pointing a sniper rifle at Sylar and Elle, we're less inclined to wonder how their deaths will change the show and more inclined to wonder how Noah will screw it up.
The opening with Arthur's clairvoyant sketching was a neat touch. The sketches themselves are in character -- swift, precise and minimal strokes -- but somehow also very reminiscent of Isaac's paintings in Season One, and of the way Linderman used portentous art as a tool to guide his actions.
Beeman's directing throughout this episode was outstanding, but the opening scenes stand out for the way Beeman keeps the camera moving: we pan over the sketches and up to Arthur, we move over and around Angela as she moves from her desk and looks up at the sun, and we segue from the sun to the eclipse in the 9th Wonders comic. It's a smooth, effortless transition from scene to scene, and, narrative issues aside, the way this episode was shot makes it memorable.
Sylar makes his way through one glass beaker after another in a storage room at Helix Compound. Sylar reveals to Elle that he needs to "prove" himself, then shuts down the conversation because he isn't sure she'd "understand." It's a subtly played scene, largely because of the way Kristen Bell plays Elle's reactions and the way Zach Quinto's expression flits between urgency and resolve. Given that Elle was trying to prove herself to her father long before Sylar was, and given that Sylar's responsible for ensuring Elle will never have a chance to prove herself to her father again, you'd think he'd realize she would understand. Surprisingly, Elle doesn't respond by Ellectrozapping his flesh off ...
... but instead lets the remark roll off her out of sensitivity to the guy she cares about.
^ ^ Expression of Crafty Scheming? It seems like Sylar's genuinely trying to be a dependable son and make his father proud. But then, the assumption that Sylar's trying to become his father's son blows all previous theories about Sylar double-crossing Arthur out of the water. You could justify Sylar's unwillingness to confide in Elle if he doesn't want to reveal he's playing Arthur out of loyalty to Angela; but if Sylar's not playing Arthur, and if he's serious about becoming the model Pinehearst son, the moment he defected to Team Pinehearst suddenly seems a lot less plausible.
Arthur assigns Sylar to retrieve Claire, and Elle's reaction to Sylar going all "Yessirrightawaysirconsideritdonesir" is:
Shock? Panic? Conflicted loyalties? It could be that this look conveys Elle's sense of camaraderie after Claire tried to help her, but it could just as easily be distaste for Sylar's blind obedience. Looking back, it doesn't seem like Elle intended to change her plan at the last minute and help Claire; but then, if Sylar isn't double-crossing Arthur to help Angela, and if Elle isn't double-crossing Arthur and Sylar to help Claire, this scene lacks any complexity or nuance, and the furtive glances between the characters end up meaning nothing. You can read a meaning into them, but when the episode seems to thwart that effort, you almost wonder why you tried.
Angela and Claire stride through Primatech. The expo-dialogue is brief, and we learn that Team Primatech has been divided into separate assignments. Hilariously, Angela doesn't seem to have assigned Peter with anything vital.
Nathan jumps into his assignment and puts aside his hostility towards his mom after learning that she used him as a lab rat. You could speculate that Nathan would put aside his reservations to stop his maniacal dad from splitting the world in half, but Nathan discovering he was genetically altered by his parents, telling Angela to go to hell and then putting that behind him is a jump, and it seems like the show expects us to either accept it or ignore it. Just as we needed a scene to establish Elle's reluctance to betray Claire, we needed a scene to establish why Nathan would overcome his contempt for Angela and agree to help her. Because otherwise, leaps in the plot make the characters look inconsistent.
The cameos from Doyle and Metal-Arm Danny were a nice nod to continuity, but they also remind you what could have been. Doyle's look of crazy fascination at Claire reminds you what a great villain he was, and Noah returning Danny to a cell reminds you how disappointing it was for the partnership between Noah and Meredith to collapse in a graphic novel instead of on-screen. When the episode brings up missed opportunities like this and cuts to 10-year-old Hiro doing the Pee Dance and Mohinder cocooning himself, you can't help wondering if the emphasis is in the right place.
Peter insists that Nathan can't go to Haiti alone because it's "too dangerous." His apprehension, we learn, is because of a Level 5 inmate with the alias "Baron Samedi," who apparently headed straight for Haiti as soon as he escaped from The Basement. The fact that he didn't waste any time with bank heists, revenge or family drama immediately makes me like him.
Peter: "When I found my abilities, I knew who I was supposed to be."
^ ^ Actual dialogue!
^ ^ Delivered with a straight face!
Who was he supposed to be? The guy who explodes? The cad who leaves his girlfriend in the future? The tool who helps a maniac wipe out mankind? The outlaw who shoots his brother to alter history? The psycho who threatens to slice open his mom's head?
We could keep going, but the point of this scene is to emphasize that Peter's abilities helped him discover who he is, even though "who he is" never really became clear. Nathan, being an awesome brother, reassures Peter that he still has a purpose without his abilities. Peter isn't so sure, especially if he can't guilt Nathan into helping him find a purpose by letting him tag along to Haiti. Which is prefaced with much Petrelli Brotherly Bonding, but also raises the same question that's been raised on several occasions: would the characters achieve more by doing nothing? Would Nathan be better off if Peter didn't choose this as his chance to be "useful"? Would Mohinder be better off if he didn't decide to inject himself with an untested serum? Would the world be better off if Hiro wasn't bored and in need of a reason to save it? From that standpoint, in the interests of avoiding global chaos, Angela's Do Nothing assignment is the best option all around.
Helix Compound. Mohinder carves up the guy he was last week forced to euthanize, inadvertently removes scales at the same time as surgical gloves, and demands that Arthur cure him. Arthur resists the impulse to TK-snap Mohinder's neck, pointing out that something is going to happen today. This is another moment when it felt like something was missing. It goes without saying that Arthur would have seen plenty of eclipses over the years. When Arthur asks Mohinder, "WHAT. DOES. IT. MEAN?", you could speculate that he witnessed different effects from different eclipses and just doesn't know what to expect this time. The problem is it isn't clear that Arthur's witnessed an eclipse before. He latches onto Mohinder's theory that everyone's abilities manifested during the last eclipse, but since we know that's garbage because plenty of supers were using their abilities long before that, we're stuck speculating.
So, on the one hand, the disappointment stems from the fact that the superpowered villain -- the guy who's been steeped in superpowered activity for 30 years -- apparently has no clue what effect an eclipse will have on the superpowered population. On the other hand, the disappointment stems from an episode which is entitled "The Eclipse," which involves an eclipse, and which, bizarrely, fails to explain anything about the eclipse. I know, it's only the first part of a two-parter. But come on: even if the show doesn't want to immediately enlighten us about a key part of its mythology, you'd figure the characters who possess abilities and who've seen eclipses before would offer at least some input on the effect it'll have.
Arthur: "'Everything could change today ...' No. Dammit! That's not it! It needs to sound momentous. How about, 'Everything's going to change today?'"
Mohinder: "Damn straight: if The Catalyst dies, I'm @%*#ed!"
Arthur: "Yes, but Mohinder, without The Catalyst and my plan to create superpowered humans everywhere, the world will split in half."
Mohinder: "All I want is to save myself! I'm a scientist, but right now I really couldn't give a rat's ass about you or the world. If Claire dies, any hope of me being cured dies too. So drop everything and help meeeeeeeee!"
Arthur: "Very good. Very expressive. I look forward to our next scene."
