Tonight's episode, entitled "Exposed," nominally referred to the leaked footage of superpowered detainment procedures going on under the American public's nose. But the title also referred to several plot points this week, as at least one thing came fully to light in each of the episode's three narrative arcs: Nathan's incompetence, Samson’s ability, and Aquaman's abs.
Let's learn about all three after the spoiler-filled break, shall we?
With Tracy still simmering in lockdown, Hiro/Ando taking the slow boat back from India, and Mohinder...well, frankly, who cares where Mohinder was...this week cleaved its storytelling time into a triptych of mediocre storylines, with brief glimpses of excellence amidst head scratching moments that make you wonder if the good parts occur by happy luck rather than careful execution. Let's look at these stories, one by one.
Mrs. Bennett Explains It All To You
Who knew Mrs. B was such a wild child? Sandra makes fake IDs, she lusts after bass players in 80's hair bands, she creates successful diversions to enable Aquaboy to escape...it's a wonder HRG didn't recruit her for Primatech duty back in the day. Clearly she's up to the task. Which is good, because Claire couldn't fool Mr. Muggles, never mind Homeland Security, with her own attempt to hide Alex.
After Sandra quickly discovered Alex in Claire's closet, we were subjecting to a discussion that ripped off Bobby Drake's "outing" in "X2: X-Men United," removed all the wit, and replaced it with a heavy-handed scene in which Claire preferred her mother think she was having sex rather than harboring a superhero. I know Aquaman's a lame superhero, but c'mon, Claire: I'm 33, married, and my mother doesn't know I'm having sex yet. Tone it down a notch. No need to sex it up. (I feel like one of those “One to Grow On” logos should have flashed across the screen by the end.)
Keeping with the awkward, "Dawson's Creek" meets "The Fugitive" vibe of this story, Alex and Claire made googly eyes at each other while Mrs. Bennett concocted ways to make sure neither ended up in Gitmo for the rest of their lives. She wass busy stuffing Alex into secret storage spaces while Claire was busy eyeing his six-pack. Even while escaping, the two took 15 seconds of the precious head start bestowed by Mrs. B to contemplate smooching. Just unreal.
Then again, they had little to worry about, as the Homeland Security agents giving chase didn't bother examining the ginormous body of water in which the trail of the two ran cold. Ostensibly, these two knew that Alex could breathe underwater, and are therefore horrible agents. Or, their handlers didn't inform the pair about Alex's ability, which makes them a terrible agency. In either case, the word "terrible" applies here. That’s not a good word.
The only non-Sandra saving grace here? The surprise return of The Puppet Master, Eric Doyle. Apparently Sylar didn't kill him at the end of Season 3, nor did Primatech's crumbling edifice. (Quick question: did ANYONE die at the end of Season 3 in that blaze? Worst. Blaze. Ever.) In any case, he's back, by order of the mysterious Rebel. Rebel's insistence that Claire can help Doyle is intriguing: so far, we've only seen Rebel work with "heroes" up until this point. I won't venture a guess at to what this means, but I will say I'm happy to see The Puppet Master on my television. This show needs all the creepy it can get.
Why is that? Glad you asked.
As if defanging Sylar with daddy issues wasn't bad enough, the show piled on by making him utter, "Mommy?" this week. Into whose cereal bowl did Zach Quinto relieve himself to earn such a plotline? From his initial "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" demolition of the diner, we could sense this wouldn't be Sylar's finest hour. Ty Pennington is currently scarier than Sylar, people. Not good times.
Inside the abandoned diner, memories started flooding Sylar's head of his time there as a child. Turns out Papa Gray sold him to Uncle Martin there while Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain" blared over the jukebox. Seems appropriate to have this song played over this exchange, as the melodrama enacted nightly onstage during the "Rumors"-era Mac rivals the melodrama of Sylar's familial struggles at the current moment.
