Fri
Dec 19 2008 1:48pm

Heroes “Duality” episode review, or My Last Post on Heroes

That’s it.

I’ve listened to Mohinder’s voiceover for the last time. The monologue that brought the muddled “Villains” arc to a close Monday night even mentioned the power of love, for frak’s sake!

This season had some good moments, not many of which I felt were in this finale. But I’m no longer feeling invested in this series at all. Every character is a mess in some way. And not an emotional mess like Kara Thrace on Galactica or every male character on Lost who has deep-seated issues with his father. Heroes characters are just sloppy and inconsistent as hell.They switch sides any time the writers want them to. They gain and lose powers on a whim. If a character can go anywhere, do anything, who really cares what they eventually do? Throw in a Mohinder voiceover and my interest plummets.

So the finale. The showdown between Pinehearst and Primatech went down in the wake of Arthur Petrelli’s death at the telekinetic powers of Sylar. A Sylar left so diabolically, ludicrously evil, he may as well have a little mustache to twirl. But after he crashed that birthday party last week and offered the guests cake, I’m not minding his over-the-top villainy. At least Sylar does things that matter. Like trying to kill Angela Petrelli, HRG, Claire, and Claire’s bio-mom Meredith in a crazy Saw-like game. And he can be pretty funny. The carnage at the Company left every remaining Level 5 prisoner dead. Tracy turned Knox into a pile of slush which was a nice bit of FX work. Sylar injected Meredith with adrenaline, so she was unable to control her firepower, leading to the Company building blowing up. But luckily Angela, Claire, and HRG got out in time. Sylar though appears to be dead for the time being. Somehow, I don’t think the show will be done with him just yet.

Over at Primatech, Daphne steals an injection of Mohinder’s formula so Ando can use it to rescue Hiro from the past. How does Ando, or anyone, know which power the formula will give them? Peter takes it and can instantly fly, the soldier takes it and is super strong, and Ando takes it and he can amplify the powers of others. Which is a really convenient power for a sidekick to possess. So Daphne can run faster than the speed of light and collect Hiro. Sure would’ve sucked for Hiro if his best friend got the power to talk to animals or make his fingernails grow really fast. Hiro has a little duel with his dad which makes me smile. Sulu with a sword. Again. (I will never tire of that clip.)

But Nathan and Peter had the biggest fight, I’d say, since Peter really wants Nathan to stop creating a mutant army. And Nathan is suddenly heartless and exactly like his father. Somehow. And so the next volume, “Fugitives” begins with Nathan giving the President (President Worf!) a list of powered people’s names and abilities and telling him to round them all up for internment. So is it Heroes: Guantanamo Bay edition or the birth of a new, secret Justice League? Cue dramatic music.

But I don’t really care. Bryan Fuller is returning to the show after the death of Pushing Daisies, but his writing won’t show up until the end of volume four. There is too little time and too many better shows to watch. My favorite shows of the fall season were, in order, True Blood, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and Dexter. Also, House was consistently excellent this year. The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. Heroes falls far below all of these for me, so I think this volume ending is my opportunity to opt out. I’m taking it. I had a lot of hope for new villains, maybe a show with a darker theme, but instead I found hokey speeches about right and wrong. If the same hold true for “Fugitives,” I will save myself, and possibly others, a few hours by predicting that what the heroes are really running from in Volume Four is the truth about...themselves. And possibly love. There. Now I will try to do something more productive with my Monday nights.

15 comments
Sean Fagan
1. sef
I was, to put it mildly, disappointed. The saddest thing to me was that I thought it was the best episode of the season, and the ending voice-over let us know what they were trying to do with the story arc.

Trying, and failing massively. That was the most disappointing thing -- knowing that they'd seemingly intended to have an arc in which each of our characters discovers that they have a dark side, a villainous side, and then would have to choose. Or maybe we could have had a half season of gray, in which we were shown that good and evil are not always so well-defined.

And we didn't get that.

I'll keep watching. I'm stubborn. But I may not watch it the night it airs any longer.
Troy Lissoway
2. Troylis
Ouch.

Sad to hear they didn't fix any of my issues with Season 2—it sounds like it got worse.

