Tuesday, February 27, 2007

"I'm not gonna nuke the dog!": Heroes



Heroes had what was easily its best hour ever last night, with "Company Man". I can think of a few reasons why the episode was so good. First, it focused on just the one situation, with only three regulars (Claire, HRG and Matt) involved, which means we didn't have to suffer through any boring satellite stories involving some of the less interesting characters (*cough*Mohinder/Niki*cough*). Second, it had a hell of a story, alternating between Matt and nuclear-man Ted taking the Bennett family hostage and flashbacks to HRG's life in his mysterious company, including a partnership with Claude and chatting in Japanese with George Takei. Third, it shed light on questions fans have been asking--not enough to give the whole game away, but there was a nice amount of answers here. And it just struck the right balances--high tension, cool use of everyone's powers, family drama--and it never really dragged. It's not like the episode was a masterpiece, but it's definitely the pinnacle of the jazzy, pulpy entertainment Heroes has been gunning for since it started.

Let's start off with the flashbacks--nicely spaced out, swish-looking in black and white, and featuring Eric Roberts, who adds to the genre cache Heroes has been seeking from its special guest stars (he's no Chris Eccleston or George Takei, but he was the Master in Doctor Who once!). Probably the biggest revelation here was that Hiro's dad is involved, if not spearheading, the hero-tracking organization (if so, did he cotton on that Hiro has superpowers from his ranting when they met the other week?). But the idea of the hero/normal pair and Claude's comradeship with HRG was a cool one--I had assumed HRG has captured Claude, but this is way more interesting. Plus, Claude got to use his powers properly for the first time, gathering information by being all invisible. The flashbacks, of course, framed the central theme of the episode, HRG's evolution as a father, from nervous at the very idea of children 15 years ago to putting his life on the line to protect Claire today. Not spectacularly original, but Jack Coleman did a great job, capitalizing on what he's been doing so well all season, and it was great to see it pay off for him here. I just hope having his memory wiped is only a temporary setback for HRG, because losing him altogether would be a disaster for the show.

In the present day situation, the idea of putting Ted Sprague in a hostage situation was great, seeing as he is a ticking time bomb, both emotionally and physically. I knew he wasn't going to go completely nuclear yet (Peter still has to leech his powers) but the semi-atomic show he put on was great anyway, especially the resolution with the crazy makeup/effects work on Claire. It's worrying, the amount of punishment they dish out on her. Even Parkman, a character I have reservations about (played by an actor I love), was well-utilized, his powers coming quite in handy in the hostile situation. Also, the resolution was something I'd been hoping on for ages--Claire leaving Odessa and hopefully getting more in the mix with the other Heroes (i.e. going to New York). Her standalone stuff has been the best of the show, but it's definitely time to move on for her.

The final flashback scene, where HRG got his glasses, was a nice cherry on top of a great episode--just the right kind of geeky and self-referential, but still honestly touching (although HRG sure did wait a while to let Claire know she was adopted). One more new ep next week, and then no Heroes for a while, so let's hope it's as much of a doozy as this one was.

6 comments:

Todd VanDerWerff said...

When I finished this (which also had an unfortunate gap in the middle), I was physically angered that you got to review this and I had to do 24 (which is getting harder and harder to write anything substantive about -- until I started doing it week-by-week, I never realized how much it relies on a formula and the occasional jolt).

The episode was so far above and beyond the normal Heroes (a series of which I'm a casual fan) that I hope they study what made this work. A lot of it can be credited to Bryan Fuller (who created Dead Like Me and Wonderfalls and has the excellent pilot script Pushing Daisies set up at ABC). Fuller has always seemed to me to be another Whedon or Abrams -- someone who can get at emotional truths through genre trappings -- and it's a shame he's never taken off.

And you didn't mention the ending? Oh the ending. . .

Jack Coleman for the Emmy! And he's a regular, so he's not going anywhere.

David Sims said...

It seems they may pair HRG with Matt, which would be awesome if they do. Because it'd give Matt something to do. And yeah, Coleman for the Emmy, over Oka.

Todd VanDerWerff said...

Oka's a fine actor, but that's a case of the character being so strong that it would have been great played by many, many actors -- especially since he was so joyful and such a contrast to the drab goings-on in the first five or six episodes.

Coleman has taken what should have been a very cliched and underwritten role and made it his. It's the actor making the character stronger, not the other way around.

David Sims said...

Definitely. I'm with you on that, pardner.

Brad said...

"Watching television is like taking black spray paint to your third eye" - Bill Hicks

Todd VanDerWerff said...

Brad: Thanks?