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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Two full-fledged “comic book” episodes in a row? Has “Heroes” ever managed to pull that off…? If so, it’s been ages. Tonight’s installment may well have been the most successful portrayal of Sylar as a complex villain in the show’s history, revisiting the character’s established mythology in the midst of his new shapeshifting abilities and the curse they bring with them. Plus, c’mon, Clint Howard? Are you kidding me…? The show’s coolness factor just jumped exponentially.
Obviously, Sylar’s storyline has consistently been one of the strongest parts of the “Fugitives” saga, but this took it to new heights. I never would’ve guessed that the path to his mimicry of Nathan would take him on a psychological journey of such magnitude. When he questioned his identity as Agent Taub in the initial moments of the episode, it became clear that he was having some issues dealing with his transformation into other people. You don’t get much more disconcerting, however, than that sequence where he was flip-flopping back and forth from himself to his mother – once again played by Ellen Greene – in order to rationalize her death and his ongoing existence. (I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who felt the echoes of Norman Bates’ relationship with his mother in their discussions, was I?) Given that we’ve seen Sylar’s semi-soft spot with the youth of America in the past, I guess it shouldn’t have been too surprising that he was willing to give li’l Micah a pass. I don’t know how well the kid’s poignant speech will work in the long run, but, hey, it worked long enough to prolong his life for a bit, so that’ll do for now. Zeljko’s constant grumblings through the episode were highly entertaining, and you knew full well that he was eventually going to view Sylar as a loose cannon who couldn’t be controlled and needed to be taken out permanently (which he clearly must’ve known all along, anyway), but the one-two punch of the thrusting of the knife in the back of Sylar’s skull being followed up with Sylar’s brilliant episode-closing line was totally awesome.
Zachary Quinto’s performance this week was tremendous. Sometimes he takes his villainous rantings too far over the top for you to be able to take him seriously, but not this time. This was definitely a well-considered look at a complex character.
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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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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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Given what a cool ending we had to last week’s episode, things sure did start off a decidedly anticlimactic fashion. The scene between Claire, Mrs. Bennett, and the Puppet Master was a major letdown, only serving to remind us that A) things are tough all over for people with superhuman abilities, and B) evil characters get really boring really fast when they try to turn over a new leaf. Good thing they quickly moved over to the Parkman storyline, providing us with a rare opportunity to end the pre-credits sequence on a cliffhanger.
The dark humor of the dialogue between Nathan and Parkman as the latter tried to get his power working enough to defuse the bomb that’s strapped to him was great. (“Don’t touch the red wire!” “I’m not touching anything!”) I liked the fact that Zeljko managed to be suspicious – if only for a couple of minutes – about how Nathan had gotten to Parkman’s side so quickly without suffering from one of those leaps of logic that never would’ve happened in the real world. Instead, Tracy helped fill in the blanks for him by repeatedly screaming, “You’re one of us, Nathan!” Oh, sure, when push came to shove, she backpedaled, but with a guy like that, once the genie’s out of the bottle, you can’t just put him back in and think he’s going to stay there. (Given enough time, I could’ve mixed at least a couple more metaphors in that sentence, but I’m working on a deadline here.)
And, indeed, the next thing you know, HRG’s put in a position where he has to throw Mama Petrelli to the wolves, though he at least has the common decency to let her know what he’s done. Not, as it turns out, that she needed his help. (Fancy an oyster…?) The scene with Zeljko shooting a couple of holes in the window and then throwing Nathan through the compromised glass was well executed, although I thought the shot of HRG lingered too long after Zeljko said, “Tell me you didn’t know about this.” Just a quick shot of his oh-fuck-how-am-I-gonna-handle-this expression would’ve been more effective.
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