There was a good show in there somewhere, they just never found it.
Melissa Ann Singer
3. masinger
I missed the last couple of episodes before this Monday's and found that I didn't feel that I was missing anything. Now did I have trouble picking up what was going on, though obviously there are details I'm unaware of.

That, coupled with the other disappointments of this season, has finished Heroes for me.

Too bad. It had such promise.
Arachne Jericho
4. arachnejericho
I know what'll save Heroes! Put Frank Miller on the writing team!

Okay, "save" would be a bit strong. "Interesting" might be a better term.

When there's a giant ball of mucky tar rolling down the hill it is better to light the pitch with a flamethrower than to curse the darkness. Or something.
cpc
5. cpc
I missed three episodes when Time Warner and our local NBC affiliate had a little war going on. When it returned to our cable line-up, my Tivo recorded it, but I haven't watched any of them because I never worked up enough interest in it to view the three missed episodes on my computer. That's how little I missed it.

I loved the first season, thought the second season was a mess, and found this season a boring mess.
Pablo Defendini
6. pablodefendini
You know, everyone seems to be missing the point here: Heroes has always been nothing if not consistent.

Aside from the out-and-out plots and character sketches blatantly taken from Chris Claremont's classic 18 year run on Uncanny X-Men, Heroes has all the earmarks of that storied tenure: complex, plots running parallel to each other that never seem to get fully resolved; a cast of thousands that constantly switch sides from good to evil and back again; an insanely complex family drama (the Petrellis are the Summers, imho); people dying and never staying dead, etc.

The problem is—and I'll grant that this is highly debatable—these things worked to Claremont's advantage on an open-ended, long-running monthly comic with an audience invested in years' worth of continuity. On a seasonal show that lives or dies by its ratings, where there's no guarantee of a keeping a fickle audience or of a renewal of the show for a new season, not so much.

Somewhere, deep inside me, there's an actual full post laying this all out, and one day, I may even actually write it.
Troy Lissoway
7. Troylis
Of course, Claremont's complex plots, large casts and changing motivations played out over 18 years of writing, compared to 2. Magneto switched from evil to good and back over 6-8 years, not 8 months. Jean Grey was able to stay dead for a number of years before they brought her back, not 2 episodes or less. And to give Claremont his due, his X-Men rarely acted out of character.

The X-Men also had the huge advantage of scope and spectacle—I'm not anticipating a storyline in Heroes where Hiro and friends travel to an alien empire, are kidnapped by an army of parasitic xenomorphs and have to battle their way through a city built on the giant, rotting carcass of a space-whale prophet :)
Sol Foster
8. colomon
Heh, now you guys have me thinking the problem with Heroes is that they too closely copied Claremont's run on the X-Men, getting both the good stuff from the spectacular Byrne days and the post-#200 crap. Both have essentially the same problem of taking a cool idea and pounding it into the ground by doing lame repeated variations on it instead of coming up with another cool idea. (You know, the first time you work in time travel to a dystopian future, it's really cool. By the third or fourth time, it's just mostly tiresome. And yes, I'm talking about both franchises here.)

Overall, I'm definitely disappointed with Volume Three, though not so much as Volume Two. I already vented about Sylar's horrible characterization this season. But let me put in a bad word for Arthur Petrelli being able to effortlessly get the drop on Hiro twice, yet be easily taken out by an underpowered Sylar. In fact, on consideration that was so unsatisfying I kind of hope Petrelli pulled a fast one on all of them and is still alive somehow.

And what's up with powers going away and returning? I thought the whole reason Peter and Hiro lost their powers is because those powers were too obviously unbalancing to the show. Now Peter apparently has his back, and we've got another hero who can time travel. Arrrrrgh! It's all churning rather than going someplace.
- -
9. heresiarch
You remember that time, early in this volume when Angela first captures Sylar (again) and she feeds him the woman who can tell the history of objects just by handling them? Remember how nothing, nothing at all, is ever done with that ability? That basically summarizes volume three. "Oh wow, I just had this awesome idea! How about we--ooh, kittens!" Except instead of kittens, it was pointless angst.

