Synopsis of 5×03: Each of the show’s many plots inch forward as new villains come into the light, a deadly app is revealed, we meet an invisible eskimo, and the subtitles go insane.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆ (This could be a one hundred star rating system and my score would be the same)

I don’t much enjoy writing reviews of things that end up being grossly negative. I don’t like hitting a show while it’s down. But I’m going to begin this review of Heroes Reborn with the only sentence my brain can summon: I do not understand (on any plane of human enjoyment) who could possibly be entertained by this garbage barge of a television program. If you thought it possible for this show to pick up after a lame pair of introductory episodes, then you are as wrong as every creative decision that went into the creation of this show.

The show has still spent precisely zero minutes establishing its history or its new canon, making it impossible for fans both new and old to enjoy, if’n this show is even capable of creating new fans. Viewers new to the world of Heroes must be dumbfounded by, well, everything. If you are a new viewer and find yourself capable of comprehending Heroes Reborn, please contact me. I require your charts. And Heroes’ longstanding legion of diehard fan (intentional singular) have little more to satisfy themselves than passing references to characters and places they recognize. A show cannot be sustained on brief Linderman references. I think Socrates said that.

Molly prepares for her montage [NBC]
Molly prepares for her montage [NBC]
The cardinal sin of Heroes Reborn is that it is incomprehensible. I cannot follow heads or tails of what is happening on this show. Or what anyone’s motivations are. Or even, really, what their powers are.

Here is a brief list of things I did not understand about tonight’s episode because they make no sense:

  • Why would Noah punch his partner if he wanted him to shut up?
  • Why is Carlos so mad at Smoke Priest for saving his life? He would be dead if Smoke Priest didn’t save his life. That’s how that works.
  • A platoon of armed men appear at a software presentation to forcibly remove an Evo and nobody in the room even bats an eye? This is an Apple Expo. These people are likely not hardened criminals.
  • Anything that has to do with the Evil Moon.

I’m not a dumb guy. I made it through six seasons of Lost (viewed out of order) and didn’t have much trouble following the goings-on. Heroes Reborn is beyond human deciphering, a finely hewn tapestry of random nonsense.

Even the consistency in film-making technique seems beyond random. At one point in “Under the Mask,” the words “Epic Launch Preview” are listed on screen as our location without a trace of irony or even enjoyment. It’s played boldly, straight-faced, like that’s not a sentence crafted by a fifteen-year-old bro talking about a Gears of War product launch. Each storyline is greeted at its top with a title regarding who is there and where they are. Except when they aren’t. Halfway through the episode, Heroes Reborn just stops doing that. This is either pure laziness, or the show feels that Tommy Teleporter needs no introduction (unlike the greater principality of Carbondale, Illinois, which enjoys its own solo vanity card).

And starting tonight, in Episode Three, some characters are getting little titles next to their face when they’re introduced, explaining who they are and what they like to be called. This is a dumb thing to start mid-stream, but whatever. I’m cool. I can roll. And the delegation of who gets these titles and who does not seems exceedingly random. Erica The Incredible Steve Jobs Analogue gets one, and her henchman Harris gets two, but the East LA thug that is that storyline’s primary antagonist so far gets no such credit, which leads me to believe he’ll be dead soon.

"Yeah, you better run!" [NBC]
“Yeah, you better run!” [NBC]
In order to truly delve into the minutia of just how much none of this makes any sense, I’m going to do this recap as I intend to do all of them: by breaking things down storyline by storyline…

This Week in The Moon

The Mysterious Eskimos are back again this week. One of them is named Milena and we are told by an Invisible Eskimo Spirit Guide that “the world will soon need” her powers. Her powers as of yet seem to consist of preventing the Moon from killing us all, which, all things considered, seems like a pretty handy powerset.

I find it interesting that the primary antagonists of Heroes Reborn so far are Apple, the Moon, and Chuck’s wife. This is honestly the best aspect of the show. I love how dumb this rogue’s gallery is. I hope that the Heroes are forced to join forces with Apple and the Moon to stop Chuck’s wife.

Our time spent in the Arctic Circle each week is (thankfully) brief and also (unthankfully) really boring and vague, just like everything else on Heroes Reborn. But at least it seems like it’ll be over soon now that Harris and his goon squad have arrived. Yay.

Must we? [NBC]
Must we? [NBC]
El Vengador is El Vengaboring

I cannot be alone in thinking that this plotline could be completely excised from Heroes Reborn and we would lose nothing. Carlos is the worst. His costume is the worst. His every motivation is the worst.

