I loved the first season of Heroes, the X-Men-style soap opera that ran on NBC from 2006-2007 — that is, I tried to love it, but threw my hands up in despair at the last episode of the season. As a fan of comics and sci-fi, I grew increasingly disappointed that, throughout the run of the season, there were more and more moments of missed opportunities and direction. Sylar, a truly creepy villain with a streak of vulnerability, grew increasingly powerful; for example, he could stop bullets using telekinesis. Yet in the final episode of the season, he is killed by a slow-moving weak individual who runs at him for at least 3 full seconds before impaling him with a sword. He didn’t even have his back turned. How do you go from stopping bullets to being unable to stop a chubby nerd running at you from a distance of 18 feet? I’m not a hollywood writer; I’m just a fan. But even I thought that killing Sylar using the chubby nerd’s power (the ability to stop time, and also teleport) would have been much more believable and satisfying. What about stopping time, wrestling with the decision to kill a human being, slowly and tearfully doing it after much deliberation, and then resuming time to see what must be his victim’s incredibly surprised reaction? Or hell, go the dumbass route and teleport Sylar into a brick wall or something? I know I’m just an amateur, but surely something better could have been done as a finale to the character.
The season had brilliant moments, such as properly resolving the Peter/Nathan storyline (brothers at odds), and also having the courage to show — graphically — what happens when you transmute your fist inside someone’s head. But as it dragged on, the number of missed opportunities started to outweigh the number of cool moments. I am still waiting for the scene where Sylar picks up Claire using telekinesis and starts slamming her into everything, only to become more and more frustrated as she quickly regenerates. I can dream.
Hey, it was a first season. Many first seasons suck; for example, we simply do not speak of the first season of ST:TNG in my household. So it was with high hopes that I started watching the 2nd season, the first episode of which I just now saw (thank you ReplayTV). In it, we see that the spectacular explosion of Peter (more powerful than Sylar; he absorbed everyone’s powers automatically) was survived by his brother Nathan, who could fly and flew him out of harm’s way before he (Peter) exploded as a result of being unable to contain one of his powers. Peter is assumed to be dead, as one would normally be from a crazy powerful explosion. Nathan, depressed and drinking in a bar, looks at himself in the mirror and for a split second sees not his own face but the face of his brother Peter, charred and melted (presumably from the explosion). He looks away, looks back, and his face appears normal in the mirror.
At this point I got really excited, because what that scene hinted at was that Nathan was actually Peter in disguise. Why would that make sense? Because Peter had absorbed a regeneration power, which would account for him surviving the explosion. He had also absorbed a power that allowed him to disguise his appearance. Masquerading as Nathan would be Peter’s way of dealing with the enormous guilt he must feel at being the cause of his brother’s death, as his brother gave his own life to fly Peter out of New York to go explode harmlessly over the ocean. It’s one of those brilliant MY GOD IT ALL FITS moments, and would make for one incredibly kick-ass storyline. I told Melissa what I was thinking, and, for a moment, we were in awe of how clever such a storyline would be.
And then ten minutes later, Peter is found, alive and well somewhere. So much for being clever. My hopes dashed, I kept watching, only to find that Peter has…wait for it… amnesia! Yes, amnesia. Most episodes of Full House have deeper revelations than that. Hell, I’ve seen Teletubbies episodes with more cunning and insight. So it’s now obvious that Heroes is pretty much a soap opera that appeals to nerds without them realizing it’s a soap opera, because nerds don’t (normally) watch soap operas.
I don’t hold much hope for the series. I would probably ditch it if it weren’t for the fact that my wife enjoys it, which is the closest I will ever get to her sitting down and watching Sci-Fi with me on a regular basis. But personally, at this point it’s just something that is keeping me from catching up on my Babylon 5, Battlestar Galactica, and Farscape.
PS: The best show you all missed the last three months was Burn Notice on the USA network. Torrent it, catch reruns, whatever — it’s clever, it gets better with every episode, and I’m thankful USA is giving it a second season.