Synopsis of 5×07: Noah and Hiro journey back in time to June 13th to uncover the mysteries of the attack on the Evo summit.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Heroes Reborn has done the impossible. After managing tasks as varied and fruitless as out-crazying itself and being incomprehensible, Heroes Reborn has topped itself in a way that I could have never anticipated: it legitimately compelled me. “June 13th – Part One” is an endearing and engrossing episode of television, which I did not consider the show capable of producing.

It was still distinctly and frustratingly Heroes Reborn in every way (it doesn’t feel it necessary to re-explain anything about Angela Petrelli or Suresh but needs a character to shout “It’s a bomb!” when we are shown the shot of a bomb), but the good elements overcame the bad in the first and likely last time in the show’s revival.

Heroes Reborn has accidentally become compelling television. [NBC]
Heroes Reborn has accidentally become compelling television. [NBC]
“June 13th” dials back the insanity that has characterized Heroes Reborn so far. It keeps things simple, measured. Scenes are allowed to play out in full and satisfying ways because we don’t need to cut over to anything else. We linger with Noah both in the story and in the scene composition. Noah Bennett is a character with whom we have history, who we know is capable of being compelling, of driving narrative forward in interesting ways. “June 13th” restricts the sprawl of Reborn and makes an episode that is one man’s emotional journey in dealing with the death of his daughter.

"June 13th" posits that you cannot save everyone [NBC]
“June 13th” posits that you cannot save everyone [NBC]
Impressively, we feel these emotions despite the total absence of Claire Bennett. The inescapable lack of Hayden Panetierre has hung over the show through its run and in the early minutes of “June 13th” it can hardly be seen as anything other than a running joke the show isn’t aware of. But the episode uses its Clairelessness to its advantage.

Noah cannot abide by being kept from his daughter. He has trespassed time and space to save his daughter’s life, only to learn that she was taken from him regardless, off screen, in ways he cannot quite understand. His drive is to find her, to be with her again after losing her. By the time he kneels by her death bed, addressing her for the last time as she lies still, covered in a bedsheet, it’s a draining moment of real emotion. This is the closest he’ll ever get. Noah can never get his daughter back. She’s gone. And he never truly got to say goodbye.

“June 13th” shows us a Heroes Reborn that could have been. A few weeks ago I theorized a universe where this show was wise to its weaker elements and delivered on the interesting tidbits that are buried beneath the filth. Never has that alternate Earth felt more realized than right now.

Pictured: a proper character introduction [NBC]
Pictured: a proper character introduction [NBC]
In this world, “June 13th” is the first episode of the season. The revival of a once-loved TV show begins with a bang, a Lost-esque nail-biter of an opening episode where we meet our heroes in the middle of a tragedy they must struggle against. The events of June 13th, 2014 aren’t a mystery, they’re a catalyst that kicks off a rip-roaring narrative that forces our characters to battle against each other than the worst parts of their selves. A crisis always brings out the worst in people.

In this fabled episode, Luke and Joanne are not introduced as cold-hearted killers, but are shown first as caring parents contending with a crisis and the loss of a child. In this possible alternate life, Heroes Reborn is the best character in the show’s history exacting emotional revenge. And, most importantly, Carlos, Milena, and Tommy (er, Nathan) are hardly to be found. I’m willing to give up Miko and Ren if it means these plots disappear forever.

The Heroes Reborn that could have been [NBC]
The Heroes Reborn that could have been [NBC]
A boy can dream that “June 13th” marks a turnaround for Heroes Reborn. With its mysteries that never should have been mysteries finally revealed, perhaps the show can press on with its future. This is far from likely. But, as we learned tonight, stranger things have happened.

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