Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Heroes: All-day suckers

Spoilers for "Heroes" coming up just as soon as I teach my daughter never to talk to strangers...

Oh, "Heroes," you had me, and then you lost me. After last week's unreservedly strong outing, we get an episode that had me counting the minutes till "Journeyman" came on. (Blog post on that to follow later today after I finish watching it; sacked out halfway through.)

If the theme of last week's episode was fathers and children, this week's theme was "with great power comes great gullibility." The plots all moved forward, but all depended on characters -- primarily Maya, Peter and Mohinder -- being foolish enough to put their trust in the bad guys, all while ignoring the protests of characters they should trust more.

Obviously, we have more information than the characters in the show do -- and, in fairness, it's still not completely clear what Company Bob's intentions are (though if he's made a face turn, then it's HRG who looks the fool) -- but the entire episode, and much of this season, falls under Ebert's Idiot Plot rule, where the only way the story works is if as many characters as possible act like idiots. I gravitate towards stories about smart people, which is one of the main reasons why HRG and Nathan (remember him?) are among my favorite characters on this show. Mohinder and Peter have always shown themselves to be vulnerable to whatever svegnali crosses their path, and it annoys the snot out of me.

As Peter's powers expanded last year, we talked a lot about how the writers would need to be careful or else he would render all the other characters useless; turns out their solution is to once again make him a moron. So maybe he doesn't want to listen when the Joanna Cassidy character accuses Monroe of being the one trying to release the virus, but when Monroe unties her binds entirely as an excuse to kill her when they could have easily left her tied up and unharmed, that should have been a big flashing danger sign.

(Hiro doesn't come off looking so smart, either, by giving vengeance as his reason for wanting to fight Kensei/Monroe; given that they did have several marvelous team-ups in the past, and that the Cassidy had already accused Monroe of wanting to release the virus, even Peter might have been willing to listen had Hiro played that card. Probably not, though. This is Peter Petrelli we're talking about.)

I could talk in more detail about the rest of the episode -- about how the pay-off to the Monica/Micah story next week better be pretty sweet to justify her not kicking some gangbanger butt upon being discovered, how I really like the work Kristen Bell is doing and wish we were getting a lot more of her, how Mohinder and Parkman must employ the least reliable babysitter in New York -- but I just want to wash the taste of idiocy out of my mouth after that one and get back to "Journeyman," or something else I might genuinely enjoy. Blurgh.

What did everybody else think?

33 comments:

Taleena said...

Well, I liked it better than you, but yes, Peter and Mohinder are the idiot twins.

I enjoyed the return of badass Sylar with the ticking clocks. Glad to see one Wonder Twin kick the bucket and am finally interested to see if Maya becomes Sylar's evil henchman.

Hiro should never leave Ando behind. Hiro needs the feet on the ground reality of Ando. "Why does it always have to be you who saves the world?" indeed.

I look forward to Adrian Pasdar's return. I hoped that Claire Bear would go find back up Daddy to help her and her family.

Yup, Noah cut a deal the way I predicted last week. Bob is in dire straits

Dave said...

With so many storylines to pay off in 80 minutes, it didn't feel like anything was accomplished this episode. Sylar & Maya had the same conversation twice, and it's a similar conversation to the ones they've had before. Monica and Micah went nowhere (Really? His dad's medal?) and I had the same objection - why didn't she unleash her kung-fu moves? Plus the kid who plays Micah is overacting his heart out and I'm no longer invested in him. Nathan and Parkman are nowhere to be found, Peter is acting like a fool (and the dialog is sweet - "Look!" he says as he holds up the piece of paper he apparently brought back with him "Impressive")

I guess I just don't care if they save New York again. Last week I was sad that it was ending in two weeks. Now I just want to cut our losses and move on to the next episode. Who will they kill off next week? Best be Maya and Mohinder, whose story lines must run out after next episode - the powerless hero / brilliant scientist (with zero common sense) - what else can they do with him?

Oh, and where was the Hiro with a sword at Peter's neck scene that was in all of the previews?

