A Case of the…. Heroes – Episode 2-5

Last week my fascination with the photograph of the previous generation of heroes got the best of me, as I pondered what Bob’s ability might be. As many, many (many) readers reminded me, we actually found out his ability in the season premiere, when he showed Mohinder that he can turn objects into gold (also revealing where The Company gets its money). I’m usually better about researching that sort of stuff, so I apologize. And I thank everybody who sent in that reminder. Don’t worry, it won’t happen again. I just can’t wait to find out what that Claire girl can do

Last episode we had no Peter and Hiro, and this week we were sans Claire and the Wonder Twins. Is this the first episode without Claire (that whole “I’ll research more” promise didn’t last long, did it)? Much like Lost and The 4400 (both of which I’ve compared to Heroes in the past), with such an ensemble cast, this show doesn’t need to feature every central character in every episode. Especially since many of the stories don’t develop all too much in a given episode. Nevertheless, the episodes are flowing a little better when they’re not scattered all over the place. There’s a reason why Company Man, which focuses solely on one story, is considered by many to be the best episode of the series.

Anyway, I must say that there really wasn’t anything about this episode that I didn’t like. The Hiro stuff is still really, really, really, really, really dragging on, and, again, there wasn’t really any progression in the story. But, it didn’t take up too much time, so I’ll let it pass. Especially since pretty much every other story did make some strides.

First and foremost, we discovered that Monica’s ability isn’t limited to what she sees on television (which some, including myself, had originally thought). Instead, she can replicate anything she sees. One has to wonder what the limitations of this ability are. I mean, if she sees Nathan or West fly, would she be able to do that? I would assume she’s restricted to her basic physical capabilities, but I’m interested in seeing what else she learns to do. On a side note, I think that her relationship with Micah is sweet.

Slowly but surely, Mohinder is becoming more reliant on The Company. In this week’s episode, he turned to them, and not his own intelligence or the hospital, when Molly’s condition grew worse (despite Bennet’s warning). It’ll be interesting to see how far he’s willing to go when The Company deems that somebody isn’t “ready” for their ability, or if their ability is “unsafe” for the general public.

I also enjoyed the continuity with Mohinder recognizing Nikki. I had initially assumed, as many did, that she was suffering from the virus. However, that appears to not be the case, as we saw her using her abilities. So what happened that would drive her to give up Micah and turn to The Company? Methinks it has something to do with D.L.’s death.

This episode also featured the debut of Kristen Bell’s character, Elle, who appears to be working for The Company and is searching for Peter. What I find particularly attention grabbing is Elle’s ability to shoot electric current from her hands. Is this the same thing we’ve seen Peter do recently? If so, that means that these characters have encountered each other in the past. I’m also especially interested in seeing who this “dad” is.

Surprisingly, the highlight of this episode, for me, was with Parkman and Nathan. This is unusual, as I’ve found Parkman pretty irritating this season. Nevertheless, these two characters had some great chemistry together. It was pretty obvious early on that Parkman’s dad was playing him, but it did have me wondering whether or not he truly had the ability to read minds. And, if he does, whether his “nightmare” ability evolved from it. If that’s the case, could Parkman eventually develop this power as well?

I’m also wondering if Parkman’s dad is actually the person targeting the previous generation of heroes, or if this is just a decoy. Although his ability would explain Angela’s self-inflicted wounds from the police department interrogation room.

I’m looking forward to finding out more about Nathan’s continued burnt face nightmare. I talked about this last week, so I’m interested to see how close to the bull’s eye I was. Parkman’s nightmare was also intriguing. I understand his fear that his divorce will lead his child (if it is his) to view him the same way he views his dad. But why was he in prison? Is there more to Parkman’s story than meets the eye?

I also want to credit the direction of the two fight scenes. The observant eye will notice that whenever Parkman was in control of his fight with the security guard, Nathan was on the receiving end of his battle with his burnt counterpart. Once noticing this, the reveal that they were actually fighting each other was quite satisfying.

Disheveled Nathan, by the way, is an exceptionally funny character. This is a credit to the actor, who has great comedic timing. Last season Nathan was so self centered that we never really saw his more humorous side, but this week he had me laughing out loud on more than one occasion. Some of the funnier moments included his reaction to Parkman suggesting that they “fly” to Philly, his nonchalant reaction when Parkman reacted to Nathan knocking on the door, hiding behind the wall (while still barking orders and asking questions) during the gun showdown, and his focused attention on the rifle while Parkman was interrogating his father.

So last week, I took Entertainment Weekly (both the magazine and the website) to task for their overly critical look at this season of Heroes. I stand by what I said, as many people fail to realize that we’ve seen only five (four at the time) episodes out of a 20-22 episode season. I’m a little unsure of what these people expect. I mean, even 24, which prides itself on a linear story arc that kicks off in episode one, and concludes in episode 24, goes through several little storylines. The actual grand storyline doesn’t begin to take shape until halfway through the season.

Again, I openly admit that the show can be ridiculously slow at times. I mean, did the Hiro story arc make any progress whatsoever this episode? If we had cut every one of his scenes and picked up next episode without the knowledge we would have acquired this episode, do you think we would have missed out on anything? I certainly don’t.

Anyway, and I doubt this has anything to do with me (although Murtz did get Samaire Armstrong removed from Maxim, so I guess it’s possible), the EW website blogger acknowledges last week’s harsh review, and even admits that his colleague was a bit rough on the show as well. One point that was made in their defense, however, was that we could be more leniant on the first season because it was all new. We were just starting to get to know the characters, and understand the nuance of the show as a whole. In a sense, this is not “episode 5 of season 2,” it’s “episode 28 of Heroes.” That’s a fair point and perspective, but I would also argue that the slow parts of this season (aside from Hiro) ARE the new characters…the very ones we are getting to know.

The writer also noted that it was episode five of last season that the show began to come together, as the “save the cheerleader” mission began, and that we don’t have that feeling for this season quite yet. That is true, yes. But, again, this is episode five of a 20-somewhat episode season. I mean, House premiered in September, and we won’t even know who will be on his team until November.

On top of that, what has happened may seem more significant in hindsight. We already know that Mohinder, Bennet, and the Haitian are working together to take down The Company (a story that has made some nice strides). We also know that Bennet is predicted to be killed off, possibly being related to Claire and a boy. Presumably, we also now know the identity of the person who is hunting down and killing the previous generation of heroes (several episodes BEFORE Sylar’s identity was revealed last season). If these stories end up being central aspects of the season as a whole, these early episodes may not seem so slow.

Honestly, I think the show will pick up significantly once we get the “4 Months Ago” episode. But that episode can’t come any sooner, because I can only make this argument for so long…