Tuesday, November 3, 2009

NBC’s Heroes: A Confused, Pointless Mess

Photo from NBC
Last season, NBC’s Heroes started adding many new characters and, as a result, diluted interest in the core characters. In this season, the practice has continued to the point that now Heroes is a confused, directionless mess.

Last night’s episode, ”Once Upon a Time In Texas” made matters worse by going back three years to have Hiro (Masi Oka) save Charlie (Jayma Mays) who he thinks is his one true love. Sylar (Zachary Quinto) killed her three years ago and Hiro thinks he can stop it from happening. But Samuel (Robert Knepper) a weird guy who as far as I can tell lives in some sort of imagined or cloaked carnival, has some person at the carnival who can also time travel like Hiro, and he gets this guy to also transport him where Hiro is located in the past. Oh yeah, Samuel seems to be able to inject some kind of ink into some woman and then she reads the tattoos that magically form on her body. After the watching the creepy Knepper on Fox’s “Prison Break” I am not interested in seeing him play just another creepy character.

Since we’re back three years, we also see Noah Bennet (Jack Coleman) interacting with his daughter Claire (Hayden Panettiere) who is, at that time, still a cheerleader. The episode seems to spend too much time on pointless dialog between Claire and her father. This highlights another problem Heroes has this season – spending too much time on scenes that do nothing to advance the storyline or add interest to the episode.

Noah also is at the same diner where Hiro is trying to save Charlie, and he is meeting up with a woman that he works with, Lauren (Elisabeth Rohm). She thinks that there is something between them, based on the fact that they keep meeting at this out-of-the-way diner. Since he hasn’t made the first move, she decides to do so by getting a room at a local hotel. Rohm, who was frequently – and deservedly – panned for her lack of acting skills while she was on NBC’s Law & Order, also seems "forced" in this role. It seems that almost every line she delivered included some sort of laugh. I find that I could care less about Noah Bennet’s past as his character ceased to have any mystery, or any real purpose, long ago. Another problem with this whole scenario is that I though that at that time 3 years ago that Bennet already knew what Sylar and Hiro looked like, so how can these people walk past him or be in the same place as him and he has no knowledge of who they are? But I guess he doesn’t know Sylar because later he goes to see Isaac – the guy who painted the future – and asks him to paint Sylar.

Meanwhile, Hiro tries to prevent Sylar from killing Charlie, and Samuel tries to get Hiro to understand that unless he does it just right, Hiro may change the future. Well, he WILL change the future if he saves Charlie, it is as simple as that, seeing that she won’t be dead. Hiro thinks that if he gets himself back in a picture of Charlie that is posted on the diner bulletin board, he thinks all will be OK. When Hiro dangles the knowledge of the future in front of the Sylar of the past, suddenly the Sylar of the past - who we knew only wanted other people’s powers and killed at the drop of a hat - seems to want to help Hiro. Not only that, but now Sylar seems to have the power not only to remove people’s powers via cutting through their heads, but now he can fix Charlie’s brain tumor with his finger with surgical precision. When did he get that power? Sylar then appears to go right back on his quest from three years ago to get Claire’s power, and since Hiro knows the cheerleader was already saved, he doesn’t seem to care. But how does he really know that, since it is clear he changed the past, and who knows what ripple effects have occurred? Hiro also tells Ando (James Kyson Lee) to wait for him in the diner because he is future Hiro and the present Hiro will be by soon. I am so confused.

Lauren and Noah meet at the hotel room, and despite her flirty attempts to get Noah interested in her, he really doesn’t seem to want to get into a workplace thing. He says he still loves his daughter and family and hopes to one day be able to tell them the truth. Actually, he looked like he couldn’t wait to get the hell out of there, and she says, “let’s get back to work.”

Later, back at the office break room, Lauren hands Noah an envelope that she said was left on her desk by accident. He opens it and finds the hotel room key and she asks him if he is planning a stay. He looks at her with an odd face and he asks her if they're now pretending they've never been to the "Burnt Toast" diner. Now she looks at him funny, but then he reads the note with the hotel room key that says "Noah, gone Haitian, wiped my memory, better this way, more professional, love, Lauren." I find myself wishing that the Haitian would wipe my own memory of this episode as well.

Samuel’s appearance in the past was more than to just warn Hiro that his messing with the past can mess up the future. Once Hiro saves Charlie, Samuel transports Charlie to his carnival (I think by using the man he already has that can time travel). Samuel wants to use that fact to get Hiro to come back with him because Samuel’s time travel guy is dying and he needs Hiro to take his place. Hiro take Samuel there and then realizes he is trapped, and Samuel says he needs Hiro to fix a mistake he made 8 weeks ago. I find that I no longer care.

Since we probably haven’t traveled through time enough in this episode, we are taken to a place 8 weeks prior to the present (!) with a dead man lying on the floor. Samuel is saying he is sorry, and the man on the floor is Mohinder (Sendhil Ramamurthy). I am underwhelmed.

I am convinced that the creative minds behind this episode are just making things up as they go along. They drop new characters in to the show rather than develop the core characters that they started with, and those were the people that made the show popular. Heroes seems to be dropping rapidly in the ratings each week, likely because the show seems to be jerking between aimless story lines that seem to have no cohesive theme or purpose. My guess is that this is the last season for Heroes. I don’t think there is any effort heroic enough that anyone can make at this point in time to save the show.

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Anonymous said...

I stopped watching this during season 2. They were making things up then! They never had a plan. Not everyone is Joss Whedon, who has an 5 to 7 year outline. I won't ever commit to a show like "Heroes" or "Lost" again unless Whedon is involved. I might give "Madmen" a shot by getting the full seasons from Netflix. Your recaps of this show make me want to watch.


Anonymous said...

I think you are right on the money with this. I was a die hard Heroes fan, but only during the first two seasons. After that it's like a big, swirly mess and I don't enjoy it like I used to. It's actually a pain to keep up with it.