Monday, November 20, 2006

Heroes: Save the cheerleader. Don't solve the mystery.

Spoilers for "Heroes" just as soon as I pop my shoulder back into place...

Once again, the NBC promo department has done the show absolutely no favors. In a bubble, "Homecoming" is a solid episode with a damned creepy showdown between Sylar, Claire and Peter. But you don't go selling this as the hour that's going to, once and for all, explain what "Save the cheerleader. Save the world." means and then not explain it, you know? Hell, Claire's whole, "I don't know -- I'm just a cheerleader" was like an unintentional taunt to the audience.

I've written before that, on their respective best days, "Heroes" isn't remotely in the same class as "Lost," but that what the new show has on the old one is a willingness to continually move the plot forward, answer questions and, above all else, avoid pissing off the audience. Then this happens, and whether it's entirely the fault of the NBC promo monkeys or Kring, Loeb and company starting to feel too cocky (or too nervous about how much story they've already burned through), it's a sign of really bad faith. I put up with this stuff from "Lost" because the micro elements can be so strong even when the big picture doesn't make a damn bit of sense. But a show that has Milo Ventimglia as its leading man doesn't get the same amount of rope, so let's hope this isn't the beginning of a pattern.

What did everybody else think? Judging by the weepiness of the diner waitresses, is Hiro's time trip doomed to fail? Will D.L. be able to go immaterial fast enough to dodge Jessica's speeding bullet? (And did anyone else smile when they saw the "Jessic Sanders" subtitle?)

18 comments:

velvetcannibal said...

I think this is a promo flub, particularly since I didn't see the promos and had no idea that THIS was supposed to be some big revealing episode. I just thought Save the Cheerleader was the first step to Save the World. If they don't save her, it's over.

So, first step accomplished. Pretty sweet. I loved when I figured out how Peter was going to survive, and the tension of the whole episode was great. The "be yourself" mantra was a little too hammered in, but I like that Claire has become genuinely likeable. I'm still completely hooked, and while I agree on the difference in quality levels between the shows, I am nowhere near as worried about never getting answers with this as I was after the first 9 episodes of Lost.

anon said...

I'd choose to blame the promo department and not the show. The showdown clearly moved the show forward -- Peter will now meet with Parkman; Sylar will be manipulated or neutralized by Mr. Bennet; Nathan Petrelli's political campaign may be doomed. In addition, we got to see Sylar's power in action, and we may have just seen Peter get the scar that "future Hiro" told him about. On top of all that we got a cliffhanger involved DL living or dying, not Claire or Peter. The plot developed, there's reasonable expectation that the events of this episode will have consequences, and major characters actually shared information with each other. These are good things. All in all, nothing felt padding except for the Mohinder storyline -- which has been padding for several episodes now (Really, he's _not_ going to stay in India? Who'd have guessed?). Luckily, it looks like we get to replace Mohinder with Erick Avari for next week's "Six Months Earlier" flashback.

As you said, a solid episode -- that was, without question, overhyped. But isn't there always a disconnect between the promo department and the production team? I cannot imagine anyone on the production team saying "Oh yeah, for sweeps we're just going to reveal everything. Is that cool with you?"

[Completely off-topic: Alan, are you still watching _Dexter_ and, if so, do you plan on blogging about it again?]

Anon

Pete said...

I believe the structure of the show is going to be sort of like 24 with each season focusing on one big thing, i.e. a nuclear explosion. So the show has progress built in as each season will see the resolution of some major plot thread.

Marsha said...

Other than the fact that it was obvious very early on how Peter would survive, a very good episode. (Note, I also didn't see the promos.) I was genuinely tense during Claire-Syler-Peter even though I knew how it would turn out, very pleased about the way they used Jackie's previous deception to throw off Peter, and, like you, Alan, amused by the "Jessica Sanders" caption.

Only thing wrong with this episode was the lack of motion on the Hiro storyline, which is by far my favorite.

Alas, did you hear the rumor that Masi Oka will be on Scrubs as Franklyn again, but with Hiro's powers?!?! If true, fantastic.

(And please do blog on Dexter if you're watching. I'm enjoying it a great deal.)

dez said...

I loved the ep. The only thing I was bothered by was the lack of Hiro in the "Save the cheerleader" part of the story. After watching he & Ando heading in that direction for so long, to not have Hiro involved somehow felt like a cheat.