Dave said...

By episode I meant story line / volume / season 2b.

Tom C. said...

I wish there was a way to give Peter a weakness other than stupidity. It's not exactly kryptonite. But yeah, there's not much else you can do with someone who absorbs everyone else's powers. A way to make him more interesting would be to have the powers he absorbs eventually wear off.

Bobman said...

It would be cool if Peter absorbed the Haitians powers but couldn't control them, so he arbitrarily blocked his own powers.

If you would have told me last year that NBC would have three action dramas on Monday night, and Heroes would be my least favorite of them, I would have laughed in your face. What a difference a year makes.

Dave said...

I don't know what it is about this show. It's easily one of my top 5 shows this fall, but on Mondays we have HIMYM, Chuck & Heroes on the DVR and Chuck is always the one I watch last (which has the nice side effect of washing the bad Heroes taste out of your mouth). Maybe it's due to the lack of major season story arcs, but I like this more that those other two shows yet I never look forward to it as much. I don't know what that says, but regardless I'm glad it got picked up and look forward to watching it to the end.

BigTed said...

I agree that the characters' utter stupidity detracted from the enjoyment of this week's episode. I guess we'll never see a hero with "super-smarts," because he or she would instantly outshine all the rest. (Although Sylar clearly has better people skills than any of them.)

One thing I don't understand about Monica: Does she have to see someone really doing something? She seems to get most of her powers from watching TV, which is full of special effects. So could she get superpowers by, say, watching an episode of "Super-Friends"? What about by seeing one of the other heroes do something that's seemingly physically impossible?

Anonymous said...

I was disappointed as well.

I was excited by the thought of watching my latest recording of Chuck afterward.

The scene I hated the most was the one where Sylar and Maya are having a picnic. Although intended to be sinister, i found it to be laughable. (playback: Maya you can control your power. omg i can!)

Sylar's influence on her reminded me of Dwight Shrute's attempt to influence michael during the Halloween episode when he was a sith lord.haha

jim treacher said...

Weak episode, but it had one of the whole show's biggest laugh-out-loud moments: Kristen Bell trying to start her car with a Slusho in one hand and a cast on the other arm. Someone please give her another show of her own!

I'm under the impression that Monica has to see a real-live person doing something. (Would a motion-capture CGI cartoon count?)

dez said...

As beautiful as Mohinder is, he really needs killin'. Or at least a proper ass-whuppin' metered out by HRG.

I think Sylar lasered off the bangs where all of Peter's intelligence was stored because that boy is dumb. He and Mohinder can go off and star in another sequel to "Dumb and Dumber" for all I care.

My vote for heroes who get kacked next week: Monroe and Niki. Niki's become useless and Micah is more fun hanging out with Monica anyway. I doubt they want to tie Hiro down any more than they did stranding him in feudal Japan by having him do nothing but chase Monroe around for another arc, so I predict Hiro will chop off Monroe's head with Monroe's own "S"-symbol-bearing sword. Because this show is never heavy-handed, right? :-D

Steve Pick said...

Man, I'm alone in the woods here. I really, really dug last night's episode. No, not nearly as much as last week's, but, on the other hand, I was caught out of breath when Hiro charged Peter at the end, like when I was a kid reading Marvel comics and I came to the final panel of an endless serial.

Every one of the complaints registered here rings true, but the show isn't good because it's smart, it's good because it moves, and last night was full of movement. Motivations are ridiculous, but the actions were all fun to watch (except for the Sylar/Maya stuff, but at least we finally get rid of one Wonder Twin.)

I think Monica is still learning what she can do - I wonder if she can't reuse powers she learned in the past without seeing them displayed again?

I've got nothing against Chuck, which is way smarter than Heroes, but it's not half as much fun. This season started off dragging, I agree, but the last three or four episodes have all been mild thrill rides, and that's all I ask of this series.

Anonymous said...

I actually don't think Suresh is all that dumb. So far he's the only character who has ACTUALLY destroyed any strain of the virus, which is exactly what he's been out to do for three or four episodes now. This is despite HRG completely flaking out on him over the paintings.

