“Heroes” often gets a bad rap for featuring a roster full of superpowered people that sit around and don’t actually use their incredible abilities. But tonight’s episode, “Thanksgiving,” was almost LITERALLY an hour of superpowered people sitting around doing nothing but talk. If these conversations actually served as a brief pause in the frenetic action of the season, or served to achieve some sort of breakthrough, then perhaps one could excuse this chamber piece of an episode. Alas, the titular holiday did little but grind the already glacial narrative to a halt.
If you’re like most Americans, you’ll be traveling to multiple places this Thursday. Let’s get some practice in and visit a few tables in the “Heroes” universe, shall we?
O brother, where art thou?
Samuel starts the day not watching the Detroit Lions get inevitably crushed in the first football game of the day, but Chandra Suresh’s film liberated by Hiro last week. He stands in awe of the destructive force of his own birth. Paging Dr. Freud. Hiro’s mad that Samuel has backed out on his promise to free Charlie in light of the film’s delivery, and we learn this week that it’s not all hugs and kittens in the Sullivan Brothers Carnival.
Lydia and Edgar, in particular, sense that Samuel’s not quite the savior he pretends to be. The knowledge that Hiro went back in time without correcting Joseph’s death makes them all the more suspicious. Keying in on Hiro’s pain, Lydia tries to make Hiro trust her. “I can be inside your soul,” she tells him. “We can be as one.” Apparently, her power is that she’s Oprah. Huh.
Lydia convinces Hiro to take her back eight weeks in time to the night of Mohinder’s arrival, in order to confirm the identity of Joseph’s killer. The two follow the brothers into a moonlit field, where Joseph not only insinuates the true extent of Samuel’s power (he’s a one-man “2012,” essentially), but also reveals that he gave Danko the compass that Edgar dislodged from his belly in the volume’s first episode. Sweet continuity: you taste better than mashed potatoes.
Hiro and Lydia don’t make it back to the present in time for Thanksgiving dinner. Why, you ask? Aren’t they time travelers, you ask? And couldn’t they just return a few minutes earlier even if they figured out their mistake, you ask? You’re asking a whole lot of questions that “Heroes” does NOT want you to ask. No pumpkin pie for you. In any case, Samuel declares a traitor to be in their midst, using both Edgar’s anger and Hiro’s lack of genitalia to frame Edgar for Joseph’s murder. Wouldn’t a hole through the throat be inconsistent with Edgar’s M.O., you ask? That’s it! To your room!
Samuel seeks to kill Edgar on the spot via a rock to the back of the head, but Hiro stops time and forbids Edgar from killing a helpless Samuel. Because Hiro is the most whipped man that’s existed since Samwise Gamgee carried Frodo Baggins up Mt. Doom. Edgar splits in the time freeze, leaving Hiro to stand up to Samuel on his own. Doing so lands him in what appears to be the grip of the carnival’s answer to The Haitian (oops, it’s René now). Is Hiro’s mind wiped for the 40th time in the show’s run? Kind of. It looks like the mind wipe didn’t entirely take, as Hiro exclaims, “Must rescue Watson. Beam me up Scotty!” Hopefully he beams to a better plot.
Guess who’s coming to dinner?
You’re Noah Bennet. You used to have things figured out. Family at home. A satisfying career. A purpose. Flash forward a few years later, and you’re living on your own, living on the dole, and stalking ex-partners near a display of canned yams. How the horn-rimmed have fallen.
So what do you do to make things right? You throw all the disparate, barely there parts of your life together for a Thanksgiving meal that might as well have been hosted by Jerry Springer. Aside from Claire, I fail to see why anyone accepted Noah’s offer to come to his place for the meal. Sandra should be too busy hating his guts and taking her new boyfriend and their dogs for a mani-pedi excursion. Ex-partner Lauren should be horrified that Noah’s stalking her (her words, not mine, but that makes it no less accurate), but apparently René’s mind wipe also gave her a new, carefree outlook on life as well.
The dinner itself? Predictably awkward. It’s clear that this particular party of five was a writer’s conceit to create tension, versus a natural extension of Noah’s desire to pick up the pieces of his life. At no point did I think anything onscreen was remotely believable or interesting. About 2/3rds into this plotline, I wanted to jam a knife into my body. So you can imagine my surprise and delight when Claire actually read my mind and plunged the sharp utensil into her wrist and cut into some white meat of her own. At that point, the forced plot turned into something akin to a Broadway screwball comedy, with snappy dialogue and dry wit. Even Elisabeth Röhm got off a few zingers, something I thought she was biologically incapable of doing.
After that, Gretchen arrived on the scene in order to cure Claire’s blues. Turns out Claire Bear wants to leave school and literally run away to join the circus. Well, in this economy, who can blame her? Noah insists that she has choices, and Claire chooses to conveniently turn into the nitwit that she’s been over the past three seasons, completely ignore her father, and take a road trip with her newly re-acquired friend to see the carnival for herself. Sigh. I’ve defended you all season, Claire. You’ve been great. I hope Hiro teleports in front of your car on the way there and you have to live with the guilt.
I think it was Jean-Paul Sartre that once said, “Hell is other Petrellis.” That held true this week, in the mother of all awkward family meals. Angela, tuxedoed help in tow, decides to have Thanksgiving dinner with her two sons in Peter’s apartment. The only problem? Peter knows that his brother is really dead and Nathan realizes he’s nothing more than memories in another man’s body. In Angela’s defense, she never named the family dog Dame Penelope Jean Lovegood III, so I think both brothers need to take it a little easy on her.
Even after confessing the long, sordid, insanely stupid end of the “Fugitives” storyline, Angela still insists that Nathan Petrelli is still alive, insomuch as his memory’s alive. That would be a compelling moral argument, were it not coming from someone completely off her rocker. Neither Angela nor Peter want to kill the Sylar lurking beneath the surface, in that it would kill the last remaining vestiges of their connection. Now, that IS an interesting moral problem, and one that seems to be at the heart of the rest of this storyline.
At one point, Nathan/Sylar looks at Peter and says, “We should have never gone to Texas.” Felt like Adrian Pasdar’s last line to me, and when Nathan started to spark, I knew Sylar himself would emerge from the ground. But after a little Puppet Master-enabled dinner with the two remaining Petrellis (including a creeptastic kiss on Angela’s lips), Sylar found himself unable to slice and dice Angela’s brain open. Turns out there’s a little Nathan still inside, who temporarily overpowers Sylar and flies away.
So now we’re stuck with a Jekyll/Hyde situation, in which Peter has to find a way to somehow save his brother while also eliminating Sylar. Not a bad plot, but what in the blippin’ heck does it have to do with the carnival storyline? Ultimately, everything has to arc towards the big top when all’s said and done. That’s this season’s Kirby Plaza. And while I’ve enjoyed my Peter Petrelli time just fine this season, his world has only barely brushed by Samuel’s. I realize that everyone has to stagger their arrival to the carnival, but it’s unclear that the Petrellis will ever get there, at this rate.
Did this episode make you want to give thanks? Or simply wish you’d ordered take-out instead? Leave your thoughts below!