Synopsis of 5×04: Luke comes out; Noah finds the precogs; Milena’s powers somehow get even more vague.
There exists somewhere in the infinite swirling randomness of the multiverse a universe where Heroes Reborn is good. In this strange world, Tim Kring never went so fully, completely off the rails and retained some of that restrained optimism that made Heroes so good at the start. In this world, which we’ll call Earth 504, Heroes Reborn could afford some more of the charismatic original cast that tipped Season One over the top into being something special. No offense to Jack Coleman. He’s a fine actor, but the man’s not a miracle worker, on this Earth or any parallel one.
In truth, Earth 504 is not that far from our own. “The Needs of the Many” showed some faint glimmers of hope (although I can ascertain no reason as to why that is its title). It was certainly the best episode of the season so far. I am still truly enjoying the insanity of the Miko & Ren segments*, and Heroes Reborn is just a quick script edit from coherence and—dare I say—quality. Each subplot just needs a bit of trimming. Get rid of a few side characters that are gumming up the works and delete one maybe two, three, or four of the storylines and you have a pretty okay show on your hands.
*What is the timeline for this show? Are these stories happening concurrently? Because a plane flight to Japan is not a quick hop. Did Ren buy them tickets on a magic plane, available only to the omnipotent famous people that play videogames on the Internet?
But, sadly, a quality script editor was missing in the planning stages of Heroes Reborn and we have the show of this Earth. One whose “Previously On…” gives me anxiety, both of what I have lived through so far and that we are nowhere near the end.
So let us jet through this as we always do: storyline by storyline…
In one of several instances where “The Needs of the Many” hopes that we remember how much we liked Season One, Mohinder Suresh appears out of nowhere to again lay down semi-scientific vagueries over our cast of characters. Suresh (who we now know in-universe as a wanted terrorist) was the unofficial narrator of OG Heroes, often tasked with rattling off speeches to make the scenes appearing before us seem important and united. He was a low rent Dr. John Dorian with a British accent and he always ended up working for the bad guys at some point in any particular season.
His reappearance here is a guarantee that we’ll be seeing the beloved(?) scientist sometime soon. Which is certainly something. Heroes Reborn has really lowered my bar of expectation. I’ll really take anything at this point. Let’s get this guy in here sooner rather than later. And those other returning Evos we keep seeing in little snippets, just knowing in the back of our minds that we won’t see them until near the end. We just know it.
Tommy is the Hero
Please forgive the pun at the top of this section because Lord knows I’ll never forgive myself for it.
It was with one simple line spoken partially off-screen that we finally gain an understanding of who Heroes Reborn thinks Tommy of Carbondale, Illinois is supposed to be. He’s supposed to be the hero, the lead, the moral compass at the show’s center around which we are supposed to place our moral expectations. He is our spearhead, in whose corner we should always reside.
Now, in actuality, Tommy is dull, vague, and blandly white which, I suppose, does indeed make him the typical hero.
The line in question that keyed me in on all of this was, as any Heroes diehard worth his weight in Nissan Versas will tell you, “Do you ever feel like you’re meant to do something extraordinary?” spoken many years ago by one Peter Petrelli. On Heroes: Original Recipe, Peter was the show’s center, the hospice nurse with a heart of gold whose power was literally empathy. Though he was sometimes a bit of a dummy, you always knew Peter was coming from a good place, and it’s his absence that may be most powerfully felt as Heroes continues on in its current form.
This is a lot of weight to saddle on Tommy, who by all accounts is a nice enough kid but not a particularly good actor, character, or romantic partner. He is being shoved sideways into the role of the hero of Heroes, and it’s not a particularly good look for him.
El Campeon is a Campy Yawn
I will never apologize for that title. Not ever.
How is it that the East LA sections of the show feel like the most expensive and also the cheapest? Carlos building himself a robot suit is kind of neat, if completely ridiculous and dismissing of all credibility. This guy is a comic book Peter Parker-level genius, who can construct power armor for himself beneath a mechanic shop good enough to smash through punching bags. When Smoke Priest asks if he is supposed to be impressed the answer is, of course, an emphatic, “Yes.”
