Sometimes the brightest star in the sky is the same one that burns up the fastest. The same can apply to television shows today. Sometimes a television series comes onto the screen with a lot of buzz and critical acclaim, and gains a large rabid fanbase. Lost or Desperate Housewives are the perfect examples of this. The first seasons of these shows were so great that there is no way that the second season could compare to the first. But neither of those shows got as much negative press for their second seasons as Heroes did for its sophomore slump. Critics and fans alike basically considered season two of Heroes a number two of a different sort, and many stopped watching the series as a result.
But now that the series is entering its fourth season, it’s apparent that at least some people are still watching it on NBC. Let’s see how season three measures up to its predecessors, shall we?
If you don’t know already, Heroes is a show about ordinary people who find out they have extraordinary abilities. Season Three is divided into two volumes. The first half is called “Villains”. It picks up where the second season finale left off where Nathan Petrelli (Adrian Padsar) was about to reveal to the press the existence of humans with superpowers, but he was shot before he could. It turns out the shooter is a future version of Peter (Milo Ventimiglia) who was trying to stop his brother as apparently Nathan’s reveal leads to major disaster down the road. Recovering from the shooting, Nathan believes he’s been chosen by God and becomes a Senator while having visions of the late Linderman (Malcom McDowell).
Next, a woman, who looks exactly like the deceased split personality “hero” Nikki (Ali Larter), named Tracy Strauss, comes onto the scene and is interested in Nathan. Meanwhile, serial killer Sylar (Zachary Quinto) is on the hunt again and manages to steal the healing power of cheerleader Claire (Hayden Panettiere) although Claire does manage to survive. Bored with running his family business, Hiro (Masi Oka) opens a safe containing a formula that’s stolen by super-speedster Daphne (Brea Grant). The formula is apparently to give abilities to normal people and during one of his journeys to the future, Hiro sees his best friend Ando (James Kayson Lee) use powers to kill Hiro moments before a massive earthquake ripped the planet in two.
Also working on a version of the formula is Suresh (Sendhil Ramamurthy) who foolishly injects himself with it, causing him to mutate. Noah Bennett (Jack Coleman) is forced to help the Company when Sylar causes a breakout of inmates at a special prison, one of which is Peter stuck in the body of another man by his own future self. Noah is forced to work with Sylar as part of a grand scheme by Angela Petrelli (Christine Rose). However, Angela is unaware of how someone else from the past is pulling the strings and leads to some major developments.
The plot then shifts after the 13th episode into the last half of the season called “Fugitives”. Nathan is now convinced, by the actions of everyone in the first half of the season, that the super-powered humans are a danger and tells the President (Michael Dorn) of their existence. Of course, he doesn’t tell the President that he is one of them as well. This leads to the government dispatching a force designed to round up all the meta humans and imprison them for the safety of the public. But then a plane carrying them all crashes and the various heroes have to race around the country, staying out of sight while taking the fight to Nathan and are aided by a mysterious figure called “Rebel”. Given a free pass due to her relationship with Nathan, Claire tries to help out on her own while Noah wants her to have a normal life. Meanwhile, Sylar is on the hunt to find his father and figure out his own path.
There is really a noticeable difference in the storylines featured in “Villains” when compared to the storylines that appear in “Fugitives”. “Villains” has everyone doing everything in lots of different places at a frantic pace. It’s hard to keep up with things, especially when essentially they keep retelling the same storylines from the first two seasons. “Fugitives” has a more focused central storyline with the government simply trying to round up all the heroes. The main problem with this, though, is that it just feels like they are hitting the reset button in an attempt to make us forget about what just happened. But at least the writing during the second half episodes were more strong than the first half thanks largely to the addition of Bryan Fuller (creator of Pushing Daisies and Dead Like Me) on the writing team.
What also helps this season overall is the strong acting. From top to bottom, the talented cast makes the most of what they are given. Jack Coleman and Zachary Quinto still shine the brightest from the original cast. But they might have been upstaged this season by the biggest addition to the cast in Zeljko Ivanek. Ivanek plays Emile Danko a.k.a. “The Hunter”, the government agent who has been chosen to lead the round-up for heroes. He actually could rival Quinto in playing the biggest and best villain on Heroes. Another positive this season is the special effects and visuals. This has always been a great looking series, and season three is no exception here. It’s too bad, though, that the writers decided to make drastic changes in some of these characters during this season. It’s almost like they wanted to reset all the personalities of the heroes as well without it fitting in with the storylines.
Season Three of Heroes is really the Tale of Two Halves. The first half could be considered just the sloppy conclusion to the sub-par season two. Even though the writers had more time to write Volume 3 due to the writers’ strike, it seems like they just threw out whatever they had, and mostly relied too heavily on storylines we have seen countless times before. Volume 4 had stronger writing thanks to changes in the writing team, so you might expect season four to continue on the upward trend. We won’t know for sure until this time next year, but since Bryan Fuller won’t be sticking around to write much of season four, it doesn’t look good. Still with a solid cast and awesome visuals, there is always hope that Heroes can turn things around. If you don’t expect season three to be as great as season one nor as bad as season two, you probably won’t be disappointed, since it’s somewhere in the middle.
