It’s over. It’s done. What could have been an exciting chance to reinvigorate a failed franchise, implementing hard lessons learned from when the original Heroes went belly up in 2010, ended up being a tired retread of that first season, as it all came down to saving the blonde, and the world, from a fiery holocaust in a prophesied meet-up in a public square. The end of Heroes Reborn was a convoluted affair, at once the previous 12 episodes were leading to this, but the it seemed like the conclusion was being written on the fly. Character arcs are paid off in simplest of ways, and the one scene of genuine emotion felt lacking because the character development wasn’t there.
Instead of going through the proverbial blow-by-blow, let’s recount all the things that this episode specifically, and the series generally, did wrong. Sufficient to say that Tommy and Malina save the world, and Erica gets her just desserts. By now you’ll know that that Heroes Reborn wasn’t renewed by NBC, so the coda at the end of the finale when Tommy and Malina get tarot cards announcing the return of their father, and Angela Petrelli warning that he’s trouble, is meaningless. Honestly though, if the show didn’t feel terribly compelled to tell us who knocked up Claire Bennet in the first place, why the heck should we care now?
Although we’re thankfully sparred the mystery of Claire’s baby daddy, we will never find out for certain the fate of several key Heroes players. For all we know, Matt Parkman died in a bog, trapped in his car after being victim of extreme weather karma, Why the once upstanding cop, and paragon for doing the right thing went to the dark side, will never really be explained. As for Hiro Nakamura, the character who arguable best embodied the spirit of Heroes, gets gypped of a glorious last stand. When they cut away from his big fight against the Harrises, I thought for sure there was going to be a comeback later. After all, they wouldn’t leave Hiro hanging, would they? It turns out, they would.
Another character done a disservice by Heroes Reborn is Miko, who comes back for her third final mission to help Ren free Tommy from the video game prison. First of all, why did Tommy’s view of the video game look real, while Ren and Miko’s looked like a cheap 3-D animated world? Secondly, if you’re going to create a character who was born in a video game and can traverse the real and gaming worlds, for the love of God, ground it in reality! In the end, video game Miko was almost superfluous because the real world Miko was recovered from stasis in the future, and naturally knew nothing of her adventures with Ren. Wasn’t she supposed to be sick or something? Injured beyond repair? I guess she got better.
Miko was a fun character, but I think that has more to do with the way that Kiki Sukezane played her than any specific way she was written. She had vim, a sense of adventure, and may have been the character that best captured the qualities that made Hiro so enjoyable while tipping her in more of a bad ass direction. Teaming with her Ren made a lot of sense, flipping the typical superhero dynamic putting the man behind the computer guiding the female hero as she took on all comers. Although the series ends with Ren and real world Miko training, video game Miko tells Ren that she thinks they will meet again, in which case it will be her fourth final mission.
Speaking of final missions, Luke bit the dust. Quite literally. What an utter waste of Zachary Levi, a charismatic actor capable of blending humor and action in one compelling figure, but playing sad sack Luke Collins, it seems as though he was only meant to die at the right time to stop the first H.E.L.E. It feels like I should have seen it coming, his ability is based on drawing in sunlight, and what is a deadly solar flare but one big burst of sunshine. I think we were supposed to feel pity or gratitude for Luke, but how can you when he clearly wanted to die, forget that we saw him murder so many innocent people with his own bare hands. Seeing Luke go up in flames was the most interesting thing he’s ever done, which is sad.
Another wannabe bad guy, Quentin, also found his inner hero this week. His ham-fisted flipflopping from good to bad to good carried on this week, as he found himself forced to kill his own sister in order to save Malina. Was Phoebe really stupid enough to think that Erica would come back for her, after turning her into the worst Shadow monster to plague the world since the bad guys of Babylon 5? And I’m still confused how Quentin is all, “Yes, let’s do bad things,” one minute, and all, “Whoa maybe we’re going too far,” the next. Bringing him back after his pre-flashback death was pointless, and his post calamity soliloquy about how heroes are ordinary people that do extraordinary things without expectation of reward because it’s the right thing was cliched and disingenuous coming from a man that betrayed everyone at least once.
Still, Quentin’s pointless endgame seems somewhat overshadowed by the pointlessness of Carlos and his gang. True, Farah took the bullet, but she survived thanks to an ideally situated abandoned hospital and Carlos’ never before discussed field medic training. At the beginning of the show, Carlos story was one of the most promising, trying to replace his evo brother as a local L.A. superhero protecting other evos. Did Carlos ever make amends for his cowardice in the army? Whatever happened to the other members of Hero-Truther? What does Micah Sanders do now? It’s almost like that entire subplot doesn’t matter. Just know that Carlos and Farah are still playing Batman and Batwoman in L.A. and whatever…
That brings us to the fate of Horn-Rimmed Glasses. Heroes pulled a Glenn from Walking Dead by making Noah’s fate ambiguous for three episodes, only to have him pop up in the end to fulfill a specific function, and that function was to die. Logic is taxing in these kinds of situations, but how exactly did having a third person volunteer to be sacrificed allow Tommy to properly share Malina’s power and deflect the second solar flare? To me it would have made more sense if Malina could have somehow augmented Tommy’s power so that the Earth could have blipped out of the solar flare’s way for a brief second, but Malina’s power blowing an Earth-sized hole in the H.E.L.E. makes just as much sense.
So why did Noah Bennet have to die? Because that’s the way they wanted the story to end, and no other reason. Noah’s return in the finale was crammed into about half a dozen other stories, including Tommy’s improbable discovery that he can exist in two timelines at once. Why? Because he has to leave one version of himself in the future to save the people already sent there because as soon as they save the world in the present, the future will disappear. I’m not an expert in quantum mechanics, but that doesn’t make any sense. And leaving Erica to disappear into nothingness in the now non-existent future seems like too simple a comeuppance for the series’ villain.
Luke died. Phoebe died. Erica died. And Noah died. None of those deaths had any real emotional pay off in them, not even a smug sense of satisfaction since two of those people (three if you count Luke) were bad guys. As for Noah, not even a tangential sense of nostalgia makes you well up. Only Malina’s reaction to the loss of the grandfather she never knew had any sense of emotion, and that’s because Danika Yarosh acted the hell out of it. Malina wasn’t the most well-developed character on the show, and that’s really saying something, but in that moment you felt Malina’s pain was real. If there’s a singular downside of Heroes Reborn, it’s that it couldn’t give such obviously capable actors a show that was worthy of them.
So in case it wasn’t clear, we gratefully close the book on Heroes Reborn, and we will now put our focus on other, better Thursday night sci-fi shows like the return of the CW’s The 100. As for you NBC, if you ever want to bring back a TV show about ordinary people with super-powers, do us all a favor, and bring back The 4400 instead.