I have some very mixed feelings about this episode of Heroes, as in some instances I was sitting at the edge of my seat, and at others I found myself really disappointed. For an episode that was not only supposed to act as a season finale, but also operate as an enthralling enough cliffhanger to ensure that viewers would turn in once the writers’ strike comes to an end (and who knows how long that will be), I can’t help but feel like this episode came up significantly short.
I like to keep things as positive as possible, so I’ll start off with what I liked.
It’s a bit ironic that Hiro’s time in feudal Japan was one of the big hindrances of this past season, as it dragged on for entirely too long. Yet, in the end, his rivalry with Adam ended up being one of the true highlights of the episode, and one of the best-developed stories of the season. I still believe that Hiro’s early-season arc could have been condensed to about half of the episodes, but nevertheless I thought that the final confrontation between these two was fantastically scripted. And I don’t know why, but I especially loved that Hiro spoke Japanese during the climatic stand off.
Overall, the entire scene was very well written. I enjoyed how Hiro repeatedly used his abilities in an attempt to talk sense into Peter, and then ultimately came to the realization that he might have to eliminate him in order to get to Adam. It was also cool seeing Adam reclaim his Kensei sword after 400 years. The final conflict between Hiro and Adam was great, with each of them taking a sensible and believable stance. Adam’s argument that when God was dissatisfied with humanity, he unleashed the Great Flood and started from scratch was rather articulate. It’s been said before, but the best villains are the ones that truly believe that they’re doing the right thing. I also appreciated Hiro’s response, telling him that he’s not God (which was, additionally, a great throwback to Hiro’s father’s words of wisdom episodes earlier). Adam’s final punishment of being buried alive without the possibility of ever dying is wonderfully poetic, and a great testament to the type of heroism Hiro has acquired. He knows that killing Adam isn’t the answer, as that opens up the possibility of him returning. This form of retribution is also far more fitting and torturous.
The nature of Hiro and Adam’s relationship is also worthy of examination, as one must wonder what Adam would have become if Hiro had never entered his life. Would Kensei have become a legendary warrior? If not, would Hiro have this romantic view of someday becoming a hero? And finally, would Adam have turned into this dastardly villain intent on wiping out humanity? It was also nice to learn that Adam truly did consider Hiro as not only a friend, but an inspiration as well. He was truly spurned by his betrayal.
What I really love about Hiro’s character is that he has the most child-like view of what it is to be a hero, yet at the same time he’s had to make more difficult adult decisions than any other character. Last season he was presented with the moral dilemma of having do to the “greater good” by taking another human life (Sylar’s), which no other hero had really had to do up to that point. This season he effectively had to let his father get murdered, and even this episode, he was put in a scenario where he would have to battle a close friend (Peter) in order to eliminate a great threat (Adam).
One nitpick, though: While I LOVED Hiro’s reaction to seeing Nathan again (those two are great together, by the way), shouldn’t he have recognized Parkman as the guy who pretty brutally pummeled and tried to kill him in the future? I understand that they can’t have a long-winded “getting to know you” session, leading to them trusting each other, but shouldn’t this at least have been acknowledged? Moving on…
I thought that Peter’s reunion with Nathan was excellently handled. In a lot of ways I feel like it was a mistake keeping these two separated all season, but I do have to admit that the length of their severance did add to the emotional impact. In my last column I empathized with how Peter is blindly trusting Adam, but complained about his apparent unwillingness to even listen to Hiro. I still have some issue with that, but it did make the fact that Nathan talked him down that much more touching. I mean, not only was he not willing to listen to his friend, but he also resisted the man who was trying to control his mind. In the end, the love of his brother was the only thing that brought him back to his senses. I also loved how quickly Nathan was able to put together the pieces of Adam’s actions: Adam saved him in order to control Peter. The reunion was really sweet.
Here’s something that I don’t get, though. Claire’s blood has been used to “cure” people of the virus, right? Following that logic, one would assume that she’s immune to the virus (which would make sense, since that would also mean that Adam is immune. After all, why would he want to unleash the virus if it could kill him too?) However, we learned from the “future” episode that the virus kills Peter. But Peter has both Claire and Adam’s abilities (assuming that there’s even a subtle difference between them). So wouldn’t he survive as well?
