Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Heroes, "Angels and Monsters": 'Round the way, they call me Bubbles

Spoilers for last night's "Heroes" coming up just as soon as I show you this great red fedora...

Maybe last week's screed allowed me to once and for all dispense with the notion that "Heroes" is ever going to be good again (if it ever really was), maybe the presence of Andre Royo from "The Wire" (in addition to the already-present Jamie Hector) put me in a more forgiving mood, or maybe "Angels and Monsters" was just better than the last few episodes. For whatever reason, I didn't hate it.

Sure, I could spend this entire post picking apart the many things that continue to be wrong with the show. Start with the way that The Company seems to be just as stupid in its own way as either Peter or Mohinder -- does Mrs. Petrelli do anything anymore other than apologize for previous Company decisions and promise to do better in the future? -- or how arbitrary and rushed these attempts are to have characters (notably Peter and Sylar) change sides so we can better explore the Heroes vs. Villains idea. The characters are still painfully thin, the dialogue arch, blah blah blah... you know the drill by now.

But "Angels and Monsters" did a lot of little things right in the middle of the usual annoyances. Royo's character had a unique (for this show, if not for comics) power that was presented in a visually cool way. Hiro actually used his powers wisely for the first time in forever (until he got knocked out, and even after I suspect he used his gifts in some super-clever way to make it only look like he skewered Ando). Instead of giving the big emotional moments to the actors who can't handle them (Milo and Hayden, notably), this week they were handed to the far more capable likes of Adrian Pasdar (Nathan chewing out his mother), Jack Coleman (HRG pleading with Stephen Canfield to make Sylar disappear) and Royo. They still weren't exceptionally well-written scenes, but good actors like these can elevate the material. (I'm hoping Robert Forster gets a lot of screen time now that he's on board; it seems like his character is some kind of astral projector.)

Hell, I even enjoyed a sequence involving Maya and/or Mohinder for the first time in what feels like forever. The scene with Maya discovering Mohinder's cocooned victims and busting out her black oil powers was tense and creepy in a way that "Heroes" tries but too often fails to achieve.

All is not forgiven, not remotely, but if they can give us more engaging moments within each episode, I can at least justify continuing to watch it while I do three other things, where if we had gotten another episode like the last few, I probably would have sworn it off.

What did everybody else think?

42 comments:

Phil said...

SYLAR has SUPER HEARING!!!

My God, doesn't someone keep a spreadsheet of the powers Sylar/Peter have?

It's moments like that that take me completely out of the show.

Taleena said...

we knew Sylar had super hearing from season one when he was an unapologetic brain eater.

I used to sit down and watch Heroes live time, now I still have half of last week's episode to watch before I get around to last nights.

Tim Kring killed Isaac of now he needs to kill off Mohinder, Peter, Maya, Molly, Ali Larter's triplet du jour and if she doesn't get her case together Claire. I like Nathan's Cylon Linderman but he's on the edge too.

Bobman said...

Didn't Sylar lose his super hearing when he lost his other powers during season 2? I thought all of his powers now were only the ones he had gained since trekking through Mexico or whatever.

Not that I expect any internal consistency or logic, just sayin'.

Matter-Eater Lad said...

I think Pa Petrelli is paralyzed and unable to speak -- that's why Matt's telepathic dad is his liaison with the outside world.

I agree that this episode went over better than last week's, in large part for the reasons you mention. But, still, Mohinder dragged a bloody body from Central Park to Isaac's studio and no one noticed? I'd buy that in, say, 1975, but not today.

Rick said...

I'm with you about the small moments and especially Andre Royo's guest spot. But something Adam Monroe said bothered me more than any of the other Idiot Plots we've had so far this season.

When Hiro tells him about the formula, he says something like, "Geez, even I told them to get rid of that." Why the hell wouldn't the Company just destroy the formula? There could've been another way into the story they're trying to tell without there having to be a decades-long chain of stupidity.

Graeleight said...

If Sylar lost all his old powers where did the telekinesis come from?

Anonymous said...

So they finally create a character that can get rid of all their problems involving people with too many powers and time travelling snafus and they have him zap himself into another dimension in his first apperance. The second I saw his power I wanted to get him, Sylar, Peter and Hiro into a room together and magically fix the series.

