Sunday, 2 November 2008

Can Heroes course-correct its flightpath?

Can the show redeem itself in its second episode?

In my last post, I was pretty harsh on the series premiere of Heroes, which I really wanted to enjoy but kept feeling it had completely lost its way as one of the top TV shows of the last few years. That being said, I did voice my optimism for the follow up episode - entitled 'The Butterfly Effect', and my fingers are crossed in the hope it can rescue itself.

Ignoring the slightly winy opening scene with Claire, the show gets back on track with Angela Petrelli's hauntingly spooky premonition of the future with dead heroes (Hiro, Claire) strewn across the floor of a hospital while Nicki, Adam, Maury and Knox look onwards menacingly; Silar then puts her hand on his shoulder from behind. However, as we've come to know, visions of the future are ten a penny in this show, and whether they turn out to be true is anyone's guess!

After divulging her dream to 'future Peter', Angela goes on to explain the secret of The Butterfly Effect and although the scene takes place in an apparent version of Hiro's timeline web (which is a great set), the whole concept is overused in sci-fi (see the average Ashton Kutcher film) and doesn't really add to the story whatsoever.

Speaking of things which don't really add to the show, Suresh is still as annoying as in the previous episode (the character, acting and motives taking a complete nosedive this series), but at least his screen time (which involved a brief sex scene) was was kept to a minimal 3 minutes and 16 seconds! Claire's 'lost her way' arch (mentioned briefly earlier - she is finding it all too much and isn't feeling pain anymore) is also testing my patience, but I can forgive it, as much like Suresh, only a small segment of this episode is dedicated to it.

Silar's attempted apprehension by Company agents set to the upbeat, uptempo Brighton Port Authority's 'He's Frank' (also on the Heroes OST) redeems the character, (particularly in light of the prior episode) with its amusing comi-tragic take on a serious murderer taking a stroll through an Americana suburb; the switch of the camera viewpoint to the agents' COPS-esque TV camera (see above screengrab) adds to the surrealism and is particularly inspired, plus its hints at the return of humour to the show.

Parkman, who only briefly appeared in the last episode before being disappeared by Peter, (in a distinctly deus ex machina way) returns with a brilliantly comedic introduction (my second laugh of the show)- where he believes, in his dehydrated, delirious state, that a turtle is talking to him, and although this wouldn't be surprising in Heroes, it is in fact his soon-to-be spirit advisor, Usutu (wearing a decidedly 90s looking Universal Studios orange t-shirt!).

Speaking of (criminally!) underused characters, Noah (horned-rim glasses) returns this week, (the last episode heavily missed his presence) attempting to finally kill Silar and set to rest his vendetta of the first series. We also see the last of Bob Bishop, and learn that his power, unexpectedly, was a 'Midas' touch. I mention both of these characters together because I feel it is a shame that Bob has departed, as both Elle and him played a different take on the father/daughter relationship in comparison to Noah/Claire, and I feel that both sets of characters may started out on similar ground, but they ended up being so markedly different because of the divergent paths taken in their lives.

The episode culminates with a showdown of Noah, Silar and Elle in Level 5, while we're reminded that 'present Peter Petrelli' is still trapped in the body of a large menacing-looking inmate, which adds a tragic touch to all the dramatic events. However, Elle's explosion uncannily sets loose the convict 'villains', which sets up a 'freak of the week' scenario for the coming weeks. This results in Peter being forced to watch his fellow inmates' carnage (towards the end of the episode) in a particularly meaningful scene, setting the future tone for this series of Heroes, aptly named 'Villains'. The show then culminates with a creepy Norman Bates-esque Silar being told by Angela that he's the 'good one' out of the Brothers Petrelli, before revealing that she's his real mother (is everyone on the show related?!).

Other brief points include the Nicky Sanders/Tracey Strauss plot- hopefully this will go somewhere interesting, and at the least it gives Ali Larter a chance to play a different character. Lindeman (another supposedly dead character)- eerily 'hovering/haunting' in the background, is an intriguing insertion of religion into the show and lets hope they take it somewhere in this series.

So, to answer myself, Heroes has 'course corrected' and although it still falls slightly in a few places (Suresh, Claire) overall it's an overwhelming success and I really want them to carry this level of storytelling through to a great conclusion for the series, or to the show as a whole.

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