Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Heroes, "Dual": Lock 'em up and throw away the key

Spoilers for the finale of the third "volume" of "Heroes" coming up just as soon as I rip up some paper...

Gosh, where to begin? How about the way that, after last week's episode ended by trying to present Ultra-Marine as the scariest man in town, Knox snaps his neck about five seconds into U-M's appearance in this one? Or what about Sylar having apparently stolen the abilities of the world's greatest travel agent when we weren't looking, given his ability to get from Costa Verde, CA to Ft. Lee, NJ to Odessa, TX so quickly? Or that they brought back George Takei just to show him use his katana as the world's greatest baguette slicer? (Could that be his power? Bread-Slicer Man?) Or that it only just occurred to Knox that Arthur Petrelli's plan would give abilities to other people? Or that Sylar uttered a line like "That's the thing about the truth, Claire: it stings like a bitch!" and it was supposed to sound menacing?

But here's really all that I want to say: when Nathan was done telling the president (played by Michael Dorn, which gave us Sulu and Worf in the same episode), all I could think was, while Nathan's motives may be suspect, he's absolutely right that every single one of these characters, whether they're "heroes" or "villains," needs to be put away forever. Despite the show's title, nobody ever does anything good for the world at large, other than solve problems that wouldn't exist without their particular subculture. Yeah, the X-Men spend a lot of time battling evil mutants, but they do occasionally help people. What we have here is a bunch of incredibly powerful, and incredibly stupid and easily persuadable, people who spend all their time fighting other parts of their insular world, not really worrying about collateral damage.

The last scene, and the previews for "Fugitives," suggests that Nathan's supposed to be the villain of the piece. When I'm rooting for the bad guy to win, something's gone horribly awry.

And yet the knowledge that Bryan Fuller is coming (albeit not until episode 19 or 20) is going to keep me around, which makes me just as big a sucker as Peter Petrelli.

What did everybody else think?

41 comments:

R.A. Porter said...

I haven't watched in a long, long time, but I keep reading your recaps. (I'm a masochist.) But now I'm confused. Was Sylar going to Odessa to catch a Panthers game? Is this some super-clever cross-promotion by NBC for the return of FNL next month?

Clear eyes, mutant hearts, can't lose!

Alan Sepinwall said...

Primatech Paper is (or, rather, was) also in Odessa, a fact that was remarked upon quite often during the first seasons of Heroes and FNL.

dez said...

I liked the ep better than you did, Alan, mostly because of the parts with Hiro (who I hope gets his powers back soon--while it will be fun to see his situation with Ando switched for a bit, I don't want it dragged out like they drag out so many other stories here).

Interesting that Peter got his exact same powers back after injecting himself with the formula. Also interesting that the future Isaac predicted, the one with Nathan rounding up the mutants--er, heroes--is coming true regardless of what Hiro, et al, has done to change things. Of course, I have little faith they will be exploring the implications of this, especially since they had to flip-flop Nathan's motivations to get him to that point. I sure as hell hope Bryan Fuller can turn this trainwreck around!

What a waste of SuperMarlo. He finally gets something more to do than say, "FEAR ME!" and Nikki/Tracy/whoever freezes him to death? And did Kiko Ellsworth even get a line before Sylar cut his throat? BLEAH. At least the boring-ass Puppetmaster is gone, and Sylar is off the canvas for awhile (I'm sure the fire melted the glass in his head and he'll be back after he heals up from the burning).

Matter-Eater Lad said...

HRG, Claire, et al were in Texas? I thought everything in this episode was happening at Primatech. Am I that inattentive or is the show THAT leaden and incomprehensible?

I, too, was rooting for Nathan. I also rooted for the horse that nearly trampled Lana on Smallville many seasons ago.

Michael Dorn as President Fauxbama was sort of a nice touch.

Matter-Eater Lad said...

In my previous comment, I meant to use "Pinehurst" where I used "Primatech." Carry on.

Grunt said...

How sad is this? At minute 22 I gave up. I'l probably watch it this weekend, because it was recording on the TiVo, but I switched over to watch the West Wing episodes I had taped off of Bravo earlier in the day.

If your show is so boring that I skip the exciting conclusion of a show with an arc so that I can watch a re-run of a show I already own on DVD...well, I think that says it all.

Alan Sepinwall said...

HRG, Claire, et al were in Texas? I thought everything in this episode was happening at Primatech. Am I that inattentive or is the show THAT leaden and incomprehensible?

