Monday, April 23, 2007

Heroes: The Hiro effect

"Heroes" spoilers coming up just as soon as I go read a pirate comic book...

After devoting this morning's column to pointing out some of the flaws that I'd like to see corrected before next year, let's dwell on all the kewlness that happened tonight.

Start with the fact that, between HRG demonstrating a better command of Parkman's powers than Parkman has ever shown and Linderman revealing "abilities" of his own while explaining that he's stolen Ozymandias' peace through fear plan from "Watchmen," the episode didn't even get back to the Peter/Sylar/Mohinder cliffhanger until sometime after the 10-minute mark. (Give or take; I'm estimating based on my ad-free screener.) This is a show that has a lot going on that they could stall so long on the real heart-stopper and not have me yelling, "Get back to the haircut! GET BACK TO THE HAIRCUT!"

The showdown between our two power sponges also helped quell a concern I've had since Claude began training Peter: that he would become so powerful that the other characters would be rendered pointless in any real super-on-super conflict. But having lots of powers and knowing what to do with them are two different things, and simply going invisible rather than continuing to attack Sylar left Peter in a bad way, in a nice callback to Claire "dying" in episode three until the morgue technician pulled the branch out of her head.

Speaking of knowledge as power: the great escape from Primatech, where HRG schools Parkman and Radioactive Ted while finding a way out of there. Two fine comic moments in there: Eric Roberts wanting to gag Parkman because "I don't want to hear any more about his pregnant wife" (amen, buddy), and Parkman laughing at the realization that his own personal bogeyman is nothing more than middle management.

The revelation that Linderman is in charge of Primatech kind of makes my head hurt, as do the continuing hints of an anti-conspiracy fronted by Ma Petrelli. (And does she have abilities, too?) Longtime readers of this blog know how much "X-Files" and its imitators have burned me out on elaborate conspiracy plots -- let alone dueling conspiracy plots -- and I generally prefer this show for the character moments and the wicked awesome power displays, but I'll give them some time before I start fast-forwarding through these scenes.

So, some questions and other thoughts:
  • Did anybody else think that Hiro and Future Hiro would meet, let alone this soon? And how will this tie into the show's overall philosophy about time travel and Hiro's ability (or lack thereof) to change the past?
  • Was Isaac just blustering to Sylar, or did he really paint some sort of "Here's how you beat this guy?" picture before he died? Will anyone miss Isaac? (Also, I like that Sylar was able to steal Isaac's precognitive talents, but not his artistic skills.)
  • If Mohinder's working for Primatech, will Eric Roberts force him to cut out the monologuing?
  • Are Micah's machine-fixing powers in any way related to Linderman's plant (and possibly all biological life)-fixing powers? And what sort of role does Micah play in all of this?

What did everybody else think? Glad to have it back? Not worth the wait? What?


Heather K said...

Dude, Micah is totally going to rig the voting machinery/polling technology!

Sorry, something about this show makes me say dude, and awesome, and also there are high fives.

I wanna know what Ma Petrelli's powers are as well as what will happen between Hiro's then and now.

Dustin said...

"Was Isaac just blustering to Sylar, or did he really paint some sort of "Here's how you beat this guy?" picture before he died? Will anyone miss Isaac? (Also, I like that Sylar was able to steal Isaac's precognitive talents, but not his artistic skills.)"

If I had to guess I'd say his "how to beat this guy" moment's probably in the last comic he wrote. Notice how it's the last thing he did, and how me made sure his most faithful delivery biker was the one who handled it?

Anonymous said...

Sad to say, I kind of missed the floppy bangs when they were gone. Without them, Milo Ventimiglia looks too much like his Jess character from "Gilmore Girls."

So, is Isaac going to stay dead? Hiro's last scene made me wonder if he will try to save Isaac from Sylar when he returns to the present.

Eric said...

"How to beat Sylar" is either in the last issue of "9th Wonders" or in the sketchbook he (sent to Nova Express) gave to the messenger.

I was wondering if Peter was going to get sent to Linderman for resurrection. And odds on whether Linderman is actually Claire's grandfather?