There's an interview with Neil Gaiman where he talks about the importance of writing escape hatches into serial stories in case you change your mind after part of it is published. But the Heroes team wrote so many escape hatches and used them so frequently that the story didn't have any structural integrity left.
- -
10. heresiarch
"Peter takes it and can instantly fly,"

For what it's worth, I'm pretty sure Peter just got his empath-absorb power back and instantly absorbed Nathan's flight. I vaguely remember Mohinder saying early on that which power each person develops is dependent on their "genetic fingerprint" or something. Of course, we also got the "everybody gets the power that compensates for their crippling insecurities" explanation, so who knows?
cpc
11. Lenny Bailesl
I wonder if the writers think the dwindling, audience has forgotten that Sylar absorbed Claire's invulnerability this season, and that Arthur Petrelli absorbed all of Peter's powers (which include Claire's absorbed invulnerability) in addition to Adam Monroe's immortality.

I wouldn't be surprised to see either or both of those Dead People crawl out their window ((so to speak -- see http://www.bobdylanlyrics.net/cayplcra.html)) in the next season. If the writers have any clue as to what the audience really wants to see, I'd put some small amount of money on Niki/Jessica magically reappearing, too -- maybe in mystic cohabitation with the current character in the Ali Larter body.
David Lev
12. davidlev
Unlike most people that comment on these posts, I actually generally liked this season. That said, something that Theresa Delucchi mentions stood out to me as a summary of everything that annoyed me about this season:

Heroes characters are just sloppy and inconsistent as hell.They switch sides any time the writers want them to.

This irritated me so much. Sylar was especailly annoying, because he was a completely different character in every episode: sympathetic, unsympathetic, evil, good, mercenary, Company agent, interesting, uninteresting. etc. He was fun in this episode and the last one ,though (both in the scene where he grins and says "Cake!" and the one where he steps into the elevator covered in blood). I also think that the show would have become much better had evey simgle character whose last name was Petrelli had all contracted a fatal disease and died...for good. While watching the last episode of the volume, and it shifted back to Ando, Matt, and Daphne, my thought was "yay, we're going back to the interesting characters." If the show had been about those guys (plus Hiro)meandering through comic book shops around New York City the show would have been much better.

A few things I did like: the Saw-like games Sylar plays, which I found awesome, how Flint and Knox help Peter out because he also wants to destroy the formula but are still Chaotic Evil assholes who have no problem with Peter dying, and when Tracy refers to the situation she and Nathan are in as "spinnable" or something to that effect, which made me fantasize about a show about a superhero's (or supervillain's , for that matter) PR agent. Tracy was definately more interesting than Niki, altho she like Sylar was very frequent in her random shifts of character.
Marc Scheff
13. marcscheff
I agree with Pablo except on one count. The X-men weren't above rapid side changes or resurrection. Remember the issue of Uncanny when they all got transported to the Citadel of Light by Horde, then killed, then a drop of Wolverine's blood hits the crystal, then he is regenerated, then he kills Horde and then brings all the X-Men back to life with the power of the crystal? Forget 2 months, that was one issue!

All that is to say, I'll keep watching Heroes because: a) I like seeing what new powers they give people (Tracy and the Puppetmaster were both cool), b) I'm curious if any of the characters will stick to a single side (besides Peter) and c) Fugitives is a cool idea (even if it is just ripped from X-Men 2).
cpc
14. Pierre Roustan
I also didn't forget that the Haitan was present when Arthur Petrelli was killed :-). Meaning Petrelli literally had no powers in that moment. Listen--the "Heroes" writers aren't THAT stupid. Save the criticism and let go of the 'high expectations' for something that'll WOW you. It's a *story*. Let it stand alone as a *story* and not something that needs to trump Volume 1 or Volume 2 or even measure up to either Volume! Just let. It. Go.

I'm sorry, but Volume 3 did it for me. That was just plain fun.
Evan Langlinais
15. Skwid
I had the exact same response as Theresa to this episode (and this "Volume"). I got done with the ep. and went and deleted my DVR subscription. There are too many shows out there, right now, with writing that is actually good for me to waste any more time with one that regularly insults my intelligence like Heroes.

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