I see Suresh as kind of like the John Heard character in "My Fellow Americans," the one everyone assumed was too airheadedly stupid to plan anything serious. I half-expect Mohinder to inform Bob "It was all just a big fuh-cade."

Anna Laperle said...

Personally, I feel terribly wronged that we were denied one of Joanna Cassidy's patented crazy laughs. And then she died! What the hell, guys! You better bring her back pronto, laughing crazily about, 'Oh, yeah. My power? Did I tell you? I cannot be killed.' Peter: Wow, really? I never would have guessed, you know, with the other two immortals on this show whose powers I would have absorbed (does that make me immortal, too?). Let me process that for a few minutes while Adam unleashes the virus that will kill 93% of, you know, everybody.

Anonymous said...

Count me in the everyone's retarded and this is boring category. Really? Hiro can't just tell Peter that Adam's gonna release the virus? Really? We're just recapping last year's storyline about saving the world down to Peter and Hiro meeting and Peter still not trusting him? Not that there's anything wrong with that, but Sylar is easily the most likable character on the show next to HRG because he's so masterfully manipulative.

Stef said...

I'm glad it wasn't just me, cuz I found my attention majorly waning last night. It seemed like such a waste to build up to Joanna Cassidy and then kill her in her first episode. I'm expecting more out of the parents' storyline, but maybe I shouldn't.

My picks for who could/should/might die? Molly - fairly useless, and killing her would motivate the heck out of Parkman, who still may go bad or good. And it would show some guts for the writers to kill a kid! So it probably won't happen... And sadly, Nathan, only because he's been totally absent and the political power he had in sn 1 that could've been a real force in moving storylines seems to have evaporated. I'd like to be wrong, though, cuz I like Nathan a lot better than many of the others....

Peter said...

Kind of a giant huge gaping plot hole with that picture of all the companies founders. If the woman who created the virus (or found it or whatever) left the company back in 1977, why the hell is she in a picture with all the other founders when she's much older?

Susan said...

Peter - good point. The young Joanna Cassidy character we see in the flashback is not the one we see in the picture.

Total waste of Joanna Cassidy, to give her one scene and then kill her.

I wish they had left the "HRG is ALIVE!" reveal to the end of last night's ep instead of last week's. It was hard to really feel any sympathy for the Bennett family, knowing HRG was alive. It would have been really moving if we could have mourned him along with them and then gotten the big surprise.

Other things that annoy me:

- Peter's big motivation for saving the world from a virus is to save Caitlin, a girl he's known for a few days while he was unsure of who he even was? Forget about saving 93% of the world's population... I have to save the random Irish girl!

- Niki's storyline this season has been worthless. So she got sick - um, how? Aside from her other personalities, how has this sickness really shown itself? And when she stabbed the needle in her arm, what did that do, make her sicker? She's working for the company in order to get well, but she leaves before they have a cure? The whole thing is driving me crazy.

- If Monica can do anything she sees, isn't she sort of like Peter - she can absorb powers? If she saw Niki doing her super-strength thing, could Monica do it?

One thing that's potentially cool -this whole thing could be leading to the idea that it's Peter (or Hiro) who originally released the virus, by trying to stop it in the first place.

Donny said...

Peter, well said. I was thinking the same thing. Apparently there is more to that storyline (woman who creates virus, leaves company, then shows up in picture with all the people she dislikes) than we thought or than they'll cover this "season".

I thought the episode was weak, but then again, it's the lead up to the "finale". So they had to lay some ground work, i.e. Claire v. Kristen Bell, Peter v. Hiro v. Adam, Mohinder/Parkman v. Sylar, etc.

Don't just bash the show because it hasn't lived up to Season 1 hype. They finally have something going here, and you can't expect every single episode to be fantastic.

Alan Sepinwall said...

- Peter's big motivation for saving the world from a virus is to save Caitlin, a girl he's known for a few days while he was unsure of who he even was? Forget about saving 93% of the world's population... I have to save the random Irish girl!

