Heroes 3.25 – Lives Come Together, They Fade Apart

Here are now, at the finale of another season of “Heroes.” Entertain us…or, at the very least, leave us happy ’til the beginning of the next season, right? With the return of Bryan Fuller to the fold, the show has been working its way slowly but surely out of the creative doledrums in which it had found itself, but does anyone even care anymore?

It’s a fair question, particularly when you look back at how few people are commenting on this blog nowadays. Once upon a time, we actually used to get a discussion going about the episode of the week, but if you look back over the course of the past several weeks, we’ve been averaging no more than 2 or 3 comments per ep, with one week receiving absolutely no comments! I figured Fuller’s return would kickstart the blog, but has it really reached a point where even the return of one of the show’s seminal writers (if, indeed, a show only in its third season can be said to have such a thing) can’t stir much in the way of conversation? I’m not even taking it personally anymore. I’m really just surprised.

Frankly, I feel like the show’s been relatively strong in recent weeks. Are there really so few people who feel the same way?

Last week ended with Zeljko looking darned surprised about Sylar surviving a knife blade to the back of the skull, but given the amount of shapeshifting Sylar had been doing, I wasn’t terribly shocked. Since he’s now able to move his size and shape around in a rather dramatic fashion, I figured his Achilles’ heel might not be where we last left it. I was, however, wondering whether we’d see Sylar slaughter Zeljko immediately or if he’d toy with him for awhile first. Nice touch, taking on his form to discredit him, ruin his reputation, and get him thrown into prison with…HRG?

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Heroes 3.23 – It’s Like 1961 All Over Again

Now this felt like a comic book.

I know I’ve said that before about episodes of “Heroes,” but those who frequent this blog on a regular basis are hopefully aware that I don’t say it very often. Unfortunately, in the grand scheme of things, that’s not really a good thing, since, y’know, this is a show about people with superhuman abilities. As such, you’d like to think that just about every episode would feel more or less like a comic book…but they don’t.

Shall we once again chalk this up to the return of Bryan Fuller?

Oh, what the hell. We might as well, right? I mean, after all, it might’ve been written by Aron Eli Coleite, but Fuller’s influence is all over this episode, from the flashback structure to the use of one of his regular players: Diana Scarwid, who was a regular on “Wonderfalls” (Karen Tyler) and popped up on “Pushing Daisies” on more than a few occasions as well (as Mother Mary Mary Superior).

Last week ended with the Petrelli family literally digging up skeletons from Mama’s past as they scoured the now-desolate area known as Coyote Flats. Why? To find Mama’s long lost sister, Alice. So let’s cue up the flashbacks and drop into black and white mode, shall we?

It was cool to see some well-established characters in their younger years: Charles Deveaux, Daniel Linderman, Bob(by) Bishop, and, of course, Mohinder’s pops. The references to the Nazis – specifically, Mengele – and the Jews were almost inevitable. It’s focusing on a camp filled with people who have been deemed different in some way, and it’s filmed in black and white. Even people who’ve never seen “Schindler’s List” were thinking of that movie from the moment the color faded away…and, somehow, I can’t imagine the comparison wasn’t completely and totally intentional. There were several nice uses of music in this episode, with Santo and Johnny’s “Sleepwalk” definitely being among the highlights, but my personal favorite moment was the transition between the last 1961 flashback sequence and the present, with Roy Orbison’s original version of “Crying” segueing seamlessly into k.d. lang’s cover. That was some sweet, sweet stuff right there, my friends.

The only problem with the flashback sequences being so good, however, was that the present-day bits needed to be exciting enough that you didn’t keep thinking, “Geez, I wish they’d flip back to 1961 already!” The storm surges served that purpose nicely, since we weren’t entirely sure if indeed Alice was still alive or not. I certainly didn’t think she was controlling the winds from beyond the grave or anything, but I wasn’t sure how they were going to handle it.

As it turned out, she ended up looking suspiciously like the Cat Lady from “The Simpsons,” but I didn’t think about the point of comparison until afterwards. While I was actually watching the episode, I was far more focused on the interaction between Scarwid and Cristine Rose, which was a lot of fun to watch. Wow, so Mama Petrelli lied to her sister outright. Yeah, that’s a pretty big secret to carry with you for that many years, though it had to at least be a little bit of a load off to learn that Alice was actually still alive, what with having believed her dead for 48 years. I dare say we haven’t seen the last of her in the “Heroes” saga.

All told, a very, very solid episode for those who enjoy a well-told bit of back story…and since I count myself among that number, you may color me pleased. The last few moments, however, definitely left me chomping at the bit for next week. Clearly, the future isn’t going to turn out exactly as it was foretold in previous episodes, but with Sylar doing his best Nathan impression, there are definitely some seriously dark clouds on the horizon.

In closing, don’t forget to check out my interview with Greg Grunberg over at Bullz-Eye, part of our latest TV Power Rankings festivities.

  

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Heroes 3.22 – Here I Stand and Face the Strange

Tonight’s “Heroes” was one of intertwined stories bound with ridiculous coincidences and total mindfucks…which is to say that there was tension to be had, but there were also a couple of moments where the Plot Police should have been called in to charge the writers with including events which were just waaaaaaayyyyyyy too convenient.

Between Zeljko and Sylar, it was clear from early on that HRG’s mind was going to seriously played with tonight, but as I observed last week, HRG’s been around the block way too many times with Sylar to just accept his death as a given without checking into it a bit…and, of course, it didn’t take long before he’d confirmed that, indeed, the body that looked like Sylar actually wasn’t Sylar. What he didn’t realize at that point, however, was that he’d already had an encounter with the now-shapeshifting villain. When Sandra first turned up, my first thought was that it was Sylar pretending to be her…until it turned into the tale of two Zeljkos.

