Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Heroes: Fathers day

Spoilers for "Heroes" coming up just as soon as I take a foot bath...

Well, alright. First episode this fall that I can call good not just by the drastically lowered standards of season two, but on its own. There are some things here and there that could be tweaked, but that was a pretty solid hour of television.

"Cautionary Tales" was helped by both its narrow focus and who it focused on. Usually, episodes try to pack in so many stories and characters that none of them has the time to build momentum and make an impact, and it's especially annoying when we jump away from a good story to the likes of the black oil twins or Peter hanging with Irish stereotypes.

Only three stories here that, for the most part, stuck to the more interesting characters: HRG, Hiro and, in a surprise to me (not that they used him, but that I found him interesting), Parkman. We got a straightforward thriller plot with the HRG/Bob double-kidnapping, a sentimental farewell with Hiro and Papa Nakamura, and some mystery thrown in with a corruption of the hero tale with Parkman and Ma Petrelli.

And, in a "Heroes" rarity, all the stories were thematically tied together as tales of parent-child legacies. Hiro and Kaito, in the moments before Kaito's death, finally recognize what they mean to each other. HRG and Bob, go to war over having made very different choices with their superpowered daughters. And Parkman gets too drunk with his expanded powers to realize he's slipping down the slope towards becoming the father he hated so much. (And not that I ever want to see Mrs. Parkman again, but the season already began with a Matt/Nightmare Man parallel, as he walked out on his wife and her child -- albeit a kid that wasn't his.)

The episode even managed to use West, arguably the most annoying addition of the season, in an effective way, by turning him into HRG's latest superpowered sidekick (after Invisible Claude and then The Haitian). West practically flew more in this one episode than Nathan did all of last season, and he was too busy pulling of high-speed rescues and abductions to creep me out like he so often does. (Though his behavior in this episode suggests that we weren't supposed to find him so disturbing in earlier episodes, which suggests poor acting and/or writing back then.)

Even with only three stories, some shortcuts still had to be taken. Parkman's slide into mind-control junkie is a rare case of a "Heroes" storyline that should have been stretched over more episodes (not that I think we're done with it, but he slid awfully quick here). I think Hiro and Kaito's journey could have easily filled up a whole episode without getting dull -- say, with Hiro taking his father on an extended This Is Your Life journey before finally stopping at his mother's funeral -- and, like others, I'm annoyed that, once again, Kaito is dead without us having any idea what his powers were. But damn if the funeral scene didn't get to me, anyway. Hiro's actions have always been driven by a childish love of comic books and legends, and he finally seemed to become a man (even moreso than when he "killed" Sylar) in that moment when he realized he was thinking exactly like his younger self. I don't want to lose the optimistic enthusiasm Masi Oka brings to the character, but I also don't like characters (even the usually paper-thin ones on this show) who remain stagnant, so I'm curious and hopeful about seeing a slightly more mature Hiro down the road.

Meanwhile, the writers found a way to, once again, make one of Isaac's paintings come true while dodging the repercussions of it. (See also the painting of Claire's homecoming, where Claire and Peter looked dead but got better.) I couldn't imagine them being dumb enough to kill off HRG -- for all the series' other missteps, Kring and company are smart enough to kill off the more disposable characters like Simone and D.L -- and we had just seen the amazing curative powers of Monroe's blood last week, so it wasn't a huge shock when HRG came back from the dead. But it was also a fun little callback to Claire waking up on the autopsy table at the end of the series' third episode. (One question: just how potent is that blood? Will HRG still need his trademark glasses? Are he or Nathan going to be missing some childhood scars?)

Two episodes to go in this arc -- and possibly in this season, depending on how the strike goes -- and it feels like there are even more loose ends to tie off here than there were with two episodes to go at the end of last season. Can they really pull it off, or are we in for another round of Parking Meter Beatdown Theater?

What did everybody else think?

32 comments:

Bobman said...

Despite knowing deep down that they could bring him back with some sort of sorcery, watching HRG get shot in the face was still frightening, with him being the best character on the show.

Seriously a great episode, and I think it was mostly because, as you allude to, they really stuck with some deeper character issues rather than the usual shallow cliches.