Episode 1 – The Second Coming
After a look into the future, Nathan’s shooter is revealed. Matt chases him and winds up in a desert. Hiro receives an important message from his father. Sylar visits Claire. Maya gives Mohinder an idea for his research. Nathan recovers and gets a visit from Linderman.
Episode 2 – The Butterfly Effect
Sylar goes to the Company and inadvertently releases 12 super-powered criminals in a fight with Elle. Future Peter tries to fix his mistake. Angela takes over the company. Claire learns more about her powers. Hiro and Ando travel to Paris to track down the speedster who robbed them. Maya discovers that Mohinder’s injection has changed him. Matt meats Usutu, an African with a familiar power.
Episode 3 – One of Us, One of Them
HRG and his new partner go to a local bank heist with four villains; including Peter being trapped in one of them. Hiro and Ando track Daphne to Germany, and meet the Haitian. Tracy Strauss goes to New Orleans to find out more information about Niki. Meredith teaches Claire a lesson about fighting. Usutu shows Matt a series of paintings about him.
Episode 4 – I Am Become Death
Peter travels to the future and adopts a dangerous ability in order to try to save the world. Meanwhile, Mohinder struggles with his continuing evolution from the formula, and Hiro and Ando re-unite with an old enemy.
Episode 5 – Angels And Monsters
Claire decides to take on one of the villains herself, but she may not be as invulnerable as she believes. Nathan and Tracy search for the truth about their origins. Maya makes a shocking discovery. Hiro and Ando look for help in the most unlikely places.
Episode 6 – Dying of the Light
Villains Knox and Daphne are on a quest to recruit Hiro and others to the Pinehearst fold. Angela and the Company are paralyzed from recent events. Peter goes to Pinehearst searching for answers but is stunned to learn who the founder is. Claire and Sandra go on a mission to save Meredith from the clutches of Doyle, a villain with abilities to control people mentally and physically. Nathan and Tracy try to trace their origins with Mohinder’s help.
Episode 7 – Eris Quod Sum
Tracy and Nathan try to save themselves from a dangerous Mohinder who is no longer in control of himself. Sylar is given the task to save Peter from a rival company. Daphne is ordered to kill or be killed. Hiro is still searching for answers.
Episode 8 – Villains
Hiro attempts to delve into Arthur Petrelli’s past to uncover the mystery behind him creating a rival company Pinehearst and his hatred towards Angela. Sylar stricken by guilt tries to stop his murderous ways with HRG and Elle vying for his blood. Meredith’s training goes up in smoke with the arrival of her brother.
Episode 9 – It’s Coming
Nathan learns of his father’s plans while Flint and Knox launch attacks on Peter and Claire. Meanwhile, Matt tries to revive Angela, Sylar meets with Elle, and Mohinder begins testing of his newest superpower formula.
Episode 10 – The Eclipse: Part 1
The eclipse plays havoc with the heroes’ powers. Arthur orders Elle and Sylar to bring in Claire. Hiro, Ando, and Matt follow Daphne to her hometown to learn what hold Arthur has on her, and Peter and Nathan travel to the Haitian’s hometown to recruit him for the war with Pinehearst.
Episode 11 – The Eclipse: Part 2
The eclipse continues to create chaos. Sylar and Elle face HRG’s wrath. Peter, Nathan and the Haitian go up against Baron Samedi. Ando, Sam, and Frack try to help Hiro with his memory loss.
Episode 12 – Our Father
Hiro and Claire unite in their bid to stop Arthur by traveling back in time. Peter and the Haitian go after Arthur and Sylar finds a way to discover once and for all about his lineage. Ando, Daphne and Matt search for the last 9th Wonders! story.
Episode 13 – Dual
Nathan and Peter face off, and Nathan makes a move with far reaching consequences. Sylar takes desperate measures at Primatech and the fates of several heroes hang in the balance. Ando, Matt, and Daphne continue their quest to save Hiro.
Episode 14 – A Clear and Present Danger
After the battle between Pinehearst and Primatech, Pete, Claire, Matt, and Daphne try to live normal lives, while a powerless Hiro tries to teach Ando how to use his new special ability and become a superhero. However, Claire discovers Nathan’s plan to track down those with abilities.
Episode 15 – Trust and Blood
Our heroes truly become fugitives, and they are on the run from one of their own. Sylar begins the search for his father, and Matt’s paintings reveal a dark fate.
Episode 16 – Building 26
As the President sends a representative to investigate Nathan’s activities, Sylar continues his quest to find his father. Hiro and Ando travel to India to fulfill the destiny shown by Matt’s drawing, and Claire risks her father’s wrath to protect a new friend.
