Did anyone want Heroes back? Was their anyone who was actually glad that this consistently disappointing and often ridiculous show was back on the airwaves for a
fifth season “event miniseries”? Why did NBC greenlight the renewal of a show no one really liked but passed on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt? Does Tim Kring have some serious dirt on the execs at NBC Universal?
We may never know the answers to any of those questions, but I do know one thing: Heroes Reborn is one of the worst and most fundamentally absurd shows of the season. There’s a good likelihood that, in true Heroes fashion, the show will collapse in on itself before the finale, which will probably make no sense and be an utter rush job where most of the characters stand around doing nothing.
In his review of last week’s episode of Heroes Reborn, my colleague Kevin Montes quoted something I said in our site’s IRC chat: “At the end of it, I was convinced that the first season was a trick; some sort of facade, not as good as I had assumed.”
I can’t remember if I was talking about last week’s ghastly episode or the finale of season 3, where I finally tapped out of the original show, but I stand by what I said. I feel like that first season may have been some hardcore television trickery: that the creators pulled everything out of their bag of storytelling tricks that season and had nowhere to go afterwards. I have been rewatching the first season recently, and while certainly better than what it became, it’s not as good as I remembered it to be. While great episodes like the Bryan Fuller-penned “Company Man” still hold up, some of the middle episodes of the show do not. Do you remember how scattershot that first season was with some of its plotlines? I did not remember the D.L./Niki/Micah stories being paced so badly nor Matt Parkman’s plotlines being a complete waste of time. The first season is ultimately promising but uneven in hindsight, particularly once we know where the show went from here.
Season 2 was harmed by plotlines that dragged, an uneven tone and bizarre character choices that were absolutely a sign of things to come. It was hurt even more by the writers’ strike truncating the season and Lost coming back that January with on of its strongest seasons. Heroes was perceived as the “anti-Lost” with less continuity lockout and mysteries that would be actually be answered. You can watch and appreciate the season four Lost episode “The Constant” without knowing very much about the show or its mysteries. There were episodes of Heroes season 2 that were even incomprehensible to people who actually watched the whole thing. The show would never recover and it brings to where we are now, with a miniseries that trades in bad storytelling and mysteries that don’t need to be mysteries.
The official synopsis for Reborn boldly claims that it “will reconnect with the basic elements of the show’s first season where ordinary people were waking up to the fact that they had extraordinary abilities.” I took this with a grain of salt going in to the show. I was right to do that. If “The Needs of the Many” is any indication, this miniseries is going to get very stupid before it wraps up.
When we last left the show, Molly Walker was plugged into evil Cerebro (that’s literally what it is), which
The Company Primatech Renautas is using to hunt down “enhanced humans” to, I don’t know, kill them I guess? Zachary Levi’s character Luke, who has been hunting down and murdering “enhanced humans” discovers — shock of shocks — that he has a power himself, which is either his hands glow orange or getting someone at the special effect department fired (later, he boils water. So it’s supposed to be heat?). Running away from the plot, Tommy and his mom are inexplicably hit by a deus ex machina car.
Still the narrator of this show, Mohinder Suresh (Sendhil Ramamurthy) begins the episode the same nonsensical philosophical bullshit he’s been spouting since episode one about true purpose.
Also, the show pauses for 10 whole seconds after Luke and his partner Joanne (Judi Shekoni) for a sad puppy to come down the stairs and walk over to some dude they just murdered in his house for no adequately explained reason. At this point in the series, we should know more about Joanne and Luke’s ambiguous motivations and the list they have. Instead, they just come of as thrill-killing murderers. Luke eventually reveals to Joanne that he has a power and she nearly kills him before deciding to walk away. If his character is having a change of heart, they could have handled it better than this. Anyone who’s watched Chuck knows that Zachary Levi is a great actor, but temper tantrums over boiling water and watching a dog walk down the stairs are not good looks for him. Like most of the cast, he’s severely underutilized.
Meanwhile, Ren (Toru Uchikado) e-begs his Twitch followers to pay for his and Miko’s (Kiki Sukezane) flight to America to retrieve the katana from the Renautas office. They succeed in getting there through arranging a meetup with fans at the building – all Miko needs to do to get inside it to wear her meme-famous Katana Girl getup from the game. Despite the game that they play having some painful CGI graphics for 2015, Miko and Ren’s story is probably the best of the lot in that it seems to have an actual stated purpose and doesn’t deal in the completely ambiguous. Right now, their story is in a lull and they’re not given much to do this time out aside from a plane ride.
