Volume 4 of “Heroes” had its ups and downs, and with “An Invisible Thread,” the final episode in the “Fugitives” arc of the series, the show sought to tie up the remaining threads in order to have the world go to hell just a few weeks later. The episode had a tough act to follow, what with “Chuck” just before it delivering a complete clinic on how to stage a season finale. But even taken on its own, too little of tonight’s finale made much sense to make one long for Volume 5.
[Full recap of Monday's (April 27) "Heroes," with spoilers, after the break...]
The hour centered around Sylar’s need to touch the President in order to shape-shift into him and become the most powerful person on the planet. Here’s the problem: Sylar already IS the most powerful person on the planet. He can shape-shift, control objects with his mind, read thoughts, and do all of those things without having to kiss babies and sit in on cabinet meetings. Seems like a pretty sweet gig, but Sylar’s unable to get over his adoptive mother’s assertion that he could be President if he so chose.
Danko tries to stop him via knife to the back of the skull, but Sylar’s shape-shifting ability allows him to move his Achilles heel to another part of his body. He then impersonates Danko while killing a few federal agents, thus securing Danko a nice comfy cell inside Building 26. Luckily, his former employees thought enough of him to place him in holding with his former #2, Noah Bennet. Not like these two could plot their escape if imprisoned together or anything.
Before they even have the chance, Hiro, Ando, and Hiro’s impending stroke break into Building 26. Yes, Hiro has a headache THIS BIG thanks to using his power to stop time. Ostensibly, the Baby Parkman Reboot of his powers rendered a once benign ability now potentially fatal. I can’t decide if I like this impediment on a potentially unlimited ability or if it reeks of plot contrivance. Mohinder’s speech about the unnaturalness of superpowers in a human body comes from completely left field, UNLESS Volume 5 explores the nominally interesting notion that people who use special abilities will inevitably destroy a host unable to cope with such powers. So, put your money on “left field.” Sad, but probably true.
Hiro risks his life to stop time one last time as Danko seeks to tranquilize Noah before going after Sylar. Sylar-as-Nathan has taken Claire-as-Annoying to see the president to get himself some presidential DNA. (No, not in a Lewinsky way, you cheeky monkeys.) Using the ability inherited from the Puppet Master, Sylar forces Claire to share a bottle of pinot noir as he engages in the trite and true “we’re not so different, you and I” speechifying. Claire, for her part, falls back on her usual tough talk, but let’s face it, she’s way better at taking a punch than throwing one. Heroic impulses? Maybe. Heroic execution? Not always.
But speaking of heroic execution, Peter Petrelli kicked a fair amount of ass tonight. I know, I’m as surprised as you are. He’s gradually won me over in this volume, having abstained from his usual role of unwittingly causing every major problem in the “Heroes” universe. By the time he was telling his brother to go low on Sylar while he went high, I actually pumped my fist. Also, I started to fear for the structural sanity of the internet as slash fic writers rushed to their keyboards to provide their own account of that scenario.
But then “Heroes,” or more accurately the production budget of “Heroes,” went and literally closed the door on what would have been a stellar fight between Sylar and the Petrellis. The show pulled this crap in Season 1’s “Five Years Gone,” as well, making me think “Heroes” is clinically incapable of showing a kick-ass fight sequence on television. What we did get to see, however, was graphic and semi-shocking: Sylar callously slitting Nathan’s throat after flinging him back into the hotel after a mid-air scuffle.
Unaware of his brother’s death, Peter joins Noah and with Claire’s help, convinces the federal agents locking down the building to work WITH, not AGAINST, them. In a twist I’m ashamed I didn’t see coming, Peter used the abilities absorbed through his fight with Sylar to impersonate President Worf. In Sylar’s confusion during the in-limo handshake, Peter managed to tranquilize Sylar. Again: I like me this new, kick-ass Peter. More, please. But it was at this point that the show flew completely off the rails into oncoming traffic.
Angela, due to a prophetic dream, had secured Matt Parkman’s help in saving Nathan. However, they arrived too late on the scene, with Nathan already dead. So do they mourn the life of a well-meaning but weak man? No. Do they remember that blood not unlike Claire’s once revived a nearly-dead Nathan, and a literally dead Noah? No, Angela and Noah concoct a scheme in which they have Parkman mind-frak a sedated Sylar into permanently thinking he’s Nathan Petrelli. They then have a “Return of the Jedi”-esque bonfire in which they torch the original shapeshifter that Sylar killed in front of the remaining heroes. Angela, Noah, and Parkman know the truth, the rest know lies, and Mohinder is too busy monologuing to recognize anything of importance is happening. Like, say, the reformation of The Company.
Clearly, this seems at best a cheap way to kill a character and yet keep them on the show. At worst, it makes Angela and Noah seem like sociopaths, willing to continually straddle the dark side in order to preserve a semblance of order in a world where people can lift cars with their minds. Now, if this show had a “Battlestar: Galactica”-esque darkness to it, I would be interested to see a show about a world that needs people with powers under the surface of society in order to maintain balance. But that’s simply not the type of show “Heroes” is. So rather than look at Angela and Noah making hard choices that no one else can, we look at them as selfish, weak people crippled by the love of their children which blinds them to the realities of the world around them.
All this leads into Volume 5: “Redemption,” in which Tracy Strauss is back, baptizing former Building 26 employees to death with her water-based body. Also, in a twist that absolutely everyone besides Angela and Noah could see coming, Sylar’s mind-frak doesn’t really take, with clocks in Nathan’s office continually calling to him. But after this volume, will anyone be calling for this Volume come the fall?
Well, I’ll be back, not just because it’s technically my job to do so, but because there’s always just a hint of greatness under the surface with the show. Things to be optimistic about: Peter’s bad-assitude, Parkman’s regret, and Bryan Fuller on from the beginning of the next volume. That’s a trio I can hang my hat on until the fall. Until then, thanks to everyone who has read these recaps over the past few months.
Will you be back for next season? How'd this finale go for you?
Ryan also writes about television and pop culture at Boob Tube Dude.
Ryan also writes about television and pop culture at Boob Tube Dude.