While I was disappointed that we didn’t have the Claire/Elle mud wrestling match (and really, the past several episode had been building up for something a little more significant than Claire punching a car window), I thought Elle was phenomenal this episode, and I’m thrilled that it appears that Kristen Bell may become a series regular when the show eventually returns. What I really like about Elle is the fact that she doesn’t really have any moral center whatsoever. Sure, she’s been portrayed as a “villain” this season, but after this episode, I’m not so sure that’s a fair label. She doesn’t do things to be “good” or “bad,” she just wants to make her daddy happy. Even in this episode, when she squared off against the sinister Sylar, she didn’t do it to rescue Mohinder, Molly, or Maya (wow, that’s a lot of M’s), she did it to get back into her father’s good graces. I love the fact that they’re added some complex layers to her character.
I also thought her interactions with Bennet were great. Again, she came off as something more than a 1-dimensional “lusty bad girl.” She truly wanted to learn more about her past and the role her father played in it (along with that, it also provided a nice comparison between Bennet’s “willing to hurt anybody, but will always protect my daughter” and Bob’s “willing to hurt anybody” mentalities). I think the fact that she resisted hurting Bennet just for the sake of hurting him added some depth to her as well.
Oh, and Bob, if you want to keep documents on your computer safe, it might be a good idea NOT to make your password something so closely related to your ability (I remembered what it is!)
I also need to mention the continuation of the Nathan/Parkman comedy duo. I loved how Parkman insisted that they never again talk about what had just happened, namely Parkman having to “ride” Nathan as he flew to Odessa. These two have been great together.
And now, the stuff I didn’t like.
I think the thing that disappointed me the most was that this volume was supposed to answer a lot of questions about the previous generation of heroes. While we did learn some good stuff, like the creation of The Company and the various factions that developed through time, we never found out what any of the parents can do! Yeah, there’s Parkman’s dad, but he was really only introduced BECAUSE of his ability, and to help with the evolution of Parkman’s ability. But what about Nathan and Peter’s parents? Or Hiro’s dad? I’m usually patient in regards to when secrets are revealed, but this was the time to reveal them. The volume was titled “Generations” and much of the story was based around a photo of some old timers who have abilities.
I was also really disappointed with pretty much everything with Claire and her father. In my opinion, with the only real competition being Peter and Nathan, the relationship between Claire and her father is the strongest on the show. I heard the writers note that since season one didn’t really have any sexual relationships, the bond between Claire and Bennet was, in a sense, their romance of the season, as their relationship was such a tumultuous, emotional roller coaster. At times her father was Claire’s most trusted confidant, and in other instances she loathed him beyond belief.
Even this season, while their relationship hasn’t been handled perfectly (far from it), these two characters are at their absolute best when they are working off of each other. The way this episode set up next volume, it appears that Bennet is returning to The Company and basically leaving his family. He’ll be at his former employers’ mercy, while his estranged family lives a normal life, like he had always hoped. Even if protecting his family is still his motivation, I still think it’s a mistake to separate these characters, if that’s indeed the plan. Additionally, the idea of Bennet giving up Claire for her own safety was already handled last year, following “Company Man” (amazing how everything seems to tie back to that episode, huh?) and to be honest, I’m not sure they’ll be able to replicate the emotional impact of the two of them reuniting like they did in last season’s finale in Kirby Plaza.
I’m also not a huge fan of Bennet rejoining The Company, as it seems like a crutch that the writers are using. Instead of further developing his character and doing something new, they’re relying on something that they’ve already had success with. In my opinion, Bennet is one of the strongest characters on the show, if not THE strongest, and it’s a big mistake to have him take a step back. Ever since around the middle of the first season, we understood (or at least strongly suggested) that he was struggling with the ambiguity of his job, and that above all else he just wanted to keep his family safe. Having him return to his old job, even if it’s as an “unwilling” participant, doesn’t make him more complex. It just seems like they’re rehashing their old tricks. On top of that, Bennet’s season-long arc of trying to take down The Company seems grossly unsettled, and to an extent, arguably untold. I mean, aside from talking about destroying them, what exactly did he do? Yeah, he killed his former mentor, but that was more about getting Isaac’s paintings than anything else. It just seems like the story they’ve been telling us all season had no real pay off, and in turn seemed like a waste of time.
Listen, if you want a percentage of those damn online sales, earn them with some new, innovative ideas.
All of that said, I’m going on record with a prediction I’m sure many, many people share: Bennet was the one who shot (and presumably killed) Nathan. If that’s the case, it certainly seems to contradict his stance as somebody protecting his family, as killing your daughter’s biological father (days after believing she lost her adoptive father) doesn’t seem terribly compassionate.
