Quite simply, if I were going to show a non-viewer any episode of Heroes in order to get him to watch, it would have been the one that aired this past Monday. Even when I defend Lost by stating that their fan base is sometimes too demanding in their constant need to get answers, I say that Lost needs to find a better balance, as sometimes they do leave issues lingering too long, and the explanations they offer can be lackluster. This past episode of Heroes was EXACTLY what Lost should be doing. This episode managed to give tons of new information, shed light on information we were already given, all while forcing you to re-evaluate characters you may have already judged.
This episode basically focused on three central characters: Claire, her father, and Parkman. Each character went through an emotional and moral, and not to mention revealing, roller coaster.
Claire kicked off the episode defying against her father, insisting that she wants to run away, but must stay in order to protect her family from him. Ironically, she ends up HAVING to run away, when she wants to stay, because her actions prevented her father from protecting the family. Claire’s journey from practically hating her father to not wanting to leave him was powerful and relatable. She went from being confused about whether her father “did this” to her, to reluctantly trusting him, to ultimately revealing her abilities for all to see in order to save him. It was a truly well scripted episode, for all the characters involved.
Parkman’s development is not without its merit either. When the episode started, I couldn’t help but be annoyed at him when he was constantly repeating Claire’s thoughts when it was obviously getting her in trouble. It’s like, use this information to your advantage! You don’t need to blab everything! And, thankfully, he did that very thing. I thought his mental exchange with Claire’s father, where he insisted that he shoot Claire, was very well done. Then, Bennet’s warning that he’s throwing a left hook was great as well. I also appreciated the fact that Parkman wasn’t willing to compromise his morals by not wanting to harm any of the Bennets, while also staying true to his allegiances by emphasizing that Ted deserves to know the truth.
Claire’s father may have surpassed Lionel Luthor as the most complex, interesting character currently on television. He was initially portrayed as “the face of evil,” however that title became more and more questionable when we began to see how much he truly cared for Claire (this was especially obvious following his reaction to the football player’s attempted rape). It actually got to the point that it seemed like he was a flat out good guy. However, again, that became debatable when he had everybody in Claire’s life (including her, as far as he knew) memory erased, and then continually lied to her about it.
This episode did a wonderful job of shedding light on this ambiguous character. After all, we still don’t even know his first name (I have finally submitted to occasionally referring to him as “H.R.G.”) When the flashbacks kicked off, H.R.G. seemed like he was potentially bad, having no problem getting his hands dirty in the “gray area.” He was willing to capture, experiment, and even kill human beings. He was also arguably prejudiced, initially having issues working with a person with abilities.
Even his behavior in the present was unclear. He was unwilling to be truthful to Parkman and Ted, despite the obvious danger he was putting his family in. That being said, I thought H.R.G. thinking in Japanese was an awesome moment, which showed how intelligent and resourceful he is. He may be without powers (as far as we know), but he’s certainly able to combat those who do.
As things went on, H.R.G.’s actions became clearer. When Hiro’s father was revealed as the apparent head of the company (another awesome moment) and gave him possession of Claire, but noted that if she ends up having abilities, that he has to give her up, his measures up to that point became more understandable. Constantly erasing everybody’s memory was his way of holding onto his daughter, who he genuinely loves. His insistence that he was trying to protect his family turned out to be true. While twisted in a way, him demanding Parkman to shoot Claire (so that Ted wouldn’t shoot his wife), was an equally powerful moment in showing what lengths he’s willing to go to in order to protect his family.
It’s also worth noting that Claire’s defiance of her father ended up, essentially, tearing her family apart. Because of her rebellion and lack of trust (which, don’t get me wrong, was understandable), her abilities were discovered and she was forced to run away. Again, however, her father’s love is clear: Instead of turning her in like he said he would, he takes a bullet and allows the Haitian to take her away.
The stuff with Claude was interesting as well. Is it me, or did something seem “off” in the scene that he shot Claude? It almost seemed like he didn’t mean to, or that he didn’t have control. Or even that somebody else actually shot him. I don’t know, the way that it was scripted, it just seemed like something else was going on. Nevertheless, their history together is quite interesting.
One more thing: One of my favorites scenes in the episode was when H.R.G. got his horn-rimmed glasses. Not only was it a clever scene to foreshadow the aesthetic basis of his character, but it was also a genuinely touching scene, when he revealed to Claire in a very fatherly manner that she’s adopted. It was a sweet scene, and very poignant considering how the episode ended.
All of that said, I find it difficult categorizing H.R.G. as a “good guy.” Indeed, I think his character and his motives will continue to be questionable, and that there’s a lot more to be learned about him.