‘Heroes’ recap: Power outage
I’ve figured out my real problem with this show. Not with any one episode, mind you, but with the show itself. I’ve been so frustrated with individual installments that I haven’t seen the sickness through the symptoms. Heroes never digs deep. Into anything. Instead, the show skips on the surface, each episode like a pebble on a lake. The ripples can be beautiful, mesmerizing, even, but we’ll never know anything about what lies beneath. Every hour skims along four or five story lines — sometimes in wonderful, hypnotic fashion — but we never get invested in any one. As a result, the pleasure we derive from Heroes is like junk food; empty calories that don’t actually sustain.
The single best episode of Heroes was the first season’s ”Company Man,” which allowed the rock to sink to the bottom of Noah Bennet’s backstory, to the exclusion of almost every other player. It invested us in that character in a way that the show hadn’t done before. Maybe the Heroes team felt burned by last season’s ”Hiro in Japan” stuff, which tried to plumb the depths of the blinking teleporter to disastrous effect, and swore never to try it again.
Which is disappointing, especially given that this episode, ”Dying of the Light,” could’ve been a creepy tour de force. Claire and her two moms trapped in a freaky old theater by a pervy body-control puppeteer (because nothing is too on-the-nose on Heroes); I’d have watched an unsettling hour of those three women, each learning how to deal with the other, forced to cope with a power-hungry fetishist. Being forced to helplessly watch as your body does the most depraved things imaginable? Yes, it’d be twisted and uncomfortable to watch and might make you throw up in your mouth a little, but at least it would elicit an honest-to-Jeebus response other than the mild bemusement I felt, wondering, ”Hey, did not one read the psycho puppetmaster’s file?” I get fire mom Meredith walking in blind to save her daughter, but what’s Claire’s excuse for holding a stun gun on a dude who can redirect your limbs at will? (I will give the writers credit, though: Their escape from Puppetboy’s clutches was smart.) All in all, not nearly as scary as it should’ve been. Ripples on the pond.
Speaking of ripples, a hearty farewell goes to Adam Monroe, the life sucked clean out of him by Arthur ”the Incubus” Petrelli (Robert Forster). Monroe was a character we spent an inordinate amount of time with in the second season — hell, it pretty much revolved around him — and he’s dispatched with such little fanfare? Not that the casual destruction of a cast member can’t work — Joss Whedon did it to great effect with Tara on Buffy — but in order for us to care about his death, to feel anything either way, we needed to know him as a character. Which we didn’t. He’s a guy who couldn’t die. And was British and flippant. That’s not enough.
NEXT: The girl and the turtle
Hiro. Yaarrrgrhh! That, in case it wasn’t clear, was a desperate cry of frustration. First we’re led to believe that, when Knox handed him a sword and commanded that Hiro kill Ando, young Mr. Nakamura knew precisely in which theatrical FX shop he could find a collapsible sword that would perfectly match his killing weapon. Sure. Then, Hiro and Ando leave the Angry Skunk Bar (the funniest little throwaway in years) to find Parkman’s future-seeing black dude — and their big plan is to sneak up on him. On a guy who can see the future. ”Hello? Mr. African Isaac?”
Is it wrong that I want to take the idiot ball and slam it right into Hiro’s face, Green Man-style? No. It’s not wrong.
I also don’t think it’s wrong to want to like Matt Parkman. I don’t like him, but I want to. Probably because I can tell how hard Greg Grunberg is working to make him…something. He’s kind of like Heroes‘ version of John Candy, a lovable lunk who will endure horrible, silly crap, but still be sunny and endearing about it all. And maybe build a boat. When you see him on the escalator, his face a raccoon mask of sunburn, talking to his spirit-totem turtle, you just want to give the dude a hug. And when he finally gets a moment with his speedster intended, Daphne — who’s been busy recruiting villains for Papa Petrelli’s Pinehurst Corporation — he pleads with her to ”forget your thoughts. What is your heart telling you?” Next thing you know, Parkman will be outside Daphne’s apartment with a boom box over his head. And, again, the Heroes symbolism isn’t subtle: The girl who can’t commit has the power to run away while the dude pursuing her is best friends with a turtle.
One more thought before we call it a week: I kinda think that Robert Forster is a little underwhelming as Arthur Petrelli. When I think of the brilliantly evil guy who’s been pulling the strings, unseen, I don’t think of a dude who looks — and acts — like someone my dad would play nickel-dime poker with. When Peter comes tearing into Pinehurst, fists a sparking, looking for the bloke behind the attack on his mother, you don’t expect him to be facing Joe the Plumber. (Hey, I can use Joe for my own nefarious point-making purposes, too.)
So, what did you think? Why didn’t Tracy just freeze-dry MohinderAlienQueen like a sea monkey when he drugged her and Nathan and locked them in his cocoon-y lair — Clarice Starling would’ve done it. Do you think that the first villain Noah and Meredith go after will be Sylar? After all, they’ve both got a vested interest in Claire’s well-being. What are the odds that Heroes, like the Star Wars saga, is really about the making — and eventual redemption — of the villain? And who will that villain be? I wonder….