”Heroes”: Sylar’s biggest power play
Let’s get something straight. I’m not paid by NBC. That is to say, I’m not the official Heroes booster. My job is not to come here every week and write about how great the show is, even if an episode genuinely stinks (which several genuinely have). My job is to offer up a readable, reasonable, well-balanced critique of the previous night’s episode.
That being said, what a cliff-hanger! I mean, wow. Last week’s was clearly the best episode that Heroes has yet aired, but with us not having another one until April 23, I’m totally on the edge of my seat until then. I’ve grown to love this show more and more each week (except for that fallow period — you know the one). To paraphrase 30 Rock‘s Tracy Jordan, I love Heroes so much, I want to take it behind the middle school and get it pregnant.
So let’s get into it, man, starting with some leftover business from last week. H.R.G., our erstwhile villain — who might now be the character on the show that elicits my sympathy the most — cannot catch a break. To have Eric Roberts, playing Thompson (as H.R.G. seems to have referred to him at one point, correct?), give H.R.G. the smackdown after he came back brainwashed with a bullet wound and his daughter missing (whew!) was harsh. The guy just got shot! Still, the biggest indignity must have been pairing H.R.G. with that new girl, Candice the shape shifter. She’s got a hell of a mean streak. Did you see the way she played with a grieving Isaac? Or the way that she probably deliberately wore a short skirt and high-heeled boots when she went to see the Bennets just so she could make the wife jealous? Or the way that she tricked H.R.G. (he is in trouble!) into spilling the beans about Claire? Mean, mean, mean. I hate her. But what’s going to happen? They’re not going to kill H.R.G., are they? (Especially since they just offed the show’s second main character: more on that later.) Steal his glasses? Kill Mr. Muggles?
Wait, that wouldn’t be the worst thing, would it? Could never happen, though. It’s like Independence Day. They can kill millions of people, but the golden retriever survives. So it goes in Heroes. They’ll never off Mr. Muggles, but they’ll give us a Mohinder shish kebab.
Are y’all — the ones who’ve been calling for Mohinder to bite the dust — happy now? We’ve all guessed, from the moment that he and Sylar teamed up, that the junior Suresh probably wasn’t going to make it until the end of the season. And just when I thought the supposedly smart scientist couldn’t get any stupider, just when I thought he was going to ignore Sylar’s continual creepy statements about not being lonely anymore, he came through in a big way and proved that science plus revenge equals really scary. I mean, Mohinder started pulling a Jack Bauer there, drugging Sylar, tying him up, torturing him with a tuning fork, stabbing a needle into his spine, and then actually trying to shoot his captive. I didn’t think the guy had it in him. And, with the camera positioned behind Sylar’s head, I thought he was a goner — until he stopped that bullet like Keanu Reeves in The Matrix. Which is cool. Though I would have preferred it if he had caught it in his teeth like Leroy Green in The Last Dragon. Sho’nuff!
Alas, the bad guy got loose. And, in what was far and away the most convincing acting that Sendhil Ramamurthy has ever done on the show, once Sylar was free, Mohinder started to tremble like a child. Then — unfortunately — he got pinned to the ceiling as if he were the assistant to the worst circus knife thrower ever. Bye-bye Mohinder. It was nice to have known you. And although the big cliff-hanger was Peter’s forehead getting sliced open in his second encounter with Sylar (now we know where the scar that future Hiro spoke of came from), it’s a given that he’s going to survive. Even Heroes can’t kill three main characters in three consecutive episodes. I can’t say I was particularly sad to see that emo lock of Peter’s hair fall to the floor, though. Dude seriously needed a haircut.
And for all that excitement, the thing that thrilled me the most about this ep was that super-long (as far as Heroes is concerned) scene between Nathan and Linderman. Behold, he was finally revealed as…Malcolm McDowell. An inspired choice, I say. The man can play powerful, the man can play scary — from Alex in A Clockwork Orange to Ari’s boss on Entourage. And maybe it’s because I’m going through some changes right now, but I found the following piece of dialogue one of the most interesting and insightful on the show yet.
Linderman: ”There come a time when a man has to ask himself whether he wants a life of happiness or a life of meaning.”
Nathan: ”I’d like to have both.”
Linderman: ”Can’t be done. Two very different paths. To be truly happy, a man must live absolutely in the present, no thought of what’s gone before and no thought of what lies ahead. But a life with meaning, a man is condemned to wallow in the past and obsess about the future.”
And maybe it’s because I spent three years of college in Washington, D.C., but the following lines also sent a chill of excitement up my spine.
Linderman: ”I can offer you more than just information, Nathan. You’re going to win your election, I’ll see to that. And two years from now, through a series of fluke circumstances, you’ll find yourself in the White House, a heartbeat away from the presidency. A life of meaning, Nathan. Think about it. The choice is yours.”
Um, awesome? Nathan? In the White House? That line there (reminiscent of Brian K. Vaughn’s fantastic Ex Machina comics, about a former superhero who becomes mayor of New York City) was one of the first indications to me that the show might actually branch off in some interesting, unexpected directions in future seasons. I know he’s going to be a congressman, but as the show progresses, if the existence of these heroes get out, it’d be fascinating to have one of them in a higher level of government than just being one of 435 people in the House of Representatives.
A question remains, though: How does Linderman know this? Does he know this? Is he screwing around with Nathan, taking advantage of Nathan’s power lust? (If that’s the case, it was well played, because Nathan folded easily.) Why does he have all of Isaac’s paintings? He has to be in charge of the Company, the organization running this whole conspiracy, right?
So much covered, yet so much left out. Was that Isaac, headless, in his final painting? What’s the deal with Mrs. Petrilli? Does she — like apparently all the older people on the show — know much more than we thought? Has she known about her sons the whole time? Also, Ando? Seriously? Out of nowhere? A stretch, to say the least.
A lot to ponder. Be well until April 24.