Tuesday, May 22, 2007

"You look badass.": Heroes

Sigh. After weeks of terrific buildup, Heroes ended with a real whimper yesterday, despite some very cool moments. Maybe it was the overabundance of sappiness writer/creator Tim Kring loaded the dialogue with; maybe it was that they just didn't have the budget to render Peter vs. Sylar properly; maybe it was just a case of too much hype. Whatever. "How to Stop an Exploding Man" wasn't an absolute DISASTER--it just kinda left me wondering if that really was it. Let's take this one at a time, as usual.

OK, so, the biggest problem: the Sylar/Peter showdown. Not just because Sylar has been continually built up as this golden terror throughout the season (I mean, he was originally intended to be killed here, right? I assume he's not dead from the final shot and the rumors we've all heard, but if that was the sendoff they were planning, oof), but also because of the "PETER, THOU ART THE WORLD'S HERO" stuff here. Now, Richard Roundtree's a cool guy, and he could sell me a box of mint thins any day, but no one could deliver the liquid crap that was his speech to Peter in that weird fever dream. Reeked of Kring trying to find a 'full circle' thing for every one of his characters with one of the oddest retcons ever. Weird. Anyway, here's why I think the big showdown didn't work: um, Sylar's powers! Seriously, over the course of the season, what powers has he stolen from people? Jayma Mays' photographic memory, Rusty Schwimmer's super-hearing, Isaac's precognition, Ethan Cohn's....toaster-melting? Even Ted's radiation didn't really seem controllable. So that leaves Sylar with...yep, telekinesis. Which is all he used, and he didn't even use it that well. Basically, he's a victim of both his own hype, which made him out to be an unstoppable power-mad killing machine, and what I can assume was the writers' fear to waste terrific powers on one-shot victims of Sylar's razor finger. Oh well. To be honest, Peter was no better, and he has way cooler powers at his disposal! It ended up with Sylar tossing Pete around for a bit, then Peter...smacking Sylar around with his newly-acquired-from-Niki super-strength, then Hiro racing in to stab Sylar and promptly vanishing.

About Hiro--his little "hello goodbye!" stabbing act was literally THE. LAMEST. HERO. MOMENT. EVER. My mind boggled at how all of George Takei's awesome samurai crap last week led up to Hiro learning that...the pointy end of his sword goes into Sylar's chest. Yeah, we already got that from Isaac's comic book, thanks. Jeez. Rather than having his big fight, Hiro instead got to lead off next season (or should I say "volume") with his little time-travel act back to feudal Japan. Seems, by the sight of the eclipse right at the end and the funky tattoo on the samurai flags, that this is around when all the hero stuff really started up, so I guess Tim Kring is going to explore the mythology behind the powers next year. Which...could go either way, I guess. It's risky. I think (as does Todd) that Heroes may well end up suffering from the classic "second season sucks!" fan malaise that afflict many a genre show. Side-note: one of the best moments in this ep was right at the end with Hiro's subtitled swear word, "@#$!" or whatever. Classic little wink to kid-friendly superhero comics there.

What else, what else. Plenty of almost-deaths this ep, none of which I think will actually be followed through on next season. Simply for the reason that if they wanted to whack a regular, they would have made a slightly bigger deal about it. Nonetheless, I'm gonna say that if they're gonna kill anyone (and seriously, I'm pretty sure everyone's gonna make it), it'll be Parkman, cause he DID take four bullets to the chest. He deserved it too! "I'm gonna kill Sylar, he's the bad guy and I'm the cop"--where you been for the last season, mate? HE'S GOT BLOODY SUPERPOWERS! Honestly. D.L. was such a non-entity the whole ep, but since they sort of tied him into Niki and Micah so much, I assume he won't be gone, and as for Nathan and Peter, who exploded up in the stratosphere--IF THERE'S NO BODY, THEY AIN'T DEAD! Another side-note: Sepinwall complained that Peter should have just flown off himself, given that he's got the power, but I believed that he was spending all his concentration on trying to not explode, and he's never been shown using two powers before (or being particularly proficient with all the powers in general), so that didn't bother me.

The rest of the storylines here were quite boring, to the point of insignificance almost. Mohinder appointed himself guardian of person-tracker Molly, while Molly made an ominous reference to someone she couldn't herself track because he "looked back" at her when she did. Probably their main season 2 villain there. Nathan's mother, it turns out, was no shapeshifter--she really is that intense, and seemed to believe in Linderman's plan that much. Which is fine, but we didn't really get a resolution on that one. HRG got a name, a good one too (Noah), but he and Claire just sorta stood around most of the ep. Oh, and apparently literally nobody lives in New York. Peter took a nap on a road without any cars troubling him, and the Sylar/Peter showdown happened in full view of...absolutely nobody. City that never sleeps, my ass!

OK, I think I'm done. It is too bad that Heroes couldn't end with a bang (I don't even know if that's a pun or not), but I certainly won't be giving up on it anytime soon. Here's hoping that next season, with the new characters and arcs that come with any new season, maintains the "excitement and plot first" ethos that this season mostly stuck to. I mean, even though Heroes, as many critics will tell you, is no masterpiece, it was definitely one of the more consistently enjoyable shows on TV this year. Until September! Excelsior!


Todd VanDerWerff said...

I think you should start calling everyone who reads your posts "True believers."

Anyway. . .yeah. . .that was boring.

And interesting how things have sped up. The second seasons of Buffy and X-Files were unquestionably the ones when those shows got their buzz up and running.

Filipe said...

I do think it's funny that everyone is calling Nathan flying Peter a lame plothole while the whole "Peter will blow up NY" plot is going on through half season and almost nobody suggested that Peter could simply fly himself out of there.

My own take on the finale was that the pacing was a little off and everything with Sylar (but the Ando scene) flopped, but the non-Sylar stuff was mostly pretty good. Far from a great finale, but better than some people are claiming.

Jason Mittell said...

I agree with the laments - I watched the episode thinking that the show lost all the ground it had built over the last 1/2 of the season. But if you look at the season as a whole, by far the worst episodes were the ones written by Kring - on-the-nose dialog, underwhelming suspense, and lame attempts at sentimentality. Has a show runner ever have been worse at writing his own show? Stick to running, let the good writers write the dialog...

David Sims said...

I gotta agree Jason. The pilot is really quite dreary, and 'Godsend' (the first ep back after the first break) is basically a snooze-fest. Also, I bet the show will lose one of its best writers next season (Bryan Fuller, who's got Pushing Daisies over at ABC), which isn't good.