I wish I could discuss this story in detail, but all I have are questions. What are these people riding the Underground Railroad away from? Why would one take up the superhero mantle left behind by one’s brother if one was not gifted with superpowers? And why does everyone except the superhero seem to have superpowers? Smoke Priest has complete control over smoke in all its forms (he’d be deadly in a college dorm on a Friday night). The lady who was being mercilessly beaten before getting tossed out a window can fly*. Even the anonymous bad guy is blessed with super strength, though he chooses to use a gun for the sake of dramatic reveals. At least the Japan storyline is entertaining in a trainwreck sort of way. This is just dull, yellow superhero nonsense straight out of 2001, before we learned how to really tell these kinds of stories on screen.

The real loser of this plotline is East LA, which I have become convinced is a desolate wasteland to which no one should ever go.

Zachary Levi stars in Crappy District 9

Who approved these visual effects? Was Heroes Reborn made in an After Effects tutorial? Occurring at the end of a plotline comprised entirely of Luke’s vague, grainy memories of having a son who wasn’t dead, we get the distinct impression that Luke is becoming that which he despises: a hero. We know this because he kneels down outside a motel and hollers to the sky, asking God why this is happening to him before he is enveloped in a bloom effect, the very same bloom effect that cooked his steak earlier. I need not tell you why this was bad. Thankfully, the look and feel of Luke’s slow transformation into a night light aren’t bad enough to ruin this storyline. It is already ruined.

KillApp: The App That Kills [NBC]
KillApp: The App That Kills [NBC]
Tommy Goes to a Party

Skippable. Ends with the most laughable car crash this side of the pile-up on the clown car freeway.

Noah is Mean at a Hospital

Of all its sins — and they are nigh on innumerable — Heroes Reborn’s primary transgression is its reliance on mystery in lieu of actual tension. On the pie chart of Heroes Reborn’s time allocation, by far the biggest slice, colored grey and unappetizing, is spent on characters not knowing what is going on or what they are supposed to do. The main issue here is that we don’t care. Good tension comes from the reveal of new information, not the withholding of old info we need to progress. This is something Justified was always good at. A good mystery can keep us coming back, but we need constant forward momentum to make the mystery something beyond obnoxious.

Arrow held on to the mystery of what happened to Oliver Queen on that desert island for seasons, but every episode brought us some new scene or moment from his time spent shipwrecked. It was protracted, but it was always moving forward, and one of the show’s best villains emerged whole cloth from that backstory.

Did You Get It?

Did you get it? Did you get it when Molly’s torture was intercut with a tech expo that this was a bad app? Did you get it? Did you get it?

And, finally…

The untrained Miko prepares to fight One Dozen Dudes [NBC]
The untrained Miko prepares to fight One Dozen Dudes [NBC]
What the Hell is Going on in Japan?

The Japanese storyline is Heroes Reborn’s saving grace. Whereas most of the show is a dull, incongruous slog, Japan is a gloriously incongruous slog. Not one moment of this plotline has made any sense since its very first second and it is about the only thing keeping me on board. Every second not spent in Japan with Miko and Ren is a second wasted.

This week, Miko gets her sword taken away. We don’t care because Miko has had three total minutes of screen time and all this sword does is take her into a video game when she unsheathes it (please tell me that leaving Japan has gotten rid of that plot device and that it will never be explained. That would make me very happy). But now we know that it belongs to Hiro Nakamura! From the first show! Who I guess is her father! That timeline doesn’t check out! God Bless Japan!

This storyline also introduced us to Harris the Human Starfish, who can regenerate when divided and is basically a crappy version of Chiwetel Ejiofor’s The Operative from Serenity. Harris is introduced via crazy title as “Harris (Prime)” which lead me to believe that this man was in fact an Autobot. But, no, he’s just a starfish, who cracks wise with his clones. He is my favorite character on the show. Never change, Japan. Never change.

#HarrisForever #HarrisReborn [NBC]
#HarrisForever #HarrisReborn [NBC]
Harris also continues the grand Heroes tradition of Evos only being put in crises their powers make them uniquely qualified to solve. In O.G. Heroes, Claire the Regenerating Cheerleader (whom this show still cannot afford) was constantly mangled only so that she might heal herself, a predicament the writers would have never placed, say, the Speedster in. They would never have had Matt Parkman pointlessly reach his hand into a garbage disposal because that’s not what his powers are good at fixing.

It is also in Japan where the show’s subtitles go absolutely insane. Sometimes they’re framed with the environment. Sometimes they’re standard, and in the lower thirds of the image. Other times still they fall, dramatically, fading off as they descend like terrible YouTube typography. I love it.

This plotline’s closeout for the evening would really lead one to believe that we’re leaving Japan behind already. I surmised this when one of the characters said, “We need to go to America,” and the one agreed and restated the sentiment. Heroes Reborn hates me and everything I love. I’ll see you all next week.

*This makes her about the billionth character in the Heroes franchise with the power of flight.

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