Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Heroes: Throw the sucker off the roof

Spoilers for "Heroes" coming right up...

Because this show appeals to my inner 14-year-old, I will let him write the opening of this blog entry. Take it away, 14-year-old Alan:

Dude! Doctor Who just threw whiny Peter off a building! Dude! Mr. Sulu's license plate is NCC-1701! Dude! HRG and The Haitian totally came in and saved his wife from Sylar! Dude! Did I mention the NCC-1701 plate! DUDE!

Sorry 'bout that, but the longer the season goes on, the more I realize that I have to watch "Heroes" on this level almost exclusively. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but deep analysis of interpersonal dynamics and literary themes feels wasted here. So let's look at some of the more interesting developments on a purely superficial level:
  • Mr. Sulu travels back to Japan, presumably on impulse power. George Takei's not the most subtle actor around, but like his former captain, the man can do larger-than-life presence, and that's the sort of thing this show needs. The resolution of Hiro's crisis was obvious from the second Ando explained that the hot businesswoman was Hiro's sister, and I wouldn't have minded as much if Takei and Masi Oka had gotten more scenes together. Still, as Fienberg said when I lamented Takei's quick exit, this is a show where the producers like responding to the fanboys, so I doubt this is the last we've seen of him and his vanity license plate.
  • Peter is more powerful than we could have possibly imagined. So he doesn't just mimic people's powers temporarily; he stores them for later use? Way cool. He and Sylar were already presented as flip sides of the same coin, both of them obsessed with the idea that they were destined for something greater than the life they lived, so it makes sense for Peter to have a kinder, gentler counterpart to Sylar's power-stealing schtick. I'm sure the producers have some limitations in mind so that the other characters become superfluous to the big showdown. The idea that he has to feel some kind of emotional connection to the person he's copying also fits nicely with Peter's emo sensibilities, and is another counterpoint to Sylar's cold-blooded theft of other people's powers and lives.
  • Nathan is Claire's daddy. Another case of the promo department ruining what would have been a much cooler reveal. No other character on this show dresses as nattily as Nathan (even HRG doesn't favor cufflinks and designer shirts), so that shot of his arm in the ads meant it had to be him (my guess) or Linderman (which several people suggested last week). I know there had been some 'shipping for Peter and Claire, and this revelation nips that neatly in the bud. The revelation aside, I thought the scene where Claire and her bio-mom revealed their powers to each other was touching and even a little spine-tingling. I have to assume that HRG doesn't know Nathan's relation to Claire, or his interaction with him back in Vegas would have gone far differently. And speaking of HRG...
  • Whose side is this guy on, anyway? "Heroes" is obviously an expensive show, and it seems one of the way the producers are staying on budget is by pulling a Rob Thomas and only using a small handful of characters in every episode. Unless I'm remembering badly, those would be Peter, Hiro (and Ando), Niki, Claire and HRG -- and Jack Coleman wasn't even a regular when the show began. It's a testament to his work that the writers can keep HRG's motivations so vague for so long without it getting frustrating. Both the good and bad things he's done lately have been motivated by self-interest and protecting his family --- even mind-wiping his wife and daughter could be viewed as trying to help them -- and the fact that he had some kind of falling-out with Claude the Invisible Man doesn't give anything away, since Claude himself isn't automatically on the side of the angels.
  • Niki's not here, man. Ali Larter has really grown on me, and the way she shifts so clearly between Niki and Jessica with only minor changes of body language are in the spirit of Christopher Reeve toggling between Clark Kent and Superman. (I'm not saying she's as good as Reeve, but she's getting there, and much faster than I could have expected.) The jail stay feels like a waste of time, especially since the shrink didn't get to make any real headway in analyzing the split personality situation before she got herself bug-zapped. When Peter David started pushing the MPD angle hardcore in Incredible Hulk, he made sure the rules of Banner and Hulk's struggle for dominance were clearly-established, and I don't know that I have that handle on Niki and Jessica just yet. Obviously, Jessica comes out when Niki's in danger -- or when Jessica believes her to be -- but what changed in their relationship that's seemingly allowed Jessica to lock Niki away as long as she wants?
So what did everybody else think?


Anonymous said...

14 year old Dan sez: DOOD! He just namechecked Peter David!

Nikki/Jessica's struggles are reminiscent of the Hulk/Banner MPD stuff in his run on Hulk, though it got really interesting when Banner stopped being afraid of the Hulk in the dreams and started confronting him. It'll be interesting to see if Nikki tries to stand up to Jessica.

I'd rather Mr. Bennet be a good guy, because I still find him more interesting than any of the other characters.