However, I am very interested to see what his mucking around in Charlie's past will mean for the present of the show. We know Sylar killed Charlie and headed off to kill Claire. If Hiro was able to warn Charlie about her impending doom and change the event, then what did Sylar do? Did he kill someone else? Will what happened at homecoming be changed somehow, or is that how things would have gone regardless of Hiro's actions? I'm pretty psyched to find out! :-)

Oh, and in the previews, they showed Sylar, albeit briefly, sitting with Mohinder's pop and moving objects around. I want to know why he's killing all the other heroes.

Lindy said...

The only thing I was bothered by was the lack of Hiro in the "Save the cheerleader" part of the story. After watching he & Ando heading in that direction for so long, to not have Hiro involved somehow felt like a cheat.

I agree completely; without Hiro and Ando there, the big climax at Homecoming felt incomplete. Otherwise I loved the episode. Like velvetcannibal, I hadn't seen the promos and didn't expect any answers as to why Claire is so important. My guess is that they need Claire's powers in order to avert the nuclear explosion Hiro saw in the future, but I'm not annoyed that I didn't find out this week.

Jennifer R said...

I think it's pretty obvious why you have to save the cheerleader: you don't want Sylar to get ahold of her powers and be unkillable. (Or alternately, she goes up against him or maybe RadiationBoy because she's hard to kill.) I don't think it's a big unfathomable WHY???? at this point, or something they had to have the characters find out blatantly right away. The audience can figure it out enough, and should be able to.

I did enjoy the "Jessica Sanders" moment, and I don't even like the Sanders chick(s). Go figure. I still want to know why Jessica thinks D.L. is so bad enough to screw over, send to jail, and kill, because I am NOT seeing it in his behavior at all.

I am worried that Hiro apparently didn't change the future enough to save Charlie. He was sorely missed in this episode, even though you could figure out he'd be gone in this one.

I am glad Claire isn't a whiny brat any more and now I'm fine with her being saved. Heh.

Looking forward to the Petrelli campaign going down in flames for this arrest, heh. It did seem weird that HRG didn't go back with Claire to take care of the guy who frigging saved her life, though.

Lindy said...

An addition to my earlier comment ... I'm starting to suspect that Niki developed the Jessica personality after an encounter with HRG. We know that some people "tagged" by his group soon find their abilities spiraling out of control (like Ted's radioactivity and Matt's mind-reading) -- maybe the same thing happened to Niki, and Jessica is her way of dealing with it.

I'm so glad they made HRG a regular, by the way. I love the questionable ethics but unwavering devotion to his daughter. Right now, I'm most curious about the nature of his hero-hunting organization, and what their real motives are. They seem benevolent sometimes, but in cases like Matt and Ted it seems like they've done more harm than good.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I don't think it's a big unfathomable WHY???? at this point, or something they had to have the characters find out blatantly right away. The audience can figure it out enough, and should be able to.

Jennifer, I agree, but then NBC shouldn't go running a promo that promises an episode that will, in fact, spell it out blatantly for the audience -- especially when there's then a line of dialogue in the episode that explicitly doesn't answer the question.

dez said...

Jennifer, I agree, but then NBC shouldn't go running a promo that promises an episode that will, in fact, spell it out blatantly for the audience -- especially when there's then a line of dialogue in the episode that explicitly doesn't answer the question.

Is PeeBeeOne still the NBC promo-monkey? ;-)

Forgot to ask earlier if y'all think Peter absorbed some of Sylar's powers since he was in close proximity to both Sylar and Claire. Perhaps he'll use them to break free of the cops and go on the run, which will screw up Nathan's campaign even more than the arrest, heh heh. And I want to know what Isaac painted. Is it Radioactive Man right before he goes nuclear?

Kim Cosmopolitan said...

I've been assuming that Micah will "fix" DL as he fixed the phone.

jdj said...

I also found the episode to be anticlimactic. I loved the scene in the locker room, which I felt was building up to a big twist in how the Heroes "save the cheerleader, save the world", and then.....a 5-second struggle with Fredo Petrelli. Disappointing.

It begs another question: In the paintings, Peter was at homecoming, killed by Sylar. What exactly changed from the premonitions? Peter would have had no reason to be at homecoming in Odessa if not for the paintings, and even with the paintings, he had no other help, but still managed to change his fate by defeating Sylar.

