”Heroes” returns: Fighting the future
Welcome back, TV Watchers, from a long and particularly painful Heroes hiatus. I hope you’ve spent the past few weeks as I have, trolling Heroes message boards, reading the graphic novel on NBC’s website, and watching 30 Rock. (Seriously, people, come on!)
First I need to clear up two statements I made in the last TV Watch (I don’t even remember when that was) concerning the final two minutes of that cliff-hanger show. I think it’s pretty obvious now that Mohinder did not die (he was coughing up blood on the ceiling, people, come on!) and Peter did not get the scar referred to by future Hiro early in the season (his head was being sliced open, people, come on!). Perhaps I was too excited about seeing Mohinder bite the bullet — it’s not like I’m the only one who finds him kind of a bore — and the adrenaline affected my judgment. Consider this a correction.
Now, on to tonight’s episode, ”.07%.” Could that be the percentage of people watching who believed that Peter might actually die? Of course he didn’t, resulting in a very suspense- and emotion-free segment devoted to grieving over him. (Did anyone else wonder how the hell Mohinder managed to get a dead body out of his apartment, into a cab, and then into a rich person’s ritzy town house?) I was, however, simultaneously thrilled and repulsed by Grandma Petrelli’s response when Nathan asked, ”What do we do?” ”We hide it. Until after the election.” Cold. Blooded. Like Angela Lansbury in The Manchurian Candidate cold-blooded. She seems to have known a lot for a long time (I would have liked to have seen her explain to her sons that she knew about their powers; instead we got nothing more than a reaction shot from the guys) and possibly has powers of her own, though it’s interesting she avoided giving a direct answer when Claire asked, ”So you’re like me?”
The Petrelli family is in deep. To find out how deep, you should probably check out the NBC.com online graphic novel War Buddies. (None of these comics are particularly well written, but they are full of important background and filler information.) The short of it is, Linderman and the now dead elder Petrelli were soldiers who met on a covert mission during the Vietnam War. When an ambush took out their crew, Linderman (who, as we now know, has the power to heal) saved Petrelli with his gift, but the two later had a falling-out and Petrelli was discharged from the military. In later years, Linderman made up with Petrelli and brought him into his fold.
And now Linderman is working his Malcolm McDowell charm on another Petrelli, dangling the prospect of the White House in front of Nathan. Linderman laid out a particularly Machiavellian ends-justify-the-means plan. The bomb will destroy New York, and he will use his considerable influence to make sure that Nathan ends up in the White House. (It’s hard to see how he’ll manage that with a first-term congressman — even with one whose election took up the entire front page of a New York City newspaper, as it did earlier in the season.) As Linderman put it, ”I said that people needed hope, but they trust fear….This tragedy will be a catalyst for good, for change. Out of the ashes, humanity will find a common goal, a united sense of hope, couched in a united sense of fear. And it is your destiny, Nathan, to be the leader who uses this event to rally a city, a nation, a world.”
Them’s big words. Words that, as a pal of mine (this is you, Eva) noted after she saw a preview of this scene, strike uncomfortable parallels with 9/11 and the rise of Rudolph Giuliani, who — if he gains the presidency — will likely do so by reminding voters that he was the leader who rallied a city. Nathan rightly balked at this offer, but will he continue to do so for long? When the future seems so explicitly laid out, when something seems to be your destiny, how can you fight it?
Sadly, Isaac chose not to, and for that he died. I hoped against hope that he would survive, despite seeing the guy’s head sliced open in one of the first few episodes. (You know, after my Mohinder debacle and all the time-traveling going on here, I’m not going to say that he’s 100 percent dead. There’s a .07 percent chance that he’ll come back.) As Isaac said, the future was too big for him. Killed in a particularly Christlike way — the crucifixion imagery here was none too subtle — he bravely said to Sylar, ”It’s all right. I finally know my part in all this. To die here, with you. But not before I show them how to kill you. And stop the bomb. I finally get to be a hero.” Does anyone else think that he drew Sylar’s death into the final issue of Ninth Wonders — or in that sketchbook he gave the messenger?
But did Isaac take the coward’s way out? Hiro, God bless him, is not having any of that ”the future is written, nothing can change it” nonsense (probably because he can jump around in time). Despite seeing an obliterated New York City, he decided to go back and see where mistakes were made. Instead, he ran into Future Hiro at Isaac’s studio. Shouldn’t there be a rift in the space-time continuum now, or was Doc Brown wrong the whole time?
As usual, a lot to ponder and not enough space to fit it all in. Briefly, though, I still hate Candice (is there any logical reason for her to dress like a Catholic-school stripper?), loved Parkman’s putdown of H.R.G. (”Oh my God, you’re middle management”), and can’t wait to see Jessica throw down when she discovers that Linderman has snagged Micah. I also can’t wait for next week’s five-years-in-the-future episode, mostly because it’s so odd — when was the last time a show in its first season pulled a crazy alternative-future story line like this one? Weigh in with your answers, theories, and pet peeves below.