The much-anticipated eclipse has arrived and wiped out everyone's special abilities, but it may give some of them a chance for more depth (Peter, Nathan), while muddying the waters for others (Elle)
Credit: Chris Haston/NBC

Heroes (TV series)

‘Heroes’ recap: And so it begins

So, I’ve got a question — well, in truth, I’ve got plenty, but we’ll just start with this one: How come everyone who can see the future is also an amazing artist? Are the mad drawing skillz a side effect of ”the vision”? Because, given that professional-level penciling ability is rather rare, most people would produce drawings that would elicit a ”Is that an eclipse?or a flower?” I’m just saying.

And so we come to the Episode After Which Nothing Will Be The Same Ever Again?Until Such Time When We Decide It Will, In Fact, Return to Sameness. The moon was slipping in front of the sun, and that was important. No one was sure why, of course. Not Flaky Mohinder, who seemed to be the only guy who realized that an eclipse was hanging in the sky when everyone in the current Heroes generation got their powers — but didn’t draw the inevitable conclusion. At least not until after he emerged from his slooge cocoon. (And, seriously, how did he get up into that ”hanging on the wall” position?)

The upshot of the eclipse was that it caused everyone to lose their powers. Kaput. All that was left was people making silly motions that didn’t have any special effects attending them. I realized something watching this show in which no one was ”special”: that I can’t describe any character on the show in any depth without referencing what his or her power is. With the exception of Noah and Mohinder, none of the characters have character. Taken another way: If I asked you to describe Buffy Summers, you could make a list of things that don’t involve her being preternaturally strong and fast. Brave. Insecure. Self-loathing. Funny. Overwhelmed. Solitary. Loyal. Passionate. Headstrong. Dedicated. Stylish. Sexual.

Okay, maybe that’s not fair, using one of the most robust characters of the 20th century as a comparison. But try and describe Nathan — without using the words ”politician” or ”fly” — and see how deep you get. Try that with any of the Heroes roster. See what I mean. Almost everyone is a placeholder, a cipher for something real that doesn’t exist.

And I think the writers sorta realized that this episode. Otherwise, why was everyone arguing with each other? Why, in the middle of their mission to retrieve the Haitian from Haiti, did Peter and Nathan decide that was the time to air their family grievances? (Know what? I’ve been to Haiti. And you, forest somewhere in the Hollywood Hills, are not Haiti.) Why, in the middle of laying low in a house that couldn’t be more than ten minutes from their own, did Claire choose to lay into Noah about his absentee fatherism while getting a crash course on beating up Roman columns? Why the sudden cases of uncontrollable honesty?

Because maybe the writers thought that the only way to make these people interesting was to have them get more emotional than Spock during pon farr. (Yeah, I went there. How you like me now?)

NEXT: The deconstruction of Elle

So, besides the eclipse, what happened this week? (And we won’t mention that eclipses rarely last longer than seven minutes, never longer than 10, and mega-never as long as 45 minutes. Or that the half-light that everything was shot in just made this episode tough to see.)

Parkman and Daphne had a fight and she ran home to daddy. Parkman followed — I’m not going to say how, because I’ve made it my Thanksgiving resolution to not say his name until he’s not 10 years old anymore — and declared his love. Then, he learned that before Daphne got her powers, her legs were all but useless.

Tracy was funneling information on Nathan to Arthur, in exchange for guaranteeing her place in Nathan’s eventual presidential administration. And Tracy’s betrayal led to Nathan’s kidnapping in Haiti. (By who? The Haitian’s brother, Baron Samedi — taking a week off from being a voodoo god and a Bond villain?)

Elle continued to twist Gabriel in the wind. After last week, when I thought the producers made a breakthrough with her and gave Elle both some substance and purpose, she’s now acting like a cat who’s bored with her toy. Let’s look at her history with Gabriel. First, she saved him from suicide. Then, she fell for him before pushing him over the edge into Big Badness. Last week, she tried to kill him before Gabriel forgave her and they got all touchy-feely. Now, they’re on the road together, ordered by Arthur to retrieve Claire — I guess the whole ”one of us, one of them” thing was a Company line, not a Petrelli directive — and she told a rent-a-car clerk that he’s a serial killer? Whu-huh? First, why were they renting a car and, more importantly, why would she force him into a scenario in which he’s got to decide to be the bad guy? Such inconsistency is troubling, especially when there’s been such progress.

Together, Elle and Gabriel crashed Noah and Claire’s little martial arts retreat and, without her powers, Claire got shot in the crossfire…just like Arthur foretold.

Ultimately, how was ”The Eclipse, Part I”? Hell, I don’t know anymore. Each hour is a different shade of the same; some bits are cool, others are painful. Every episode gives the impression that so much is going on, but it rarely amounts to much. And even less happened here than normal, since it’s just a part one. Heroes is what it is. If you love it, then you love it. If you hate it, then you’ve either stopped watching, or you get a certain sadistic pleasure out of watching how bad it can get. Or, if you’re like me, you can’t stop watching out of a blind hope that the next episode will be the one that gets the train back on the rails — and you don’t want to have missed it.

What did you think? Will Noah take the kill shot and rid the world of Sylar and Elle? Will He Who’s Acting Too Stupid to Be Named find salvation in a comic-book store? When will someone, finally, kill Mohinder?

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