Plus -- not that I expect the Heroes writers to go here, since they don't seem all that interested in the "rules" of time travel beyond Hiro's inability to change the past -- Peter preventing the virus' release should erase that dystopian future, and Caitlin along with it.


- Niki's storyline this season has been worthless. So she got sick - um, how? Aside from her other personalities, how has this sickness really shown itself? And when she stabbed the needle in her arm, what did that do, make her sicker?

The Company was helping her treat her Multiple Personality Disorder. She injected herself, I think, because she wanted to take away her super-strength, which she believed was the cause of the MPD. Until that point, anyone injected with the virus and then with Mohinder's blood would lose their powers but be otherwise unharmed. Nikki was the first to be injected with the mutated strain.

It's not interesting, but they've at least explained that.

- If Monica can do anything she sees, isn't she sort of like Peter - she can absorb powers? If she saw Niki doing her super-strength thing, could Monica do it?

If her powers work the way Taskmaster's do in the comics, no. She can't duplicate things that a normal human being can't do. So she could watch a Bruce Lee movie and be a martial arts badass, or watch a figure skating competition and be able to do a triple lutz, but she can't watch an episode of Bionic Woman and then jump from the street to the top of a four-story building.

One thing that's potentially cool -this whole thing could be leading to the idea that it's Peter (or Hiro) who originally released the virus, by trying to stop it in the first place.

Which, if they go there, would just be a rehash of Peter, rather than Sylar or Radioactive Ted, being the one to (potentially) nuke New York last season.

Anonymous said...

For me, the problem is precisely that they have something going here. And that Tim Kring said that these four episodes are the best they've written or something along those lines. Last night it seemed like they dropped all of the momentum. It's the second-to-last episode of this "volume" and there's so much to do that I think we can expect a fantastic episode.

What would need to happen in the next "volume" to appease everyone?

dez said...

Man, I'm alone in the woods here. I really, really dug last night's episode.

You're not alone. I liked it a lot. I was just too overwhelmed with Mohinder's and Peter's stupidity to say it here :-)

It would be more interesting if Hiro's actions inadvertently led to the release of the virus than if the release is a result of Peter's idiocy and/or Adam's machinations. That could be what leads to dour Future Hiro, but it would also suck (I want Hiro to be a badass, but not at the expense of his joy at being a superhero).

Nancy said...

As beautiful as Mohinder is, he really needs killin'.

ROFLMAO! Seriously! My husband and I go back and forth several times per episode every week. "Peter is the most stupid" ... "ok, no, Mohinder's got the stupid crown" ... "no wait, it's Peter, he's the most stupid"... "dangit, Mohinder back in the game, he's definitely the most stupid" ...and on an on. Blurgh, indeed. Well, at least they are nice to look at ...

But Hiro (even with his "you killed my father, prepare to die" cliche motivation) really stole the show at the end:

Peter: I can't let you do that.

Hiro: Then you have chosen the wrong side.

lungfish said...

I wish Mohinder would have injected some of Claire's blood into his nose so we wouldn't have to see him wearing a Breathe-Right strip all the time.

jim treacher said...

"I wish Mohinder would have injected some of Claire's blood into his nose so we wouldn't have to see him wearing a Breathe-Right strip all the time."

Well, Parkman kept elbowing him in the ribs and complaining about his snoring...

Lindy said...

As much as I love Hiro, he definitely shared the Stupid Crown last night. I can forgive the writers for making Peter and Suresh stupid, since they've been stupid for the whole series, but now Hiro too? He's joined forces with Peter before, why didn't he just *tell him* that Adam wants to release the virus and tried it in 1977? It's an Ebert Idiot Plot, all right. Aargh.

I actually enjoyed last night's episode, but the stupidity of the exchange at the end was more than I could ignore.

Susan said...

Alan, thanks for the explanation of Niki's storyline this season. It definitely cleared things up for me. (I thought she had initially gone to the Company to get cured from the virus, not her MPD.) I still think her storyline has been worthless - especially since her "partnering" with Mohinder lasted about a minute - but at least it's clearer now.

