Now, at exactly the halfway point of Heroes Reborn, we finally get some of the answers we’ve been waiting for, the question is does anyone still care? Back in the day – about 10 years ago – during Heroes first go around, it was expected that it would take months to unwind a story, and that you, as an audience member, were free to play with the mystery box until all answers were revealed in the fullness of time. We’re not that patient anymore, and despite a couple of interesting moments here and there, Heroes Reborn has wavered in its ability to weave a compelling story to get us hooked back into its super world. Can a flashback, ahem, save the day?
Answer this question first though: you want some special guest stars? You’ve got it! This week’s look backward one year at the cataclysmic events of June 13, not only did it include Hiro Nakamura, but Mohinder Suresh and Angela Petrelli too. The sum and total of the mystery thus far is almost completely laid out, but there are still a few holes left to fill, and considering that there’s going to be a “June 13th – Part Two” that shouldn’t be a surprise. But in watching this week unfold, I couldn’t help but wonder how the overall narrative was better served by revealing this story halfway through, as opposed to episode two or three.
Of course, there was one special guest star missing in all this, and that was Claire Bennet. Obviously, Hayden Panettiere is a busy young woman having her own TV show and being a new mom, so its odd that the new Heroes series would end up building its core mystery around Claire, a character they could never deal with directly. We learn that Claire was taken to the hospital not because she was killed by something nefarious, but because she went into labor with twins, and then died in child birth. How does the invulnerable Claire die in child birth? Because Panettiere couldn’t be there, and that’s all there is to it. Otherwise, we might have to address key questions like who is the father, and why didn’t Claire bother to tell her father or grandmother that she was with children?
And how very Star Wars was it that Claire gave birth to twins – a boy and a girl – separated at birth, but destined to be brought together again to save the world? As soon as Noah proposed that Hiro could take the kids back in time so that they could grow up and come into their power free of Erica’s pursuit of them, it became immediately apparent who Claire’s children are in the present: Malina and Tommy, or should we say Nathan. Tommy can teleport and Malina can make plants grow, I wonder how these might come in handy to save a world threatened with being fried in a solar storm?
While the episode shed light on the significance of Tommy and Malina, and the reason why Noah made himself forget the day, it took Erica into dank new levels of super-villainy. Before, it could have been argued that her morally corrupt quest to save the world was done out of enlightened self-interest. Yes, she was doing bad things, but it was all in a crazy bid to save the human race.
In this episode, she took a sudden turn into William Stryker territory, evos are a means to end, and not meant to be treated like real people. Her conversation with Past Noah is pretty blindingly racist, or at least more racist than Erica’s been so far. It’s also revealed that she is directly responsible for Odessa, by prompting Phoebe to unleash her magic shadow over the scene and than using several Harris clones as suicide bombers. Left unanswered is a reason why she had to blow up the Unity Summit to begin with. Clearly Erica is the villain of the piece, but the show hasn’t done anywhere near a decent job of character building to make it apparent why she’s doing the things she’s doing.
Other details being filled in belonged to the Collins’. We see Luke and Joanne with their son Dennis in happier times, but not completely happy since Dennis has some kind of condition where he can’t be exposed to direct sunlight. Luke and Joanne hope that an evo at the summit will be able to find a way to help Dennis, but we all know how that ends. A family’s fun day in the park with “Ice Man” turns to heartbreak as the boy that literally burns in the sun seems to die and turns his grief stricken parents into killing machines. Is there more to this story than meets the eye? I hope so.
We also see how Hiro ended up in the Evermore game. Like Angela Petrelli, Hiro was in bed – business-wise-speaking – with Erica, and one of Hiro’s employees, Evermore designer Hachiro Otomo, deposits him swiftly into the game prison using what I assume is his own power. Presumably, next week will deal with how Miko was created, and it bears repeating again that this whole video game reality subplot is one of the stupidest things this series has ever put in a plot. Hopefully, once the flashbacks are done, we can just put it all behind us, and honestly I would have been just as happy if this had never been brought up again.
The episode ends with Future Noah deciding to take matters into his own hands, and killing Erica in the past. Meanwhile, his past self spots him and chases him down, warning Erica right before Future Noah can pull the trigger. Hiro was a broken record about not stepping on too many butterflies, so you have to wonder why the typically cool and pragmatic Noah goes off the deep end to put two in Erica. Why not return to the present and start searching for his grandchildren?
And that is the infuriating thing about Heroes Reborn, the mind of the audience is ahead of the narrative in that its giving us answers to questions we no longer care about getting. The tragedy of the Collins might have served to humanize them in their Punisher-like quest, but we’ve suffered through several episodes of mopey Luke all leading to a suicide attempt. Is there a point to seeing how Hiro turned up in a video game when we already knew he was there? Does it not add pathos to Quentin’s struggle to find Phoebe knowing that she was manipulated by Erica to destroy Odessa? Stopping the action in the middle of the story to flashback may have made sense on paper, but in execution its another Heroes stumble. And there’s still half a season to go…