”Heroes”: Five years after the bomb
I’m just going to tell you in advance that this will be a shorter post then usual, because I’m typing this in the lobby of a supposedly nice hotel in El Paso while on vacation. (I’m not actually spending my vacation in El Paso, but it’s on the way to the Grand Canyon.) I love this show — and y’all — so much that I spent a good while trying to figure out when they air Heroes in the Mountain time zone and what hotel in El Paso had 24-hour Internet connectivity. So please excuse me if this is not my typical thousand-word recap-analysis. It might be closer to 925.
In chapter 20, ”Five Years Gone,” we jumped half a decade into the future to see what could come to pass if our heroes do not prevent half of New York City from being incinerated. As many of you have mentioned, this conceit bears a striking resemblance to the 1980s X-Men story line ”Days of Future Past,” in which a future Kitty Pryde allows her mind to travel back in time to her younger self in order to prevent an event that unites the world against mutants. We’ve heard many a time (or at least you might have if you’ve read any interviews with show creator Tim Kring) that Heroes is not based on comics and that the story line is produced independently of anything that it might resemble — like ”Days of Future Past” or Watchmen or Rising Stars. As time goes on, though, I honestly find that hard to believe, especially given the fact that Hiro specifically mentioned Kitty Pryde in an earlier episode. So either somebody else is slipping these things into the show, or Kring has subconsciously soaked up all these influences (like Peter, but with comics!), or he’s lying. I don’t like calling anyone a liar, so let’s just assume for now that it’s the first or second choice.
And what a dark future it was. There’s so much to write about that it necessitates the use of bullet points.
· Peter was the bomb, and he went off, earning his wicked scar; half of New York City was destroyed; and Nathan rose to the presidency, charging the Department of Homeland Security (apparently under the auspices of Parkman and the Haitian) to hunt down those with powers. He is protecting his brother (who’s shacking up with Niki, ickily sleeping with her second Petrelli brother) by blaming the whole thing on Sylar.
· Except that Sylar (having killed and absorbed Candice, the hot Catholic-schoolgirl-skirt-wearing woman) has killed Nathan, assumed his identity, and moved into the White House.
· Ando has died, and Hiro, afflicted by guilt and sadness, has lost his joie de vivre and become a ”terrorist.” (Remember, one man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter.)
· H.R.G., in an agreement with Parkman, is working to turn in dangerous individuals who possess powers while providing harmless ones with new identities.
· Claire is hiding in plain sight in Midland, Tex., ready to marry some local busboy.
But then time-traveling not-future Hiro showed up and all hell broke loose. Parkman killed H.R.G. and future Hiro and Hana Gitelman; Mohinder killed the Haitian; Sylar killed Claire….Luckily it’s all like a dream, because for all this not to happen, said future Hiro, not-future Hiro has to go back in time and kill Sylar, stopping him from setting off the bomb. Thing is, as far as we know, Sylar doesn’t explode — Peter does. So is Hiro going to have to kill Peter? (I don’t care what healing powers Peter has, you chop his head off and he’s a goner, right?)
The metaphors and political parallels at play in this episode were out of hand. There were the ongoing 9/11 references, such as Nathan/Sylar giving his speech in a Ground Zero-like hole in New York City, the way that Nathan/Sylar’s administration tries to use fear and the memory of tragedy to its own ends (”At first the world will mourn,” says Nathan/Sylar about his genocidal plan. ”They’ll be united in grief. Then they’ll just be united”), and the co-opting of Homeland Security to wreak havoc on American lives. I was also pleased and shocked by Nathan/Sylar’s line acknowledging that he’s both president and something more: ”I’m the leader of the free world….I’m the most special person there is.” If that isn’t a damning critique of unchecked executive power and arrogance, I don’t know what is.
When Hiro and Ando and Peter walked into that office building all badass-like, I thought, ”It’s going to be like that scene in The Matrix,” i.e., awesome. Except it wasn’t really. Save for some bloodless sword slashing and a guy flying through the air, Peter’s ”I haven’t had a good battle in a long time” statement didn’t live up to its promise. What’s with that? I mean, can’t they give us a little more action? I’m not asking for 24 here, but a few seconds of not really intensely acted or staged fight scenes don’t really stir the blood. Let’s have some blood stirring!
What do you think? Was this episode nothing more than a gimmick? (If Hiro knows what he has to do now and can travel back and forth in time over and over, isn’t the whole future we just saw null and void?) Does Parkman really have that evil and anger in him after years of being ignored and passed over? And did Nathan/Sylar really have to call Mohinder ”the Professor?” I mean, just make him bald and put him in a wheelchair already.