Synopsis of 5×05: Luke flashes back; Miko attacks; Carlos punches.
It has been five episodes, and Heroes Reborn is struggling to become a show with any form of identity whatsoever. It’s not an action show, as Reborn only manages about thirty seconds of action sequence per episode. It could be a plot-based show, but often those plots involve convergence and unity and not disparate hints of drama. It’s certainly not a character show, as Heroes Reborn has managed to avoid moments of real character clarity at every possible juncture, like character development used to beat up Heroes Reborn in school or something.
It seems really clear from its reverence of mysteries that Heroes Reborn certainly has something against Answers. And it seems like the two were once close. Heroes Reborn certainly built its life around Answers, and the viewer’s experience would certainly be better if the two of them made up, but you can’t take back what Answers did to Heroes Reborn. Heroes Reborn called dibs on that girl, and Answers went after her in direct violation of the Bro Code.
I am not 100% sure where I was going with that, but it seems unlikely that Heroes Reborn has much idea where it’s going either. And to parse through the inaction, we must do as we always do: break it down plotline by plotline.
Carlos, as directed by Brett Ratner
It’s pretty obvious at this point that the action on Heroes Reborn leaves something to be desired. I mean, this episode features a young Asian woman leaping through a window dressed as a videogame character to retrieve her magic sword, and the level of visceral impact is precisely zero. Not only are these sequences brief, but they’re poorly choreographed. There are no clever pieces of staging to be found. Mostly people hitting people or shooting indiscriminately at off-screen foes with little discernable impact. And the build-up to these sequences is lackluster, if existent. It’s not that I’m expecting Hitchcock or Greengrass or even Lyman from the directors of freakin’ Heroes Reborn, but it seems peculiar for a show that dips into action multiple times an episode to put this little effort into their construction.
This dissection was brought to my attention during the paltry scene where Carlos visits the LAPD. This scene is already ridiculousness piled on top of awful. Carlos storms in, demanding the presence of the sneering Detective Derring, who we found out previously has super strength and is the most consistently smug son of a gun on the planet. Derring knows he’s untouchable on his home turf, so he refuses to give Carlos the time of day. But then, in a moment without precedence, Derring’s partners open up a couple of packages and pull out a brand-spanking new pair of Epics. They slap on the silly, silly visors that I am pretty sure were revealed to exist goddamn YESTERDAY, and discover that their own Derring is an unregistered Evo.
This preceding all unfolds in the space of about twenty seconds. There is no suspense. One second leads into the next with no tension or even change in music. The basic, core elements of filmmaking that create tension are absent. As a former film student, I have seen every single one of my classmates put more effort into creating tension in their projects than Heroes Reborn exhibits here (Heroes Reborn being, and I cannot stress this enough, a high-budget television show created by professionals and distributed on a major network). This is a scene where the liberal application of slow motion would have fit perfectly. The scene is primed and ready for the music to drop out and for the soundspace to be filled with a slowly beating heart or a ticking clock.
But not even the barest amount of effort has been applied to Heroes Reborn. No modicum of craftsperson’s care. Just mediocrity without momentum, a sad poopy train passing the last stop to nowhere.
Mr. Pennies Comes to Play
The previous section’s complaints apply just as well to Tommy’s plotline as any other. This week’s Tommy plot is mostly him hopping around and being mad at his mom. Perhaps Tommy’s fury at his mother’s treachery would sing even a little if this wasn’t the entirety of their relationship. Since their first moments on screen together, Tommy and his mother have been squaring off, Tommy saying that his mother isn’t being fair or truthful, Mom responding by saying that her son doesn’t understand. While this may seem familiar to anyone that has ever even been in the same zip code as a teenager, it simply fails on a level of character or drama. We are not seeing the deterioration of a relationship, but just the cruddy nadir of one already pushed to the brink. We have watched nothing be torn apart. Tommy has always been mad at his mom. That is our status quo.
What draws Tommy’s plotline even further into the spotlight of unfavorability is its similarity to one of Season One’s more famous stories. Tommy’s surprise reveal as to the nature of his true parentage is more than a little reminiscent of Claire’s similar circumstance, which, to be honest, was never that great to begin with. Drawing comparisons to old storylines and reframing similar events in a new light is a dangerous proposition. A viewer with a favorable opinion of what has come previously might see this new iteration as a letdown from what has come before. If it adheres too closely to the original moment, it’s laziness. If it differs too much, why draw the comparison at all? Community and Lost both experienced mixed results to this sort of thing during their respective six year tenures. The ultimate success story in the arena is The Godfather Part II, but no one has ever really come close to replicating that level of success since 1974.
Here, the Tommy plot is largely a bold-faced replication of Claire’s predicament from Season One, just with characters far less established or beloved. It’s not a flattering light for what is already one of the show’s weaker plotlines. Every week I have to check my notes to remember Tommy’s name.
This Week in Mysterious Canadians
I don’t care about anything else that happened this week. Someone explain Milena’s powers. Please.
What can she do? What can’t she do? So far, she has made wind, grown a tree, and controlled the Northern Lights. None of these elements are remotely connected. Can she control all of nature? ALL OF IT?
Miko and Ren only get minimal screentime in this week’s episode, but they make the most of it. They break into Renautus, tangle with Harris, and manage to break into Erica’s home and grab back Miko’s sword. The duo are still the only consistently entertaining element of the show and I honestly wish Heroes Reborn were nothing but the two of them.
Also, there is just no way that Miko’s dad isn’t a totally alive Hiro Nakamura. It is inescapable and inevitable.
Paint by Numbers
Sing it with me now: Noah and Co. need to get somewhere. They concoct a plan that involves a mild diversion while Noah hides. Noah pops out and points a gun at someone. Noah talks to someone from his past about how he removed his past. Speeches. Cliffhanger.
This has occurred every episode. It’s dumbfounding. It’s as consistent a happenstance as murder on CSI.
Also of note is the fact that the writers seem incapable of nailing down Quentin’s character, which is weird as he is the most obvious archetype Heroes Reborn possesses. Sometimes he’s the chubby funny guy. Occasionally he’s a crazy conspiracy theorist. Sometimes he is the spirit of vengeance. All of it is inconsistent? How hard is it to at least make your Jake Black Lite a Jack Black Lite?
“Remember When I Was Alive, Daddy?”
Luke’s plotline this week is my favorite from the episode, Japanese lovebirds be darned. It made me laugh out loud consistently and heartily. This was the most manipulative thing I have seen since we watched a character kill a dog a while back. Luke just keeps running up against these horrible clichés as the writers try desperately to make him anything other than inert.
This week, Luke returns to the home that he, Joanne, and their living child used to share. Mail is piled up by the door. Things are dustier. I develop a fan theory that Luke’s superpower is actually “The power to avoid foreclosure while you’re off on a cross-country murder spree.”
The suburban banalities of Luke’s former life cause him to flash back to his old life, which was perfectly perfect in every way. He and Joanne were happy and smiling over their beautiful child. Everything before the explosion of June 13th was idyllic. Evidently, Luke was living in Leave It to Beaver before Suresh set off the bomb.
JUST LOOK AT ALL THE INNOCENCE.
“You’re the best, daddy!” Luke’s son says to him, not knowing his ultimate fate. “You’ll NEVER let me die!”