Chandra's Crib. Daphne asks how Hiro ties in with The Formula. Does she remember stealing half a formula from Papa Sulu's safe? Because even if she didn't know what she was stealing, she must have at least known to look for a shred of paper with chemical diagrams on it, and she knows that Papa Sulu was Hiro's father. I can't figure out if this was bad dialogue, bad continuity or a bad memory on Daphne's part. Or a Haitian Whammy.
Daphne wonders why Matt keeps her around. "Because I'm going to get laid" isn't an acceptable explanation, so Matt tells Daphne she's "one of the good guys now." Given that he's seen her working for the enemy and involved in the death of a four-year-old boy in the future, I have to question that optimism. Matt's pause before telling Daphne he trusts her completely comes back to haunt him, but who can blame him? He barely knows Daphne, he's seen more of her in spirit walks and nightmare realms than in the real world, and she reminds him in this scene that she betrayed him. I can understand Daphne freaking out and wondering if she rushed into a relationship with a guy she barely knows, but berating Matt because he's not sure if he completely trusts a woman he's only just met and who admits she's a liar in the same scene? Matt gets my sympathy.
Ando shows up and says Matt needs to "fix" Hiro. He supports this decision with a copy of the 9th Wonders comic in which Ando tells Matt he needs to "fix" Hiro. So, let me get this straight: Hiro and Ando have a comic that dictates their actions like stage directions: all they need to do is act out what's in the comic. And yet, somehow, everyone's unsure about what to do next ... except Hiro, who actually reads the step-by-step guide.
Matt reads Hiro's mind and gets ...
... delightful subtitles!
Despite any reservations I have with Hiro's character arc (or lack thereof), props to Masi Oka for the way he's throwing himself into this thankless role. The guy does a terrific job of becoming a wide-eyed kid, making every mannerism more clueless and neurotic.
Daphne wonders why Ando didn't die. Nice nod to continuity.
Hiro bobs his head along with the turtle. It's cute, but we went from Charlie getting scalped and Papa Sulu getting pulled over a rooftop to this? This is what two and a half seasons have come to?
Daphne bails. Matt tries to dissuade her, and, to be fair, Daphne's assertion that Matt doesn't know what she's "been through" seems as insensitive as Sylar telling Elle she wouldn't understand proving oneself to a parent. Between his ex-wife's affair, getting shot, the revelation that his dad's alive and evil, the revelation that his dad's dead and then getting banished to Africa, I'd say Matt's seen and experienced his share of horrors.
Hotspur! The company that Hiro and Ando used for the Versa in "One Giant Leap," and the company that Peter, Claire and RadioTed went to for an escape vehicle in "Landslide." Again, good continuity. I have to wonder how the show comes up with stuff like this and then, in the same episode, seems to forget when Nathan first flew.
Sylar learns from Arthur that Claire's with Noah. This, coupled with Sylar's ability to understand Noah and "how he thinks," leads Sylar and Elle to the Vortex Safe House. Really? Really, show?
Elle groans at the prospect of an encounter with "Glasses Himself." I'd harp on about the way Noah saved her life by trapping Sylar in a cell when he was scalp-happy in "The Butterfly Effect," but, hey: (1) "Glasses Himself," and (2) Kristen's roll of the tongue when she says "Uuurrrgh." I don't care what the show does with her, Elle has never not been awesome this season.
Sylar's willingness to become a model son and Pinehearst stooge concerns Elle. You could argue that, with her father dead and years of regimented routines and procedures behind her, she's enjoying the sense of liberty to use her ability as recklessly as she wants. But then, I'm not sure how Elle would want Sylar to behave any differently.
Sylar tells Elle he's trying to be "responsible," and Elle punches the air and gives this little sneer as she repeats the word back to him. Again, awesome performance from Kristen. Elle then reveals that she told the rental car employee that Sylar's a serial killer who kidnapped her, and the look of delight she gets when she recounts it ...
... is beyond awesome. It's a world away from the complex conscience-stricken agent in "Villains" and the vengeful daughter in "It's Coming," but it's so funny that I almost don't care.
Sylar doesn't find it as funny as I do, and there is a serious dimension to the scene because it raises several questions about the way Elle's being written. The transition from sane-and-stable agent to sociopathic sex kitten to neglected daughter still doesn't make sense, but there's a hint of Elle's playful nature here which recalls the character she played in Season Two. It could be a coincidence, or it could indicate that Elle's method of rebelling against authority involves channelling the more childish part of her personality. Between Bob's role at Primatech NY last season and Elle's recruitment into another organization this season, you could speculate that Elle's bouts of craziness are a reaction to the pressure of adhering to regulations.
Or Elle wanted to turn Sylar back into a killer and felt like doing something silly. You decide.
"I hate heroes."
Or is it, "I hate Heroes"? They're either acknowledging that Sylar's redemption arc failed, or that the characters hate their own show. Either way, I'm inclined to take it as self-parody.
Noah brings Claire to the Vortex Safe House. It's either good continuity or a cheap re-use of an old set.
How much does Noah know at this point? Does he know Claire accompanied Elle to Pinehearst? Does he know about Pinehearst? Does he know Arthur's alive? Does he know Sylar defected to Team Pinehearst to be with his dad? I guess none of it's essential to the story, but when Noah says he's trying to protect Claire, we wonder whether he realizes what he's protecting her from.
Noah tells Claire she's being stupid and careless and behaving as if she has a "license to act like a brat." Good dialogue, and a reminder of why Noah's absence has been missed so much throughout this volume, because he voices exactly what's been on our mind since the start of the season.
Midas Study. Tracy wins a *PING!* Dumb As Peter Award for taking a seat in Angela's chair and fingering her photo of the Petrellis WHILE SECRETLY ON THE PHONE TO ARTHUR. It's in Tracy's nature to manipulate and backstab. You would have thought she'd be more discreet when it comes to reporting to the enemy.
The reference to the Parris Island facility was an interesting detail. Future-Nathan was lobbying to create a superpowered army in "I Am Become Death," but the implication seems to be that Arthur's looking to pull it off several years in advance. Again, it seems like a part of the plot that needed to be fleshed out: we don't know how this fits in with Arthur's larger plans, who he expects his army to be fighting in the "war" he's anticipating, or how he thinks this will stop the planet from splitting in half. There's suspenseful and intriguing, and then there's underdeveloped and exasperating.
Angela overhears Tracy's half of the conversation, and apparently now knows enough to call the Marine Corps Recruit Depot and warn them about a slimy, scaly, monologue-spouting bug-dude who'll pull up to their base and try to peddle injections. It's also worth noting that Angela doesn't immediately call Tracy on her betrayal, but instead seems to reconcile this with her nightmare of at least one of Ali Larter's personalities turning evil.
Chandra's Crib. Am I the only one who wonders how it falls to a 10 year old to read a prophetic comic while the adults in the scene pace back and forth and wonder what to do next?
Hiro teleports Matt, Ando and himself to Daphne's farm in Lawrence, Kansas. There's no chyron to help us, but it's established in the dialogue, and it's impossible to mistake the location based on the geographical accuracy:
Kansas has mountains!
The eclipse was beautifully shot. And even though the effect of the eclipse hasn't been explained, and it's absurd that people can see it in Kansas and Haiti at the same time, and the eclipse lasts a lot longer than it should, and it's a b**ch to screencap because everything's so dark ... it is well executed.
The entire montage coming after it was nicely done, but two moments stuck out as remarkable: Arthur sweeping his sketches off the table with frustration -- which, except for his agitation when he was poisoned, is the only time we've seen him even slightly rattled; and Elle and Sylar swiping a convertible from the Hotspur parking lot -- which is kind of cool in itself, but worth noting for the reflection of the eclipse in the windshield, which should earn the visual effects team a bouquet.
