Not very much "Redemption" in tonight's episode of "Heroes," ladies and gentlemen. What we got instead were three very disparate storylines that really had absolutely nothing to do with each other. Season 1 started off similarly, gradually drawing all the major players inexorably to Kirby Plaza. But since then, the show has struggled more to keep major players onscreen versus focusing on a tight narrative. Hold onto your hats: this ride's bumpy.
[Full recap of Monday (Sept. 28) night's "Heroes" after the break...]
I feel the earth move under my feet/I've got you under my skin
Last week I praised the arrival of Peter Petrelli: Working Class Hero. This week I bemoan the return of Peter Petrelli: Pretty Boy Tool. Seems like Samuel has a particular interest in Peter due to his own brother being an empath himself. At least, that's the impression I got after watching that subdermal compass go all a flutter an episode's end.
It's clear Samuel just doesn't let any ol' superpowered person into his fold. Instead, they have to pass what amounts to a moral test in order to be deemed worthy of inclusion. One man's morality is another man's depravity, so all things are relative. But Samuel, like all villains worth giving a damn about, doesn't actually consider himself a villain. Until recently, that might have even approximated the truth from an objective perspective. But it's clear that Joseph's death has sent him over the edge upon which he danced for so long.
So Samuel establishes a false lawsuit against Peter, stores up some specially made Sullivan Brothers Psychic Ink, and goes to work on Peter's mind. Then again, Samuel didn't have to manually Photoshop himself into one of Peter's pinned-up articles in order to make Peter doubt his own brain. I'm sure a Sudoku would have broken him just as easily. In any case, Peter apologizes to Samuel, unaware that the apology is itself "proof" for Samuel that he's found a suitable heir for his brother's ability.
Before heading back to the circus, Samuel makes a quick visit back to the home in which he grew up. Turns out he and Joseph lived in a carriage house, the offspring of a wealthy family's hired help. When denied entrance to his old home by the current tenant, he does the sensible thing and sinks the freakin' house. In case you didn't get it, this was the "Our Villain's Only a Villain Because People Didn't Love Him Enough as a Child" move they pulled on Sylar last year. And we all know how awesome THAT worked out.
As for the compass itself: it's unclear what it actually points towards, nor why empaths in particular are appropriate vessels for it. The show already has Lydia as its human version of Cerebro, so I'm unclear what added value is gained by the compass itself. My initial guess is that while Samuel creates ink out of earthen materials he can manipulate, there's something about an empath's power that focuses it and makes it usable for a specific purpose. Does the compass point to a place? A person? A cohesive plotline that won't have me banging my head against the wall by mid-volume? I'll let you, gentle reader, weigh in below.
Two-time touch and broken bones/Mirror in the bathroom
I can't even tell you how sick I am of the on-again, off-again relationship between Noah and Claire Bennet. It's this show's version of Ross and Rachel, but with much less making out. There's no earthly reason these two should re-hash the same talking points over and over again. And yet, on a seasonal basis, these two come together and split apart for the sole purpose of once again placing Claire in a position of danger.
Essentially, we're supposed to swallow that one game of "Guitar Hero" means Claire can call Gretchen her BFF. Well, my wife and I own "Rock Band." We play it all the time. And she doesn't even know as much about me as Gretchen now knows about Claire. We're literally weeks removed from the end of a plot in which superpowered people were sent to internment camps, and we're supposed to be OK with Claire revealing herself to someone who is essentially a stranger?
If you've seen this story before, and trust me, you have, then you know Noah's whole "I trust you" speech is a big fat lie. Unfortunately, 1) this makes us not like Noah, who is lying to his daughter, and 2) not like Claire, because we understand that Claire's judgement cannot be trusted. And meanwhile, it's only a matter of time before Gretchen's posting her own YouTube videos of her new roomie healing after cutting herself in the shower. I'm sooo looking forward to more "Single White Superhero," trust me.
Church of the poison mind/I think I'm paranoid
OK, let me just say that all my Evil Parkman dreams started to come true tonight. While I'm preparing myself to be disappointed in the eventual outcome, and wish the show focused more on Samuel as this Season's Big Bad without diluting the evil pool with Sylar's continued presence, I really enjoyed everything inside that dilapidated house.
When deployed properly, the ability to alter a person's mind is perhaps the most potent (and terrifying) power of all. You can argue until you're blue in the face that Sylar is actually the Sylar we know or just a byproduct of Parkman's guilty conscience, but you can't deny there was a realness to the cold look in that dead girl's eyes under the stairs. The fact that she was only a delusion should have taken away the power of the scene, but instead only validated the depths to which Parkman's mind can sink. This was one fake out that "Heroes" did deliciously.
The only problem with this storyline? I'm worried about its connection back to the carnival plot. Sure, we saw Sylar's face on Lydia's back next week. Does that mean that a psychic inside the carnival is working his/her mojo on Parkman in order to break Sylar-as-Nathan free? Seems like a complicated way to go about that change. Easier to just mind-frak the faux Senator back to life (back to reality), right?
Parkman's dark side is a fantastic little story, but only ultimately works if it ties into the volume as a whole, not as a stand-alone piece. The show may just be taking its time in allowing Samuel to gradually recruit all existing heroes one by one, but it needs to assure us that each piece of the seemingly disparate puzzle indeed connects. Moreover, it needs to explain sooner, not later, exactly why Samuel needs so many new members in his faction.
Ultraviolet (light my way)/Good vibrations
A possible way to tie everything together into one melodic whole? Emma, the show's first deaf superpowered character. Say what you will about the show's quality, but you can never fault their diversity in casting and in character. She's just developing her powers, which seem to manifest themselves in the realm of sound vibrations and the electromagnetic spectrum. Maybe these powers will develop into something cool, but for now they resemble something akin to an iPod commercial.
However, her ability to intuitively play the cello might also play a part in countering the effects of Peter's compass. I'm probably reading waaaay too much into this, but in Emma's ability to emit a sort of siren call with her music, I got a strong Mother Abigail vibe from her. The compass can't draw people in; it can only point to their direction. Samuel has to go TO those he wishes to find. It's possible that Emma will be the end of the rainbow for the side of good as the battle lines are drawn in "Redemption."
Or, you know, she'll get a job working Disney's Electric Light Parade. With "Heroes," nothing is ever truly out of the realm of possibility. Even if we desperately wished it could be.
What's your take on "Redemption" so far?