Unlike others, I saw/heard the previews (I don't know how anyone missed them. At least in my area, they were being playing non-stop). Maybe that played into my letdown.

Anonymous said...

In the paintings, Peter was at homecoming, killed by Sylar.

Was it for sure that Peter was killed in the paintings, or was everyone just assuming he was? There was that shot of him lying unconscious and bleeding before the commercial break that could have been what Isaac saw.

And Sylar already is unkillable. Parkman shot him and he just stood right back up again and disappeared, several weeks back. So I don't think they can be worried about him absorbing Claire's powers. I'm more in line with the idea that she's able to stop Radioactive Man somehow.

Also, nice timing, Eden. Bennet tells you to neutralize Sylar and you wait until after the attack to tell him those aren't the droids he's looking for? I really wonder who's side she's on.

Adam C. said...

What anonymous said, re: the painting of Peter. Simone, Ando, Nathan, and Peter himself assumed the worst, but it was simply an image of Peter -- eyes open, mind you -- lying on the ground in front of the homecoming banner.

And yes, dez, we too were thinking that Peter will at least temporarily have Sylar powers, which he may not enjoy.

Mo Ryan said...

Could Sylar just cut off that lock of hair in front of Peter's eyes? Would that be too much to ask?

The Niki story line gives me a headache. Ali just ain't my thing. I wish that storyline would just devolve to the kid and the dad, leave Jessica/Niki out of it.

Kristin said...

After reading all the comments, I just got to thinking. Having Peter look at all these future paintings did NOTHING to stop what happened in any of them. He still was 'killed' and a cheerleader had her head sliced open and her brain removed. Does this mean that the heroes haven't quite figured out how to actually change the future at all? They seem to be playing right into the paintings predictions instead of avoiding them at all costs.

If I had been Peter, I would have gone nowhere near the banner at 8:12. When he and Claire were running from Sylar, he should have been herding her in a completely different direction.

Anyway, I am just wondering how much they are going to be able to change the future predicted in the paintings, since they haven't managed to do that yet ONCE.

This was a strong episode for me, though. Never guessed the newspaper article would result in the death of the wrong cheerleader. That was pretty cleverly done, IMHO.

dez said...

I know everyone hates Peter, but I think he deserves some credit for going to save Claire even though he thought it would result in his own death (based on his and everyone else's interpretation of Isaac's painting).

The only hero trying to change the outcome of events so far is Hiro with his attempt to save Charlie. He seems to be the only one smart enough to think of doing that (save Nathan, who tried to spare Peter by destroying the painting). In fact, even with the painting destroyed, Peter still wound up at homecoming thanks to Simone, so trying to change the future in that manner didn't work. I think once the ramifications of Hiro's trip to the past are known, the heroes will have a better idea of how they can Save the World.

jim treacher said...

I don't see the promos either, so I didn't have anything to be disappointed about. But even the voiceover before each episode sucks. HRG was "the face of evil" for a few weeks there, but now we're learning he's more of a Xavier than a Magneto. Maybe they figure since it's about people with superpowers, the intros should be written like what they imagine comics sound like.

Re: Milo Ventimglia, you said it. He's playing Rocky Balboa's son in the new movie, and it'll be nice to see Stallone finally blow somebody off the screen with his acting chops.

The time-travel stuff gives me a headache. So if Hiro went back to six months ago in Texas, how is his buddy still there? Or are there now two Hiros in the past, one in Texas and one in Tokyo? Is his buddy ever going to see him again, or will he be stuck in that stupid diner forever while Hiro turns into Future-Hiro? Gah.

"We know Sylar killed Charlie and headed off to kill Claire. If Hiro was able to warn Charlie about her impending doom and change the event, then what did Sylar do? Did he kill someone else?"

I got the impression she was still dead. They had the little shrine for her and everything. Hiro had disappeared weeks before she died, which doesn't sound good.

Hey, did anybody notice that Erick Avari wasn't originally the picture on the back of Mohinder's dad's book? I don't know who it was, some other actor. But then the next time they showed it in the "Previously On," it was Avari. He's great, definitely an "It's That Guy!" guy. His "So be it" moment was really nicely done.