In the Midas Study, Angela goes back to scrutinizing the Petrelli family photo, and the symbolism when the eclipse covers half of it up ...
... speaks -- or rather screams -- for itself.
Nathan loses his flight over Haiti, and he and Peter come crashing down in a lake.
Peter: "Wasn't there an eclipse that first day you flew?"
I guess you could argue that catching Peter when he jumped off the rooftop was the first time Peter saw Nathan fly, or that it's the first time Nathan intentionally flew. But the way this was worded, it's as if the show forgot how Nathan launched out of his car when Linderman's goons tried to ram him, and it's a plothole that pulls viewers who remember the backstory out of the narrative, because they now spend the rest of the scene halfheartedly trying to think up an explanation.
The brothers launch into the strongest scene of the episode, with Nathan chastising Peter for being a helpless wimp and Peter writing Nathan off as a tool for their dad. It's a confrontation which thrives on the way it draws elements from the show's backstory, but which, more importantly, involves the characters saying what they think. It resonates because you can appreciate why both of them would be angry at the other.
Peter effectively tells Nathan he'll become evil in the future, which seems like a deductive leap if he's basing that on the future he saw in "I Am Become Death," especially when -- paradoxically -- Peter was the one slicing Nathan's head open. The fact that Nathan becomes president and seems to run Pinehearst doesn't necessarily make him evil, even if he didn't seem fazed by the sight of Future-Claire hacking into Present-Peter or the sight of his dead brother on a gurney in front of him. In any case, Nathan takes this news surprisingly well, dismissing potential futures with the resolution to do the best he can in the present. Which might make Nathan an idealistic fool, but somehow, to me, Nathan's sincerity ends up making him noble and Peter even more of a judgmental d*%k for doubting his brother's integrity.
Speedster Farm. Papa Millbrook turns out to be Ray Baker, which is all kinds of awesome, not least because he uses a handful of scenes to establish the character as a warm-hearted but slightly old-fashioned dad.
Matt attempting to Parkman-whammy his way past Papa Millbrook is hilarious, for the way it confuses Daphne's father and for the way it makes Matt look like an idiot. But on some level, it takes you back to the way Matt used his mind-reading to trick Janice. He's apparently still such an upstanding guy that, if the love of his life doesn't want to see him, he's willing to use coercion to bypass her father and ignore her wish. It's not a big deal in the scene, and it might just be me, but somehow it seemed disrespectful towards Daphne's father to be falling back on the Parkman Whammy within a minute of meeting him. I would have preferred to see him introduce himself, explain why he'd come to see Daphne, and try to convince the guy to let Matt see Daphne without his ability.
Brea Grant plays all of her scenes on the farm with subtlety, but the way Daphne hugs her legs in this scene -- because she's feeling vulnerable and insecure, but also because she knows she's about to lose control over her legs -- was a particularly neat detail.
Vortex Safe House. Claire continues bashing wood against the walls, then channels Badass Future-Claire when she reveals that nothing ever made her angrier than Daddy Bennet leaving her to go on business trips. Her anger's sufficient to trip Noah up and put him on the receiving end of a sharper plank of wood, and Noah's expression in that moment ...
... demonstrates why Jack Coleman is one of the most dynamic actors on the show. I could be wrong, but it looks like he's afraid of the animal he released. Another shade of the expression looks like guilt, probably because he realizes how he hurt Claire and how he's forcing her to dredge up that pain, but perhaps also because he realizes he's turning his daughter into the character we've seen her become several years down the line.
Elle and Sylar show up. I'm sorry, but I still call BS on the likelihood of them tracking Claire and Noah to this location. Anyway, Elle twigs that her EllectroBolts aren't working, Sylar gets to look as dumb as Matt by waving his fingers in the air and wondering why nothing happens, and Noah gets to beat the life out of Sylar.
It's morbidly satisfying to watch Noah beat on the guy who terrorized his daughter, but, at the same time, that twisted pleasure never extends to uncertainty over whether Noah will actually kill Sylar, and it's part of what undermines the horror of the scene. Noah gets an opportunity to make good on his promise to kill Sylar, so you have to wonder why he wastes so much time knocking the life out of the guy instead of snapping his neck right away. The inevitable conclusion is that it's not because Elle gets in the way and shoots Claire, but because the show can't bear to let Noah make good on his vow to kill Sylar.
Elle moves to shoot Noah, and Claire gets inbetween them. The scene plays out with such earnestness that you know it's intended to be a Very Serious Moment. Noah hits Elle so hard that it actually makes me wince. It reinforces how Noah doesn't have any issue resorting to violence and kicking everyone's ass, but also how ferociously he'll lash out when he needs to protect his daughter.
Was the slo-mo too much? I'd say no. Even the ominous percussion and discordant strings don't feel too overplayed. The focus seems to be more on Noah's panic that Claire isn't immediately healing than on the prospect of Claire dying. Which helps, because, as with Noah hypothetically killing Sylar, Claire dying feels like a non-issue.
Noah brings Claire home, Sandra freaks out, and Noah forbids her to call the hospital for fear of alerting the cops. I guess Noah doesn't want to draw attention to Claire's injury if she's suddenly going to regain her ability and regenerate, but this eclipse -- besides covering everyone and everything at the same time -- seems to last for a length of time defying all laws of the universe, so Noah's assumption that Claire will inevitably instaheal back to health seems like an error in judgment, and that's before we know he's lying about the seriousness of Claire's wound.
Nicely played by Hayden. You see and feel her pain, but also her delight in getting to feel that pain, and her regret when she tells her dad she was wrong to think she was invulnerable. If you're optimistic, it's a moment that unlocks potential for change: the experience could broaden the character's perspective, and it could set up why Claire stops trusting anyone after her father lets her bleed out instead of calling an ambulance. If you're cynical, it's another instance that'll be forgotten the next time we hop on the Love-Noah/Hate-Noah/Forgive-Noah merry-go-round.
Speedster Farm. Matt asks Hiro how he's supposed to get his abilities back. I find it telling that Matt's calling on a 10 year old for advice on winning the love of his life, but it also underscores why Hiro's the smartest person in this storyline for actually bothering to read the 9th Wonders comic.
Matt admits he never thought he'd miss his ability. It's an interesting admission, but was Matt the right choice for the dialogue? He's been comfortable with his ability since the end of the first season; he adapted to it and uses it on a regular basis to get what he wants. The prospect of a character enjoying a respite from their ability is covered by Sylar in the final scene of the episode, and it might have streamlined the episode to limit this dialogue to one of them instead of both.
Hiro throws corn at Matt and urges him to win Daphne back by following the Hero's Quest and triumphing without his powers. Then:
Which is as limited in its humor as anything else in this story thread, but it's made adorable by Hiro's deferential bow and the way Matt glowers over him.
The current comic reaches its last page, but there is, of course, another issue. Isaac's contribution to comic-book lore -- and to this show -- has no limits.
Hiro references the Greek oracle at Delphi, the Library of Alexandria and the Hall of Justice. To Hiro's credit, he doesn't need Wiki for this, and, perhaps alarmingly, he comes across as a lot more intelligent as a 10 year old than he does as his mid-twenties counterpart.
Helix Compound. Mohinder's scales and psychosis disappear, and he's back to his old, pre-Season Three self. You're thinking it must be some kind of miracle for the character -- and for us. But then ...
Oh, CRAP! No, show, NO! Don't even think about it!
Oh God, SHE'S IN NEW JERSEY. So the show can dangle this threat over our heads anytime it wants? What's it going to take? Bribery, petitions, more viewers jumping ship?