The on-line game this week was about blocking Linderman from stealing the election byu hacking the e-voting apparatus, so I'm guessing that's what Micha is doing.

Anonymous said...

Isaac had such a cool and perfect exit from the show that it will be greatly, greatly diluted if he is resurrected or saved by Hiro. In his mind, Isaac died a hero. We will soon discover why he believes that. If he gets to live, then his sacrifice is lessened in the narrative.

Very cool episode.

Matt said...

Is it just me, or (especially in next week's preview) the show taking a decided political edge to it? An NYC figure who comes to national prominence after a terrorist attack in NYC is elevated to the White House, where he engages in nasty and inappropriate (even morally repugnant) policy-making?

Sarah D. Bunting said...

I will miss Isaac, but anonymous is right on: resurrecting him would sap his death of its narrative power.

But it's high time Niki/Jessica got killed off. Niki is annoying, Jessica is boring, and Ali Larter is not the actress the role needs. Let her die saving Micah or something, but if you're going to cut deadwood, start with the blonde.

Anonymous said...

We will soon discover why he believes that. If he gets to live, then his sacrifice is lessened in the narrative.

Depending on how they handle it, not necessarily. The narrative didn't lose anything when Claire was resurrected. Or even Peter (well, it would be better if he got the bang back).

IOW, I don't care how they do it, just bring Isaac back! And add more Hiro/Ando to the mix. Dumping Niki is a good start.

Anonymous said...

It isn't that Larter is a bad actress, all the way; it's that she can't play Niki with the charismatic brutality needed for the role. The shapeshifter? Now, she needs killin', and fast, simply because she enjoys what she does in a way that screws everybody who gets fooled by her. I only hope Niki kills her, and it takes a *long* time....

Niki only has contempt for those who love and cherish Jessica, which means she has a contempt for herself that should translate into self-destructiveness -- that is, if the writers ever thought beyond the 'internet stripper with man-tearing powers' template, which they never did. Micah is a pawn, for Niki keeping Jessica in check. Once Niki came out, and became a hitwoman, she had to stay -- Micah became leverage, and who else could defend him, but Niki? Still, she feels crude and underdeveloped, compared to the other characters, when it was her boobs and hair that got fanboys to tune in, in the first place.

So, I don't hate Niki; I hate the games they make her play, with no interior growth in sight.

Anonymous said...

For some reason I felt this episode was somewhat of a letdown.

-The Peter/Sylar fight was over too quickly, and I was just waiting for someone to pull the glass shard out of Pete's head. Why didn't Mohinder kill Sylar when he obviously had the chance? Although I know Sylar must remain alive....

-Is Linderman actively orchestrating the destruction of New York to spark "hope"? I think this was the main reason why I found this episode to be a letdown. It's something I've already read, in well, comic books.

-I didn't like the Niki/Micah/DL storyline from day one. I could care less if Niki's character died. Heather, I think you make an interesting point about Micah rigging the elections.

-Time travel makes my brain hurt. I hope they don't do anything overly paradoxical/nonsensical with Hiro.

-Have you guys been reading the online comic books on They give a lot of back story, which may answer some of your questions. New chapters came out each week despite the hiatus.

-I'm still waiting to find out what they're trying to save the world from. All we know is that NYC supposedly gets all blowed up.

Anyway, I still love this show.

K J Gillenwater said...

The only part that really bothered me was that Mohinder didn't chop Sylar's head off when he had the chance. But I will just have to guess that he was scared Sylar would come back to life before he could get away...?

I'm wondering what Peter's 'death' might do to the whole plan. Sylar thinks he's dead and so does Mohinder. Will that somehow be the trump card at some point?

I want to know what Hiro/Ando (can't remember who it was) saw on that paper in the future art studio. What drawing did he see? What shocked him?

Glad to have the show back!

Bobman said...

As kenrick said, a few of your questions have been answered in the online comic book. I'll give a spoiler warning, even though this is stuff you're "supposed" to know - but... SPOILER WARNING.

