Heroes – Episode 4-17 Review

I want to thank those readers who commented on last week’s column and correctly pointed out to me that Parkman didn’t actually block Sylar’s abilities — he merely trapped him in his own subconscious, in a world in which he didn’t have abilities. Thanks for the info!

So next week is the season finale (the season was shortended for the Winter Olympics) and I have to admit, I’m a little relieved. It’s not even that I need a bit of a breather from the show, it’s more that Monday is already a big TV night for me, and with Lost returning on Tuesdays, I just don’t think I’ll have the energy to do all these reviews in two days. I’m relatively optimistic that they’ll get a fifth season, so I’d like the writers to just put some real consideration of where they want to take the show next season (which I do think would be its last), because I have to say, this was one of the most schizophrenic episodes of Heroes in recent history. The episode was just all over the place in every sense of the way: my personal overall enjoyment, character histories and motivations, etc.

Case in point: When the episode began, I thought the Claire/HRG arc was far more interesting than the Peter/Sylar dreamworld (shocker). Yet, by the end of the episode, I was actually enjoying the Sylar/Peter portion more.

I thought the Bennet stuff started off really, really strong. I tend to dislike any form of rewriting a character’s history (I hate it every time they do it with Sylar, and I disliked it when Lauren was senselessly nudged into HRG’s past), but I actually had no issue with the revelation that HRG had a “past life” where he was happy, honest, married, and expecting his first child. I appreciated the fact that he lacked the killer instinct that he’s now known for, and I though it was clever how his wife’s seemingly random murder hardened him and set him on his current path. And I absolutely loved Claire’s sympathetic, mature reaction to this news. At first it wasn’t explicit, you could just tell that, to Claire, this was merely a part of her father’s past that he couldn’t tell her about. And you could genuinely sense that she trusted that there was some reason why he never told her. I really liked how she resisted learning more, insisting that this is his business, not hers. For the first time, she seemed to understand that her father is entitled to the same privacy any teenager or young adult demands. And after the scene played out, and we understood the tragic end, I actually thought it was nice that they had Claire verbally express what she had sensed — simply that this was a place her father couldn’t go emotionally.

And then, it all sorta fell apart. I absolutely hated how angrily she responded to HRG’s first kill. It was quite obvious that he was emotionally fragile, and his actions were so clearly self defense, as well. Out of all the things she’s seen him do, THIS is the thing she gets upset about? Considering what she had seen him go through, you’d think she’d understand him a little better. It felt like we had made so much progress, and then, out of nowhere, we’re jumping back to their midseason one relationship.

I was even more bothered by the discovery that The Company had seemingly arranged HRG’s family man persona. Sure, HRG claims that he truly loved Sandra — and I can even believe that — but I thought his “I chose your mother” argument was a lit empty. I mean, Thompson literally said to him, “the waitress will do.” And bam, that’s who he married. I have no doubt he eventually came to love her, but that was most definitely an “arranged marriage.”

And, to me, that really damaged his character. Heroes has a nasty tendency of trying to make their characters more complex than they actually are (hence why we can’t have Sylar just be a villain), but HRG was one of the only legitimately deep and layered characters. Part of the reason why he became so popular was because he was this arguably violent, dangerous man who is doing morally questionable things — yet he’s got this deep love and devotion to his family. The idea that this aspect of his life began as a work-related agreement cheapens that.

That being said, they did pick things up (a bit) in the end, with Claire showing that she’s not completely daft and revealing that she didn’t fall for Samuel’s manipulation. I actually did like the way she delivered her “did you really think I was going to turn on him?” line.

I initially found the story with Peter and Sylar frustrating. Sylar’s character, like this episode, is just out of control all over the place. It seems like his motivations are being rewritten by the episode. Honestly, this season alone he’s gone from bad to good to bad to good to bad to unsure. For the life of me, I just don’t understand why they won’t have him be the villain he was conceived as. Or, if they’re determined to have him be a hero, why they just didn’t go with it last season.

I did think the dream world was a clever way of giving a reasonable explanation as to how Peter could possibly forgive Sylar for all he had done. It was reminiscent of The 4400, where Tom and Alana lived in a dream world that, for them, lasted many years — but to the outside world was mere second — resulting in them developing a deep relationship. Same deal with Peter and Sylar. They lived in a world where it was only the two of them, and they were really forced to rely on each other for their own survival and sanity. And they weren’t able to escape that world until both of them let down their guard and truly forgave and trusted each other.

But here’s the deal, Heroes writers: You made your bed. Sylar is now a hero. You’ve made your decision, so don’t end the season with him suddenly going bad again. And to the characters of the show: To that end, for the love of God, don’t let him rent a car!

Matt Basilo has been writing for Inside Pulse since April 2005, providing his insight into popular television shows such as Lost, 24, Heroes, and Smallville. Be sure to visit his blog at [a case of the blog] and follow him on Twitter.

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