A Case of the…. Heroes

This column is better (very) late than never, right? Basically, the company I’ve been working at for a little over a year now went out of business, and, surprisingly, the process of going out of business provided me with more work than I’ve had in several months. So, I figured I’d be out of work in a little bit, and would have plenty of time to write, so I put off this column, as well as my thoughts on the Lost finale, and the finales and season general thoughts on 24 and Smallville.

So, anyway, I found the Heroes finale absolutely fantastic, and it was only one of two finales that I watched twice, in two consecutive days (the other being Lost) because I found it so enthralling. Was it the best finale of the year? I give it a close second, with Lost beating it out by the skin of its teeth (and I’ll get to the exact reason why a little later in this column).

Before I get to my praise, I will admit one criticism. I recently read one of the columns on EW.com, and the writer there brings up an interesting point: Heroes often builds up to these huge, climatic battles, but it never really comes through. Sometimes the build up is so explicit also. Like in the five years later episode, Peter and Hiro outright say they hadn’t had a good battle in a long time. This plainly prepares the viewer to watch a great fight scene. Instead, we just hear it from another room, or we catch a glimpse of the final moments of one.

Along those lines, the entire season has been building towards a huge battle between Sylar and Peter, and the past few episodes have been preparing us for a clash between Hiro and Sylar. In the end, we never really got either. Yes, Peter and Sylar fought, but it wasn’t the all-out tussle that was being built up. And yes, Hiro killed Sylar, but it was a fleeting moment that didn’t do justice to what was being set up.

That said, I thought the rest of the finale was fantastic (except one thing, which, again, I’ll get to later). It amazes me that on the same night, 24 had a two-hour finale, and within one hour I feel like more happened in this finale. There was more development, more suspense, and more action (despite my criticism above). While the Nikki/Jessica story arc got off to an exceptionally slow start, I thought this episode did a very nice job wrapping it up (or, at the very least, preparing us for the next chapter). Her revelation that everything she’s done (even as Jessica) was for D.L. and Mikha gave the viewers a reason to forgive her past sins. I also enjoyed the way Jessica appeared during Nikki’s battle with Candice, again showing that in the end, Jessica cares for Mikha above all else. It was also nice to see the good guy win. That is, having Nikki overcome Jessica, allowing her to save her family.

I will go on record as to say that this television season provided us with three of the best developed and complex characters I’ve seen in quite some time: Mr. Bennet, Tom Lennox (24), and Lionel Luthor (Smallville). Bennet’s behavior the entire episode was flawless: Despite knowing that he had to kill a human being to protect his daughter, he was willing to do it. He seemed torn, but he knew Claire would never be safe as long as somebody was able to track her. However, when he found out the tracking device was an innocent young girl (much like the very person he’s trying to protect), his struggle became even greater. Some might argue that he WOULD have killed Molly, but I do not believe that’s the case. After all, notice how quickly and willing he was to lower his gun after Parkman declared that nobody was going to hurt her. Sure, he no longer had Parkman’s protection, and Mohinder was pointing a gun at him, but nevertheless you could just sense that he didn’t have it in him to kill Molly. Earlier this season, the viewers would not have had that impression. I also enjoy how his character has insider knowledge, which gives the “good guys” the upper hand in certain situations (like how he knew Sylar would be at Isaac’s loft).

I also really liked Bennet’s general chemistry with Mohinder. It’s amazing that in the beginning of the season, Bennet sent Mohinder running (twice, if I recall correctly), yet by the end of the season, Mohinder was hesitant to do business with The Company when he discovered that Bennet was no longer affiliated with them. And now, despite his reluctance, he seemed to be open and willing to trust Bennet, which he wasn’t with The Company.

Of course, I cannot discuss Bennet without the climatic scene in which we find out his first name. It’s amazing how relatively insignificant it is, really, as all he said was his first name, yet it was such a perfectly scripted moment. Once Peter said “thank you, Mr. Bennet” and the camera panned over to a close up shot of Bennet, you could just sense he was going to say his first name. And, indeed, when he responded with “call me Noah” it was a strangely touching moment, as it showed a certain level of trust and sentiment.

In line of character development, one must mention Nathan. Ever since Linderman revealed to him that the bomb has to go off in order for their plan to go into fruition (in which Nathan becomes president), he’s been torn between personal ambition and humanity’s well being. In the midst of this, he has two devils on one shoulder (his mother and Linderman), and two angels on the other (Peter and Claire).

In the end, after it seemed that those two angels had finally given up on him, Nathan opted to not only save humanity, but to also (allegedly) sacrifice his life in order to do so. And while I thought this scene was actually quite moving, it is also the reason that I give the nod to Lost for best finale of the season.

After watching the scene, I kept asking myself, “Why didn’t Peter just fly away by himself?” After all, he has the ability to fly. You might retort with “well, due to the power surge he was experiencing, all of his other powers were useless.” Sorry, but that doesn’t fly (no pun intended), as the writers had already established that, despite the power surge, he’d still have the ability to regenerate.

What REALLY irked me, however, was what Tim Kring (the show’s creator) said in the latest TV Guide, when this issue was brought to his attention: “Well you’re not supposed to be thinking about that. Peter was supposed to be incapacitated with this surge of power. But the REAL explanation is that we wanted Nathan to show up and do it.” This quote had me shaking my head. I mean, what incredibly lazy writing, to say “you’re not supposed to be thinking about this” and that we should just accept that this is how the writers wanted it to happen. Don’t get me wrong, it was a beautiful and touching scene, however it deserved much more thought and a better attention to detail.

While the final battle scene did not necessarily live up to expectations, there was also an awful lot I liked about it. Above all else, I enjoyed how all of the central characters were brought together for the first time. Mohinder and Molly found an unconscious D.L., who were soon joined by Nikki and Mikha. Meanwhile, outside Peter and Sylar are going to battle, with Bennet watching on. Shortly thereafter, Parkman arrives, attempting to help but ultimately getting himself shot. Moments later, Mohinder, Molly, Nikki, D.L., and Mikha arrive on the scene, prompting Nikki to come to Peter’s defense, courtesy of a parking meter. Soon enough, Hiro arrives, taking out Sylar. Then as Peter gets the power surge, Claire shows up. Before she can shoot Peter, Nathan flies in. Truly, it was really the only time we’ve seen the entire cast come together and fight side by side.

I also really liked the various intermingling of the groups. Nikki and D.L. protected Molly. Mohinder went to check on a shot Parkman. Claire immediately went over to her fallen father.

Despite my earlier criticisms, by no means did the finale let me down. It did a great job of wrapping up certain story arcs, allowed certain characters a chance at redemption, and prepared us for what is coming in season two. On the whole, I have to say that Heroes probably had the strongest overall season, and a fantastic finale to boot.