Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Heroes, "The Eclipse, Pt. 1": Power blackout

Spoilers for last night's "Heroes" coming up just as soon as I rent a convertible...

I wish I could come up with something more articulate than "meh" (now dictionary-approved!), but this allegedly game-changing episode didn't inspire much from me besides apathy.

If there was ever a point where we watched "Heroes" for the characterizations, I think that time is long passed. We watch... well, primarily we watch out of masochism, or out of a stubborn belief in the potential of "Heroes" rather than the actuality of "Heroes," but we also watch for plot twists and the occasional cool use of powers. So an entire episode in which the characters lose their powers and stand around to talk about their feelings and motivations wasn't the wisest choice. It'd be like a Phillies game where Ryan Howard only got to play defense, or an "American Idol" episode where Randy's the only judge who gets to talk.

Parkman's out-of-the-blue love for Daphne still makes no sense, no matter how many times he refers to spirit walks, but at least she was allowed to call him out on that now. I've completely lost track of whether Elle wants Sylar to be very good or very bad. (If the role were played by a less interesting actress -- say, a certain other diminutive blonde already familiar to the "Heroes" audience -- I'd just fast-forward through those scenes by now.) Peter and Nathan's whinefest about who the bigger sap is might have been interesting if these characters ever had meaningful conversations with each other instead of the usual cryptic dialogue and yelling. And Mohinder is no more interesting with a clear complexion than he was when he was turning into Jeff Goldblum.

Still, at least this one moved, even after everybody lost their powers. The stuff with Baron Samedi (double geek points for naming him after both a James Bond villain and a Brother Voodoo villain) has potential for interesting action -- especially since they spent so much time on Peter talking up his invulnerability that his powers have to turn back on next week, and Seth Green and Breckin Meyer as Kansas comic shop employees has the potential for the entire show to turn into an episode of "Robot Chicken."

But, again, I'm just being a sucker if I'm watching this show based on potential. Or what was that word Tim Kring used last week before he wrote his letter of apology?

What did everybody else think?


David Coleman said...

Here's another question that's been bothering me for a couple episodes: Why on earth did Sylar name his future-son after HRG, the man that's bound and determined to end him? If that kid was from Elle and Sylar's marriage/relationship, it makes even less sense, since Elle's not too fond of HRG either.

I wish the show were interesting enough to not pull me off on tangents like that while I'm watching, but...

Anonymous said...

I've liked Greg Grunberg since Felicity, but I find him too annoying for words on this show. I really wish they'd kill him off. Ditto for Claire and Peter. They're whiny, can't act, and haven't been interesting since the first season. It's a shame that the show seems so reluctant to kill people off--especially since the first season established that no one (Isaac, Simone, Ted) was safe.

R.A. Porter said...

Don't watch. Haven't watched since early in the first season (I have a preternatural aversion to Milo from watching GG.) But I still keep vaguely abreast of what's going on to maintain my geek cred. Plus, a picture of Seth and Breckin to lead your post was too much to skip.

So it occurs to me, how about firing Tim Kring, firing everyone else, abandoning the Heroes concept, and just giving us an hour-long light drama starring Seth Green and Breckin Meyer? Or even a heavier drama with some light moments, maybe like FNL but about comic shop employees.

That, I'd watch.*

*As long as Tim Kring's not involved.

Anonymous said...

Hrm, I don't see the words "I'm sorry" anywhere in that alleged apology from Tim Kring.

Anonymous said...

I've completely lost track of whether Elle wants Sylar to be very good or very bad.

That part annoyed the crap out of me, too. She seems to change motivation from ep to ep, and it's confusing.

I mostly agree with you about this ep, although I'm still enjoying 10-year-old Hiro (and Ando's American accent, which kept popping out unexpectedly). I didn't mind seeing Mohinder's butt, either. Bummer that the end of the eclipse will turn him back into Mohinderfly!

BTW, "Robot Chicken" did a "Heroes" spoof already - Sylar stole the powers of a guy who happened to have explosive diarrhea. Disgusting hilarity ensued!

