Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Can Heroes truly redeem itself?

Warning: This post will eventually contain major spoilers for last night's Heroes season finale, "An Invisible Thread."

Three years ago, a new TV show about "ordinary people" with superhero powers made its debut. The show, simply titled Heroes, was an instant hit. You couldn't go anywhere without seeing the cast members on magazine covers or talk shows. Internet forums would be packed with excited posters moments after an episode aired. Geeks and non-geeks alike were in love with the show — and for good reason. It was fun, and while it was also action-packed for the most part, it had carefully built-up storylines that had audiences wanting more.

I was in love with Heroes during that first season. It was appointment TV for me, and I even made a point to rewatch episodes online with commentary once they were done airing. But then season 2, also known as the show's second volume, happened. Episodes either dragged or had too much happening in them at once. The introduction of new characters did not go as smoothly as one would have hoped, despite the fact that well-liked actors like David Anders and Kristen Bell had joined the team. And then the writer's strike occurred, giving the showrunners very few opportunities to fix their mistakes. Creator Tim Kring actually issued a public apology via Entertainment Weekly, stating that the show would be better during its third season.

Well, last night that third season came to an end, and I'm sad to say — it's really hard to figure out whether or not the show has any hope for going back to its glory days.[bxA]

Last night's season finale served as the conclusion for the show's fourth volume, "Fugitives." The volume, which was meant to reset Heroes, had its high points, but still remained a bit of a mess. The season finale was no different.

The episode, "An Invisible Thread," focused on characters' attempts to fix a problem started by Nathan Petrelli — a US senator with an ability to fly. Despite being "one of them," Nathan started the volume by telling the President about people with powers, resulting in a government-backed effort to round up these "heroes" for the sake of public safety. Even though Nathan seemed to realize the stupidity of his actions by last night's episode, his motivations still seemed murky to me especially since he was pretty open to the idea of everyone on the planet possessing powers (during Volume 3). Though Nathan was always one of the more interesting characters on the show, his character was poorly written this season, making it very difficult for me to enjoy the finale.

I'm just going to fast forward a bit to the end of the episode, which was really the only part where things actually happened. Nathan is finally killed by Sylar, who now possesses the ability to shapeshift. Nathan's brother Peter, who was in the room with the two of them at one point during a confrontation, has picked up this ability to shapeshift through Sylar. After shapeshifting to look like the President (one of the cooler moments on the show, I'll admit), Peter drugs Sylar. And then in one of the weirdest moments ever on the show, Nathan and Peter's mother Angela teams up with Noah (aka HRG) to get psychic Matt Parkman to turn Sylar into Nathan. Sort of.

Basically, Parkman convinces Sylar that he is Nathan. Sylar therefore shapeshifts to assume Nathan's form, along with his memories. He truly believes that Angela and Peter are his mother and brother, and he is now ready to tell the President to end his manhunt. This is the "brilliant" solution Angela and Noah come up with to end the madness.

On one hand, this means we get less Sylar from now on. I've been waiting for the character to get written off the show (which he should have been at the end of the first season). Even though Zachary Quinto played the part very well, the character — who made things so interesting during Season 1 — had become boring. Making an all-powerful, probably-immortal character stay on a show for so long can really suck the life out of it.

That being said, I fear that this isn't the end of Sylar, as the show indicated during its final moments. The episode (like the show's other finales) ended with a sneak preview of Volume 5, which is supposed to be titled "Redemption." In it, a distracted "Nathan" begins to show bits and pieces of Sylar's personality, which really gives me the sense that we're never going to be rid of this character. And if that's the case, things do not bode well for Heroes.

Heroes was never a perfect show — even in its heyday, it was obvious that the show borrowed heavily from other source material. But the writers used to do a wonderful job of repackaging familiar themes and making Heroes a compelling show. That spark seems to be gone now, even with the bizarre ending at the end of yesterday's episode. Maybe it would have felt more shocking or interesting a couple of seasons ago, or if the writing leading up to the episode had been a lot tighter. Sadly, at the end of the day, it was a lackluster finale.

I'll give Heroes one last try next season to see if the show really does return to form, as its creators have been promising for so long. But if it doesn't, I might just end up giving it up and rewatching the Season 1 DVDs from to time, to remember it more fondly.

1 comment:

  1. Check out this interview with Milo Ventimiglia and Adrian Pasdar in which they discuss the finale and their "special" relationship: http://bit.ly/iZfvy.

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