Luke, The Teenaged Microwave, rightly points out the absurdity of sticking this once formidable villain into such a hackeneyed arc. "You're like, the most powerful dude on the planet," he observes, incredulous that Sylar can't get past a little thing like being traded for cash as a child. OK, that's not a little thing, and that memory leads to the more important one he's repressed: Samson Gray murdering his wife with a flick of his finger, slicing open the front of her head in front of a crying Gabriel before driving away.
So, in essence: Gabriel's the product of his father, both in terms of inherited ability and damaged psychosis. Too bad they didn't think of this storyline during "Generations," rather than having Sylar spend the season with The Blunder Twins. Watching a weakened Sylar delve into his past while healing from the near fatal wounds inflicted in Kirby Plaza would have fit in with the nominal theme of that particular chapter. As such, by now, all we've seen is the general, gradual dilution of a once terrifying villain.
All I can say is this: get Samson onscreen, stat. I know who's playing him, and I can't wait to see him on my television. Maybe that presence will reignite Sylar’s character to its once great heights.
Brothers in (and at) Arms
Nathan. Nathan, Nathan, Nathan. I'd rather have the Sham Wow guy running things at Building 26 at this point, quite honestly. You screwed up your mission statement. You told everyone what a threat those with powers are. You scared the President of the United States with your insider knowledge. So the government gave you nearly unlimited resources, unprecedented spying capacity, and your own branch of the military at your disposal. And yet, you're confused when people under you don't want to capture these powered people so much as straight up kill them on sight? I feel a Seth Myers-esque "REALLY?" coming on here.
Thanks to the ubiquitous Rebel, Parkman and Peter learned of Daphne's location in Washington D.C. via cryptic message on Mohinder’s computer. Once there, Peter absorbed Parkman's telepathic abilities, leading to a montage of scenes in which they essentially had staring contests with whomever they came into contact. The staring got a bit silly after a while, but it was nevertheless pretty cool to watch these two infiltrate a high-security facility with brain, not brawn. Using in-house soldiers as their own private militia was a nice touch as well. People using their powers in creative ways? Say it ain’t so, “Heroes”!
Once inside, Rebel tapped into the network to allow Peter access not to Daphne's location, but rather video footage of powered people lead into the airplane back in the volume's first episode. Peter left with said footage, thought Parkman stayed behind to secure Peter’s escape One can rightly wonder if Daphne was actually in that facility at all, or if Rebel’s goal is simply to move people into position using their own passions against them. The fact that said video footage splashed all over the nightly news within hours of Peter being sniped by The Hunter leads one to think Rebel sent those two in specifically for this evidence, not Daphne.
At least Nathan finally admitted to Peter and Angela that he got in over his head in this week's episode. His solution to fix things? Convincing Peter to come quietly to a detention cell. Riiiiiight. Think we're a little past that by now, and Peter’s power-sucking bro-hug didn’t help ease matters either. Why? Well, not only has footage of his endeavor leaked, but The Hunter fulfilled the prophecy of Parkman's painting by drugging him and dropping him off in the middle of Washington D.C., with sticks of C4 strapped to his body. I’m sure Parkman’s thrilled to have received such a “blessing” from Usutu by now. Those have worked out well for him so far.
All in all, a mediocre episode. I used to think Rebel was Micah, but now I’m not so sure it’s not Morpheus from “The Matrix” or the artificial intelligence from the movie “Eagle Eye.” Rebel’s endgame did get more interesting this week, as he/she seems to be playing both sides for some unknown purpose. But at some point, Rebel becomes less a character and more a convenient plot crutch upon which the writers of “Heroes” can lean. I look forward to when this character’s identity is revealed so people spend less time interacting with technology and more time interacting with each other.
Have you figured out the identity of Rebel yet? Which, if any, of this week’s three storylines did you enjoy? How many episodes until Nathan ends up on Building 26’s “Wanted” board?
Ryan also writes about television and pop culture at Boob Tube Dude.