And holy crap do I hate Mohinder at this point. I've never seen a dumber genius in my life.

Taleena said...

First things first, how great were the performance of Christina Rose as Angela Petrelli? I was cheering for her. I think that the Parkman slide is not as rushed as you make out because Matt feels it's for the "common good" that he uses his powers. We knew from "Five Years Later" that Parkman is going to turn into a villain.

At least HRG knows he is not a nice guy and has no illusions about his character. Parkman thinks he is still a good guy instead of his dad.

Speaking of HRG, I love how he is not intimidated by super powers but does what he can to neutralize them by common sense. Him interrogating Elle? Fabulous.

Not surprised that HRG was going to get Claire Bear's blood. Can't kill him off now.

Surprisingly West was likeable. To bad it's taken this long to get there. I am glad someone pointed out that West is like both Dads.

Mohinder is still a chump, but I had no idea he was a crack shot.

jim treacher said...

Maybe it's just lowered expectations, but I thought it was fantastic. It's like this whole season has been a Bill Mantlo run, and this issue was guest-written by Alan Moore.

jim treacher said...

Speaking of comics, anybody else getting a Jesse Custer vibe from Parkman these days? And yeah, Christine Rose rules.

Kristin said...

Loved the descent of Parkman...and loved that I think Elle may be salvageable as well. Did you see that look in her eye at the very end of the episode? I think she is aware now that her life could have been much different, much happier, and more normal if her 'father' hadn't interfered (and I'm not convinced Bob's her 'real' dad...it seems that just as Claire was adopted by HRG, Elle was adopted by Bob).

I don't remember finding out anywhere that being healed by Claire's or Adam's blood would give anyone the healing super-power. As far as I understood it, it just fixed you up. That's it. Anyone want to offer proof of something more than that?

It was definitely a MUCH better episode. Much more like the "Heroes" of last season with a gosh-darn good cliffhanger, even if I knew it would happen. HRG's reaction was fab. And the CGI with his eye repairing kicked some butt.

I kept waiting for West to be on the side of the bad guys during the exchange.

Oh, and any thoughts on West perhaps not having any family at all??

I hope the last 2 episodes are just as entertaining.

Dave Sandell said...

I'm actually sad that it's going to end in two episodes. I really never thought I'd say that again. I do hope that Elle and Adam survive the season because I'm quite invested in them now, and I hope we get more than these last two episodes to watch them hang out in the morally gray zone.

I have a trick for not hating West: everytime I see West I see Michael Scott saying "Hunter, can you tell Jan 'I wanna squeeze them?' She'll know what that means." And then I hate him less.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I don't remember finding out anywhere that being healed by Claire's or Adam's blood would give anyone the healing super-power. As far as I understood it, it just fixed you up. That's it. Anyone want to offer proof of something more than that?

I don't think they get ongoing healing powers. My question was how does the blood know what to heal and what not to? It fixed Nathan's burns and brought HRG back to life while giving him a new eye, but would it necessarily stop at the freshest injuries or would it cleanse out the entire body before its effects ran out? Are HRG's arteries unclogged? Is Nathan now free of any lingering VD effects from his affairs?

dez said...

(Though his behavior in this episode suggests that we weren't supposed to find him so disturbing in earlier episodes, which suggests poor acting and/or writing back then.)

I'm fanwanking that as serious misdirection.

for all the series' other missteps, Kring and company are smart enough to kill off the more disposable characters like Simone and D.L

I would argue that Nikki is far more disposable than D.L.!

And holy crap do I hate Mohinder at this point. I've never seen a dumber genius in my life.

I finally hated Mohinder the way some of you already do. Even though I knew HRG would get healed with Claire's blood, even though I knew there was no way they would give up a character as good as HRG, I still flipped out when he was shot. And immediately looked at Mohinder with appropriate comic book scorn.

Regarding the healing powers of Claire's blood: I'm guessing the blood heals all wounds in the body. I don't think it has the "intelligence" to target only fresh wounds. It would be cool to have a character try to show off an old scar, only to find it's gone.

Ma Petrelli kicks ass, and I loved Parkman's descent. I especially loved everything about Hiro's storyline and I can hardly wait until he confronts Adam (especially since it apparently involves him holding a sword to Peter's neck, according to the previews).

