Synopsis of 5×10: Erica’s plan is revealed; a tornado happens.
I can no longer consider Heroes Reborn under a critical lens. It has moved beyond that level of scrutiny. After my mental breakdown last week, I think it is in my own best interests and the interests of everyone I care about if I abandon investment in this ship. Every nonsensical plot turn, every betrayal of character, ever baffling decision has pushed me that much closer to an early grave.
I don’t think my editors want that for me. I don’t even think Heroes Reborn wants that for me. I still believe, after ten weeks of actual torture, that Heroes Reborn bares me no ill will. It is simply incapable of quality. And that’s okay. We all have things we’re not good at. I don’t get along well with doors.
So, to relieve myself of the elephant upon my back that has been Heroes Reborn these past ten weeks, I am going to forgo talking about the plot of “11:53 to Odessa” (trust me when I say that it is just as terrible as what has preceded it ) and instead discuss Heroes Reborn not as a narrative program but as an endeavor made real by hundreds if not thousands of people working together to brings this story to us.
You see, Heroes Reborn is not made in a vacuum. No one just stumbled upon Heroes Reborn in a boiler room somewhere and plugged it into the station DVD player. Heroes Reborn was plotted, designed, cast, enacted, and paid for by a large group of professionals who make a living from bringing us Heroes Reborn and who am I to tear down their hard work?
Somebody wrote Heroes Reborn, and it’s hard to give them much credit. But how do we know who made the crazy decisions that we see on screen? How many were geared up by the writer’s room? How many came from Tim Kring himself, holding people to the word of the law? And just how many are studio mandated, requiring the writers to shoehorn in old members of the cast? In a process as collaborative as making television is, it’s hard to know from where any one idea stems. There is no great overlord. It’s all compromise.
Someone scored Heroes Reborn, and it is a tremendous sign that the creatives behind the show have no faith in it that the score is constant. It is relentless. Nearly every scene has a consistent undercurrent of music under it. There are no moments of quiet where the characters can contemplate or speak their minds. All score. All the time. It exhausts a man.
Someone shot Heroes Reborn. Someone—nay, a team of people—set up every single shot that has unfolded or will unfold over these thirteen episodes. Thousands of shots that people had to conceive, frame, and light accordingly. Overall, the camera and lighting teams have been a real negative influence on Heroes Reborn.
Over the last ten episodes, I am hard-pressed to come up with more than a couple shots that were above average. Statistically, that’s a nightmare. Most of the compositions on the show have been paltry and uninspired. There are no interesting perspectives, no dynamic camera twists. Everything is lit in the same bland, even style, creating a dull image whose only virtue can be described as “Well, I can see everything.”
Television cinematography has never been the subject of much praise in general. When standouts like Better Call Saul or The Knick hit the scene, much is written of their dynamic photography because it’s just so rare. It’s harder to make great shots on television. Shows have to shoot in a day what most films may take several weeks to accomplish. There simply isn’t the time for Gordon Willis-level shots on that sort of time crunch.
And it is clear that Heroes Reborn is working with a microscopic budget compared to its former self, despite being perhaps the most ambitious it has ever been. It is perhaps no one’s “fault,” but the restrictions on camera and lighting craft keep things from feeling truly “dramatic.”
Someone edits Heroes Reborn, but they can go sit on a rock for all I care. Thumbs down.
Someone budgeted Heroes Reborn. Someone costumes and builds sets for Heroes Reborn. Many millions of dollars made it possible for us to bear witness to Heroes Reborn. And it’s something to think about as the show goes on break until January. Thank God.