‘Heroes’ recap: On to the next chapter
”I could’ve been a nobody, instead of the monster I became.” Villains are?difficult. From a creative standpoint, they’re a bear. Your Big Bad needs to be smart-brutal-powerful enough to pose a legitimate threat to your hero, and yet he or she also needs to be saddled with some kind of fatal flaw that the hero can exploit to emerge victorious. They need to have depth of character, some can even be sympathetic, but you shouldn’t ever forget that they are antagonists. They are the obstacle.
Villains have been hard for Heroes. On the one hand, you’ve got Sylar who — for all of the liberties the producers have taken with him this year, from rehabbed father figure to Company stooge to wronged ”son” — still carries an authentic menace. (And, really, that’s because Zachary Quinto has never given up on Sylar, even when he’s been forced to do silly things like, you know, argue with his ”girlfriend” at a rental car joint.) And on the other hand, you’ve got a series of disposable threats like Knox, Flint, Daphne, and the crazy puppetmaster dude. Even Arthur Petrelli was kind of an empty hat; he was granted too much power and not enough smarts to be entirely effective. (Wouldn’t a smart man have just ”pushed” Nathan into dropping any official investigation into Linderman? That way, Arthur would never have had to push Angela to forget the attempt on her son’s life, and she, in turn, never would have poisoned Arthur in the first place. The shortest hop from point A to point B is usually the best.)
And so this third volume, ”Villains” comes to a close; not with a bang, not with a whimper, just kind of an ”eh.” Even when Heroes was on the money, back in the first season, it still didn’t know how to stick the landing. Remember Kirby Plaza? The whole season built up to a fight that just kind of sat there; a couple of punches and blowed up Petrelli brothers. And this half-season ended with — hey! — a couple of punches and blowed up Petrelli brothers.
But before it ended, we got to spend some time in Sylar’s House of Horrors. See, after offing Arthur Petrelli, Sylar went over to Primatech — which always feels like it’s across the street — to execute the second half of Operation Fake Parent Trap. Through the cunning use of cordless phones and circuit boards — and, yes, murder — Sylar trapped Claire, Noah, Angela, and hot-bio-mom Meredith in the Company’s compound. His plan: Turn them all into monsters, just like him. How? By stealing a page from Jigsaw’s handbook and going all death-trap on Meredith and Noah. First, Sylar pumped Meredith full of adrenaline. Then he trapped the supernova-ing Meredith in a fireproof, bulletproof Level 5 cell with Noah?who had only one round left in his gun. Does he shoot Meredith before she flames on and save himself? Does he spare Meredith and commit suicide? Can Claire do anything but watch? That was a legitimately interesting moral dilemma?too bad neither person actually did much to get themselves out of it.
NEXT: Brothers in arms…against each other
(Can I just take a minute to air a little procedural grievance? Last week, Noah got the drop on Gabriel and Elle’s love tryst with a sniper rifle equipped with a laser scope. Which, as a friend reminded me, you would never, never do, because when a bullet is fired, it doesn’t travel in a straight line. It falls to the ground at the same speed as if you dropped your keys. It’s called the parabolic arc. A laser sight can’t compensate for that, but a scope can. Which is why snipers use, wait for it, scopes. This week, Claire is stalking around carrying a 12-gauge shotgun with one hand. If she pulled the trigger, not only would she not hit what she was aiming at because of the recoil, she’d probably also rip her arm off. Is it too much to ask for a little firearm consultation? If you’re gonna put guns in your show, learn a little something about them. Okay, rant over.)
On to Peter, who once again found himself at odds with his brother’s boneheaded decisions. With Poppa Petrelli dead, Nathan wants to carry on his father’s legacy by continuing Operation: Powers to the People. I can’t believe that Nathan almost busted out the ”If you’re not with me, you’re against me.” Anyone thinking in such a binary fashion has no idea how to fix a world that’s composed entirely of shades of gray. Yes, we’re supposed to know this is true, and Peter is the voice of reason in this scenario, but why would a dude ostensibly as smart as Nathan buy that? How did such a simpleton ever get elected to public office? Oh, wait?asked and answered.
Peter moved on from a knocked-out Nathan to Suresh’s lab, where Knox and Flint joined him in busting up the joint. At which point, the good doctor said one of the dumbest things in the history of Mohinder saying dumb thing. He’s actually got the huevos to chastise Peter for working with ”bad guys” to achieve his goal. This, coming from the guy who first went to work for the Primatech to save Molly and then did the exact same thing by going to work for Pinehearst to save himself.
This is all interrupted by Nathan, who beats down Flint and the powerless Peter with something out of the lead pipe family. Flint sparks up, sends the place up in smoke, leaving Peter just one way to save himself and his brother: he grabs one of Suresh’s power syringes, injects himself, and flies Nathan to safety.
NEXT: Hiro (sort of) redeems himself
Finally, Hiro. Or not. I’ve decided that I never want to hear anyone say ”Yataai” again. I like Ando’s new power, though it keeps him a secondary player. He’s an accelerator. An amplifier. He makes other people look good. But he never looks good by himself. And Hiro, finally, after screwing up everything for most of the half-season, does what he was supposed to do. Or, actually, he was tasked to protect the formula, not destroy it. But I’ll give him this one pass — though, to think that someone didn’t make a photocopy of it would be the height of stupidity.
At the end of the day, the list of players got smaller — Knox, Meredith, Arthur, Flint, and, we’re supposed to believe, Sylar — but did anything really happen? Yes, both companies were left in flames, and Nathan decides that if he can’t field an army of super soldiers, he’ll round up everyone with powers, but it all just felt like?well, you know what they say about sound and fury.
”Villains” ended as it began, with neither a bang nor a whimper. And I’m ending my run as your Heroes recapper as well. I couldn’t tell you who’ll be taking over when the show comes back post-Super Bowl, I’m glad I got to spend these few months with you guys. You are as passionate a bunch of fans as I’ve ever come across — I can only hope this show once again becomes worthy of your devotion.
And, finally, two words I never thought I’d be typing: President Worf!
What did you think? Are Sylar and Arthur really dead, or just gone to fight another day? Why didn’t Hiro tell his father who he really was? Surely, Kaito’s seen weirder stuff than time travel. And if people get the powers that they want, what did Mohinder want to be that he turned into Cobra Commander?