Episode 17 – Cold Wars
HRG and Matt are thrust into a series of mind games to uncover the truth about Nathan’s plans. Peter gets to meet The Hunter in person.
Episode 18 – Exposed
After a tip from “Rebel”, Matt and Peter hurry to rescue Daphne and find evidence that may expose the government’s plans to capture those with powers. Sylar uncovers the truth about his mother from past memories on his father, while the Hunter hatches an explosive plan of his own.
Episode 19 – Shades of Gray
Sylar finds his father at last, Claire must decide whether to help a sworn enemy, Danko digs into the secrets of the Petrelli family, and Matt must find a way out of an explosive situation.
Episode 20 – Cold Snap
The identity of “Rebel” is revealed. Noah wants Danko to let Tracy go in the hope that she will lead them to Rebel. Hiro and Ando continue with the mission that Rebel entrusted to them, to keep the new hero safe.
Episode 21 – Into Asylum
The heroes try to mend their broken relationships as Nathan and Claire seek refuge in Mexico and Peter and Angela hide out in a church. Danko’s bid to wipe out the superpowered population intensifies as he unites with a surprising new ally.
Episode 22 – Turn and Face the Strange
Someone close to Danko is put in the line of fire as he spearheads the anti-superhuman operation. Meanwhile, Noah’s marriage continues to crumble while Hiro and Ando continue their journey to save Matt. Angela faces some demons from her past.
Episode 23 – 1961
Angela uncovers the dark secrets of her past, while Mohinder learns of his father’s involvement in a forgotten government operation.
Episode 24 – I Am Sylar
Sylar, still engaged in an unlikely alliance, faces an identity crisis as his newest power begins to affect him in strange ways. Hiro and Ando try to bring down Building 26 as Matt grapples with fatherhood. Nathan begins to unfold a plan to to set things right.
Episode 25 – An Invisible Thread
Nathan tries to prevent Sylar from meeting the President. Sylar has his own agenda regarding his partner. Hiro finds there are consequences that come with the return of his powers.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer is about as good as one could expect for a standard definition DVD release of a TV show. Colors are generally bright with vivid detail in each frame.
Viewers have three audio options: English 5.1 Surround sound, Spanish 5.1 Surround sound, or French 5.1 Surround sound. Subtitles are also available in English, Spanish, and French as well.
Audio Commentaries –
There are full-length commentaries for all 25 episodes of this season. They were originally available during the season on the Heroes NBC Web site as video commentaries.
Deleted Scenes –
There are 37 scenes that didn’t make the final cut of the season and they total 36 minutes. With that many, there is bound to be some that are interesting. So these are worth checking out for sure, if you are hardcore fan of the show.
“The Super Powers of Heroes” Featurette –
This runs 8 minutes and it’s a look at how the Heroes’ abilities are created on-screen. It’s filled with on-set footage from the various stunts and special-effects shots. A good “behind-the-scenes” featurette.
“Completing the Scene” Featurette –
This runs 8 minutes and it focuses on the visual effects, especially some of the more impressive pieces from this season.
“The Prop Box” Featurette –
This runs 5 minutes and it gives you a tour of the show’s prop collection, with assistant prop master James Clark as the host.
“Genetics of a Scene” Featurette –
This runs 20 minutes and it breaks down four specific scenes from the season. It just may be the best and most entertaining featurette on the disc.
“The Writer’s Forum” Featurette –
This runs 13 minutes and it features Kring, Armus and Aron Eli Coleite talking about the season’s themes and storylines. Basically, a big summary of the season from the creative team themselves.
Two of the three webisodes are included here. They are the 10-minute “Going Postal” and the 18-minute “Nowhere Man” (The third webisode is only available on the Blu-Ray release of the show.)
This is a one minute look at the Tim Sale artwork from the series.
Pinehearst Commercial –
Like the title says, this is a short fake commercial for Pinehearst.
The ending to season three is much more promising than the beginning of season three. Breaking up the halves/volumes and you see a correlation between Vol. 3 and season two, and Vol. 4 and season one, as far as the quality of the writing goes. Without Brian Fuller on board, hopes aren’t high for season four, but fans of this series will no doubt want to buy this DVD set just for the extras alone. 25 commentaries, deleted scenes and some good featurettes make this a quality purchase.
Universal Studios Home Entertainment presents Heroes: Season 3. Created by Tim Kring. Starring Hayden Panettiere, Jack Coleman, Sendhil Ramamurthy, Masi Oka, James Kyson Lee, Milo Ventimiglia, Greg Grunberg, Ali Larter, Adrian Pasdar, Noah Gray-Cabey, Kristen Bell, David Anders, Stephen Tobolowsky, and Zachary Quinto. Running time: 1073 minutes. Rated: NOT RATED. Released on DVD: September 1, 2009. Available at Amazon.com
Tags: Heroes, Pushing Daisies