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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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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I know I made this comment at the tail end of last week’s blog, but after watching the “previously on” segment at the beginning of this week’s episode, I found myself saying to myself yet again, “Thank God we’re back to just one hour of ‘Heroes’ this week.” After this week, though, it seems that the producers are trying to pack that much storytelling into every episode this season. This is going to be a very exhausting year…
The evilest Petrelli – I’m referring to Sylar, of course – is on the slab and still trying to reconcile himself with this new information about his parentage. Enter Bridget, with her awesome ability to see the history of anything she touches, and…whoops! Bye-bye, Bridget! The relationship between Mama Petrelli and her little Gabriel is a little creepy, but whether it’s true that she’s Sylar’s mother or not, he clearly believes in the possibility enough to be off-balance. Advantage: Mama.
I’m really enjoying the way HRG is playing both sides of the fence, serving as Mama Petrelli’s right-hand man even though he’s clearly got his own agenda. Granted, you know she knows he’s got his own agenda…just as surely as she knows how he’s going to react when she tells him who his new partner is. But she knows she’s got HRG over a barrel, and when he’s presented with the choice to team up with Sylar or let the psychotic run amuck without supervision, his options are limited. And, thus, Sylar puts on a spiffy new suit and enters society. Nice line from Sylar about whether or not Mama is playing them: “Maybe…but aren’t you curious to see how it all plays out?” It looks promising for a few minutes or so, with Sylar taking on the role of authority figure with ease, but despite his success at getting free coffee, things ultimately played out about like I expected they would, with Sylar succumbing to his dark urges, with the only surprise being that HRG seemed legitimately horrified about it. (I figured he’d just shrug and say, “I knew this was gonna happen.”)
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