Linderman was in Vietnam with someone named Petrelli (obviously Nathan and Peter's father and Claire's grandfather). They showed Linderman reveal HIS power to Petrelli... though Petrelli didn't exhibit any powers, so I don't know how Nathan and Peter got it, except from Ma Petrelli. I'm going to guess that SHE is in fact related to Linderman, which is how Petrelli the elder met her, and would explain why she has powers.

Ted Frank said...

Note that Lindermann did the narration this episode instead of Mohinder. Someone's been listening to the fanboys.

Anonymous said...

I loved the plot potentials in Linderman's account of some older group of heroes. I agree that Ma Petrelli was probably involved and probably has some yet to be revealed power.

But I'm wondering where Hiro's father fits into all this. After all, I thought he was the one gave Claire to HRG for protection and was by implication the owner/operator of Primatech.

Also, others may have pointed this out, but every time I see future Hiro, I can't help but think of the character "Hiro Protagonist" from Neal Stephenson's great novel Snow Crash.

Anonymous said...

I suppose much of this depends on the producers' theory of time travel. Has there been an instance of Hiro actually changing an event which has already happened? He couldn't save the waitress. He has stopped time, but has he reverse an event which already happened one way and changed it to another. He has traveled to the future several times now and seen the destruction of NYC. This approach seems to be confirmed in Isaac's paintings, which have all come true. (I can't remember if the protags have changed something that was predicted in Isaac's paintings or things have just happened in a way different than how they interpreted the paintings but the painting was still correct). I guess my question is: How safe is the assumption that they successfully stop the destruction of NYC? Might they fail?

After all, if they are successful, then Isaac's paintings were wrong and predicted a future that never came to be and Hiro has already traveled to a future that won't exist.

RJ said...

I will say this about Ali Larter...the scene when the shape shifter came to pick up Micah was the first scene I can remember when I didn't know whether it was Niki or Jessica. The scene in Linderman's museum wasn't a powerful Niki performance, but it was clearly Niki. The scene at the house was neither one of them. To be able to sell three identical looking characters is impressive.

K J Gillenwater said...

rj, I agree with you. I think Ali does a great job of giving each of her characters definitive facial and other traits, so that we can distinguish them. I don't get the Ali Larter-hate on here...I guess it's Niki/Jessica hate?

I like her character because she is unpredictable and can tear people to shreds (which I am very glad they have kept off cameta--better for me to imagine how this happens rather than see her in freak-o kill mode). I think her husband is the dud character and drags her down...and I really hate 'cute,' too-smart-for-their-own-good kids on tv shows.

Anonymous said...

You know, Alan, it would have been way cool if Hiro and Ando, in the future surveying the landscape, had walked into the building and found another time traveller instead of Future Hiro: Desmond.


Anonymous said...

I think the show has established that time travel can change the future. Future Hiro told Peter to save the cheerleader, and Claire didn't die like Isaac's paintings predicted. But it looks like the future is still pretty grim, even with Claire alive. More will have to change in order to avert the disaster. So I think the show's theory on time travel is something like "you can change what happens, but it's not easy or predictable."

Anonymous said...

Did Isaac's paintings predict Claire's death? I remember the one where it appears that she is being stalked by Sylar, but that happened. The paintings also predicted Peter's apparent death, and that happened, although his healing power that he had just absorbed saved him (not last night, but when Peter fought Sylar in Texas).

Anonymous said...

Niki only has contempt for those who love and cherish Jessica

Niki is the nice one, and Jessica is the bad one. And I don't hate Ali Larter as an actress--I'm just not fond of the character(s).

Anonymous said...

Anonymous: Hiro did save some little girls from getting hit by a car or truck (in Tokyo I believe) based on an Issac comic. But was that him changing the future, of did the comic show him saving the girls to begin with?

I really liked Issac's death. Very powerful. And I'm finally starting to like Nicki/Jessica, but DL has worn out his welcome (unless he grows some balls or something).

I don't expect Nathan to survive the season. He's seems morally gray -- especially if he lets/finds out that Linderman rigged his election. His speech last night about being defined by what others think about us seemed like foreshadowing to me that he just might sacrifice himself in the end to save Peter, his daughter and everyone else.

Anonymous said...

