I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I think Heroes was better than 24 this week. And, like, by a pretty large margin as well. Even I’m surprised to say this, considering how lackluster this season has been, but this may have been their best finale yet. And truth be told, if that’s where things are headed, this episode provided a suitable and somewhat satisfying conclusion to the series.
You have Peter at peace with his brother’s death, Sylar turning a corner and becoming an unexpected hero, Tracy achieving true redemption, Hiro fulfilling his quest (in a rather selfless way, incidentally) and doing something truly heroic — which would not have been possible without Ando’s ability, HRG and Claire coming to an understanding about their complex relationship, and the ushering in a brave new world in which those with abilities are now out in the open. And, in a rarity for this series, they actually SHOWED us an epic battle. The characters were all used pretty perfectly as well, with “minor” characters like Tracy and Parkman appearing minimally, and unnecessary characters like Mohinder being absent altogether. This allowed the major characters to all play crucial and individually heroic roles: Claire and HRG stopped Samuel, Peter fought him, Hiro and Ando weakened him, Sylar fought Doyle, etc. I’m pretty impressed, to be honest.
This episode also did a surprisingly fantastic job of bringing all of the central characters together for the big battle at the carnival. And, much like the first season finale (which understandably set the bar), it didn’t come off as contrived or forced. And, come to think of it, the remaining finales lacked that feeling of all of the characters banding together to take on the big bad. The conclusions of the other volumes came off as disjointed and disconnected — a poor maneuver for a show that finds its strength in connecting their central cast.
To tell you the truth, the only thing I took issue with was Claire’s reveal at the end. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the allusions to season one, with HRG saying that Claire is breaking his heart by exhibiting her powers on tape (although I did appreciate that he didn’t physically attempt to stop her — this showed a certain amount of growth in their relationship), and Claire’s “this is attempt number…” comment. I just felt like the scene was played out in an overall lazy and unrealistic manner. I mean, after all that destruction, wouldn’t there be a whole lot of rescue workers around? You know, cops and firefighters and such? And these people would just sit back in awe as some young woman climbs up a Ferris wheel? And yes, I know we’re supposed to believe that television journalists are ratings hungry monsters, but I still find it difficult to swallow that they’d just watch and instruct their cameramen to keep the camera on her as she attempts something so dangerous and life threatening. I understand what they were going for — and to a large extent it worked — but there were better ways to go around it than having a group of adults following her and just watching as she climbs to the top of a Ferris wheel.
Let me touch upon a few of the other things that happened in the episode:
I mentioned this in an earlier column, but I really loved seeing HRG and Claire fight side by side. By the end of each season they’re most certainly on the same side, but we’ve never really literally seen them fight together. Compare this finale to season one, where HRG did everything he could to keep Claire away from such dangerous situations. Now, he’s giving her orders to split up so that they can face their enemy from both sides. It really does show how far they’ve come. Plus, I’m a sucker for seeing these two together. One thing I will say: I am grateful that the writers relented on forcing their petty differences. Sure, they had their conflicts this year, but their issues had a certain maturity to them that was lacking in previous years.
I was satisfied with how they ended the Charlie/Hiro story. It was a good way of ending it happily, while still making Hiro look selfless. And I must say, that was an absolutely wonderful casting decision. The wide, dark eyes and big smile really captured the character — I easily believed that could be Charlie in 65 years.
Finally, I’m glad they decided to stay the course with Sylar as a reformed “good guy.” This character has been all over the place since season three — and especially this season, come to think of it — that yet another turn would have made the character unsalvagable, in my opinion. And it certainly would have showed that the writers have no clue what to do with him.
Now, one has to wonder, though: Does an awesome finale make up for a lackluster season? Unfortunately, I do not believe so. And in that regard, this episode failed in a major way: While I do have many, many fine things to say about the finale, it doesn’t really leave me psyched for the next season. And while I’d like to see the show continue, I don’t think I’d be devastated if it didn’t.
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.