Jaynee said...

Phil beat me to the punch. I was screaming at my TV that Sylar should be able to hear the ENTIRE conversation when HRG was trying to get the dude to kill Sylar. I was pissed that the writers so obviously forgot that little nugget.

Indeed said...

I don't even watch Heroes...I was just so pysched to see Bubbles in that picture. :-)

BF said...

If Sylar lost all his old powers, he couldn't have painted the future or "pulled a Ted" in last week's Back to the Future episode.

And why is Papa Parkman sending Flash Jr. to recruit people instead of "sending" Linderman?

I know, I know. If you think too much with this show...

lungfish said...

I thought last night was the best episode in a long time.

I felt that the "surprise reveals" of Pops Petrelli, Hiro stabbing Ando, and the people stuck in slime were pretty suspenseful.

The puppet master thing looks like it's going to be lame though... and another example of them recycling the same powers (Parkman's being able to plant thoughts in people's head, the girl from season 1 with the power of persuasion).

As much as I like to bash the show recently, it was all in all an enjoyable episode.

dez said...

I'm hoping Canfield can suck himself back into "Heroes"-world in the future. More Andre Royo, less Milo and Zachary, please!

I wonder how Parkman Sr. got out of the mental hellhole his son left him in? And why Claire was going against HRG when he was trying to talk Canfield into sucking Sylar into a vortex? Let him be some other dimension's prob, you nitwit!

Now we know how Lindermann is appearing to everyone--an actual answer to a mystery in the show. That, plus Hiro going back to form, made this a good ep for me. Still a little bugged (ha ha) by the Mohinder-Alien-Predator-Fly story, though. Stupid Maya should have at least kept the black oil going until he passed out so she could escape. I hope he eats her brain soon, except it might create an even larger vortex of stupidity.

Kristin said...

It's so very strange how this show's 'world' works. The first season, I thought we were getting an introduction to these characters and that they would start interacting with real people outside the 'company' and other secret groups. But, no, theses 'Heroes,' which have never once done something truly heroic...like save innocent people (as individuals...not the nuclear thing) or stop crime a la Batman or Spiderman.

It has all become this internal battle that is very closed from the real world around them. Which just makes no sense. And it makes everything less suspenseful or interesting.

I liked vortex man and the reveal that he wasn't really evil at all. But they dispatched with him too quickly. I'd rather have them dump most of the main characters each season in a sort of 'reboot.' Focus in on a few of them and what happens to their lives and how they handle these powers.

Did anyone else understand how Hiro could have restarted the situation with Anders in the coffin with Anders *remembering* what had just happened? If Hiro goes back in time, NO ONE can remember anything that had just happened, except for him. He WENT BACK IN TIME. That annoyed me to no end.

And that whole scene just discounted someone's defense of why Hiro didn't use his time rewind powers to get back the formula half. She claimed that Hiro now understood how any change of the timeline was destructive. Um, he just changed the timeline 3 or 4 times with the dude in the coffin...so why doesn't that one count????

todmod said...

I agree that this was the first not-bad episode in a long time. Obviously the show still has problems, but at least there were some non-recycled powers, some suspenseful scense, less bad actors, etc. And I thought it was clear Sylar DID use his super hearing - his conversation in the car made it clear he knew what HRG was doing. He was simply using the conflict to show Claire the dark side of her dad.

That First Andrew said...

I don't think we've seen the last of Andre Royo. I am pretty sure he was listed in the credits of every episode so far, even though he never appeared until last night. this suggests that he was more than a one-off guest star, doesn't it?

So one moment Claire is shocked and appalled that her father is partners with Sylar, and one car ride to the merry-go-round late she is shocked and appalled that her father wants him vortexed? Sometimes it feels like every scene is written by a different writer, and they just put them in order the day before shooting without reading anyone elses...

Does anyone else get the feeling that Mr. Patrelli is starting his own Company?

Jim's Library said...

If Hiro could use his power to dump Adam in the coffin while they were negotiating, why couldn't he just use his power to get him out? Saving him the effort of digging him up at the end of the last episode.