I find it interesting how ineffectively this show writes romantic relationships, but so wonderfully scripts relationships that lack any sexuality. Look at the relationships that have truly shined the past two years: Claire and Bennet (father/daughter), Claire and Peter (niece/nephew), Peter and Nathan (brothers), Hiro and Ando, and Hiro and Adam (friends). To a lesser extent, there’s also Nathan and Parkman, Nathan and Hiro, and Niki and Micah. Compare them to the borderline creepy relationship between Claire and West and the out-of-nowhere relationship between Hiro and the princess.
I was initially skeptical of Sylar regaining his abilities as, again, it seemed like the writers redoing what has worked instead of coming up with something new. However, with next season focusing on the villains, I’m willing to give them a free pass. I think I would have preferred the writers take a closer look into his character, like how far he’s willing to go in order to get his powers back, but this season showed that the viewers aren’t necessarily patient enough to deal with stories that take a while to develop, and the writers, to some extent, don’t know how to keep it enticing.
I think my biggest gripe with the episode was that they killed off the wrong characters. They said two heroes would fall, and we are led to believe that’s Nathan and Niki. Problem is, we already had the ambiguous Nathan death last year, and, along with that, he’s one of the best characters on the show. While Peter, Hiro, Claire, and Bennet got most of the accolades last year, Nathan, in a lot of ways, was the epicenter and catalyst of the season, as he was closely connected with pretty much every major event and main character. Not to mention that there’s a lot of fuel left in the tank. Between his relationships with Peter, his mother, Claire (a tragically underutilized relationship this season), his wife, and his two kids, there are limitless stories that could still be told.
And while Niki is far from my favorite character, she was finally becoming interesting! Much like Nathan, she spent so much of last season shed in a negative light that it’s been really enjoyable watching her try so hard to become somebody good, that her son can be proud of. She’s been presented with so many obstacles in her life, from raising her son as a single mother, to trying to make ends meet financially, to believing that her husband is a murderer, to trying to overcome her mental ailments, and despite all of that, she never stopped fighting. She was constantly trying to become somebody better. In a strange way, she’s one of the more heroic characters on the show. And along with that, it seemed especially cruel to kill Micah’s father and mother in the same season.
One thing I didn’t get, though. Every time we’ve seen Micah use his ability, he’s done so by making physical contact with whatever machinery he was controlling. So, how did he make all of the traffic lights change?
Not only that, but there are a lot of other characters on the show far more expendable. Top of that list, in capitalized, bold letters (which are underlined, of course) is Maya. Parkman is a nice guy and all, and he brings the laughs a lot of the times, but I’m not terribly sure how much he brings to the table. Mohinder has been a jackass all season, so I don’t think I’d shed tears if he bit the bullet. I like Monica (geez, between Mohinder, Maya, Matt, Molly, Micah, and Monica, there really are a lot of M’s on this show….how have I not noticed that before?) and I think she’s got a kick ass ability, I even think she would be a more expendable character than Niki.
I will compliment one aspect of both deaths, which is the wonderful symmetry they exhibited. This season, Nathan’s story was one of a man hitting rock bottom and then attempting to achieve redemption. The season kicked off with him not taking office despite winning the election and drinking himself into oblivion. The finale had him once again becoming a public figure, and deciding to out himself to the general population. During season one, Nathan repeatedly betrayed his family (primarily Peter) and his morals in order to hide his secret. Here, he made an active decision (and the idea was his own) to reveal himself. If he did indeed die (and I hope he didn’t), I think it was a well-scripted death. Also, I thought the montage shown during Nathan’s heroic narration was excellent.
What I enjoyed about Niki’s death was that, really, this was the most heroic thing she had ever done, and it was without any abilities. Much of season one she was possessed by a “bad” personality, so she didn’t really have many opportunities to save lives like most of the other characters. Even when she was plain old Niki with super strength, she never really did anything extraordinarily brave or epic, but everything about her in the finale was glowingly heroic. She used her wits and natural skills to batter the assailant who had abducted Monica and it took immense courage to go into that burning building – again, with no abilities – to rescue her. I also loved the fact that she died in a fire, connecting quite beautifully with how D.L. finally became a hero as a firefighter.
Of course, this could be like last year’s Smallville finale, where two main characters were killed only for viewers to learn in the premiere that one came back to life, and the other had faked her death.
That’s it for this season of Heroes. I think I had a more positive outlook on this volume than most viewers (after all, I did spend most of the year defending the show), but I think the finale really faltered when it needed to hit a homerun. Lets hope that the acquisition of a percentage of online sales gets the writers back on track. Anyway, let me close up this column with a super duper fun fact: Jack Coleman, who plays Noah Bennet, is related to Benjamin Franklin. Indeed, the creator of the bifocals is the sixth generation grandfather of the man who made horn rimmed glasses famous.