I'm pretty sure they were at Primatech, as that's where bad guys like the puppet master would have been locked up. On the other hand, the burning building that we saw Claire and HRG running from didn't really look like the Primatech building. So I really don't know.

Superbagman said...

I was wondering what school Matt (and Jeph Loeb) went to that taught that going the speed of light allows you to travel however you like through time.

I especially like how everyone got their powers back except Hiro, presumably because Kring thinks time travel is so difficult, but they instantly come up with a way to travel through time without him.

This show has become so insipid it's not even fun to laugh at it.

Dan said...

I fell asleep with about 20 minutes left...that's not a good sign, especially when I was watching on DVR and could fast-forward through commercials.

That said - I'm not as critical on this season as everyone else. Maybe it's my low expectations, but I've enjoyed the last 3-4 episodes and think they've done some things to improve on last season's cluster-f**k.

5-hole.com said...

Here's my explanation of why I will continue to watch (and why many of you still watch). Have you ever seen the Howard Stern movie "Private Parts?" The scene when Pig Vomit (played by Paul Giamatti) is getting the stats on Howard's listeners sums it up nicely:

Researcher: The average radio listener listens for eighteen minutes. The average Howard Stern fan listens for - are you ready for this? - an hour and twenty minutes.
Pig Vomit: How can that be?
Researcher: Answer most commonly given? "I want to see what he'll say next."
Pig Vomit: Okay, fine. But what about the people who hate Stern?
Researcher: Good point. The average Stern hater listens for two and a half hours a day.
Pig Vomit: But... if they hate him, why do they listen?
Researcher: Most common answer? "I want to see what he'll say next."

You see the problem? It's like a train wreck. We know it's bad but for some reason, we just want to see how much worse it's going to get!

Anonymous said...

So Nathan goes from thinking everyone should have powers to thinking everyone with powers needs to die? Really? And they finally kill people off (though I'm not convinced either Arthur or Meredith are dead) and it's a couple of recurring characters who can actually act and aren't totally annoying? Does anyone believe Sylar is actually dead? Of course not. Because clearly the next volume will involve him trying to acquire more powers and trying to kill the other heroes. Nevermind that that's what they've done in every single volume. Also, an awful lot of time has been spent on Sylar and his "birth parents" this season. Was the idea that he was adopted EVER discussed before Ma Petrelli randomly announced she was his mother? Because I don't know what was more preposterous--Sylar supposedly being a Petrelli or him suddenly not being a Petrelli.

lungfish said...

I thought Primatech had a paper company warehouse as a front, not a 5 story mansion?

Doesn't Noah know that Sylar can take people's powers? Is releasing people with more powers for him to steal the best idea?

Why was Claire's mom bothering with even carrying a gun when she can shoot fire?

Yeah, a formula that could doom the world, and ripping it up into about 12 pieces is an affective way to make sure it's destroyed once and for all. At least use a paper shredder.

Next season's storyline seems to be a blantant rip-off of the X-men storyline.

Greenman said...

They were in the Primatech research facility in Hartsdale, NY. Still doesn't explain how Sylar was able to get from NJ to Westchester County without getting stuck in traffic, however.

Tom said...

Is anyone else here a fan of the comic book series The Boys? Reading these comments from Alan:


"What we have here is a bunch of incredibly powerful, and incredibly stupid and easily persuadable, people who spend all their time fighting other parts of their insular world, not really worrying about collateral damage."


I found myself thinking of how this show could benefit from a group of characters who show up to keep those with "abilities" in line.

J said...

When Lady Flash went so fast she went a few seconds back in time - you know, during that Let's-Everyone-Unnecessarily-Touch-Ando-Who-Has-Yet-Unexplained-but-Sparky-Looking-Superpowers scene - I thought that was cute. I get the whole going so fast you're there yesterday thing.

But I'm no Einstein, so: Can she make time go forwards by going real fast, too? My grasp on physics is near nonexistant, but I thought that would be a one-way trip. Can you go forward in time by going really fast, too? Was it just a matter of her running for billions of light years while the Earth caught up with her/Hiro/Ando's age?

Anonymous said...

I actually forgot I was watching it while I was watching it. I just wandered away from the TV and it only dawned on me a little while later that the show was still on. I dont think I've ever done that before in my life.

James said...

I actually liked this episode. First of all, Peter didn't get ALL of his powers back. Only his one power that allows him to copy other peoples powers. Since Nathan was in the same room, Peter copied his flight and flew them out of there.