That First Andrew said...

Also: I love that the "Previously on Heroes" guy is referring to Noah Bennet as "HRG." There is something kind of pathetic about that, no?

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one who couldn't help but laugh at Peter's "TELL ME YOUR SECRETS!" line?

Jason Fisher said...

First time commenting here ...

I was a big fan of the show in its first season; now, I’ve just about given up hope. We actually deleted the season subscription from our DVR after last week’s episode. I watched last night’s just now on Hulu. I wasn’t impressed. Just a few thoughts:

1) Sylar: Either he still has super-hearing or he shouldn’t have future-painting. Either way, the plot hole is bigger than one of Stephan Canfield’s vortexes.

2) I liked the Stephan Canfield character, but too little too late. BTW, wouldn’t another way to get rid of “immortals” (Claire, Peter, Sylar) be to put them in the same room with the Haitian, who can block their abilities (including regeneration), then just shoot them ...?

3) Hiro popping Adam Monroe back into his father’s coffin. I suppose we are meant to think he froze time, then painstakingly manipulated the coffin and Adam to get him back into it, then unfroze it ... But the danger is in making it look more like Hiro has a telekinetic ability to simply “transport” Adam into the coffin. I can see them conveniently forgetting the difference if they aren’t careful.

4) Hiro killing Ando: Whether for real or not, it felt like the show was just trying too hard to shock us. I’ve felt the same way about the polarity shifts from good to evil, and vice versa, of Sylar, Peter, and Mohinder.

5) Angela saying that the company tore the formula in half so that “this would never happen again” ... Uh, no. Thanks for playing the Feud. If you never want it to happen again, you destroy it. Angela was either lying about wanting it never to happen again, or else so inept that they deserve whatever comes of it. And BTW, Mohinder seems to have recreated the formula (or a close variant) without those two halves — so why should we be expected to care about the pieces of the actual formula?

6) Maya vs. Mohinder: The neighbor was still conscious, so shouldn’t we expect Maya to be? In which case, can’t she black-eyez Mohinder at some point? Just when we were all probably hoping we’d seen the last of Maya (if not yet of Mohinder), there she goes into a “limbo” (just like Hiro last season, and Parkman this season).

This last is an example of one of the show’s biggest problems — its reach has exceeded its grasp. It has too large a cast for the available storyline. As a result, they have to keep inventing ways to “keep castmembers busy” — at the cost of plausibility.

Also, when you involve time travel, you really need to establish a set of rules and then play by them. The “future” in Heroes seems to be absolutely off the rails, out of control.

There were a few things I liked: a) Claire realizing quickly that she’d gotten in over her head; b) The Stephan Canfield character — though more generally, the last thing the show needs is more characters; c) Robert Forster, whom I recognized in Angela’s dream; d) the return of Parkman Sr. (though we have to accept the return without explanation) and the reveal that Linderman is a figment; e) the reveal that Nathan’s ability is man-made.

Tom said...

"Am I the only one who couldn't help but laugh at Peter's 'TELL ME YOUR SECRETS!' line?"

I'm not sure I laughed as much as I did cringe. That whole scene was terrible. Can this show at least TRY to work on characterization. Just because Peter absorbed Sylar's power doesn't mean he absorbed his personality as well.

Ryan said...

My favorite episode of the season so far.

But I agree with everyone who questions the logic of "We determined that this formula was so dangerous to fate of the entire world that we decided to... tear it in half."

Anonymous said...

Definitely the best episode of the season. But I have to disagree with everyone about Andre Royo. Maybe he was good on The Wire, but he was awful here. In fact, his whiny pleas about his family had me recalling the "I just want to get to the mountains!" guy from season 2 of 24. Bad, bad, bad.

jedibo29 said...

The issue of whether Sylar's powers were reset definitely seems confusing to me, though there seems to be a definitive answer (yes) in this Behind the Eclipse interview with the writers/producers posted yesterday. It's a few questions down on the page:

Q: “If Sylar was starting with a clean slate (save for telekinesis) at the start of Vol. 3, how does he suddenly have Isaac's and Ted's abilities again four years in the future?”

