Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Season 3 Episode 1
Volume Three: “Villains”
Chapter One: “The Second Coming”
Written by Tim Kring
Directed by Allan Arkush

If it’s one of the things that would occasionally irk me about Heroes, it would be those scattershot episodes where so much was going on in the 40+ minute running time that the hour would end up featuring a host of headless chickens running about, and would ultimately feel unsatisfyingly choppy.
Well, despite creator Tim Kring being in the writer’s seat for this first half of the Season 3 2-hour opener, this is one of those squawking, stutter-skip chapters.

I’ll give Kring props for the reveal that the gunman who took down Nathan at Volume Two’s close is a scarred Peter from 4 years in the future, who’s about to actually be killed by that future’s Claire, before he ‘ports back and guns Nathan down.
And though that does open up a whole new can of worms, it’s still probably the best idea here…

I guess the hugest letdowns would have to be the Hiro-Mo double header of “how irritatingly stupid can you get?”
Hiro, despite being told by Papa Sulu (via pre-recorded DVD message) not to open a safe containing a secret that could destroy the world (why couldn’t it have been a nice secret?), does exactly that, because he’s bored, only to have that secret—one-half of a formula; could it be the very formula Mo uses to come up with his magic syringe? More on that later—stolen by some speedster (Brea Grant).
The annoyingly impulsive time-traveling idiot—did he not learn anything from Volume Two?—then travels to the future, to see how the formula destroys the world. And there, not only does he witness betrayal at the hands of a powered Ando, but also the apparent destruction of Tokyo.
So he returns to the present, now suspicious of Ando, and sets off on his newfound quest (a quest he’d never had to have gone on in the first place if he’d only listened to Papa Sulu) to retrieve the half-formula.

Mo, meanwhile, apparently having grown tired of the Two Men and a Molly sitcom, shunts Molly off to God knows where (this happens off-screen, and we’re never really told exactly where she was tossed; Maya just claims that the youngster’s unfindable and safe now).
He’s then about to go jetting back to India (gods, does this man have no conviction?) when Maya almost does him in with her bleeding eyes bit, though she calms down before anything permanent happens.
This serves up a “Eureka!” moment for Mo, and he realizes that the key to the powers are in the adrenal glands, and not the blood, as postulated by Papa Suresh.
So he tests his theories, and voila, cobbles up a serum in a syringe that he claims will give a normal human powers! (So much for trying to figure out how to take away Maya’s powers… Couldn’t he have just tweaked one of those Company serums which could take away powers, like the one they used on Nikki last season? Make one that didn’t have that nasty side-effect of a little case of death?)
And after rambling on about breakthroughs and quantum leaps in science and the advancement of the species and “if only I had powers I might have been able to save my father,” Maya realizes that Mo could be getting that Mad Doctor gleam in his eye, and tells him to destroy whatever’s in the syringe.
We see idiot Mo at the docks, torn, about to toss the syringe into the sea (where it could have ended up being washed ashore somewhere and shot up by some poor addled junkie). But of course, we all know he’ll inject himself with it, and he does.
And he’s about to get rolled by some punks, when he displays some superhuman strength (he crushes a punk’s gun), and does an athletic flip to his feet.
So now he’s got powers, despite the wholly irresponsible way in which he got them. (Did this man not see The Fly? Nothing good can come out of self-experimentation. And did he not hear a word of what Maya said?)

There are a number of other bits in here that are also rather annoying.
We learn that Sylar doesn’t eat his victims’ brains, but just seems to study them, looking for a particular part of the brain, and somehow absorbing his victims’ powers that way.
That in itself isn’t annoying.
Rather, it’s how exactly did Sylar find Claire in Costa Verde? Why did Claire think that doing the Halloween bit and hiding in a closet would keep Sylar out? And why the hell didn’t he just TK the damned closet doors open?
And of course, Sylar figures out his next step by rifling through some very important-looking files that Mr. Bennett left behind, which are now in a conveniently-labeled box on the kitchen counter.
Ay, madre de Dios!

At any rate, we find out that Claire is different and special, and that she may very well be immortal, as Sylar apparently now is, as well (having successfully absorbed her powers).
We also find out that Linderman is alive, and is responsible for healing Nathan (yes, Nathan doesn’t die here, just as he didn’t die as a result of Volume One’s cliffhanger).
We also find out that someone who looks exactly like Nikki/Jessica (yes, Ali Larter is still in the building), yet named Tracy, is showing interest in the revived Nathan (who’s now spouting some blather about divine intervention and being God’s angel). Naturally, we first see this Tracy person wearing some sexy bedroom thingie.

And we have the scarred Peter-from-the-future somehow shunting the real Peter’s consciousness into some powered goon who’s incarcerated in Primatech’s Level 5.
At least, I think that’s what happened.
But if so, where’s the real Peter’s body?
And why is Mr. B in a cell? I was led to believe that at the end of Volume Two, he returned to the Company’s fold, in his previous capacity of operative.
What gives?

I was happy to see Cristine Rose though, and Mama P reveals that her power was indeed the dream bits, which Peter inherited.
Confronting the scarred Peter-from-the-future (who gunned down Nathan because supposedly, that moment when the world was told about the existence of powered individuals, was the moment his future went to sh!t), Mama P claims that now, this is a different timeline, all thanks to scarred Peter-from-the-future’s shooting of Nathan.

I was also happy to see Ashley Crow, though that was for the briefest of moments, as she enters with Lyle to find a bloodied Claire…
Hopefully we see more of her in the second hour.

Oh, and Parkman gets ‘ported off (by scarred Peter-from-the-future) to some out-of-the-way wilderness with an apparently new Heroes–related symbol, which appears to be a globe that’s cracking, or breaking, with stuff gushing out of it.
We also see that symbol as graffiti in the Mo-gets-powers scene.

I dunno. There’s a lot in this hour that doesn’t feel right somehow.
Part of it is the sheer number of characters battling it out for screen time, yes, but I think part of it is the writing too.
I can’t recall a single moment here that can come close to many of the truly excellent and moving bits in the Heroes pilot. The Tim Kring that wrote that chapter doesn’t seem to be the same Tim Kring who wrote this one.
And, overused as it is, I love Yeats’ “The Second Coming,” but here, it just seems like the easy, lazy way out.
Why couldn’t we have just had one of Mo’s poignant voice-overs instead? (I am aware there are some critics of those bits, though I’m generally not one of them.)

At any rate, I’m looking forward to the second half of the season opener, if only because I’m hoping things pick up considerably, and the show gets back on track…

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