I also like how Hiro lost his powers so now, no one has the power to stop time and travel through time (other than the Ando-Daphne combo). That power caused too many issues on the show so I'm glad they got rid of it. I still hate the whole Ando-Daphne thing allowing time travel because how does she control where in time she goes? Hopefully, they get rid of that ability as well. Like have Ando's power mutate into the lightning we saw him hit Hiro with in the future.

Second, Suresh probably retained all of his abilities from the original serum and the new serum just took away the side effects.

Third, I liked the Sylar trap. It goes along with the final episode of the first season where he thinks that he's the hero because he's going to kill Peter and stop him from exploding. In his twisted mind, he's not the evil one and he's the only person who actually deserves his powers. So of course, he'd put the other heroes in situations where he thinks they'd make the same decisions that he'd make (which of course they didn't). He wanted to prove that if he's a monster, then all of them are because he's not the evil one in his mind.

HRG released the bad guys as bait to escape. He didn't think of the repurcussions of Sylar getting their powers because he didn't care. He just wanted him and the others to survive. In retrospect though, shouldn't he have killed the puppetmaster so Sylar wouldn't get that power?

And I also believe the Nathan arc because now we've come full circle. He denied the evil in him in the first season by saving Peter and NYC. However, he's now seen more horrors done by super-powered freaks (while he has the useless power of flight). I totally see him thinking that all super-powered people other than him should be contained. Wasn't this the future Nathan all along (and that's the Nathan that Sylar impersonated)?

At least Peter got his powers back. Now he won't be as useless. So with the remaining cast, he'll get back invulnerability, mind-reading/persuasion and if he encounters Sylar, all of Sylar's powers. But with Daphne around now, he should also get super-speed. So if he gets Ando's booster power, can he power-boost his speed to time-travel again? I hope not. But it would be cool to see him power-boost his own ability to absorb powers. With Ando's power-boost, can he just take every power existing in the world?

KB said...

The best thing about this episode is that it ended Volume 3. Good riddance. I'm keeping my expectations for Volume 4 low, but the show can only get better from here. If all the Heroes have to go on the run from the government, that would at least give them all something to do. If they keep everyone involved in the action and just give them excuses to use their abilities as often as possible then this show can be decent.

Anonymous said...

And yet the knowledge that Bryan Fuller is coming (albeit not until episode 19 or 20) is going to keep me around, which makes me just as big a sucker as Peter Petrelli.

I've been thinking about this, too. I feel like I owe Fuller. But do I really owe him this much? Can't I just look forward to his next quickly-to-be-cancelled-project?

Anonymous said...

I loved how the puppet master guy was kept in check because they had guns pointed at him. He can control all of their actions, so how was that supposed to help them defend themselves? I also love how the catalyst storyline was so quickly dispatched. And I actually mean that. Because did anyone ever understand what the hell the catalyst actually was? Talk about random and vague ideas. This show is truly awful.

pgillan said...

Alright, I said I'd watch through the end of this arc, to see if they reached a satisfying conclusion. They did not. Putting everything else aside (the flip-flopping loyalties for no good reason, the incredible stupidity of all the characters, utter lack of original ideas), please tell me how ripping up a piece of paper would stop a major lab from producing a chemical that they've already begun mass production of? If they had made one single, passing comment about destroying a computer, a hard drive, or a "backup", I might have been ok. Heck, if they had even shown someone busting a monitor, I might have accepted it- but they didn't. Someone on the show apparently thinks that all it takes to stop a drug company from ever producing a chemical is to 1) knock some stuff over, 2) set it on fire, and 3) rip up the bar napkin the original idea was scrawled on.

It's this extreme, almost deliberate inattention to detail that's bothered me the most about this show, and there are no signs that the back half of the season will be any better. I'm officially done with this show until I hear a reputable source declare they've turned it around.

James said...

Well, don't forget that they no longer have the catalyst, it's in Peter. So it doesn't matter if they still have the formula in a computer. Of course, Daphne and Hiro didn't know this or that Arthur was dead so they probably should have destroyed everything.

Oh wait, didn't the whole lab blow up?

Dean Winchester said...

Look, I'm just thrilled they didn't have Daphne spin the earth backwards a la Superman. Because I swear I thought that's where they were going with it.

John said...

At least they killed some characters? That's the only redeeming feature of the finale in my mind.