A: "Uhhhm, not so suddenly, four years in the future — that’s four years of power gatherin’ — now the question you’ve gotta ask yourself is how did Sylar get those powers?"

Also, I thought I would offer up the thought that the writers seem to have over-compensated on fixing the slow plot pace from last season with too much plot that depends on the characters behaving eratically or stupidly.

Alan Sepinwall said...

If Sylar was starting with a clean slate (save for telekinesis) at the start of Vol. 3

But how would it be a clean slate "save for telekinesis"? Either he lost all the acquired powers or he didn't. TK was the first power he stole, but it's not his.

Andrew Dignan said...

Why is everyone so surprised that Sylar has super healing? Didn't he just get that from Claire in the season premiere?

Also are we so certain he had a clean slate at the end of season 2? I thought once he had the antidote to the virus it restored everything (hence the telekinesis).

Surprisingly satisfied w/ the explanation for Linderman's appearance.

dez said...

4) Hiro killing Ando: Whether for real or not, it felt like the show was just trying too hard to shock us.

Possibly, but it worked for me because I'm positive it's part of a plan the two of them cooked up to trick Daphne into letting Hiro get closer to the formula.

Now, how they knew to come up with that sort of plan (proving they are badasses) is eluding me presently. But now we know Daphne is working for Pa Petrelli, which is intriguing.

I also thought Hiro was stopping time, putting Adam back in the coffin, and restarting it again. Seems like it's worth the effort to him to show how "easily" he can bury Adam if Adam doesn't cooperate. Of course, Adam having lived for hundreds of years makes him a little smarter and trickier than Hiro and Ando.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Hiro can travel through time and space. I just assumed he kept teleporting Monroe into and out of the coffin.

Anonymous said...

Also Nathan's narration at the beginning was aMAYzing

Chip said...

Phil, Sylar was supposed to have a clean slate of powers except for telekinesis for some reason. But I do believe the writers forget their own characters' powers because Peter surely doenst have a blank slate and tehy still havent explained why two bullets to the chest killed him last week. I can't stop watching this show but damn its frustrating. On another note Alan, why don't you watch/blog Supernatural. Its a very good show and its probably enjoying its most epic storyline yet now.

Anonymous said...

Andre Royo's comment about no trials, no lawyers would have resonated far better if that is not exactly what Hiro and Ando did to Adam Monroe by confining him to a coffin for presumably eternity.

Anonymous said...

I'm hoping Robert Forster gets a lot of screen time now that he's on board; it seems like his character is some kind of astral projector.
I don't think so. I think that what we've been seeing is Parkman's dad putting the images of Linderman in people's minds - Pa Patrelli hasn't done anything at all yet.

And why think that Adam Monroe is going to be useful. His power is not dying...well, whoop-di-do. That's the kind of weapon I look for on a team. "You, electrocute the guards. You, run in and steal the gold. You, don't die - and try not to get hit, because you can be knocked out and you're heavy to drag along behind us."

I like that this week's "power too terrible to explain" really is kind of icky, rather than just the ability to yell really loudly.

You think that Mohinder as gone evil, after all, he's wrapping up people in goo and sticking them to the wall...but then he does it to Maya, so maybe he's good after all.

Have we always had that "Previously on Heroes" guy? It sounded strange last night.

Anonymous said...

"But I do believe the writers forget their own characters' powers because Peter surely doenst have a blank slate and tehy still havent explained why two bullets to the chest killed him last week"

Though they didn't say it explicitly, I think we are supposed to infer that the Haitian blocked Peter's regenerative power

Mo Ryan said...

Thank you, Chip. I think a good number of people who have problems with Heroes should be watching Supernatural.

It's a good show. I enjoy it. It has a mythology that makes internal sense and progresses logically. And the mythology is not overly complex but is also interesting and doesn't assume that you have the intelligence of a lobotomized fruit fly.

And you know what I don't do when I watch Supernatural? I don't fight with myself. I don't spend any time trying to justify to myself why I am watching the show. I don't stop the DVR every few minutes to complain about whatever stupid or illogical or mean or dopey or just plain irritating thing someone has done.