At the same time, we end the plot this episode where Smoke Priest is shot fairly unceremoniously and Jose is actually caught off screen. After making a successful escape from frame and, thus, in TV terms, from the situation, he is caught off screen by an unseen henchman in a moment they didn’t bother filming. We are informed of this by a single line placed in the edit in post. “I got the kid.” That’s some stellar production value there, Heroes Reborn.
That Boiling Water Effect Was Pretty Cool
Joanne (of the Luke & Joanne pairing that television fans will surely be talking about for years) is not even a character. She is a cold-blooded psychopath beyond human feeling for which we cannot have empathy because she herself has none. Tim Kring and Co. have to pull off every trick they can think of to make us feel anything for this dynamic. When they put down that fellow in St. Louis at his own front door like the world’s worst Mormons, the creative team resorts to the oldest, dirtiest, cheapest trick in the book: his dog gets sad.
And it’s effective.
Of course it’s effective. We love dogs. That’s how this trope got so old, dirty, and cheap. And it is always a sign of desperation from a creative force so bereft of options they opt for Man’s Best Cheap Ploy. Somehow, it’s the moment of this show I have hated the most so far.
This Week in Scary (Canadian) Eskimos
Just when you thought that these two couldn’t get any more vague or obtuse, here we are. They’ve walked to Canada and Milena not only has the power to control the Northern Lights but also the power over everything? Or can she just create life but also has the power to manipulate the Aurora Borealis? Any amount of information would be great here, Heroes Reborn.
This week the Lights go from vague threat to stand in for the eclipse that closed out the Heroes pilot. Instead of coming in at a pivotal point in the pilot to unite the characters at play (albeit underneath a terrible song), the Lights enter at a random point in the episode so that everyone might look at it and say dumb things, but I admire that they’re trying. That is called grading on the Heroes Reborn curve. I take no pride in lowering this bar any further.
Never Change, Japan
The glorious insanity of Miko and Ren’s adventures are still the only thing keeping me going at this point. I’m afraid that they may one day interact with the other characters. I don’t know what such an exchange could possibly look like. These two are not on the same show as the others. They are not on any show that has ever existed. I love the show that they are on.
In what must be my favorite instance of “Old White Guys Trying to Understand the Young People” in recent memory, Ren uses the Internet to summon videogame superfans on a moment’s notice (I suppose many of them work from home?) for a plan I still do not fully comprehend. The cab driver thinks that Ren must be doing porn, the same thing I’m sure Tim Kring assumed about the Game Grumps and PewDiePie when he first heard about these popular folks on that “Internet.” Ren gives Miko a pep talk where he says, “That’s not the girl I know,” which is a weird thing to say to someone you met yesterday. And Miko’s dad is still trapped in a videogame.
Never change, Japan.
The Noah/Quentin plot this week had several things Heroes Reborn has been lacking so far. Plot advancement. Production value. A long-standing Heroes character important to the mythos killing themselves right in front of people’s faces.
After another one of Noah and Quentin’s plans that revolves around one of them hiding just off-screen for a while, the duo breaks into Renautus with the help of Taylor, who was going to join up with the good guys eventually and might as well do it now. There they encounter three different Harrises who all stand next to each other and point guns in exactly the same way. This is the best moment Heroes Reborn can ever hope to achieve. This makes everything that has come before it worth it. Every moment.
Noah kills the Harris (Army) and the team heads down the basement, which is remarkably well-designed in a Heroes Reborn Bell Curve kind of way. It’s suitably creepy, exactly what a Silicon Valley-designed torture chamber would look like. Molly’s grabbing of the gun, and the speech she delivers is well done, if completely nonsensical and lacking in tension since we just have no idea what she’s talking about. That’s sort of a persistent, fundamental flaw with Heroes Reborn that one is forced to accept if one is to continue on. Just keep going, Heroes Reborn. I’m sure you’ll explain it all one day, twelve episodes after you should have.