Where can I find Kring's apology?

Matter-Eater Lad said...

Every time Parkman is on screen, I imagine Greg Grunberg wishing that JJ Abrams pilot he did had been picked up.

The idea that anything, in any episode, is a "game-changer" is a ludicrous one at this point. Anyone who appears dead will come back. Anyone who has lost powers will regain them. Anyone who seems to be in danger will escape and forget about the whole thing five minutes later. The show has so little sense of character and its own history that it might as well be a goldfish.

And didn't Hayden Panetierre's forehead used to move?

Anonymous said...

Why DO I still watch? Kristen Bell and a habit of not changing the channel after Chuck, I guess.

What especially annoyed me about this episode was the Claire-is-dying business. People look at a future-foretelling picture of Claire bleeding in HRG's arms and conclude everyone's losing his or her powers. But when HRG held her, she wasn't dead, and even when she has her powers she can bleed until she heals, right? And the show seems to think it's creating suspense about whether Claire will survive and it just isn't working.

This may have become the dullest show on television, and yet having watched it from the beginning I still don't quite want to stop--although Tim Kring's comments make me more likely to than I was. Watching a show when it airs to me still signifies being a committed fan (appointment television!), not ignorance of or incompetence with other ways to watch.

J-bone said...

"I hate Heroes"

Couldn't agree more Sylar, couldn't agree more.

David J. Loehr said...

I'd like to think the viewers who are left are optimists, not masochists, but I'm not so sure anymore.

From Kring's sort-of apology:

"It was a boneheaded attempt at being cute and making a point. Instead, it turned out to be just plain insulting and stupid. I know now how it sounded, but I truly never meant to suggest anything bad about our audience."

If he's so tone-deaf as to make the original dip$#!+ comment, and then to try to excuse it this way, is it any wonder that the stuff he's writing comes out so badly?

lungfish said...

Apathy is right- they've had the main characters switch allegiances so many times, I don't really care to try and comprehend what their motivations could be at this point.

Also another big "who cares" for the reveal they've been building up to for weeks with Daphne's mysterious past.

...and just when we thought we were rid of the annoying Maya, they better have not been teasing her return!

Anonymous said...

HRG's "Tonight on NBC" dealie, right before Chuck? That almost made me stick around for Heroes. Almost.

Anonymous said...

Elle wants Sylar to be independent, which changes from good to evil sometimes. She wants him to break free from being a killer but also to break free from being a good little boy. Morally grey maybe?

Anonymous said...

Alan said it perfectly. I only watch Heroes because the characters have super powers. Taking away their powers was a terrible idea. Thats like a comedy show deciding to do an entire episode with no jokes.

Anonymous said...

I loved this episode. But I have enjoyed most of this season, a few storylines notwithstanding. I'm definitely an optimist, and I seriously don't think that the show is nearly as bad as the bandwagon says it is.

If Hiro is going to be stupid and act silly, I'm glad there's at least finally a reason (he's reverted to childhood), and its not just a formerly cool character being an idiot for no reason at all! And I'm actually totally feeling the Matt-Daphne chemistry, I can see how he would be the kind of guy who would make an emotional leap, and that she would be the kind of girl who would be freaked out by that. I just want Parkman to have something decent to do, I really like the actor and character, and his power is really cool. I like him teaming up with Hiro and Ando, they're the purest, sweetest group of guys and like that they've teamed up. I kept expecting Parkman to facilitate some kind of 3-way mind meld with Hiro and Ando before the powers went out - maybe there's still room for that when everyone gets their powers back.

Question: Does Sylar actually know that he's Claire Bear's uncle? I'm not quite clear on that part...

@Anonymous: That's actually the best explanation I've heard for Elle's seemingly schitzo behavior toward Sylar - wanting him to be independent, to not be a tool for any of the broader forces that are at work. I've been feeling very conflicted about that character - Kristen Bell is acting the heck out of the role, for sure, and I love to watch her, whatever she's in. But she is written so unevenly; combine that with the way that she's throwing herself completely into whatever's being written for her at the time, and I'm having trouble seeing much cohesiveness to the character. However, I think you've just given me my key to tolerating that storyline.

