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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Heroes Season One Finale: Bang Or Whimper?

If you're a Heroes fan - like me - then I wonder how you're feeling today? I resisted the urge to post anything last night, right after the finale wrapped up, because I wanted to think about it some more first. I even had some dreams and not-quite-asleep, not-quite-awake musings about it overnight. So clearly it had some effect on me!

I can't say that I didn't enjoy the episode, entitled "How To Stop An Exploding Man". It completely pulled me in and held me there for the duration. There were quite a few moments to like, after all: most of the regulars finally met up all in one place - Holy Superhero Team-Up, Batman! - and got to react to each other in fun ways, as well as use their powers in service to the story (even Micah, getting the elevators to run again). The final scene, with Hiro landing in 17th century Japan, looking like he just stepped into an Akira Kurasawa film, was amazing, and certainly left me wanting more. And I loved the interaction between Noah - yes, Noah! - Bennet and Peter, where the elder of the two pays homage to the other for having saved his daughter at the homecoming dance, and the debt he feels he owes him as a result.

But then there were the litary of scenes that just... felt wrong!

Hiro voicing his battle cry before running at Sylar to pierce him through... and Sylar does nothing to stop it? It was that easy to shish kabob a guy with a mastery of telekinesis, ice powers and nuclear fusion, just to name a few? I was expecting something really clever in the taking down of Sylar and instead got... that?

And speaking of powers, did Peter forget that he knows how to fly? After all, he gets the powers of other people if he can remember what he felt like when they were around - or something like that - so why did he need Nathan to fly him into the sky? He couldn't remember his own brother well enough? And if he needs to be able to concentrate to use a power, then how in the world did he ever use Claire's power of regeneration/mutant healing after she pulled the big shard of glass out of his head? Wouldn't he have been too... well, dead?... to have pulled that off, if it's that hard to do?

Continuing along the same line, subtle clues were dropped last week to make us believe that sexy young Candice has been using her power of illusion all along to make herself look so sexy, and yet when she was knocked out by Nikki, her form didn't change. (The indicators that she was a fatso projecting a skinny image were in her comment to Micah about how eating all that junk food would make someone huge, like her, and in the way she hugged Linderman, which was more of a Big Person hug.) So are we to believe that her illusions persist even when she's not awake to maintain them? Would they continue after she died? Is she actually re-shaping reality rather than just casting illusions? Will we ever find out?

There've been two high level areas that have bugged me about Heroes pretty much from the start. The first is what I've touched on above: the inconsistency of the powers. Without speaking a word of a lie, I can say that I've had the pleasure of reading tens of thousands of stories about people with superpowers of every sort you can imagine. That makes me, in this lowered standard world in which we live, something of an expert on the topic. And I have to say that I've found the application of the powers introduced by the writers of the show to be quite frustrating. I realize that part of the tale they want to tell is about how all of these characters are experiencing their new abilities for the first time. And yet they always seem to somehow master those powers just when it most suits the story, and forget about them or are totally inept with them the rest of the time. It takes me right out of the story when there's an obvious resolution that one or another of the characters has within their reach, only to have it not be addressed in order to prolong the tension.

The other nagging pattern exhibited by the show, which I mentioned in my very first post about it, is the lack of believable follow-through. This has showed up in nearly every episode, and the finale was no exception. Sylar, the master villain, who several of the heroes have regarded as their nemesis for weeks, is lying on the ground, bleeding out. And yet not a one of them thinks to keep an eye on him so that he can't crawl off to bedevil them again in Season Two? Now, the cops who arrive on the scene are similarly incompetent at making sure someone's watching the corpse, but I can forgive them (they're not used to bizarre happenings). The heroes, on the other hand, have two of their numbers who've come back from the dead - Claire and Peter - so why wouldn't they worry about Sylar doing the same? A simple, precautionary decapitation might've seemed... I don't know, prudent?

And there are moments like that, all the way through the season. It's unfortunately one of those things where, as a viewer, you start to realize that the only possible way events could play out in the manner they're being shown would be if they were... you guessed it, written that way! Nathan having to fly Nuclear Peter up into the sky, so that Nathan can die a hero's death - if, in fact, he did die - only works as such if you turn your brain off and just enjoy the ride.

Which, I suppose, isn't the worst of fates.

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