Arthur and Flint show up. I've never been happier to see either of them. Arthur instructs Mohinder to park his ass back down and figure out a way to bring everyone's abilities back. I'd point out that locking Mohinder in his lab and forcing him to figure out how to reverse an astronomical phenomenon would take Mohinder a loooooong time, so long he'd never have a chance to head over to New Jersey to visit Ma-... Ohhh, I see! Clever, Arthur. Very clever.
The Haitian shows up in the jungle and starts leading Nathan and Petrelli back to their village, and then we meet Baron Samedi. Baron Samedi makes the Haitian look like a shrimp. His voice is so deep that I wonder if the ground rumbles when he talks. He makes Arthur look decrepit. He makes Sylar, Adam and Maury look like sissies. Seriously, folks:
This guy? ... scares me. And even if he didn't have that whole "impenetrable skin" thing, I can't figure out why he'd ever take orders from Arthur. Even with Arthur's TK-snapping and coercion and civilized menace, he's completely outmenaced by this guy. It's only one scene and one K.O. when he knocks Nathan down like a feather, but Demetrius Grosse owns the scene. Great casting.
Speedster Farm. Matt sings Daphne's praises and tells her he's in love with her, which, aww, even though you can hear Janice and L'il Matthew weeping while he says it.
Heartbreaking. It fits with the references to her "old life," with her love for her ability, and with her fear of Arthur snatching it away.
Props to Grunberg, because he manages to capture Matt's reaction without letting it stray towards false sympathy or indifference. You don't doubt for a moment that Matt will love her no matter what, but at the same time you see him realizing that Daphne was right, and that he had no idea who she was before he met her.
And props again to Brea for nailing this scene, because she steers clear of self-pity or bitterness and evokes our sympathy through her sense of shame. The camera lingers on the crutches for a moment, but avoids focusing on them so long that it would feel sentimental. It's the focus on the look between the characters that makes the moment as poignant as it is.
Brilliantly shot. I love how the focus shifts from the glasses to Claire, as if Claire's becoming an extension to the icon that personifies The Company. Nicely done.
Noah promises to figure out what's happening to her. Claire tells Noah she loves him. Noah calls her "ClaireBear." It's the most moving aww of the episode, and it reminds you how rarely we get moments like this anymore: emotional, moving, human moments between the characters.
The only thing undercutting it is that, looking back, you realize Noah's lying through his teeth because the first thing he plans to do is NOT figure out what's happening to her, but instead go back to the Vortex Safe House and blow Sylar and Elle's brains out.
Again, superbly shot. I love how the smile he puts on for Claire vanishes the moment the glasses go on, and -- get this -- how Noah adjusts his tie as he's leaving the room. He's planning to haul out a sniper rifle and kill the people who shot his daughter, and he actually straightens his tie before he does that. It's such an amazing nuance, and it's so in character, and I'm willing to bet it's a Coleman improv, because only he could think up a detail like that.
Presumably, Noah knew Claire was bleeding to death. And he lied to and abandoned his daughter because revenge outweighed his readiness to watch her die while the killers got away. There's moral ambiguity, there's emotional detachment, and then there's plain heart-of-stone ruthlessness. And it's probably to Noah's credit that, after Claire gets shot, we can't tell where any of those ends or begins for the character.
Even if he doesn't go through with it, Noah this week brings new meaning to the word "badass."
This one's essentially a set-up episode, so, like "The Hard Part" without "Landslide," it's hard to judge the episode without seeing the follow-up. It has some strong moments, particularly in Claire and Daphne's storylines. You want to believe the show will change after this: that Matt and Daphne will become closer, and that Claire's near-death experience will affect her perspective. But then, in line with this season's focus on plot above character, you can't help wondering if large chunks of potential character development will just as easily be effaced or ignored.
As a set-up episode, part one of "The Eclipse" suffers from an inability to capitalize on its concept: the characters lose their abilities, but we learn nothing about why, and we spend most of our time on characters who were either already powerless or who rarely used their powers anyway. Why make an episode in which the characters lose their abilities and focus on an already-powerless Peter? Why focus on Hiro when the predicament in his storyline -- the loss of his memories -- has nothing to do with the eclipse? Both of those threads were well executed this week, but they sap time that could have been used to explore how the episode's predicament affects other characters: how does Angela react to the prospect of dreaming without horrifying prophecies? How does Knox's role as a minion change when his leader's strength disappears at the same time as his own? How do supers all over the world who love their abilities and use them for everyday purposes -- including long-forgotten supers like Monica and Micah -- react to the prospect of normality? It's possible a lot of this will emerge in the second part, but at this point, with the exception of Daphne and Claire, there's very little in this episode that couldn't have been achieved without an eclipse.
The episode also fails to generate any real sense of anticipation or foreboding. It seems like none of the potential developments will be as ominous or far-reaching as they should be. We know the show won't dare to kill Claire off; we know Noah won't end up shooting Sylar or Elle; we know no one in Team Pinehearst will think to turn on Arthur while he's vulnerable -- even though it would make sense.
The gist in the media seems to be that a major character's about to be killed off. Despite the mutiny it'll inevitably cause among portions of the fanbase, I hope that's true. Not because the show should delight in killing characters we love -- or, conversely, because it should bow down to pressure from fans to thin the herd -- but because the show seems afraid to shake itself up and thwart our expectations. When Hiro provides comic relief, I'd like to wonder -- just once -- if it won't go on like this for the rest of the show's run. When Claire is wounded, I'd like to wonder -- just once -- if the show has the courage to ignore our attachment to the character and refuse to write their way out of it.
Which isn't to say that death is the only way to sustain tension on the show; just that several of the characters are in near-death peril in this week's episode, and that it was impossible to feel invested in any of those moments. I'm not advocating the death of a main character for ratings or shock value: I'm advocating it because it'll help episodes like this to carry real weight and real tension -- two things this episode was predicated on, and two things it lacked.
Whether the characters' abilities return next week or the week after, this episode struggles because its concept isn't supported by any sense of tension. It fails to resonate, and it lacks substance. We know -- mostly from previous experience on this show -- that any calamity can be fixed, undone or rewound, or, in some cases, rewritten altogether.
Here's hoping the show bucks that trend and surprises us.
2.5 out of 5
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Sylar gets locked in a room and fried by Elle before discovering he can acquire abilities without a traditional scalping. Nathan learns of Arthur's crackpot scheme to bring superpowers to the masses, which is a work in progress because it turns out The Formula needs a catalyst that seems to be Claire. Meanwhile, Matt climbs into Angela's head, only to be joined by Daphne and Arthur, the last of whom eventually lets everyone wake up. And Hiro becomes a 10 year old, teleports to a bowling alley and plays spitball with a couple of schoolgirls. No, I'm not making that last part up.
The next time the word coincidence is updated in dictionaries, Greg Yaitanes should get a mention. Something along the lines of, "Coincidence -- noun: an instance in which the same director helms the ninth episode of both the second and third seasons of a show and on both occasions produces something that is the height of awesome."
There are flaws. I'll say that now. There's some weak dialogue. There are a couple of scenes that even Yaitanes couldn't save. And there's a 10-year-old Hiro playing pranks in a bowling alley, which sounds abysmal on paper and turns out only slightly better on screen.
But there's also Elle going Ellectric on Sylar. There's Tracy defecting to Team Pinehearst. There's Angela and Arthur getting nostalgic in a nightmare version of the Midas Study. It's not a perfect episode, but where it counts -- in the development it brings to the story, and in the flair the cast bring to their scenes -- it's an episode that rises above its flaws.
