While Claire battles the head cheerleader, her father threatens his old mentor with brainwashing, then shoots him instead; plus, Mohinder and Hiro waffle
Credit: Mitchell Haaseth

Heroes (TV series)

”Heroes” recap: H.R.G.’s bad side

”To bring down this company, sometimes we have to do bad things.” That’s what H.R.G. told Suresh when the waffly doctor was on the fence about injecting something awful into Monica (better known as Marvel Comics’ Taskmaster, but, you know, with nicer skin). I’m starting to feel similarly about this show. To save Heroes, they just might have to do some bad things.

First on my list: kill Mohinder Suresh. Not only does he no longer serve a real purpose; he doesn’t even act like a real character. In the span of a single episode, he went from being a semi-faithful company lapdog to a rebel without a syringe to a slightly more cautious lapdog. And why didn’t he leave Bob’s slimy clutches? Because Molly was still recovering from Papa Parkman’s crazy brain drain. But if the Company isn’t getting her better, then why can’t Suresh take her out of there? She was just as unconscious on his couch. Why? Because the story needs Suresh to be there. That’s the worst kind of storytelling, when you force a character to betray himself to obey the dictates of plot. And once a character does that, he’s useless.

Don’t get me wrong; I thought this week’s episode was an improvement over the last couple. Not a thing of beauty (and definitely not a joy forever), but better. Still, there are some story lines that need to be either fed some Miracle-Gro or pruned entirely. To wit: Sylar. Why is he on the show this year? What has he added to the mix besides familiarity? Part of what made the first season work so well is that we weren’t sure who was on whose side. Who were the bad guys? Well, we know that Sylar’s one of the mustache twirlers. We know that everything he does comes from a place of malice. Oh, and just in case you didn’t know, he’s going to tell you, every chance he gets. Like in that bit toward the end, just after Alejandro threw him a beating: Sylar made a point of standing there and telling a character who doesn’t speak English what he’s going to do to him. Which means he’s just telling us what he’s going to do. As if we didn’t know.

(Honestly, the less said about the Abject-Lack-of-Wonder Twins the better. Except for this: If these twins are as close as we’ve been led to believe, how come only Maya knows English — and absolutely perfect English at that? Where was her brother while she was getting lessons? And why didn’t she share those lessons with him? Because Mr. Menudo’s gonna buy la granja.)

While I think the new Claire business is like watching very pretty paint dry (didn’t we do the horrific-cheerleader plotline last year?), at least her new beau is starting to give some clues as to which way he wears his power. Especially when he drops lines like ”You’ve got a power — by definition, you’re better than she is” and ”I can fly. That pretty much makes parental guidance a non-issue.” If only there were a character like Erik Lehnsherr — X-Men’s Magneto — for some of these on-the-fencers to rally behind. Come to think of it, there’s no one with that force of personality anywhere to be found on this show — especially after they killed off Hiro’s pops. Why not? Why do we have to suffer through another drawn-out ”look, everyone has to find each other so they can fight some big evil” story when we’ve already been through that chapter of the comic book that is Heroes? Don’t the producers know that the second act of any team comic is when the team — already assembled — falls apart? Or did they not read that far ahead?

NEXT: Hiro’s bitty little battle

Sorry. Excuse me while I collect myself.

As for Hiro and Kensei: This is a show that usually handles the small, intimate moments of superherodom pretty well. And when we finally saw where Hiro’s plot was going to take us — his devotion led to betrayal, which in turn set Kensei on the path to evil — that stuff was executed perfectly. Mostly. Since they finally paid off that meandering air ball of a plot, I’ll forgive them the fact that whenever Heroes should deliver on the big comic-booky splashes, the show just fails miserably (e.g.: the finale of last season, which ought to have been a clash of the titans but, instead, was a glorified fistfight). And here we are in feudal Japan, with Hiro and Kensei facing off against what looked like an army. It should’ve been the kind of epic battle that would give us the action release we’ve been waiting for these past five weeks. Instead, it was just a couple of guys ducking through a costume-y row of tents. (It was great, though, to see Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, even for just a minute, as Yaeko’s father.)

Gotta tell you, I dug H.R.G.’s return to the gray zone. Going all the way to the Ukraine may be a very extreme version of ”getting off your ass,” but I’m glad he did it. Watching him and his sidekick go to work on Bennett’s old mentor was a nice reminder of what H.R.G. is all about: blind pursuit of his objective, no matter what gets in the way. (And you know that, somewhere, Jack Bauer said to himself, ”That selective memory erasure is the single greatest advance in interrogation since the ol’ hammer to the kneecap.”) His whole quest for the Paintings of Fate seems to have petered out a bit. He’s got ’em and doesn’t know what to do with them. Wanna bet that, in five episodes, they won’t matter in the least?

And, finally, something to be afraid of. A viral holocaust in New York City, Heroes‘ favorite punching bag. (Couldn’t have been D.C.? Boston? How about L.A.?) And is that virus the same one Bob wanted injected into Monica? At least there’s something on the horizon, something that might be avoided with a modicum of timely superheroic intervention.

What did you think? Is Monica really dumb enough to hop in a car with Suresh, who she doesn’t know from Adam? Speaking of Adam, who is this Adam Monroe, and how does he know Peter? Could Kensei be Claire’s great-uncle? And would it break your heart if you never see Kristen Bell’s Miss Shocktober again?

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