This might be damning the show with faint praise, but "Heroes" just delivered its third decent episode in a row. After the tailspin of the last season and a half, this is progress, people. Nothing really stood out as mind-blowing, but nothing made me grasping for the remote as if I'd just been drugged by the show's version of the Justice League of America, either.
Given how neatly the show's plots were cleaved; let's look at them one at a time, shall we? [After the bump, with spoilers...]
Nathan and Tracy: Too hot to handle
Raise your hands if you squealed "Toe pick!" upon seeing Moira Kelly! Anyone? Anyone? Oh, OK, um, I didn't either, then. She appeared tonight as Abby Collins, Homeland Security Office of Placing Obstacles in the Plot's Way. She threatened to shut down Nathan's operation inside of the titular "Building 26", picking choice arguments from both the Constitution and all three "X-Men" films while arguing the moral depravity of Petrelli's plan.
Well, The Hunter doesn't have time for anything except kicking butt (and perhaps kittens), so he loosens Tracy's chains behind Nathan's back so Abby could see first-hand just how real and dangerous people with powers can be. As I watched the episode, I thought, "Boy, isn't THAT convenient?" as Tracy escaped, so kudos to the show for actually planning ahead. Too often the show opts against logic, so it's nice to see its return to the show.
By episode's end, Nathan has all the funding he could need, but an increasingly unwieldy Hunter on his hands. Vegas has the over/under at Episode 8 for The Hunter supplanting Nathan as the head of the project at this point. I'm opting for the under.
Sylar and Luke: Easy riders
How you view this plot depends on how you view Sylar. I miss the generally amoral, scary-as-hell Season 1 Sylar. But the show's hell bent on reducing this man's psychosis to mere abandonment issues. As such, he's now imparting the life-lessons to young Luke that his bird-loving, wagon-pulling, offspring-selling father never did.
On one end of the evil spectrum there's Heath Ledger's Joker, whose past is murky, muddled, contradictory, and utterly beside the point. I understand why such opaque characterization might work better for a film than serialized television, but the more I learn about Sylar the less I feel anything towards him. I suppose "Heroes" wants me to now pity the man, but all I pity is how far this great character has fallen.
He sums up his fall from the heights of Mount Awesome thusly: I used to love nothing more than collecting powers, but now all I want is to know why Daddy didn't love me. Is the latter more relatable? Undoubtedly. Less interesting? Absolutely. Making Sylar an unpredictable force of nature, unsure of how he will react in a particular situation, is an interesting arc. But now, all the show's doing is slowly dulling his blades.
Hiro and Ando: Wedding crashers
Thanks to Parkman's Isaac-like ability to paint the future, the two set off to India to stop a wedding. Ask me how the two managed to hop on an international flight without being flagged. Go on, I dare you. OK, don't ask, because I have no idea how The Hunter can know where Claire is parked but doesn't know when one of Japan's wealthiest citizens leaves the country.
Once there, Hiro is disappointed when Ando takes the lead in being the "sign" that Annapura should not marry Deepak. Looks like Hiro doesn't like being the sidekick, though in a twist absolutely everyone accept Mr. Nakamura saw coming, it turns out that being powerless does not in fact mean he can't be a hero. Looks like Hiro never listened to any Enrique Iglesias growing up.
The point of this excursion wasn't merely to waste screen time, but buck up Hiro's angst in a way that didn't drag out all season. Maybe stopping this wedding will have more significance plot-wise down the line, but this week's focus was on Hiro, not the couple. I'm not sure I could have handled Hiro on a slow burn of jealousy, so if we had to go this route, better to pull the band-aid off all at once. By episode's end, they received a fax from "Rebel" to save Matt Parkman. But Rebel didn't only contact this pair this week.
Claire and Noah: Father doesn't know best
I'll admit that this plot actively angered me until the end, and then I felt as guilty as Claire for bringing the plot to Noah packing up his things and moving out. But before then? Rage. Just angry rage.
After all, what preceded it was the embodiment of every Noah/Claire/Sandra/Muggles scene of the last three years. Sandra's in the dark! Claire's mad and goes behind her parents' back! Noah insists he's doing everything for them! Claire meets the "Heroes" version of Aquaman at the behest of "Rebel"! (OK, that was new. My bad.) We've seen slight variations on these scenes for years, and it's time for them to stop.
Luckily, the show seems as sick of these rehashes as the viewing audience is, and may have used that sentiment to devastating use in the final scene. We were the stand-in for the child that thinks her dysfunctional family will bend, but never break. And watching Claire and Noah have their final scene together brought back emotions I hadn't seen between them since Season 1's epic "Company Man." And probably not coincidentally, I suddenly cared more for these two than I have since that episode.
Isolated from his family, Noah drank some roofies supplied by Parkman, Peter, and Mohinder. Looks like Noah's gonna have to pay the piper, "Death and the Maiden"-style next week. As for "Rebel," well, if anyone could hack into Nathan's database, text Claire, and fax Hiro, it would have to be someone pretty handy with technology, no? Someone who might be mad both of his super-powered parents are dead?
Just food for thought until next week.
Are you still sold on Volume 4, or is it too little too late? Is my guess on Rebel on the money or way off? How long until Nathan's imprisoned by The Hunter?
Ryan also writes about television and pop culture at Boob Tube Dude.