@David Coleman: "If that kid was from Elle and Sylar's marriage/relationship, it makes even less sense, since Elle's not too fond of HRG either."

I'm actually really interested in that part - how the reconciliation will come about. If that whole direction gets dropped, however, and that wasn't foreshadowing to anything interesting, I'm gonna totally call foul.

Matter-Eater Lad said...

"Taking away their powers was a terrible idea. Thats like a comedy show deciding to do an entire episode with no jokes."

Thing is, it's a perfectly reliable superhero comics trope. But the execution here is dismal. And, someone, please explain the causal mechanism by which an eclipse can give and take away superpowers.

Anonymous said...

Is Elle a villain or a hero? Is Sylar? Is Tracey? Does Elle want Sylar to be a villain or a hero? Have Elle and Claire become friendly or not? When did Claire start hating her father again? Is Tracey working for Arthur or Angela or someone else? Do I care?

It's just too much to ask the audience to keep track of this many characters when the characters don't even have consistent motivations and characterization.

R.A. Porter said...

"Taking away their powers was a terrible idea. Thats like a comedy show deciding to do an entire episode with no jokes."

Or, as we like to call it in my house: According to Jim.

Anonymous said...

I just want Parkman to have something decent to do, I really like the actor and character, and his power is really cool.

Agreed. I laughed when Daphne's dad asked Parkman why he kept cocking his head to the side like that. Maybe Parkman will find another way to show he's using his powers instead of doing that dog-like head tilt :-)

Anonymous said...

What happened to Tracey wanting to get rid of her powers, or at least being morally panicked about what happens when she used them? Did Robert Forster do some mojo on her? It seems that in about five minutes she became totally evil and manipulative. What did I miss?

J.J. said...

Everything about this show just keeps getting worse. The writing. The acting. All of the original characters and concepts are collapsing in on themselves, and not in an interesting.

I even find myself disgusted with the small stuff now, like the set design.

Honestly, that corn farm location was ridiculously bad. It's become clear that they're just introducing new locations to distract us from how retarded the show has gotten. The desert where the spirit-walker lived, the jungle where the Patrellis crashed, and now this silly cornfield. I thought I'd gone back and time and was watching the made-for-TV miniseries of Stephen King's "The Stand" with the corn around Mother Abigail's house.

Alan Sepinwall said...

It seems that in about five minutes she became totally evil and manipulative. What did I miss?

You missed nothing. It's now obligatory that every character on the show do random face and heel turns to suit the needs of that week's script. Frankly, I'm stunned we haven't gotten a look at Evil Hiro yet. (Future Hiro doesn't count; he was just tormented, but still one of the good guys.)

Karen said...

Why do I still watch? I dunno. Habit?

The episodes just seem so weird and desperate and random now.
"What'll we do this week, now that we seem to have given up completely on narrative flow?"

"Uh: let's make all the good guys bad guys! Now, let's turn them back! Let's show the future! Let's show the past! Let's see how everyone got their powers! Let's see what it's like if they all lose them!"

Nothing seems to be serving a larger story arc. It's just like throwing a bunch of paint against a wall.

bsangs said...

Basically I keep watching for two reasons: 1) Nothing else on worth watching Mondays; 2) Potential - the possibility that at some point the magic of Season 1 will return.

But sadly, it remains awful. If I have to hear Claire give one more repetitive speech about how she wants to help and not hide I might start watching (shudder) Two and a Half Men.

Boricua in Texas said...

I don't know why I keep watching. It is increasingly joyless. These days I don't even love to hate it. It's just so blah.

Anonymous said...

Is Claire the worst actress on tv right now? Check.

They really need to kill off half the cast.

Anonymous said...

The best part of this episode, easily was Noah calling out on Claire's shit. Basically, he took our words and shouted them at her.