Mohinder, you are such a dickhead.

dez said...

Oh, yeah, and if HRG's eyesight is completely healed, what are we going to call him? "Noah Bennett" seems so pedestrian now :-D

Dave Sandell said...

Just as Ben is still Henry Gale to me, I vote we continue to call him HRG.

Lindy said...

I loved it too, in large part because they're finally giving Kristen Bell something decent to do and letting her character be ruthless and scary instead of just a petulant nut. I like the idea that Bob isn't her real dad. That hadn't occurred to me (since Bob does have a power, albeit a lame one) but it could make for some interesting future storylines if that's the case.

So now the question is, who has HRG? If it's the Company, why did they bring him back?

And holy crap do I hate Mohinder at this point. I've never seen a dumber genius in my life.

Oh lord yes. I don't always love the characterization on this show, but they've done a great job showing that Mohinder is weak and susceptible to manipulation, which makes him dangerous no matter which direction his moral compass points. The fact that HRG wasn't willing to kill Mohinder, but that Mohinder was willing to kill HRG, was really potent irony.

lungfish said...

My question is: has Claire used her regenerative powers so much that she will not age anymore- just like Adam Monroe? I mean, she did throw herself off that water tower several times.

Kristin said...

I like the idea of Claire not wanting to use her regeneration powers too much or else she will be immortal and not grow up/old along with her flying boyfriend. Adds a layer of complexity, which was cool.

I was really hoping Mohinder would finally man up. He's so damn nice and wimpy all the time (except for shooting HRG) that he is barely even male. What would have been cool was to have him be attracted to Elle. I mean, she is beautiful, even if she is damaged and evil. And then let things go from there.

I'm hoping for more Elle, too!

Kyle said...

I liked the episode but didn't you think it was kinda lame the way they killed off HRG after foreshadowing it for the whole season and then brought him back after 5 minutes? It's like the writers are trying to have their cake and eat it too. And the way they brought HRG back was so predictable as well. How can I take the virus storyline seriously and think that there is an actual threat when they have shown time and time again that they set an event up for a long time and then pull out at the last moment without doing anything ballsy? For me there is no sense of investment if they cannot pull the trigger on things like this.

Stef said...

I also really liked this episode, finally!

Parkman: His descent is cool... and he obviously kept pushing the awesome Mama Petrelli to get that final name. That was the final sign for me that he's going to the dark side.

Hiro: Loved this whole storyline. I have a question, though, as I may not have followed the continuity well... will we still see "future Hiro" - the very serious, ponytailed, non-accented warrior who first visited Peter on the train? Or did preventing NYC from blowing up change the future enough so that Hiro, the one of "Five Years Later" doesn't develop?

Paternity: The Mama Petrelli scenes got me thinking. Is it possible Adam Monroe could be the Petrellis' real father, and thus Clare's grandfather? I can't remember what we've learned about Mr. Petrelli.

More Family Ties: I also loved the HRG-Clare:Bob:Elle storyline. There's probably more to it, in that Elle may be adopted too, but it was a great way to demonstrate the differences between Bob and HRG and their motivations.

Mohinder: We've reached the point where his stupidity totally outweighs his hotness, IMO. He can die any day now.

dez said...

So now the question is, who has HRG? If it's the Company, why did they bring him back?

I'm assuming it's the Company and I'm guessing to torture him and/or use him as a guinea pig for testing how far they can go before the healing blood stops working.

What power does Bob have?

Parkman started being "evil" when he started manipulating Molly, even though he knows how scared she was of his dad. He and Mohinder are perfectly matched, bleah!

jim treacher said...

Bob's power is being an evil basset hound. Also, transmuting base metals to gold by touch.

Anonymous said...

"And holy crap do I hate Mohinder at this point. I've never seen a dumber genius in my life."

Hee. And I totally agree, Bobman.

That's two really good eps in a row for Heroes. I must have watched the "Stings like a bitch, doesn't it?" HRG line delivery about 4 times in a row, that moment was THAT aweseome.

I can't believe I'm actually sad that there are only 2 new eps left. A few weeks ago I almost took Heroes off my Tivo.

Nate said...

Wassup Sep?