I can't say the same about Heroes, Grey's Anatomy, Fringe and a ton of other far more expensive, allegedly ambitious shows.

Anyhoo. I recommend the first four eps of this season of Supernatural. The "Previouslys" on that show will get you caught up in no time.

grand-sophy said...

Mo Ryan just read my mind. Watching the shows I recorded this Sunday and Monday, I realized that I enjoy Mad Men, Dexter, Gossip Girl, Chuck (and Sarah Conner Chronicles when it's on) far more than I do Heroes. Even without intellectualizing it, they're just more fun: less pretentious, less arbitrary, more internally consistent, and with characters who intrigue and involve me. And I don't look forward to new episodes of those shows with half the enthusiasm with which I anticipate Supernatural on Thursdays. So--what Mo said.

Anonymous said...

heroes is dead to me. so awful now.
Had a really good beginning with a great premise for a great show and then just meandered into mediocrity. I want to love this show cuz I'm a huge comic book fan but it is just awful now and my blind devotion to all things superpowered has kept me watching it this long.

Jason Fisher said...

@Alan —

Hiro can travel through time and space. I just assumed he kept teleporting Monroe into and out of the coffin.

But teleporting ≠ travelling through space and/or time. Hiro can travel through space (and time), but that’s not the same as teleporting something or someone other than himself through space. Now, he can touch someone and take them along with him (we’ve seen that many times with Ando), but I don’t see him transporting himself-and-Monroe into the coffin, then transporting himself back out. A coffin is a bit cramped for that. :)

No, I think we are forced to conclude that he stopped time, lifted, pushed, pulled, and dumped Monroe back into the coffin, closed the lid, then restarted time. Lather, rinse, repeat several more times. And that’s fine. I just think there’s a great temptation for the writers to forget the difference and end up conflating this with teleportation (an ability Hiro definitely does not have).

That being said, they’re the writers, not me: I could see them backpeddaling by saying, “oh, well, teleportation is a natural evolution of Hiro’s abilities ... blah, blah, blah ...”

dez said...

I just think there’s a great temptation for the writers to forget the difference and end up conflating this with teleportation (an ability Hiro definitely does not have).


Wasn't he teleporting himself between Japan and/or Odessa and/or NYC before? Or was he just time-jumping? At any rate, I do agree that he couldn't teleport Adam into the coffin without going himself.

barefootjim said...

My wife and I looked at each other while Claire was initially confronting Andre Royo's character -- and we loved the grace he gave Bubbles -- and asked each other the Dread Question of TV Show Death: "Do you care?"

We didn't. So we stopped the episode dead, and removed Heroes from the Season Pass.

Bye, Heroes, not only were you not as good as you made yourself out to be, you weren't even good enough to embrace how much you should have been.

jim treacher said...

I want to see Bubbles from The Wire meet Bubbles from Trailer Park Boys.

And that is my only contribution to the thread, because I don't watch Heroes anymore.

zodin2008 said...

After 2 1/4 below average seasons of Television, I officially turned "Heroes" off around 15 minutes into this episode. I simply couldn't take it anymore.

In fact, the first thought I had was "poor Alan Sepinwall", because he has to keep watching this garbage, over and over, because it's his job.

Anonymous said...

It's painful to see good actors on Heroes. (i.e. Bubbles)

This show needs a Keanu Reeves guest appearances...

"I'm an...F.......B.......I angent!"

spacecataz said...

I agree with zodin2008, I can't take it anymore. I honestly haven't watched the last few episodes because I don't like forcing-feeding myself crazy pills. The writers threw logic out the window right along side Peter (in his poor man's Locke impression). I tune into blogs like this to see just how far the show has fallen, although some infinitesimal part of me hopes it will turn itself around.

Supernatural, on the other hand, is the most underrated show on TV. I'm a mythology and religion uber-nerd, and a lot of material the writers transpose into that show is accurate, or at least only moderately tweaked for more of a "horror-movie" effect. Even the mediocre episodes don't disappoint; they're still ten billion times more entertaining than Heroes. This season is blowing me away, and since its inception, I can't listen to classic rock without thinking of Supernatch.