I guess if they're trying to replicate a comic book, they might as well rip off one of the best one's ever created. I'm curious if this is suppose to be an in-joke for comic readers or simply light-treason.

Anonymous said...

I think I remember Peter finishing a painting for Isaac that showed Claire with the top of her head cut off and Sylar standing over her. Anyone else remember this too, or am I imagining things?

Anonymous said...

If any character needs to go to save the integrity of the show, its the shape-shifter. Total plot contrivance that will drag the reliability of characters into the dirt if they dont eliminate her soon. How many times can they pull the "oops, it wasnt actually [insert beloved character] who did this, it was the girl who can make herself look like everyone else"

Anonymous said...

Listen, Ali Larter is really hot, and she flips the Jessica/Nikki switch very well, but it's a stupid superpower. It's not even a superpower, it's Sybil meets Cynthia Rothrock. What would be cool, and what I initially thought she could do, is if she could project Nikki or seperate from her at dangerous times.
I love Hiro meeting Future Hiro, and that's this show's advantage over "Lost": they don't seem to be saving anything for next season, or even next month. The story moves. I still like "Lost" better for other reasons, but in this area, "Heroes" wins. Of course, "Heroes" has a resolution-proof premise that "Lost" lacks.

Susan said...

RJ - It was Jessica meeting Linderman in the museum, not Niki. When she's Jessica, she has the symbol tattoo on her back right shoulder. She was also acting like Jessica, what with all the "point the way and I'll shoot" jargon.

MM - I totally agree about the shape shifter. I think it's a lazy conceit that puts every scene and every character's actions into doubt. It's just too easy of a plot device for this complicated show.

Kerry said...

Candice isn't a shappeshifter, she's an illusionist.

Alan, have you heard of or read Bill Willingham's comic series "Fables?" I ask because of yesterday's article--he's doing some of the things you've mentioned, like having characters relay current events in the story in flashback, minor character pov, alternate futures. It's a really good series.

Anonymous said...

As far as I can recall, all of the paintings have come true. I think Hiro saved the girl from the bus because he did so in the comic. Lindy, we don't know if the painting of a cheerleader with her head chopped off was actually of Claire - could have been the other cheerleader who actually did die.

I believe NYC will go kaboom, since both the future and the painting have said so. Again, I still don't know how the whole world factors into this. I'm looking forward to seeing the future five years from now, but I'm apprehensive as to how it will affect are viewing of the present timeline, especially if the future supposedly cannot be changed. But it seems like something HAS to change, otherwise there was no point for future Hiro to come back - maybe it's just the paintings that can't be changed.

Did Peter end up with a scar? 'Cause if not maybe he only gets a scar because in the alternate future he never saved the cheerleader and thus never got Claire's healing abilities.

Rick, I bet we're thinking of the same comic book. I don't want to name it for those who haven't read it.

Kerry, I love Fables. Currently my favorite series.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Hiro goes back in time to prevent something much more tragic that the destruction of one city, and the destruction of the one city is the price we pay? I am beginning to think that NYC will explode and that the future, like the past, is set.

Anonymous said...

I would like to know the name of the comic book. I don't really care if I know some of the plot details because of the discussion here; I'll still read it if it's good. Thanks!

K J Gillenwater said...

How is having super-human strength not a super power? I can't think of one normal human being who can tear someone into pieces with their bare hands and in a matter of seconds.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Dez, follow the link in my post. They're talking about "Watchmen," whose climax the "Heroes" writers appear to be blatantly ripping off.

Anonymous said...

how awesome would it be to have that shape shifter as your gf. I can think of a few shapes that she can shift into (*cough*carmen electra*cough*)

Anonymous said...

And with Watchmen in mind, the bit about Isaac turning his sketchbook over to someone else for safekeeping is a lot like Rorschach sending his notes away before the end.

Anonymous said...

Kring can claim ignorance of the comic books all he wants, but big-time comics writer Jeph Loeb is a co-executive producer of the show, and he CAN'T be unaware of the Watchmen parallels. The legal standard for plagiarism is met.

Anonymous said...