I love you Noah. Marry me.

Unknown said...

A few questions/comments, regarding the show, and the viewers.

first off, if it was a TOTAL eclipse it would a) be talked about constantly on television and media in the weeks before, thus making Pa Petrelli's drawing sort of a "duh" moment. Okay, yeah, that's an eclipse. I just saw that on tv a few minutes ago.

continuing in that them, a total eclipse isn't usual visible world wide, as in Haiti, Kansas, New York, Texas, California. And they don't happen that often, so far as I know. I've never seen one in my entire life, and yet TWO have taken place in the short few years since we've started observing this universe?

I actually don't mind Hiro as a ten year old - his emotional mindset was kind of childlike to begin with. And I was laughing like crazy at Sylar's attempt to use his powers. He waved his finger at HRG and nothing happened. Ditto for Matt's failed attempt at mind-reading.

Is Mr. Petrelli's power to mind-read/mind-control, or to steal powers? because the two don't seem related to me. And, related to the whole Adam thing, if he could have taken Adam's powers at any time, then why did the Old School Heroes not just do that instead of worrying about how they were going to stop a guy they couldn't kill? Did they actually have a conscience back then?

And why do people keep posting on blogs about this show to say "i don't watch this show anymore. it sucks because of A, B, and C." ? If you don't watch the show and you don't like it, then why are you still reading about it on the internet? go find something else to do.

that's all.

R.A. Porter said...

@lori, I still occasionally read about it on the off chance Kring's going to quit and take out Milo when he leaves. I want to be ready to jump back in the fray.

And while I do appreciate your concern for my time, I have the few moments a week to spare. :)

Stef said...

This was it! Their big chance! Kill Claire dead! If I didn't already love Kristen Bell, tonight's ep would have turned me into a superfan just for that scene. But, this is Heroes, and I can guarantee (along with previous posters) that they'd never have one of their preciously stupid main characters die. So i'm sure we're still stuck with Claire. Aaargh! She's first on my list of the 1/2 of the cast that should just be cut.

And points for still being able to surprise, with the cameos of Seth and Breckin. I actually had to blink hard a few times - like hiro - to decide if that really was them popping up in this crappy show.

Why do I still watch? Yeah, I think it's the potential thing. I used to really love this show, and now we're stuck in the dysfunctional relationship that really should end phase.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone discussed the retconning of "the eclipse gave them their powers"? Peter explicitly said to Nathan that Nathan flew for the first time on the day of the original eclipse, but Nathan flew weeks or months before that; the car crash. Not to mention everyone of the older generation that had their powers well before the eclipse, and that Suresh Senior had been tracking and documenting people with powers long before the eclipse (Sylar, nerdy telekenisis guy that Sylar Jack the Rippers, etc)

It's baffling to me that they went ahead with this premise when it has been so clearly established that the eclipse didn't "give everyone their powers".

I hope they offer up at least a lame explanation, something along the lines of "the eclipse manifested their concious control of what had previously been reflexive", because if they give us nothing... wow. Way to have no respect for your viewers.

Anonymous said...

If I have to hear Claire give one more repetitive speech about how she wants to help and not hide I might start watching (shudder) Two and a Half Men.

Hey, now! At least "Two and a Half Men" has characters who are consistent! :-)

Anonymous said...

I was actually expecting that Nathan and Peter were flying to Africa would be a key plot point because I thought the eclipse would only occur in North America and not in Africa. Therefore they would be the only two to not lose their powers. But I forget that in the Hero Universe, that an eclipse happens all around the world at the exact same time.

Stef said...

Ha! To the anon above me, that's hilarious! Far be it from the Heroes writers to ever, you know, watch the Weather Channel or something! I hadn't even thought about that point on the eclipse, but you're so right!

Anonymous said...

To the two people who posted above me:

They went to Haiti, which - last I checked - was nowhere near Africa.

That being said, I don't blame you for thinking it was yet another gaping plot hole in this show... Why do I still watch it? Force of habit, I guess.