Are we all in agreement that Heroes is officially back on the right track?? It was a bit of a suspension of disbelief that West could survive such a fall from the sky unscathed - unless somehow Claire passed something on to him that gives him recuperative powers.

I just wish NBC wouldn't jump right into Journeyman after such an intense episode. Can't they play a few minutes of commericals so we can decompress? It's the same every Monday Night even if it's after 24. At least when I used to flip over to CSI Miami I had a few recuperative minutes of light fluff to set the episode up so I was ready once David Caruso whipped off his sunglasses with some dramatic pronouncement.

And in the Ledger column today... Dennis Miller isn't funny? Is there anything more quotable than his line about the hockey goalie who turned away more shots than a Priest at an Irish wake?

Taleena said...

So now the question is, who has HRG? If it's the Company, why did they bring him back?

Look - there are two possibilities, Adam or the Company and good mony is on the Company.

From the Company viewpoint we have three (maybe four) baddies on the loose and Virus about to spin out of control. (Sylar, Papa Parkman, Adam and maybe, Peter)

We have had a split in leadership and a serious loss of quality personel through death and imprisonment. Bob is using his less than reliable operatives (Mohinder, Elle, Nicki) out of sheer desperation. I think he's willing to cut a deal with someone as effective as Noah to get him to work with the Company until their ducks are in a row.

Karen said...

This was the first episode this season that really made me happy. The entire episode, that is--not just shirtless, water-soaked Peter Petrelli scenes.

I'm curious whether they knew that Claire's blood would actually resurrect the dead rather than merely healing wounds. Yes, it's brought HER back, but that's her power. What I want to know is, did Mohinder know, when he shot HRG, that he wouldn't be dead for good? Because that's a big question in the development of Mohinder's character--such as it is. I'm with Bobman on him: such a dumb genius.

I agree that Elle has begun to think about what other options might have been open to her (and I'm also dubious about Bob being her biological father), but I hope that they don't redeem her too quickly. Kristen Bell makes for a terrific sociopath--she can really be chilling. Poor Veronica Mars much envy Elle her power, too: how much easier would that have been than to have had to carry that taser around all the time?

About Adam Monroe and Petrelli paternity, @stef: I can see where you're going with this, and it would explain Papa Petrelli's "suicide" but don't you think Peter would recognize Adam as his father, now that he has his memory back?

Alan, I agree that it's nice to see Hiro mature a bit, but I will be sad when/if he becomes the dark, humorless character who appeared to Peter in the subway in season one. I think they're doing just the right amount of maturation, and his moment of truth at the funeral was very moving.

Andrew said...

This was a nice change from the usual dreck that is a Heroes episode. The fact that they can pull off episodes like this is why I bother to keep watching through the majority of episodes that suck.

Like Company Man, Fathers Day succeeds because it focused around HRG and how far he is willing to go to protect his family. Parkman was actually interesting as he embraced his power and his evil side. Mohinder being a dumbass is also related to father-son dynamics, since he is attempting to complete his dead father's work.

The only two caveats I had are with the annoyingly long reveal where Hiro finds out that Kensei/Adam kills George Takei. There's not all that much surprise, since we learned that Adam is still alive last week. Since the suspense is gone, dwell on the reaction, not the setup.

Also, wouldn't it be more of a cliffhanger to hold off the scene of HRG healing and coming to until next week? Whether or not he is still alive is a much more compelling cliffhanger than who has him. While I didn't think that Kring & Co. had the balls to kill off one of the few interesting and not-annoying characters, make it at least seem like you're plausibly committed to having killed him off until the next episode.

Jenn. said...

I think that they were doing an intentional reflection to the episode where Claire came back to life at the end on the coroner's table and said, "Holy sh---!" Entertaining and deja vu, but it was the first time this season that I wished that they had held back on the revelation of something. Usually the revelation has taken too damn long to occur....

Kenrick said...