What is the legal standard for plagiarism?

RJ said...

Susan, thanks for catching me on having the names backwards. I'm really bad remembering names unless there's some compelling reason to do so. I just remember them by the mean eyes vs. soft eyes. The tattoo is there just in case, but in previous episodes I found it was rarely necessary. But it did take me about 12 episodes to learn the names of all the characters...Hiro is easy, but I remembered most of them by their powers.

Anyone wonder if the image of Nathan (!Flying Man!) in the Oval Office didn't actually show him as the President? They've tricked us before--the other cheerleader getting the top of her head lopped off, Hiro and the T-Rex statue. It struck me that Nathan wasn't sitting behind the desk.

Anonymous said...

D'oh! I freakin' own "Watchmen"! Guess it *has* been a long time since I've read it.

Oh, well, I've been waiting for an adaptation of that comic for years. I'll take the "Heroes" version if that's as close as we're ever going to get!

Anonymous said...

I'll miss Issac. He was too good looking to die. And he had one of the coolest powers.....the painting the future concept has tied the show together.

Re: Nikki/Jessica, Ali LArter rocks the part, but she doesn't really tie in with the other characters. Sorta like Matt Parkman in the first half of the season. Hopefully she'll get better when she starts interacting with other people.

This episode was good, but when the two Hiro's saw each other they should have fainted. Has Back to the Future taught us nothing?>

Anonymous said...

Watchmen, good call. Although I think Alan Moore took that idea from some science fiction story, right?

"Was Isaac just blustering to Sylar, or did he really paint some sort of 'Here's how you beat this guy?' picture before he died?"

Or maybe he didn't mean that literally? Maybe there's something about Isaac's abilities that will tip them off, now that Sylar has them? More likely it's the comic book, but you never know with this show.

"(Also, I like that Sylar was able to steal Isaac's precognitive talents, but not his artistic skills.)"

That was great! And it tells you something that could be important about Sylar's ability: He steals other people's raw power, but not all the other things about them that enable to put that power to its best use. It's like taking a Vitamin C pill instead of eating an apple. It's just not as good for you. I'd say that's a big weakness for such a powerful guy.

"An NYC figure who comes to national prominence after a terrorist attack in NYC is elevated to the White House, where he engages in nasty and inappropriate (even morally repugnant) policy-making?"

But with much, much better hair.

I really don't understand the Larter-hate. I think she's really good, especially when she's evil. Er, you know what I mean. And she's believable as both characters. Plus, sometimes she has not so many clothes.

Anonymous said...

Er, Moore took the "destroy New York to unite the world" thing from a science fiction story, that is. Not the idea of having people run around in silly costumes. Which, aren't you glad this show doesn't do?

Anonymous said...

^ For now, Treacher. For now.

(Bring me Nathan in tights, stat!)

dark tyler said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dark tyler said...

Between Desmond channeling Dr. Manhattan on Lost and Linderman channeling Ozymandias on Heroes, it looks like the Watchmen movie is going to be a big old deja vu by the time Zach Snyder gets his dirty hands on it.

Speaking of influences, does any one else smell a "Days of the Future Past" for next week's episode?

Regarding the conspiracy, I don't find it complicated at all, so far. I like the idea of mama Petrelli knowing Linderman from way back when and forming a secret resistance by sending the Haitian to monitor one of his employs' activity. I'm just curious to see who else is one her side. Has she organized all of this on her own?

(Oh, I'm adding a vote for Fables. Awesome series.)

Blankity-Blank said...

Anti-bullet points:

- Even if Peter can only use one power at a time, one assumes his legs at least can still function when he's invisible. And yet he's not only standing right in front of Sylar after two minutes, he's not even facing him.

- Hi, Mrs. Petrelli. Your son died so I brought you the body. Bye!

- Parkman's ridiculous "I hate him!" when faced withe decision of helping Mr. Bennett or, you know, staying in a cell. Even Explody wasn't as fake-conflicted.

- Speaking of Explody, all it takes to master a new facet of your powers is a telepathic game of telephone, I guess. Good to know.