We start out with V.O. Mohinder ... which I realize immediately undermines this episode's claim to excellence. It's a throwback to Season One, using footage from the pilot, particularly of the mains when the eclipse took place. V.O. Mohinder speechifies about how "anything is possible." You want to believe he's right. You want to believe the show can go back to the brilliance it borrows from here. And when you get a monologue like this -- one which expounds on some deep significance -- you want to believe it's a sign of a remarkable episode.
The only thing that could undermine it -- besides V.O. Mohinder -- would be something like ...
Self-parody? I'm not complaining. It's almost as hilarious as Hiro getting hit over the head. But the V.O. Mohinder monologue seemed to bring meaning to the episode, and when it's followed by a shot of Hiro bellowing at the top of his lungs, you have to wonder if the show is intentionally undermining itself.
Then there's the fact that Hiro gets to exercise his lungs at all. We get a gratuitous shot of Usutu's severed head on the ground ... which, ew, but also, Huh? Arthur snaps Maury's neck and beheads Usutu, but when it comes to the guy who knows everything that happened in the previous episode, he opts for turning his victim into a vegetable? Beyond the plot contrivance, it's also a little odd that Arthur suddenly wastes so much effort -- TK'ing Ando away and taking the time to wipe Hiro's memories -- when he could have killed them both in half the time. It's an error in judgment that earns Arthur his first *PING!* Dumb As Peter Award, because Hiro will inevitably regain his memories and this will inevitably come back to bite Arthur in the ass. Arthur should have killed Hiro right away. And I'm only half-joking. If this episode proves anything about Hiro, it's that he's more tolerable when he doesn't change or develop in any way.
Arthur gets distracted by Ando leaping at him, then by the painting of an eclipse on a boulder. Ando knocks Hiro into a semi-coherent state while Arthur admires Usutu's painting of the eclipse. You'd figure Arthur would be smart enough to freeze time while browsing, or at least TK Hiro and Ando to the ground so they couldn't escape.
Hiro and Ando teleport to a bowling alley, or, as we'll refer to it, the Superhero Nursery. I was anticipating having to rip into these scenes, and I'm pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed them. Between the absurdity of the mentally-prepubescent Hiro and the way the tone in these scenes jars with the others, I still wonder why this storyline didn't derail the episode. Its nostalgic value saves it, because the light-heartedness in these scenes takes us back to what made Hiro's thread so appealing in the first place: Hiro's infectious exuberance, the simplicity of his motives, and his everyman relatability. The point which Hiro's thread emphasizes this week is that the guy was an ordinary kid who discovered an extraordinary ability. In a season largely set in underground cells and top-secret labs where everyone possesses an ability, normality is a novelty.
Helix Compound. The camera pans around Sylar in one long, smooth shot. Arthur teleports back, and in contrast to the abrupt pop when Hiro or Peter teleport, it's a smooth, progressive effect. It's in service to character because it demonstrates how gracefully Arthur uses his abilities. Nice detail.
Arthur and Sylar contemplate how Peter survived getting TK'd out of a seventh-story window, and as effective as the "Ooh, I wonder!" moment is, it feels like an overplayed twist when it's brought up again two episodes later.
Arthur explains to Sylar that The Hunger isn't about killing so much as power. And although this part flies because Sylar's scalp-happy M.O. was always a means to an end, it's bizarre that Sylar now turns out to have what's essentially Peter's empath-absorption. On a basic logistical level, it clashes with Sylar's intuitive aptitude, which up until now (and even in the future) was defined as a distinct ability. It also implies that Sylar became a villain because he didn't know any better; on the basis of what we learn this week, Sylar could have become the same good-natured and sensitive man Peter was, if only he'd been as kind at heart and hadn't been made to feel like a failure by Mama Gray.
Sylar looks incredulous, and so do I, because as with many developments this season, it feels like something hatched for the sake of the current story instead of something that made sense for the character. Part of what made the tension between Peter and Sylar so effective was the perception that they were two sides of the same coin. The conclusion to draw from this revelation is that they're essentially the same side of the same coin, and that our interpretation of the other side of that coin was a misconception. We're left wondering whether we ever understood the villain we felt so invested in during the first season, which is less compelling than it is disappointing.
Arthur shuts Sylar in a dark and empty cell, and Greg Yaitanes and Charlie Lieberman's collective genius begins to emerge.
The sparse lighting, the dank, clammy, cavernous atmosphere, the sense of a place that's been forgotten ...
... the focus on specific details: the Ellectrobolt that forms in Elle's hands, the chains on her feet ...
... the hatred building up behind her eyes ...
... and something resembling your average Jackson Pollock.
We cut from a scene as intense as that, go to the opening sequence, and reach a part of the episode that struggles to match the rest. Paire shippers, do NOT rejoice!
Peter and Claire plan to leave the Apartment of Hospice Luxury. Only not together, because Peter wants to go "someplace where they can't find [him]" ...
... Such as the Company's New York facility? Yeah, no one's going to think to look for him there.
Peter wants Claire to go home, because the man who brings new meaning to "morally gray" is sure to prevent Claire from becoming the badass who Peter meets in the future.
The problem with this scene isn't the premise -- it's the acting. And it pains me to say that, because for the most part I've never had any issue with Hayden or Milo's acting, and there've been occasions when I thought they excelled in their roles. This was beyond less-than-stellar. This was wooden.
All in one monotonal breath. No inflections. No feeling. No concern. Not even a sense of ownership in the words. Just hollow delivery of dialogue on a page.
Peter: "I need you to stay ... innocent."
Clunk ... clunk ... clunk. I cover my ears because the dialogue's so bad, but even the visual half of the scene fails because it's impossible to tell what Peter's feeling. He's the one driving this storyline forward, knowing how Claire turns out and wanting to alter the path she's on. The problem is you don't get a sense of that here at all.
Is Peter worried? Is he anxious or upset? Is he determined? I couldn't get a thing from his expression besides "obstinate." Like, "I've seen the future happen but that doesn't mean I have to let it happen." When Flint's idiot smile is more expressive than Peter's concern for Claire, something's wrong.
Knox and Flint break down the door to the apartment and find Claire ...
... wearing another smug smile. This is painful, people. The handheld camera is good and the window sequence is excellent, but when the performance from the actors bounces between "wooden" and "smug," it's hard to appreciate anything connected to it.
Claire: "Don't you know? I'm the defensive player of the year."
I'm trying to figure out what that line was supposed to convey. No matter how hard I try, all I get from it is "overconfident," "arrogant," "cocky" and "self-assured." The show this week made me despise a character whose scenes I used to look forward to.
Helix Compound. Mohinder tests The Formula on some random guy, turning him into a monster. This elicits sympathy and sadness from the audience, but also gives Mohinder a chance to express that he's Very Upset.
Arthur notices a monitor Mohinder's working from.
Mohinder: "It seems most of the powers I've documented took place during the last total annular eclipse."
Which means what, exactly? That the supers he identified had abilities during the last eclipse, or that they were using abilities during it, or only that they developed abilities after it? "Took place" is so vague that it's meaningless. This line makes a connection between abilities and the eclipse, but it's such a tenuous connection that we're not even sure what it is.
