In a ''Heroes'' episode packed with action and flashbacks, we finally learn more about the mysterious H.R.G.
Heroes, Jack Coleman
Credit: Paul Drinkwater

Heroes (TV series)

”Heroes”: Bennet’s backstory

Just when we thought we had a handle on this show, Heroes completely flipped the script on us. There’s no denying tonight’s show was pretty amazing. And it’s probably just because the writers gave us so much to chew on, but I for one was completely geeking out, in an X-Files/Lost kind of way.

It’s great to be back, ladies and gents, and I hope you didn’t give my pal Neil Drumming a hard time last week. I’m angry that Chapter 16 was the episode I had to miss (though I wasn’t passing up Mardi Gras for anything), especially after weeks of slooow — like, glacier-slow — plot development. And while there’s so much to talk about from last night’s episode, I just have to ask: Did anyone else think that the Peter/Claude flying scene last week looked especially green-screened? I’m talking original-Christopher-Reeve-Superman levels of fakery. Anyone? No? Just me?

Coincidentally (or not?), Chapter 17, ”Company Man,” aired the same night that I caught my first X-Files repeat in more than six years. And not just any X-Files repeat, but ”Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man,” the one where, in a series of flashbacks, we learn that CSM — Fox Mulder’s antagonist and maybe-father — wasn’t always the bastard we grew to hate, that he most of all wanted to be a writer of adventure novels. Much like this ep did with H.R.G. (hey, the characters even share the same lack of a proper name), ”Musings” gave us a sympathetic look at the man and an idea of from whence he came.

For much of this season, I’ve been torn between my belief that H.R.G. was a bad man and the possibility that he genuinely loved his family. And it’s been pretty much confirmed that, true to life’s complexities, he’s fully both. He’s a man who is ”comfortable with morally gray” and able to shoot a friend and partner, yet willing to risk his own life in order to shield the adopted daughter he’s grown to love but didn’t want in the first place. And for all his good there at the end, he’s a man who’s lived 15 years of his life doing ”what I’ve always done — what I’m told.” It struck me as the sort of unquestioned loyalty to one’s superior that almost always ends in lots of people dying. Say what you will about Claude, but that glimmer of integrity he displayed when he told H.R.G., ”I will not hunt my own people,” made up for all the jerk-ish things he did in the previous four episodes.

And no wonder he’s so bitter and suspicious of others. He and H.R.G. were pals before a major betrayal. That’s just one drop of a tidal wave of backstory we were given here. Hiro’s dad works for The Company (though who knows whether or not he is aware of Hiro’s power; come to think of it, I’m not even sure now that Hiro wasn’t adopted). The Devereaux building has some new significance to the whole plot (was Mr. Devereaux part of The Company?). And Eric Roberts cannot help but be cast as a skeezy bad guy. (You want to talk about genetically predisposed? That man’s craggy face is like a superpower in and of itself.) For a while there I was convinced that he was Linderman, until I saw the preview for next week — more on that later.

The first episode that eschewed the show’s crosscutting calling card and focused totally on one plotline, ”Company Man” also gave us the most extended special effects scene that the show had yet to offer, and… it was sort of a bust. Intense, yes, but cheesily filled with slow-mo shots and roars reminiscent of the worst of the Lord of the Rings films (or, for that matter, the initial scenes with the islanders in King Kong). They were almost as cheesy as the line, ”You didn’t grow inside your mother, you grew inside our hearts.” I could barely hold back the bile.

Yet, on the flip side, as hard as I tried not to let my roommates see me tear up, I couldn’t help but get a little mushy in the show’s last 10 minutes. While Heroes often reaches for the mythic and the epic, there was something genuinely stirring about H.R.G. going back to the spot where he betrayed Claude to have Claire watch the Haitian shoot him. With Eric Roberts looking to pair H.R.G. and the mind-reading Matt Parkman, Daddy Bennet had to convince his superiors that the Haitian took his daughter and erased his mind. I was actually sad, and that might be the first time that’s happened this entire season. Surely I’m not the only one, right? Anyone? No? Just me?

So what did y’all think? While we’ve learned tons more, we still don’t know why The Company is chasing down these people. Also, who else is involved in this conspiracy? And what was up with that preview for next week? Looks like we’re finally going to meet Linderman, but more importantly, is Simone really alive? Did she pull a Claire and rise from the dead? Was that just a dream? I think I might be pissed either way, as I was getting used to the idea of Simone being gone.

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Heroes (TV series)
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