Eccleston did a fine job with some embarassingly cliched dialogue (did Loeb script this episode?) coming out of Claude that thankfully served its purpose. It's clear he's been set up as so cynical that Peter will eventually melt his cold heart, just in time for him to sacrifice himself to Save Us All- but I hope the writers throw a small twist on that, like they do with most things. Besides, Eccleston mops the floor with Ventimiglia acting wise.

I love that actor playing Linderman's lawyer (Or shall we start calling him Kobayashi?). He's overdoing it, but in a strange way, it works.

Matter-Eater Lad said...

Takei's license plate should have been NX-2000 or NCC-2000...

Anonymous said...

Dude! Doctor Who just punched whiny Peter in the face! Absolutely my favorite moment of the episode. I was rolling my eyes as Peter rambled about how Claire "made him feel" and whirled through all of the powers he's accumulated while making tortured groans, so I loved it when Claude apparently shared my sentiments and put Peter out of his misery. That was even better than Peter falling off the jungle gym.

Anonymous said...

OMG, you just sed "emo."


I hope that when Sulu returns, he brings with him another subplot that is completely solved by standing around and talking in subtitles. Not a bad way to get us paying attention to things like license plates, but... C'mon! Swords! Dinosaurs! Dude!

Dr. Who got to stop saying "Mate" every other sentence. Good move.

Anonymous said...

When Claude was approaching Peter near the edge of the roof, I thought he might do the clich├ęd thing and jump off so that Peter had to fly to save him. Throwing Peter off the roof was waaay better and totally cracked me up. Then he smacked him around to make him shut up! BRILLIANT!

Dude, that Trek guy was awesome! And HRG shot Sylar a bunch of times! Then told the Haitian to kill him! Sweeeeet!

Niki pounding on the mirror to get out and the mirror shaking while she did so was a cool effect. But doesn't her son know the difference between Niki and Jessica? Jessica's ruse won't last long, I suspect. I wonder if Parkman will "hear" Niki's cries for help when he encounters Jessica next week?

Mac said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who was happy to see Peter get hit. I like it that he gets knocked unconscious a lot. I may have some residual GG anger towards Milo.

Anonymous said...

This episode worried me. Normally my enjoyment of Heroes is inversely related to the amount of screen time certain characters get. Yet this episode had little to none of Matt, Micah, Mohinder, and Nikki, but was still pretty unexciting. Oh well.

I do think the show made a crucial error in giving up Syler's origin and letting us know him so well. He was genuinely scary in the shadows. Now, much less so.

Anonymous said...

I do think the show made a crucial error in giving up Syler's origin and letting us know him so well. He was genuinely scary in the shadows. Now, much less so.

I agree, although he was fairly creepy last night. But in general, yeah, we shouldn't know him this well yet.

I was never a Trek fan so the Sulu thing didn't do much for me. And while I'm looking forward to supercool FutureHiro, I'm not too on board with depressed, losing his power PresentHiro at the moment. I thought this episode was pretty blah, actually; the only scenes that really came alive for me were the ones between "Claude" and Peter.

I was really hoping they wouldn't go there with Nathan being Claire's dad. And look, they went there. This had better pay off really well somewhere down the line.

Michael said...

Am I the only person who thinks this show has an annoying problem with obvious foreshadowing? Given the promo and that it was clear that Nathan is her father, the line "I thought that my parents would live in some New York penthouse" was just way too obvious. There have been a few others, like when Ted said "I don't know what I could do; I could explode." or when Peter says "I need a plane to somewhere in the desert" and then the shot of Ted "somewhere in the nevada desert"

Anonymous said...

Anyone else bothered by the obvious problem surrounding Nikki's release? Even if the prior charges were all dismissed, she still killed (or at least badly beat) the psychiatrist; that alone would bring new charges and would keep her in jail.

Anonymous said...

Anyone else bothered by the obvious problem surrounding Nikki's release? Even if the prior charges were all dismissed, she still killed (or at least badly beat) the psychiatrist; that alone would bring new charges and would keep her in jail.

The fact that she could get away with that showed just how powerful Linderman is, IMHO.

None of the foreshadowing or knowing Sylar too well or any of that bothers me because it's all so true to the type of storytelling in comic books that I'm too busy geeking out to care :-)

Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm not geeky enough, but I don't get the significance of Papa Sulu's License Plate. What does it mean?

Taleena said...

It's the Enterprise's registration number in Star Trek, anon.

I am disappointed that Nathan is Claire's dad, I was hoping for Linderman. Sylar was excellently creepy in a Ted Bundy way and I thought Mr. Muggles was toast.

Nice fake out with HRG's christian name. Mr. Bennet indeed. huh.