Mohinder explains that The Formula requires "some kind of catalyst that allows the blah-bla-blah-bla-blah-bla-blah-bla-blah ..." It boils down to Arthur figuring out that the key to The Formula isn't someone but something, and that Papa Sulu hid The Catalyst. Between this and sleeping with his wife, I'm sensing that Arthur really hated that guy. I'm also curious to see the look on Papa Sulu's face after learning that the baby he chose as the host and handed over to Noah back in the day was close to invulnerable. It's great if Papa Sulu wanted the third piece of The Formula to last forever -- long after everyone Papa Sulu knew and worked with was dead -- but it also defies all logic when you consider that Papa Sulu wanted to prevent anyone resuming work on The Formula. If Papa Sulu wanted to keep The Formula out of enemy hands, it would have made more sense to shred the blueprints and stick The Catalyst in someone who wouldn't sustain almost any injury.
Matt and Daphne find Company Medical deserted. Matt discovers Angela and resolves to get in her head and help her wake up. He does this either because he's out of options and doesn't know who to turn to for help against Team Pinehearst, or -- as I'd prefer to believe -- because his first instinct when someone's trapped and suffering is to help them. It's one of the subtler moments to character, but it's essentially an "incredibly-brave-or-incredibly-stupid" moment of heroism for Matt, because it doesn't seem like he thinks twice about helping Angela.
Daphne twigs that Arthur's responsible for putting Angela into a coma and speedyzips to the Helix Compound to report back.
Yaitanes seems to be playing around with camera focus in this scene in order to shift our sympathy between characters. The focus is on Arthur, with Daphne a slightly-blurred interruption to his thought process and the little voice that annoys him, but it's interesting that our sympathy skips over Arthur and onto that background figure when Arthur dismisses Angela's state of mind and threatens to send Daphne back to her "previous life." When Arthur says Angela "will be fine," it's not delivered with regret or worry so much as grim resignation, whereas Daphne's concern for Angela and for Matt -- as confused and peripheral as it is when it's shunted into the background of this shot -- comes off in waves. The shot's perfectly set up, but the real beauty's in the way it supports the emotional undercurrent of the scene.
Daphne speedyzips back to Company Medical and leaves Arthur to study his files on Papa Sulu and Claire, scuppering our hopes that Claire won't again become the pivotal figure in the story.
Sewer of Revelations. Peter refuses to abandon the We Must Separate Plan. I can't argue with this because, given the quality of their scenes together this week, I think it's best for the actors and their characters if their storylines permanently diverge.
Peter reveals that the alley he and Claire just ran through is the alley where Future-Claire shoots Future-Peter. It's good that the show didn't opt to drag it out, but when Peter tells Claire she's becoming "a killer," Claire's reaction ...
... is delivered with as little inspiration as her dialogue in the previous scene. Is Claire shocked? Is she skeptical? Is she horrified?
Is Peter haunted by the memory of what Claire becomes? Is he frightened by it? Milo's performance is so hollow in this scene that it's laughable: it looks like he's forcing each syllable out like he's choking on it. It doesn't evoke grief or trauma so much as the image of an actor regurgitating dialogue. It's unthinkable that Yaitanes would let a scene slide the way this one does, so I'm tempted to think this is some kind of statement about Kring's script.
Knox and Flint show up in the sewer. Claire tells Peter to run, then puffs herself up and tries to look as menacing as she can.
Claire: "You want him, you're gonna have to go through me."
I realize it's not Hayden's fault, but when you give a petite actress a line like that and ask her to deliver it next to two guys twice her size, it's unintentionally hilarious.
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: Claire Bennet
What scares you?
My dad. My grandmother. The thought that someone out there might be more special than me.
Why do you think you'd kill your uncle?
Probably to see if his head would grow a new body when I cut it off. Plus, it makes me look badass.
What's the key to being a badass?
Attitude. And a good quip. Like, if I strangle a kitten, it isn't enough to kill it. I have to say something pithy, like, "Claw your way out of this one, kitty. Miaow!" Hahaha.
Do you see yourself as a role model or a cautionary tale?
A role model. I want beautiful blonde cheerleaders everywhere to be inspired by my example, even if they're nowhere near as special as me.
What would you want to ask your future self if you ever met her?
"When and how do I become a brunette, and how long do I keep wearing this awful wig?"
Do you ever miss your old life?
What's to miss? School? Dinner with the family? Talks with Mom and Dad? That's so normal. Who'd want to watch that?
Why do you think the show constantly makes you the center of its story arcs?
Isn't it obvious? Because I'm beautiful and because I emote. I have versatility. I can cry and be badass on demand. I'm a badass crybaby.
Would you be disappointed if it turns out you're not The Catalyst?
Of course. I mean, who's better at being special than me?
What's the most valuable thing you've learned in this volume?
No one's more special than me.
Heroes has come under fire for the way it's handling characters and storylines. How would you fix the show if you could?
It needs more of me. Maybe if I turned out to be an empath like Peter and Sylar ... I'd absorb everyone else's ability, and people would do everything I say. That would be cool.
We cut to the Superhero Nursery.
Forget the spitballs. "Time-space continuum"? I don't even need to comment. The show is officially reviewing itself.
Ando gives Hiro a demonstration of the scrunched-up face.
Hiro: "That's the stupidest thing I've ever seen."
Self-parody? It's big of the show to admit its idiocy, even when the admission is sandwiched between the image of a guy in his twenties playing spitball with schoolgirls and the sequence of pranks Hiro pulls in the bowling alley.
Hiro freezes time.
The fact that I can't remember the last time we heard that is a good sign. The fact that it doesn't immediately grate is even better. Two and a half seasons in, what becomes clear is that Hiro didn't need to change or evolve as a character at all, and that his contribution to the show is still limited to adolescent humor and an exuberant outlook on life.
It's funny, but the fact that we're content to watch Hiro being a 10-year-old prankster -- when the character deserved more -- is a sign that Hiro's emotional growth since the pilot episode has counted for very little. A subplot as pointless and absurd as this should not be entertaining: it should be an insult to the depth of Hiro's character arc. The fact that it isn't demonstrates how little depth that character arc has had, and how little we expect from the character and his storyline.
Now, compare that to this ...
... which is effective because of its technical brilliance, but also because we care whether or not the villain survives. And this ...
... which is astounding because of Kristen Bell's phenomenal performance, but also because we care whether or not Elle's rage ends up consuming her.
The difference between Hiro and these characters is that Sylar and Elle have evolved, and that -- issues with Sylar's redemption arc aside -- we care for the characters now more than when they were introduced. Bizarrely -- and perhaps tragically -- Hiro's storyline this week demonstrates that he's more entertaining with zero character development than he is with the context of his entire storyline over the course of the show.
Sylar gets burnt to a crisp and regenerates. You know the character isn't in any real danger, and, in a curious contrast to Claire getting shot in "Dying of the Light," you want to see how far the concept can go: you watch with grotesque fascination because you want to see how extensive the injuries can be.
What makes this one of the darkest and most gripping moments of the show is Kristen Bell. When you hear Elle let out those bloodcurdling shrieks, you wonder how the actress threw herself into the performance so convincingly. Kristen sells her performance this week in a way that few actors on the show have before.
If there's a level of ambiguity to these scenes, it's in Elle's need to avenge Bob in the first place. Elle's visceral need for revenge is understandable, but at the same time the context almost calls it into doubt: it's not like he ever showed he loved her, or that they were ever particularly close. The impression was that Elle was exploited by Bob, and that, where any father would have offered love and support, Bob offered disapproval and disappointment. One question this scene raises is whether Elle's furious assault on Sylar stems from hatred towards herself as much as towards him; self-hatred because of the way her father made her feel, but also because a part of Elle doesn't grieve the way it should, either because it's never been cultivated or because the absence of warmth between Elle and Bob means it was never there to begin with. It's possible Elle's rage also ties in with the realization that she'll never have a chance to earn her father's love. With her life at The Company over and her father dead, Elle's robbed of what little in her life made sense. Like Sylar, she's now faced with the prospect of forging a new path and discovering a new purpose. It's a solid explanation to why the actress got scenes with an off-camera friend, but it's also a character arc with remarkable depth given the way Elle started out last season.