The show’s sole remaining original character, Noah “HRG” Bennett (Jack Coleman) and his conspiracy theory buddy Quinten Frady (Henry Zebrowski) are outside Renautas waiting for the right time to rescue Molly (Francesca Eastwood), who fled from them last episode because of the “things” that HRG did, and immediately got captured. The pair encounter Erica Kravid’s daughter Taylor (Eve Harlow) who they force to help them. Coleman has usually done great with the heavy-handed dialogue he’s been given over the years, but he just can’t sell some of this stuff.
Neither can Zebrowski, a talented comedian known for his work on Adult Swim’s Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell. His comic relief character often grates, and his motivations are stronger than HRG’s but are put on the backburner because Bennett controls the plot. When Taylor confronts her mother about why Renautas is capturing evos, she is instead lectured at with the Wikipedia page on the history of aluminium in order to make some sort of point about creativity. “This isn’t a TED Talk, mom” Taylor says. A better reply, “to save our species” is not dwelled upon. After that clumsy piece of disposition, she agrees to help Bennett and Frady enter the building, where they encounter evos – including Taylor’s boyfriend and Molly – in some sort of statis thing for the evil Cerebro network. Bennett makes a comparison between Erica and Sylar’s use of evo brains that basically screams “gee, remember when Zachary Quinto was on this show? Sure wish we could afford him.”
After HRG unstraps Molly from the machine, she steals his gun and exposits about the June 13 explosion and Claire’s death. She’s really ambigious about what she’s keeping “safe” and refused to give up to Erica — apparently, she has some sort of diabolical plan to wipe out humanity? — and kills herself to keep it that way. This was handled really badly, from the dialogue to the ambiguity to the fact that Molly Walker has been a walking MacGuffin for most of the series and is now dead after four episodes of this one. It could have been done with a little more gratis. Shame Heroes doesn’t do gratis.
After their car crash, Tommy (Robbie A. Kay) inadvertently transports his wounded mother to the hospital waiting room. Totally not suspect, clumsy writing at all. He is met there by his friends Emily (Gatlin Green) and Brad (Jake Manley). The chemistry between young actors Kay and Green is one of the best things this show has going for it. Hopefully their plot moves in a more interesting direction from where it is now, as the two use Tommy’s powers to get transfusable blood for his injured mother as they are menaced by the music score. Tommy tries to give his own blood to save his mother’s life, and although he isn’t a match it puts himself at exposure as an evo. He and Emily are cornered by agents just as they’re about to escape. This would be a great storyline if it wasn’t bungled by every beat of the plotline being incredibly obvious.
Carlos’ (Ryan Guzman) story continues its El Vengador plot, that could have been the strongest one of the lot if it didn’t have too many characters or moving parts. Shortly after Jose (Lucius Hoyas) finds out that Carlos is El Vengador, he and Father Mauricio (Carlos Lacamara) are captured by agents, which will probably only serve as Carlos’ ill-explained motivation for the next few episodes.
The Antarctica and Canada segments with Farrah (Nazneen Contractor) and Malina (Danika Yarosh) feel a bit like filler at this point, despite “feeling” like it’s supposed to be the plot thread that has all the answers. I don’t have much to say about that storyline aside from the horrible CGI on the tree that Fiona wills from the ground. How much money does this show have for special effects? Did they blow it all on location?
So that’s five separate plots. Just like the original series, Heroes Reborn has no clue how to juggle its many storylines, leading to some suffering from lack of screen time and others becoming drawn out. While i’m not asking for equal time per plot or even to tie them together this early into the show, the writers need to work on pacing them better. I still think they’ve never figured out how to transition between them well, either. Even in the original series, the transitions were often jarring and they’re still shaky in Reborn.
Aside from Molly’s death, the theme of this episode seems to be moving most of the characters to a single location. And honestly, that seems to be the best solution. This episode has a lot of tools in it that by all rights should have made it at least halfway watchable. Instead it’s a jumbled, overboiled mess. It seems like some of the plotlines are beginning to converge, and that might be for the best. However, it’s at a point where I’m starting to not care about a lot of these characters or what happens to them. That’s kind of a kiss of death for dramatic, arced television series like this. The future looks murky for Heroes and it depends on how the writers salvage the mess they’ve put themselves in on whether they have one after this miniseries wraps up.
Score: 3 out of 10
Kevin Montes will be back with you next week. A big thank you to him for letting me cover this and get my little rant out about this show.