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'Heroes' recap: Hiro finds purpose and Sylar looks for the man in the mirrors

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This week’s episode wasn’t bad at all, for the simple reason that — like last week’s installment — it sort of underscored one of the larger problems of Heroes itself. (How’s that for a backhanded compliment?)

This time out, Heroes sorta figured out what to do with Hiro. Because for the past four seasons, Hiro has been a character without a purpose. If you’ll think back to the first season, you’ll remember that Hiro began as a flighty, superpowered, ex-wage slave who — thanks to a mentor-encounter with his darker, futuristic self — embraced his destiny and set out on the path to save the cheerleader and with her, NBC’s ratings.

But since then, Hiro has wallowed, the victim of aimless writing. Every season has found him back at jump street: a wide-eyed chucklehead, a lovestruck moron — or worse, a boy in a man’s body. Now we find a Hiro hobbled by a brain tumor, taking time from his righting-his-life’s-wrongs tour to counsel Emma, the sound + vision power-noob. And, suddenly, Hiro regains purpose. See, THIS is what his role should’ve been these past few years: Hiro should’ve been the hero who’d been through his war, defeating Sylar, and now served to guide others. He should’ve been Heroes‘ Yoda. The brain tumor only would’ve bolstered that. And then, at the end of this season, Hiro could have come off of the sidelines and showed exactly what “a master of time and space” is capable of, one last time. Heroic death. Trumpets fade.

Of course, that didn’t happen. And probably won’t. Instead, he’s gonna be a one-man This is Your Life. But for a brief moment — when Hiro, with great clarity, explains to Emma-Dazzler what it means to discover power and one’s responsibility to it — there was a glimmer of destiny.

Some other, general thoughts about “Tabula Rasa”:

* Does no one ever notice that Senator Petrelli vanishes for, like, seasons at a time? Is this lazy writing, or a comment on governmental excess?

* Apparently, in Heroesville, only Black dudes can command memory — first the Haitian, and now Damian, the Rastafarian mirror master. And they almost never speak.

No mention of last week’s big la-di-da, Sapphic Claire? Though, she did show up at Daddy’s house with her dirty laundry.

* When Noah and Peter go to meet the kid who smells like teen healing, why tell a teleporter to take the back stairs? And why would Peter not knock the shotgun up and out of the way, instead of pulling the gun into his own chest? (Well, because the story needed Peter to get shot and, hence, disregard basic tactics.)

* While I like Samuel’s plans for Sylar — though I’d have to think even he knows that keeping tamed lions almost never ends well — I’m getting a little dismayed at the Costneriness of his fleeting accent.

What did you think? Do two pretty decent episodes portend a return to watch-worthy status? Or does Heroes have a lot more damage control to do before you reinstate the Season Pass?

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