Sylar accepts responsibility for Bob's murder but tells Elle he "didn't want to kill him." I'm tempted to question that when he got such a perverse delight out of flaunting Bob's ability in front of Elle, but the show seems determined to emphasize that Sylar's Hunger was forced onto him. Maybe I've been suckered by the show's single-minded attempt to convince us it's true, but this was the first week I actually bought it. Sylar counters Elle's hysteria with such stoicism, you believe he's willing to suffer for his crimes, and, moreover, you believe he wants to suffer for his crimes.
Which isn't to say the character's atonement has now been realized, or that the show's necessarily even pushing for him to atone completely. When Elle collapses and begs Sylar to put her out of her misery, Sylar gives a little flick of the hand, and for a moment, you wonder if he's going to slice her head open and grant her that plea. The fact that we wonder is a testament to the tension and suspense in the scene, and it underscores that Sylar may yet challenge our assumptions and surprise us.
In the meantime, Nathan and Tracy visit the Helix Compound. Nathan gets nostalgic about the way Papa Petrelli used to take him fishing. This, we learn, is where the name "Pinehearst" originated. Funny, if another nod to self-parody.
Nathan and Tracy reach Arthur's office, and I feel obligated to point out the gargantuan *GULP* Nathan takes when he opens the door and sees his dad.
If there's a way to capture "floored" with one expression, Pasdar finds it.
Nathan: "Do you have any idea what you've done to this family -- what you've done to me?"
Good dialogue. Simple but effective. It complements the outrage and hostility the other sons showed Arthur, but it's also a rare moment when Nathan's feelings center on himself. Peter's and Sylar's first concerns were what Arthur had done to Angela and what Arthur was doing at Pinehearst. Nathan's first concern is how his father's actions affected him.
Arthur speechifies about Nathan's "destiny," and I love how Nathan gives a reflexive flinch the moment Arthur tries to lay a reassuring hand on his son's shoulder. Terrific nuance, but also worth noting for the way it bridges the changing dynamic in the scene: we go from the father and son on opposite sides of the room to an uncertain proximity ...
... to the focus on Nathan as he tries to put everything into perspective ...
... to the focus on Arthur as he tries to impress his plan onto the "favorite son." Again, evidence of Yaitanes using elements of direction to push the audience's sympathy from one character to another from one moment to the next. The drawn-out close-ups give you a deeper sense of everything the characters are feeling -- more so than either of the previous father-son reunions -- but the shift in focus also brings out the uncertainty throughout the scene.
Arthur emphasizes that The Formula can "stop" the apocalypse and that he and Nathan can "save the world together." Forster delivers the lines with a measure of sincerity, but they sound as disingenuous now as they did when he told Peter he wouldn't let the future turn out the way his son saw it. It could be that, as the show's villain, Arthur's supposed to come across as untrustworthy and fake; but for whatever reason, his motive for wanting to save the world -- or even for wanting to end it -- remains exasperatingly cryptic. His altruism doesn't come through, but neither does his malevolence. The outcome is that we have no idea what Arthur's thinking or feeling. We can believe he's glad to see Nathan, but at the same time we don't get a sense of what Arthur planned to do if Nathan had been on board with his father's plan. We know Arthur says he wants to save the world, but his motives are so underdeveloped that we never get a sense of whether -- if the world did end -- he'd actually care one way or the other.
Nathan dismisses Arthur's delusion as "the same crap Linderman spouted." Again, good dialogue, and to character, because, in a contrast to Hiro's appeal being predicated on a lack of development, this underlines how Nathan has learned from experience and become a more rewarding character to follow because of it.
EllectroCavern. Sylar TK's Elle's chains off and tells her he's not going to kill her. And, again, props to Kristen, because this performance ...
... is beyond phenomenal. The character's physical and emotional exhaustion radiate off the screen, to the point where you buy her resignation as the loss of will to live instead of just a theatrical gesture.
It's interesting that Sylar reminds Elle of her wish to be "normal" and tells her they're the same. The scenes between Sylar and Elle underscore how much they have in common, but this stuck out to me, mostly because of the irony: Sylar wants acceptance from the people around him, but he also desperately wants to be special. You could argue that his desire to be special stems from a need for acceptance, and that Sylar and Elle tried to win parental approval in order to feel validated; but then, Elle showing Sylar how to harness the Ellectrobolt isn't about embracing normality so much as sharing a sense of superhuman solidarity. When Sylar tells Elle to forgive herself, and when her pain fades away, it's about Elle's acceptance of who she is as much as it is her reconciliation to Bob's death and her longing for his affection.
Sylar, by contrast, now learns he can be even more "special." And although I doubt anyone ever predicted we'd see Sylar cry because he's overwhelmed with emotions, this felt like such an organic development and such a believably overwrought scene that Sylar's tears, and his nervous laugh of relief when he rediscovers a part of his humanity, come across as believable reactions.
The episode momentarily shifts down a gear as Paire shippers once again grit their teeth. Peter intercepts Knox and Flint and hears Claire's uninspired "uuurrrgghlemmeGO!", then submits his own Emmy-worthy moment by telling Knox and Flint, "Let her go or you die!" This is some truly thankless material. How we can go from a scene where Elle begs Sylar to kill him to a scene like this is beyond me.
Peter uses a gas pipe against Flint. Uncharacteristically resourceful, but also worth noting for the way the explosion prompts Flint to instinctively dive for cover. I guess the theory that your own ability can't harm you doesn't extend to an external source.
Peter and Claire run, the flame dies down, Knox and Flint climb to their feet, and then ... they just stand there. *PING!* Knox and Flint win a combined Dumb As Peter Award, mostly because I was counting on them to capture at least one of those two so we wouldn't have to endure another scene between them again.
We cut back to the EllectroCavern, where Sylar and Elle ...
... cosy up to one another. Elle thanks Sylar for doing what no one's ever done for her before. In our defense, Elle: none of us would have lived to brag about it. Also in our defense, Elle: there are plenty of us who'd gladly be fried alive to help you reclaim your peace of mind.
Was the transition from hellbent out-of-control animal to thankful-and-forgiving friend too sudden? It's Elle, so I guess mood swings and insanity are in character; and it's Season Three, so I guess breakneck pace and haphazard storylines are to be expected. Still, hearing Sylar tell Elle that being "at war with ourselves [is] what it means to be human" drives home how bizarre this shift in the story was. Sylar helping Elle towards her reconciliation just about flies, but this:
... seemed like too much of a jump. It's disturbing, appalling and bizarrely sexy, but it's also so messed up that it makes you wonder what we're witnessing. Sylar did kill her father, and no matter what Elle's issues with Bob might have been, laughing and flirting with her father's killer so soon after she was ready to flay him alive seems a little too sudden.
Superhero Nursery. Hiro decides he's ready to move beyond time-freezing and onto teleportation.
Please, God, no.
He's going to end up in feudal Japan again, isn't he? Only this time with amnesia. And he'll need to join an Irish gang and rob an armored car, and it'll be a hideous amalgamation of all the worst storylines the show ever came up with, and PLEASE, SHOW, NO!
I'M NOT READY TO REVIEW THAT GARBAGE AGAIN, DO YOU HEAR ME?
OK, breathe, breathe. Deep breaths. Stay calm.
Don't help him, Ando! Stop him!