And I thought I saw Sylar die. Is that wrong? (I mean, no one is ever actually dead in this world, but still.)

Karen said...

I loved how the puppet master guy was kept in check because they had guns pointed at him. He can control all of their actions, so how was that supposed to help them defend themselves?

THANK you. I was thinking the exact same thing. What on earth was going to stop that guy from making HRG give him a gun and then turning Meredith into his love puppet? SO STUPID.

And why couldn't they just find some vat of cold water for Meredith to dip her hands in until the adrenaline wore off? Why did she have to incinerate?

And did we know about the spot on the back of Claire's neck already, or did that come out of left field?

I guess what got me is that when I turned it on, my DVR actually started it at about the 40-minute mark (when Ando discovers his super-charging powers) and I watched it for a good 5 or 10 more minutes (through Peter and Nathan's cat-fight) before I realized I wasn't watching it from the beginning. Or, in other words, the story has been so disjointed and illogical for so long that it seemed normal for me not to have a frickin' clue as to why anyone was acting the way she or he was, or how to determine who was good or evil at any given time.

SO TIRESOME.

But @5-hole.com is absolutely correct: like the abysmal and vomit-inducing 7th Heaven, I watch it to see what on earth they'll say next. And, of course, so I can come here and share Alan's perplexity!

Anonymous said...

Btw, I also love that the formula that people were injecting into their veings was FLAMMABLE. I mean, are they kidding???

dez said...

With Ando's power-boost, can he just take every power existing in the world?


I hope Peter gets every power and it causes him to implode. BTW, when did he get the catalyst?

And I thought I saw Sylar die. Is that wrong?

Like Claire, Sylar can only be stopped by having something lodged in his brain. Once that something is removed, he heals and goes back to being evil...or good...or whatever the writers decide he is that minute.

Of course, if it's the brain that controls the power, why don't they just yank it out of his skull while he's out of commission?

radiomd said...

Of course, if it's the brain that controls the power, why don't they just yank it out of his skull while he's out of commission?

Whenever the writers finally decide to eliminate Sylar, they'll come up with something infinitely lamer than that.

Since he reappeared in Volume 2, I've been hoping that he'd absorb the powers of the Heroes version of Multiple Man and then immediately commit mass suicide.

Ed Howard said...

A Heroes version of Multiple Man would be pretty cool. Wow, a power we haven't seen in 10 different characters already. Of course, they'd probably introduce him and then 5 minutes later a mind-reading, time-traveling power-stealer would kill him off.

There were moments of this finale that I surprisingly REALLY loved, and loved in the pure, fun way that I loved some of the best Season 1 stuff: Ando trying to blink his powers on, Hiro cold-cocking Tracy, Nathan finally beating the crap out of Peter. But, really, nothing could've saved this story arc at this point. It's all built on such a foundation of garbage that even if this had been a truly brilliant, awe-inspiring hour of television, it still wouldn't have dispelled the stench. And despite the fun little bits, there was still a lot to hate. They missed the chance to finally, indisputably off Sylar, who will now obviously be back for more nonsensical reversals. They've taken a once-great villain and made him ridiculous. HRG releasing the prisoners was dumb as hell; hard to believe his character was at the core of the series' best episode. And yet again the actual resolution of the supposed threat is dashed off so casually that the whole season is rendered irrelevant. "Of course, you just zap me into the past so we can rescue Hiro and then rip up a piece of paper to save the day."

Oh well. I'm just glad this trainwreck of a volume is over. It was obviously spiraling out of control from pretty much the beginning, and maybe now that this arc is over, the writers can get their shit together. I doubt it, but I'll keep watching until the end of the season if only to see how they manage to ruin this seemingly failsafe X-Men retread.

Tyroc said...

Anonymous Dean Winchester said...

"Look, I'm just thrilled they didn't have Daphne spin the earth backwards a la Superman. Because I swear I thought that's where they were going with it."

Superman didn't spin the Earth backwards. The Earth stayed in its regular rotation, but as we were watching Superman go back in time it seemed to rotate backwards.
(It confused me for a long time, but apparently that's what they were going for.)

Chip said...

Alan did you read the EW interview with Bryan Fuller? It sounds promising but i really don't know about this show anymore...several interesting characters were killed off and that alone made me mad? Don't they know anything about a rogue's gallery. And Peter spending an entire episode smashing things up was stupid? Ando not thinking to use his power to give Hiro his powers back was stupid (his power sure looked different in the flash forward from the premiere). Daddy Petrelli being wasted with a stupid plan was stupid. This whole volume just sucked, sure Fuller wrote Company Man but is one man really enough to turn this show around? It seems like every new volume is a promise to turn the show in the right direction and it never delivers...