I don't really know what to say. I thought this episode was great... until Mohinder shot HRG. That completely ruined it for me. I don't care if he *thought* Claire's blood could save HRG, 'cause as a scientist he has no proof that it works, other than Bob's word. So I'm assuming he shot HRG, you know, to kill HRG. Ok, so we know Mohinder is pretty despicable now, so as long as he keeps going down that road, maybe I can forgive this transgression. When he's supposed to be this moral compass blah blah blah, and he's going around kidnapping minors and killing people, then dude that seems worse than anything HRG did, 'cause at least when HRG did it, he understood the implications of what he was doing, that the ends justify the means. Mohinder is just a wuss.

Anonymous said...

This episode was only good because the other episodes were so crappy. Does anything that happens on this show surprise anyone anymore. Did anybody really think Hiro was going to save his father? Was anybody really surprised that Adam killed Papa Hiro? Was anyone really surprised that Elle would believe HRG even though she had no reason to? Were there people out there that thought HRG would actually die?

Number Five said...

Ahh...it was the best episode ever, until the last 10 seconds. Maybe I'm just a sap, but they did such a great job with the episode overall and with HRG especially that I really thought they had killed him.

Yeah, so they keep one of the most popular characters (and he is definitely one of the best on the show) alive, but at what cost? It cheapens the episode, it continues to show that only unpopular characters are going to die, and it continues to suggest that the show is unwilling to really jump outside its safety zone and do anything daring. I never thought the stakes would be so low on Heroes, but here we are.

I think this entire season is coming down to whether Bob and the remnants of the Company are telling the truth or not about their intentions and plans. Either way, Mohinder is an idiot, but one option will make him much much more of a chump than the other. Finding the answer will also let us know a lot more about how pretty much every other character fits into the story. I'm curious to see how the other characters, Hiro especially, get integrated into the main plot over the last two episodes.

Stef said...

Karen - I was actually thinking that there really was a Mr. Petrelli, but that Mama P had an affair with Adam and one (Nathan) or both of the sons are really his. Peter wouldn't know who Adam was. It may be interesting down the line if Mama P has that secret and it turns out that the brothers are half-brothers, with one of them being the son of the big bad, and we could see that come between them. Just a soapy theory...

Was last night the first time that there was no Mohinder narration? (At least that I noticed.) Could that be significant, if the dumb genius has had a fall from grace?

Anonymous said...

Looks like Mohinder and Matt did some despicable things "for the greater good".

Loved this episode -- very well done!

filmcricket said...

I did actually gasp when Bennett got shot. I have mixed feelings about them bringing him back. Obviously, I don't want to see one of the better characters get killed off, but I agree with most people here that it would have shown guts on the part of the writers. And much as I laughed at the "Holy sh--!" callback, I think it would have been a better cliffhanger to leave us uncertain about his fate.

That said, I do hope Bennett's re-recruited into the Company, although I don't know how that can possibly work at this point. He's been much less interesting this season, and I think a part of that is that his motives have been much clearer: his family, and particularly Claire, are all that matter to him. He was cooler when he was ambiguous.

Kristen Bell is just bringing so much to this role - the scene between her and Bennett was chilling.

Amasea said...

Re:
It was a bit of a suspension of disbelief that West could survive such a fall from the sky unscathed - unless somehow Claire passed something on to him that gives him recuperative powers.
I was under the impression he landed on Claire, that she twisted around so he wouldn't hit the ground. Sure, there'd still be an impact, but cushioned by her pneumatic parts, it couldn't have been too bad.

dez said...

^ What amasea said about Claire & West's impact.

I did actually gasp when Bennett got shot.

I did, too, because I was certain they would take the cop-out and it would be Bob who Isaac had painted. Although I agree that delaying the reveal of HRG's healing would probably have been more dramatic, I can't say I'm unhappy knowing he's not really dead. Also, I wouldn't be surprised to find out that Mohinder is the one who saved him as a way to make amends and take down the Company. Okay, I'd be a *little* surprised since this is Mohinder we're talking about :-D

Some Dude said...

She probably won't read this as I am very late to this party, but to answer Stef's question :

will we still see "future Hiro" - the very serious, ponytailed, non-accented warrior who first visited Peter on the train? Or did preventing NYC from blowing up change the future enough so that Hiro, the one of "Five Years Later" doesn't develop?

If I remember correctly, the main reason for Hiro's "transformation" was Ando's death during the NYC explosion. So I'm guessing no NYC explosion = no dead Ando = no Future Hiro.