“Heroes” staves off the public impression of stringing the audience along with a regular stream of revelation, plenty of action, and a wealth of plot threads. In fact, the writers of “Heroes” are trying so hard to avoid being labeled as another “Lost” that they overlook the best qualities of their supposed rival.
First, however, I should focus on the positive. No matter how many times they return to the “unexpected future” well, it’s a lot of fun. I thought this version of the future was a little less interesting than they could have made it, with a bigger budget, but the general premise came across. In particular, I liked the argument between Future Peter and Present Peter. Present Peter is still full of hope and optimism about the human race; Future Peter is far more pragmatic.
The introduction of freely available metahuman abilities would not begin a golden age. It would amplify the basic positives and negatives within society as a whole. The virtuous would use the abilities in a controlled manner, but the criminal element would flourish with the chance to overcome traditional law enforcement. Such a future would all too easily lead to what was seen in the alternate future explored in the first season.
Unlike the first season, however, abilities are not treated as a genetic quirk, but the combined result of genetics and biochemical manipulation. Apparently several characters are going to be revealed as “altered”, given abilities by their parents or minions of the Twelve and the Company. Just as Sylar’s victory over Claire undercuts the first season arc, I think this idea undercuts the strength of the second season arc. Previously, the story was starkly generational; now, I’m not sure it works as well.
But it does begin to explain some of the divisions that threaten to emerge. Hiro’s impulsive decision to open his father’s sage, thus allowing someone to reconstruct the formula for creating metahumans, has given someone an opportunity. Mohinder’s subplot demonstrates how it can all go wrong, if the formula is not correct. Some will want abilities to proliferate; others will not. Which side is the villainous side may be hard to figure out, but that should be part of the fun.
On the other hand, wouldn’t it be a nice change of pace for the writers to develop a straightforward conflict between good and evil without the need for the “alternate future” plot device? As fun as it is to see Domesticated Sylar and Evil Hottie Claire, it does become a cliché. Do the writers think that revealing the future is the only way to make the in-between more interesting? Or, once again, are they afraid to give their fans the impression of lack of direction (despite clearly making things up as they go along)?
Two problems persist. First, there is the annoying need to make Sylar sympathetic. This actually began back in the first season when they introduced his (now adoptive) mother and tried to blame his actions on his upbringing. But ever since Sylar escaped his natural moment of death (so the writers could continue to avoid the promised Peter/Sylar clash) in the first season finale, the character has been floundering.
Now, instead of letting him remain the worst of the worst, Peter’s polar opposite, the writers have saddled Sylar with this ridiculous excuse for his villainy. Instead of simply being a dark and amoral madman, bent on accumulation of power, Sylar is suffering from a “hunger”. This makes him kill out of insatiable need, not because of a psychological disorder. And frankly, that’s just not as interesting or compelling.
Contrast Sylar with someone like Ben Linus from “Lost”. Ben is incredibly popular, not because he has been softened over time, but because his constant machinations and psychological prowess remain unmatched. He’s not an anti-hero; he’s a man consistent with his vision, which often makes him villainous in the eyes of others. In other words, he’s a fully fleshed out character with deep motivations.
I don’t see the same thing with Sylar. What I see is a desire to make his continued presence more logical by giving him the chance to evolve into something other than the damaged overpowered psychopath.
This is just bad character development, and the same is happening with Claire. By showing the Future Hottie Claire as amoral, the writers suggest that it is some extreme desire for self-defense. Does it have to be that way? Of course not, so the writers need to tread carefully to make sense of this shift. My suspicion is that Claire will try to get help from more trustworthy people, only to be ignored, forcing her to look elsewhere. I’m just not sure that process will be handled well.
The second problem is the lack of lasting consequences. The writers use death for its shock value all the time, but it only becomes a true “threat” when those deaths are permanent. How many people have come back from the dead on this show? Even accounting for the fact that Adam can’t technically die, there was no need to bring him back as well.
So far, despite the darker edge, the third season seems to be falling into the same trap as the second season. The story is all too familiar, and the writers seem to think tossing a dozen plot threads into a single episode is better than developing a few solid plot threads with depth. I liked a lot about this episode, but those two massive problems just won’t go away.
Reprinted with permission
Original source: c. Critical Myth, 2008
All rights reserved
John Keegan wrote a spot on review. I can not even find anything to nit pick. Perhaps the Mohinder bit.
I hate what they've done with Sylar. If Sylar was to become a good guy then at least have him do it in an amoral sense.
I believe they are jumping into the future in order to avoid developing a plot.
I have to agree, they seem determined to avoid developing a reasonable plot. I don't believe this Claire can't die nonsense. You destroy her brain, she's dead, her body isn't going to regenerate without a brain. That's why a bullet to the brain would've been able to stop the past Peter from regenerating.
Yes, leave Sylar alone to do what he's good at, stop trying to moralize everything, you ruin structure, and continuity.
Sylars power comes with a thirst to understand, it's logical it'd turn him into a killer. I can't for the life of me, see how they were able to kill future Peter, or why he has that scar, the scar requires an explanation.
Or maybe he has the scar from a fight where The Haitain neutralized Peter's regenrative ability.
I think I'm gonna bail on Heroes. I was wavering after last week, but after this... yeah, I think I've had my fill. It's bad enough when a show emasculates the bad guy, but to be haphazard about it, too... Meh.
Stop going off in a million different directions and just give us something remotely coherent for a change.
for me, it has moved from the 'gotta watch' to 'eh, nothing else is on'...and that's how it's been for this season so far and last season. no competition adn no choice to make.
I do have to say, the plot is too scattered adn fragmentary. I'm tired of having to read all the time to see when we are in the timeline
IMHO, the show is falling prey to its own hype and nbc's desperation to make it seem wonderful and fantastic. basically they're hard selling it so much that the show can't live up to its own hype
I can't take much more of this awful writing. I'm about to the point that I don't care anymore about the show.
I don't know what they were thinking with the Peter/Sylar power thing. Peter does not need Sylar's power. They both exhibit basically the same power in different forms, and Sylar's was the "evil" version. There is no point to this that I can see other than to make Peter go dark.
Ugh, if this keeps up there will be no Season 4 and at this point I wouldn't miss it if there weren't, which makes me sad.
IMO always implied.
Rumor has it that Heroes will probably be caneled this season. I just hope Chuck will remain on tb and won't shrink with Heroes.
Only thing thAt can save heroes now is the caneletion of the terminator sarah connor chronicles tjat is going to happend very soon. Prison break may also be caneled. Some vivers may come back to heroes then.
Best episode since season 1 IMO.
lol at all the people flying around the streets in future new york.
honestly, i think they need to go to nbc, say 'well, the strike cheated us out of 12 eps, give us a 12 eps season 4 and we'll wrap this puppy up and call it done'
and then write knowing the ending. this stop and start, well we/won't we is getting old
it makes the show uneven and you end up with the overall plot dragging then zinging along fast, then dragging again.
right now they seem obsessed with promoting gobsmack moments to attract viewers and don't quite get that we're kinda bored by them and have been burned by the 'gotta watch this' promos...then watching the show and realizing that all the good stuff was in the promo
less 'gobsmack' and more substance