James said...

When Arthur died, the catalyst floated up into Peter.

radiomd said...

A Heroes version of Multiple Man would be pretty cool. Of course, they'd probably introduce him and then 5 minutes later a mind-reading, time-traveling power-stealer would kill him off.

They'd also probably hold off his introduction until after his arrival had been anticipated by multiple future-painters.

After all, there are rules for Heroes. None pertaining to consistency of characterization but rules nonetheless.

Tracey said...

A dreadful ending to a dreadful chapter. They spend the whole season building up to Arthur's evil master plan of creating an army of super marines to take over the world, and the plan gets foiled when a bunch of punks spill the formula and set it on fire? Really? That's it? Fizzle.

Regarding Sylar's travel agent superpower: You know, I can't even keep track of where anything is any more, and I'm not sure I care; the writers write with a casual disregard for time and place. Sylar also seems to have some sort of pop music power, because I caught him quoting another crappy song this week (can't recall what).

It seems like the writers never bothered to watch the first season. They killed Meredith by leaving her in a burning building. Really? Isn't that how she "died" when Claire was a baby? Nathan said he wouldn't have saved Peter. Really? As I recall, the first season ended with Nathan flying Peter out of NYC, even though Nathan knew that he could fly himself to safety, and knew that Peter probably wasn't going to die in the explosion.

And then the worst of all... the previews for the next chapter. Fugitives? Ugh. Been there, done that, too many times, and so much better. Whatever happened to the show about ordinary people discovering that they have extraordinary abilities?

I'm out. I don't care that Brian Fuller is joining the writing team; I don't care that John Glover will be playing Sylar's father; I've had enough, I'm not taking any more.

J.J. said...

I hope this show gets canceled. Put me out of my misery. It's so bad. I hate it, and I hate that I'm still watching it.

Seriously, with DVR technology now, they just make it too easy to keep following shows that I know I shouldn't be following anymore. Each week, I go: "Wow, this is just retarded. I'm not watching this anymore." And then 8 days later, I notice I've got a new one waiting on the DVR, and curiosity gets the better of me.

There is literally no character on the show that I'm not disgusted with. Maybe Hiro's friend, but now that he has a power I'm sure I'll hate him soon.

Cancel the show. Or kill everyone and start new.

Anonymous said...

James, there is literally NO proof that the catalyst "floated up into peter." To me it looked like the catalyst just went poof and disappeared. And to back up my theory I'll provide proof: When Hiro got the catalyst HE glowed along with his mother. No such thing happened to Peter.

Susan said...

I'm done. I hung in there through all of awful season two and now this terrible first half of season three. I think I've given it a chance. But I miss the show about "ordinary people with extraordinary abilities." I miss when Claire went to school and her mother didn't really know what HRG did. I miss when Nathan really appeared to be a politician rather than a globe-trotting superhero/villain who someone calls "Senator" now and then. I miss Peter as a nurse's aid who finds that he can help people in other ways and Hiro struggling to please his father and when I cared about the romance between Niki and D.L. (Remember them?)

This show isn't the show I once loved. I'm done.

Anonymous said...

Sylar has always had some elusive power of traveling to far places really fast and magically getting new clothes. I'm glad it's over. Still confused. But it's over.

JakeTheFatMan said...

Frustrating episode to a frustrating season. IF Daphne can run faster than the speed of light and travel back in time (thanks to Superman I can digest this), how did she and Hiro end up in the present?? They set up just seconds ago with Daphne waiting on the balcony watching herself until the present caught up. Are they suggesting running faster than the speed of light can make you travel into the future aswell?? Or did they continue going into the past, past the birth of the earth, past the bigbang, and looped back to the present??

dez said...

I don't care that John Glover will be playing Sylar's father

The Magnificent Bastard will be reincarnated on "Heroes"? I'm so there! Okay, so he won't be playing Lex's father, but Glover is so good at playing bad that I'm sure Sylar's father will be a bastard-filled bastard coated in bastard sauce.

R.A. Porter said...

@dez, considering how often Glover and Johnny C. get mistaken for one another, your bastard-filled choice of phrasing gave me a good laugh. :)