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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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.
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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