- You can't change the past, says Isaac (better now, of course, now that he's about to die) but yet he thinks they can still stop the explosion. Interesting.

- New York blew up. Let's go see if Mr. Isaac not only survived, but is still living in this crater of a city however many years later.

Heroes, you're the most wonderfully awful show ever made.

Susan said...

blankety-blank: I love the show, but I have to agree with some of your points, especially this one - did Mohinder really drag Peter's dead body across town to his mother? In a cab?!

Alan Sepinwall said...

Susan, in fairness, it was Mohinder's cab (or, rather, his father's cab, which Mohinder has been driving around all season).

But Blankity-Blank raises some good points. This is a fun show, but not an especially smart one.

electricia said...

I have a bunch of random thoughts, which I will loosely string together.

- I agree with Pandyora about thinking of Hero Protagonist every time I hear Hiro's name.

- It didn't surprise me to find out that Linderman is "in charge", because I assumed that was the case, mainly because I forgot about Sulu, I mean, Hiro's father. But I suspect that he won't turn out to be in charge after all, but that the Primatech people need his help and resources for some reason, but he's not on their "side".

- So there's a group of older "heroes", and we know Linderman was one of them, and the others went evil, at least in his eyes. But we know that he's morally questionable, so who knows what evil really means to him. So we've got Linderman, Hiro's father, probably Ma Petrelli... what about Simone's father? He owned the building that seems to have some importance -Claude lived there with his pigeons, Hiro "landed" there (does he remember being there as a child?), it kept showing up in Isaac's paintings... clearly he was important somehow.

- Yeah, why DIDN'T Mohinder kill Sylar?

- I agree that Micah is going to rig the polling machines.

- I don't think we've fully seen Claire's part in everything. The cheerleader is saved, but how does that save the world? I don't think we really know yet.

- Did anyone else think that Future Hiro greeted Past Hiro with contempt? Like maybe he hates himself for not saving New York? And, wouldn't Future Hiro remember when he, as Past Hiro, visited himself? Obviously Past Hiro has to go back to the past, or there would have been two Hiros already in the future when he got to the future. Gah, I hate time travel stories. (It reminds me of HIMYM - "You know who would be good at dealing with that? Future Marshall and Lily.")

- Maybe it was just me, but I thought there was some heavy Crucifixion/martyr symbolism going with Isaac's death. And! With Peter... I felt like before his fight with Sylar, he was weak, and lost, and didn't know what to do with himself, and his hair was constantly hiding his face, which sort of symbolized his shy, unsure nature. But after the confrontation with Sylar, he was more confident, more in control of his powers, and waaay more in control with Nathan rather than being in the submissive little brother who takes crap from big brother role. He was direct and firm, and his hair was not in his face, and he just looked different. I thought that was intentional, but maybe I just took too many lit classes in college.

Anonymous said...

"Hi, Mrs. Petrelli. Your son died so I brought you the body. Bye!"

Yeah, I kinda wondered how he got the body from his cab into the house without any passersby calling the cops... Oh wait, it's supposed to be New York, isn't it? Never mind.

"Parkman's ridiculous 'I hate him!' when faced withe decision of helping Mr. Bennett or, you know, staying in a cell."

I don't think it was the decision he hated so much as Bennett's arrogance.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and does Nathan live with his mom??

Ted Frank said...

Nathan lives in the suburbs, no? He was just at Mom's because he heard about Peter.

One can retcon Peter's actions by the fact that he was frozen with indecision once he turned invisible, and then turned and tried to run when he began to grok what Sylar was doing with the shattered glass. But, yeah, it's just another one of the strange plotholes that don't make a lot of sense. But criminy, if we're going to say that it's a genetic defect that allows D.J. to walk through walls (that's on the 17th chromosome, is it?), we kind of have to suspend disbelief in any number of other fashions.

This show sure seems inclined to hit every crackpot left-wing conspiracy, from politicians creating a disaster for their own gain to the "Diebold stole the election!" nuttery. All we need now are the pharmaceutical company vaccines causing autism for the full trifecta.

Taleena said...

Love the title Alan!

"Observation and objectivity or 'the two obs as I like to call them.'"