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Heroes 3.21 – A Little More Conversation, A Little Less Action

So Peter saved his mother last week not so much because he loves her but because he wants answers, but the sequences with he and Mama Petrelli initially seemed designed solely for longtime fans who’ve been complaining about a lack of character development…and, indeed, it’s fair to say that’s what both of the Petrelli-centric storylines were tonight. Once the government agents arrived at the church, we were taken a little bit further into Mama’s past, making her seem more human than she ever has before. (HRG’s sigh before giving the fake all-clear sign to his men was awesome, by the way.) Still, in the end, we spent a whole lot of time watching Peter and Mama doing very, very little. As for Nathan and Claire, I can’t say I’ve ever heard of Patzcuaro, Mexico, but you have to respect any city where the hotel clerks are familiar with the old “unless you’re paying hourly” joke. How is it that Nathan didn’t think to get a stockpile of cash before heading off to Mexico? Maybe he didn’t think his plan through very well…or, more likely, the writers came up with the idea of a tequila-drinking contest and had to figure out how to make it come to fruition. I’m sure all the ladies in the “Heroes” viewing audience enjoyed seeing him dressed semi-spiffy and sporting a couple of days worth of stubble, and all the guys blew a blood vessel when Claire whipped off her shirt to take her dad’s spot in the game. Win-win, right? I admit that Nathan’s drunken confession to Claire helped make him seem a little more fatherly, but Claire’s “Superman” speech before her teary departure the next morning was too melodramatic for my tastes.

The use of Del Shannon’s “Runaway” tonight was inspired, with Sylar popping up in the back seat so abruptly. The tension between HRG and Zeljko was palpable this episode once Sylar turned up, but none were better than Zeljko’s reference to “the big book of letting (Sylar) slip through your fingers.” It didn’t occur to me that Sylar had been the one who offered up the Puppet Master, nor did I entirely imagine a scenario where Sylar would team up with Zeljko. The idea of having a head in a box hasn’t had the same impact since we imagined Brad Pitt got that very special package from Kevin Spacey in “Se7en,” but it was still a pleasantly macabre way of allowing Sylar to offer intel to Zeljko. The shapeshifter special effects probably didn’t break the bank, but they were delivered cleverly enough. The reveal that the shapeshifter had decided to take on Zeljko’s appearance was fantastic. Just when you think Zachary Quinto isn’t capable of looking any more evil or crazed, he surprises you, as he did with the look he offered up when Zeljko asked him if there was any way to take the shapeshifter’s abilities without leaving his traditional forehead slice.

So we close on The Animals’ “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place,” with HRG almost certainly not believing that Sylar’s really dead, Nathan and Claire are homeward bound, and Mama’s taking Peter to meet…his sister? Fair enough. But let’s hope there’s a little more action next week, huh? I’m all for character development, but for the most part, this week’s episode really dragged ass.

  

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Heroes 3.20 – Welcome Back, Bryan

Cue up the John Sebastian, people, ’cause it’s time to formally offer a hearty “welcome back” to Bryan Fuller. Tonight’s episode is the first time we’ve seen the man’s name in the writing credits since the glory days of “Heroes,” i.e. Season 1, and although his return comes at the expense of “Pushing Daisies,” you have to respect the guy for trying to do his part of save the series that he helped to make. And, yeah, I know, it’s not like he created the show, but given how many times Fuller’s “Company Man” has been held up as the series’ definitive episode, you can’t deny that his contributions helped make “Heroes” appointment television during the 2007 – 2008 TV season.

It was clear from the opening sequence, with Zeljko literally being handed a gift-wrapped Puppet Master, that we were finally going to get something we hadn’t seen in forever: a “Heroes” episode that actually felt like it was taken from a comic book. You wouldn’t think it’d be so hard to accomplish that in a show about people with superhuman abilities…and, apparently, it isn’t hard for Fuller, since he’s proven time and time again that he can manage it. Watching Zeljko turn the tables on Mohinder was awesome (“Why did you bring me here?” “I thought it’d be a whole lot easier than carrying you.”), and his typically tense conversations with HRG were typically solid, as was the HRG / Mama Petrelli chat at the beginning.

I don’t think there was anything that came out of Hiro’s mouth tonight that wasn’t genius, whether it was his addressing of Matt Parkman, Jr. (“Baby Matt Parkman, we will save you; if you understand, shake rattle once for ‘yes’ and twice for ‘no'”), his using a “Star Trek: The Next Generation” episode to rationalize how a de-aging process might’ve occurred and offering up a “Wrath of Khan” reference (“Life from lifelessness!”), or his asking Ando, “What are we saving the baby from? Lead-based toys?” I thought it was a great touch that, despite the TV being turned on and off repeatedly, Hiro and Ando still never once noticed that it was actually the baby’s daddy on the screen. The sequence where Hiro finally addressed having witnessed his mother’s death in the past and had an emotional bonding moment with Ando was unexpectedly effective (sometimes you forget that those guys can work together in drama as well as comedy), but then it was back to the comedy with the “E.T.” homage. And once the men in black busted in to take Li’l Parkman and Matt’s ex into custody…words fail me. Hiro’s powers are back! Thank you, Toddler Touch and Go! Except they’re not entirely, which means he can stop time again but still can’t teleport. Oh, well, so the kid’s not perfect. Anyone else do a spit take when Hiro rolled Ando out in a wheelbarrow?

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