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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Tonight’s episode began not with the resolution to the cliffhanger but, rather, with Nathan making a phone call to…who? At first, I thought, “Oh, it’s Mama,” but, no, that would’ve been too obvious. And we knew it wasn’t Tracy, since she was on the plane. Then I had a crazy thought: maybe it’s Papa, already back from the dead. It wasn’t, of course: it actually was Mama. But, hey, a Robert Forster fan can dream, can’t he?
The post-crash sequence quickly showed that last week’s cliffhanger was a big waste of everyone’s time, as every single hero got out alive, but once the gang got on the run, it looked like things were going to get very interesting very quickly, especially when Matt went all white-eyed. But, suddenly, the jets flew over and bombed the shit out of the crashed plane, and I groaned. Really, “Heroes” writers? You think having a couple of big, loud jets flying by and dropping bombs is somehow going to draw attention away from the plane crash that happened a few minutes before…? And my groaning turned into moaning with the funny-for-all-the-wrong-reasons scene of tranced-up Matt busting into a trailer just to hunt down paper and a writing utensil. Fortunately, Ando was there to provide a couple of legitimate laughs, most notably at an airline operator’s lack of knowledge about the whereabouts of the state of Arkansas.
It was a shame to see Daphne get shot down, though I was disappointed that we didn’t get to see a great deal of Matt’s emotional reaction beyond his turning the soldiers against themselves. I’m sure, however, that we’ll see him start to grow darker with his power usage in upcoming weeks as he extracts his revenge.
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Welcome back, kids, to one of the most bashed series currently on television…and that’s by people who used to consider themselves fans of the show. Now, clearly, if you’ve been a regular reader of this blog, you know that, although I’ve been here from the very beginning of the “Heroes” saga and plan to hang on ’til the bitter end, I’ve had my problems with the show. Clearly, Tim Kring and the gang can’t please all of the people all of the time, but even I can admit that Season 3 started off looking like it was going to blow the disappointment of Season 2 out of the water and only ended up having its own share of problems. Worst of all, the first half of the third season, “Villains,” came to an end with the death of one of the series’ one interesting new characters: Papa Petrelli, played by the ever-awesome Robert Forster. (The only consolation is that, well, we thought the character of Papa was dead throughout the first two seasons, so there’s every reason to believe that they’ll find a way to bring him back to life yet again.)
Tonight, we were presented with the beginning of the second half of Season 3, which has been given the subtitle of “Fugitives.” How was it, you ask…?
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I can’t believe I’m saying this, but…tonight’s episode of “Heroes” was really good.
I’m not even going to limit my praise to calling it the best episode of the season (although it was), because it deserves more love than that; it was legitimately enjoyable across the board, with only a few moments which gave me pause.
Hiro and Ando: Clearly, we knew Hiro hadn’t really killed Ando, but doing a flashback which showed Hiro visiting a joke shop was pretty funny. As aware as Papa Petrelli and his secret society of super villains are, it wouldn’t take them long to figure out that Ando isn’t really dead, but since Ando doesn’t have super powers, then the only person who’d really care about it one way or the other is Knox, and his ability isn’t one that lends itself to him finding out the truth. It was a nice touch that, when Daphne left, Ando pointedly released the breath he’d been holding. Why was it so nice? Because it showed that someone behind the scenes at “Heroes” finally realized, “Hey, the fans are actually noticing stuff, so we’d better start covering our asses a little better.” If Ando hadn’t released that breath, someone would’ve said, “Didn’t Daphne notice he was still breathing?”
When Hiro and Ando tried to catch Usutu the precog in Africa, it was a little bit like watching Austin Millbarge and Emmett Fitz-Hume at work, but, c’mon, who didn’t laugh out loud at the caption of “One minute before Hiro got hit”? The sequence was funny, but the writers actually had fun with the notion of Hiro going back in time…and, again, I have to think that was in response to all the moaning about FuturePeter not choosing a better time to go back in time to change the past. If I didn’t love Usutu already, watching him smack Hiro over the head with the shovel would’ve cinched the deal. His otherwise Zen-like manner makes him my favorite new character of the season, so it should be interesting to see how things go when the villains attempt to make him for them.
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