Hiro teleports behind Ando, then in front of him, and says it was even more fun than stopping time. One can only imagine.
Helix Compound. Nathan relays Arthur's superpowers-for-all campaign and tells Tracy he doesn't know what to believe. In the first indication that Tracy runs out of patience and decides to go her own way, she tells Nathan to "snap the hell out of this."
^ ^ Actual dialogue!
I LOVE this character. She's so direct and crafty and manipulative ... and it makes so much sense that she's joining the less virtuous team because, given all of these attributes, she'd be squandered as a hero. Even the sight of Nathan zipping up his Members Only jacket and launching into the sky isn't enough to sway her from defecting to Team Pinehearst.
It could be Angela who put Tracy off. Or it's that Arthur was so suave and charming and Tracy couldn't resist the allure of villainy. Or maybe she just has a thing for influential men, and the prospect of Nathan dithering over what to do is such a turn-off to Tracy that she'd rather hang out with his dad. Whichever it is, Tracy's apparently now Head of Marketing for Team Pinehearst.
Matt works the Parkman Whammy and goes from the real Company Medical to a nightmare Company Medical. Although judging from the look of it, they're exactly the same.
Is this Angela's version of the nightmare that Matt trapped his dad in? It could be that Arthur trapped Angela where her prophetic dream took place; but in a way, Angela's inability to help herself in this dream mirrors her inability to avert what she dreams when she returns to the real world. If this isn't Angela's greatest nightmare -- locked in a facility she helped to create and unable to save herself or anyone else -- it's got to be pretty close.
Yaitanes does an amazing job distinguishing the real and nightmare environments. The rapid cuts do a lot of the work as Matt walks through corridors, finds Angela and tries to break her chains, but I also love the way the sound gets mangled: you hear the wind in the hall and the clank of Angela's handcuffs, but you don't hear Daphne's footsteps or the rattle of the doorknobs that Matt tries to open.
Nightmare-Daphne shows up to stab Matt in the chest. Real-Daphne joins Dream-Matt, and Brea Grant runs with the material and demonstrates that she can go well beyond the Hiro "nemesis" banter and scare the heck out of us, but also ...
... that she can play opposite herself fairly convincingly, to the point where we cut back and forth between the two Daphnes and immediately know -- from the expression, tone of voice and posture -- which Daphne is which.
Real-Daphne tells Matt she loves him. Which, aww, even though they barely know one another and there's no way to be sure if they're only projecting what they think they feel because they're supposed to fall in love. Who cares. In a surreal, artificially-induced nightmare, it's heartwarming.
Nightmare-Daphne turns into Arthur, which is all kinds of messed up, not least because Matt can never hug Daphne again without wondering whether she'll stab him and turn into a dude. But it allows Angela to confront her husband with the memory of how they "were once like that." I think Angela was a little taller and Arthur was a little cooler, but it's the thought that counts. And, really, in this family, does attempted murder count for anything? In an episode in which a character forgives and flirts with her father's killer, is it out of the realm of possibility for Angela to forgive Arthur after he tried to kill their son? It would probably depend on whether he forgives her for poisoning him, and for sleeping with one of their associates, who went behind both of their backs and planted a portion of their research in a human being who then turned out to be their granddau-
Arthur, Angela, Matt and Daphne relocate to the Midas Study, which looks like it's been cleaned out except for the ElderSuper files, a globe and a couple of swords. There's regrettably no sign of Bob's cello.
Even sadder is the way Angela persists with reminding Arthur that he loved her, and that there's "a part of [him] that still does."
And when Mr. You-Need-To-Freeze-The-Frame-And-Scrutinize-Every-Nuance-To-Figure-Out-What-I'm-Thinking gets the puppy-dog eyes, it's hard to argue with Angela's observation. For a moment, you almost forget the context; you forget that Arthur's the Daddy Villain, about to lead the planet to annihilation. The character-based familial drama supersedes the fantastical plot. It's nothing groundbreaking, but it's affecting, and it's what Heroes does better than almost anyone else.
Angela implores Arthur to let them out of the nightmare ... and he does.
Sentimentality clouding Arthur's better judgment? Crafty scheming because he knows he'll manipulate them more effectively in the real world than he could here? Nausea after Daphne professed her love for Matt? You decide.
Everyone wakes up. Matt and Daphne meet Peter and Claire in the hall, and Matt's still mightily peeved about the time Future-Peter banished him to Africa, although he seems to overlook the fact that this experience helped him to find true love. So, really, regardless of which Peter this is, shouldn't Matt be shaking his hand and slapping him on the back instead of pinning him to a wall?
Helix Compound. I think it's telling that Mohinder's not included in the hero/villain montage we're about to see. I choose to believe it's not because Mohinder's too useless to choose a side, but rather because he's an impartial scientist and too caught up in research. Said research culminates in his test subject begging to be put out of his misery. I don't see Mohinder bonding with this guy over Ellectrobolts, but some contemplation would be nice, because Mohinder just took a life which won't be saved with Magik Blood.
Hiro and Ando teleport to Sam's Comics. The Japanese cover to the 9th Wonders comic was cool, but also the source of a serious WHAAAAAAT?!?, because, come on: unless Isaac painted this stuff six months in advance, passed the sketches on and oversaw their publication from the grave, this is ridiculous. It's possible, especially after we saw him hand his sketchbook to Nerdeo, but it feels less like a carefully planned twist and more like a contrived set-up for the plot.
Company Medical. Peter kisses his mom (aww) and thanks God she's alive ... and, presumably, Arthur, who helped him get over the urge to rip his mom's head open. Then Nathan shows up, and I realize this is the first time in a while that we've had so many mains in a room together. This is an ideal opportunity to discover who knows what, but the conversation immediately turns to the third and crucial part of The Formula being stored in a human host. I love how everyone's shuddering at the thought of the future they have to prevent and wondering what their part will be in stopping this calamity; and how, throughout it all ...
... Claire's thought process never waivers from me-me-me-me-me-me-me-me-me-me-me-me-me-me-OMFG-DO-YOU-THINK-I-MIGHT-BE-THE-CATALYST?!
If she isn't, she's still the center of the Heroes group shot.
And although I realize I might be channeling some antipathy towards a couple of heroes after their scenes this week, Team Pinehearst is most definitely a whole lot more exciting than Team Primatech. And I can't help wondering what that says about the show. When the villains turn out to be better realized, more consistent and more compelling than the heroes, is it a sign that the show's in trouble? Or is it a sign that the volume's preoccupation with moral ambiguity has turned everything on its head? Because that's what this episode reinforces: that everything has changed.
This episode was atrociously bad in parts and limitless in its genius in others. I've gone from devout Paire shipping to hoping Hayden and Milo never have a scene together again. I've gone from lamenting Ali Larter's thankless material to wondering when her story arc suddenly took on a life of its own. And I've gone from despising Elle to adoring her, and from wondering what all the fuss over Kristen Bell was about to wishing she was a cast regular.
I've even been successfully suckered into thinking the Sylar redemption arc's not as impossible as it seemed.
Overall, a mixed bag, but one that featured some spectacular performances from Kristen and Zach, some exquisite character work for Elle and Tracy, some brilliant visual touches by Yaitanes, and the sense that the show has regained its focus and direction.
4 out of 5
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Heroes stars Hayden Panettiere, Jack Coleman, Tawny Cypress, Leonard Roberts,
Santiago Cabrera, Masi Oka, Greg Grunberg, Adrian Pasdar, Milo Ventimiglia,
Ali Larter, Noah Grey-Cabey, and Sendhil Ramamurthy.
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