Lizbeth said...

I have to agree with your assessment, Alan. Last night it became obvious to even my kids that most of the heroes are just plain stupid. We started making a list -- who's the stupidist hero? Maya? Mohinder? Monica? Peter? Parkman?

It would be nice if just one hero would step up as the "leader" -- someone with brains and leadership qualities to wrangle the others.

I also agree with a commenter that they should have waited to reveal that Bennet was still alive. What a waste of a plot twist to show he survived immediately. They could have tugged a lot more heart strings by making us think they actually killed HRG (at least for a couple of weeks).

Pandyora said...

I agree with the general suckitude of the stupid off.

But the most important flaw in the episode, from my perspective, was the casual use of Hiro's time travel abilities. Weren't they supposed to come with consequences?

It now seems like Hiro can time travel simply for lame narrative continuity reasons. I can just imagine the writers room:

Writer 1: "Hmmm...how can we convince the audience of this completely implausible plot twist?"

Writer 2: "Ummm...I know, let's send Hiro back in time to witness it! But let's make sure he doesn't do anything while in the past, like, I don't know, KILL ADAM and the threat to humanity..."

Writer 3: "Magic turtle!"

Andrew said...

It's the second-to-last episode of this "volume" and there's so much to do that I think we can expect a fantastic episode.

Given the way that season 1's finale wrapped things up, I wouldn't expect too much.

Is it too much to wish for to narrow the cast down to the non-stupid characters?

Anonymous said...

I think the biggest mistake this show has made is to protect its main characters. Alan has mentioned this before.

Tim Kring seems unwilling to let any of his precious heroes die, which is a big mistake. They are getting boring (most of them), and since the writers don't elect to move any of the characters forward emotionally, there is nowhere for their stories to go.

I say they need to kill off about half of the heroes they have...Nikki, the kid, Parkman, the girl, Peter, etc. and bring us some new heroes with problems.

Elle is by far the most interesting new hero they've brought on the show. And Kristen Bell has the acting chops to bring a lot of life to her character. But they have marginalized her. Instead of bringing her to the forefront, she has to sit in the background and be used only on occasion.

Oh, one more thing that has been bugging me since last night...why would a gang of thugs who clearly looked to be over 18 be interested in a few comic books in some kid's backpack? I was expecting teenage boys or even middle-school age...but when I saw this gang I just had to laugh. Yeah, right. Let's rob a kid of his $20 comic book! I mean, come on!

Anonymous said...

I feel torn about this last episode -- while it certainly moved along (albeit at a much quicker pace than normal for this show), I was a little bored at times. And confused. And bummed that Joanna Cassidy is gone after one episode (she was so wonderfully crazy in Six Feet Under...I was hoping to see her chewing up some scenery...).

I think I'm confused b/c I don't know which "side" is right on the show...and I'm tired of trying to figure it out. Last year, it was (more) clear who the bad people were, except for a little wrinkle when we met Linderman. But you knew they had to stop Sylar, and the bomb from destroying NYC. This season, I'm not sure what the right thing is, and I'm not getting a clear sense of why certain characters chose certain sides. Peter sides with Monroe b/c they were inmates together and he wants to save Kaitlyn, a woman he hardly knows? That must have been some week they spent together...LOL. And Mohinder just doesn't want to kill anyone?

I don't know...it's all kind of a mess in my head. I don't think the finale will resolve anything for me. But I'm still looking forward to it, as I look forward to this show every week.

filmcricket said...

I'm getting tired of Panettiere and Claire. I know that's tantamount to heresy, and I can't figure out if it's the actress or the character that's really bothering me. Claire's been such a brat most of this season and last night all I could think of every time I looked at Panettiere was "Please stop acting with your teeth." And she's one of the better actors on the show. Maybe it's just that Kristen Bell is totally winning the tiny blonde actress-off even with her limited screentime.

Anonymous said...

I guess it's time we move on. There's nothing to see here.

Has anyone seen the new teaser for the fourth season of Battlestar Galactica??? It's brilliant.