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Heroes didn't suck last night!

heroess2e7.jpgIt’s a little surprising that NBC waited until November before releasing the first episode of Heroes this season. To this point it's been sort of like the NFL preseason: few things have happened, and none of them matter. Watching our favorite old characters dink around with second string rookies has been a pretty hollow experience compared to the finished product.

Like I briefly hinted at in the last recap, these large multi-arc shows are at their best when their separate plotlines intersect and weave together. The first half dozen episodes of this season saw almost no intersections, as each group of characters went about their own business, independently explaining their powers to the camera while enjoying Nissan products. But in this episode, I counted at least five instances of storylines intersecting. It made for a very satisfying episode – admittedly a pretty low bar, given the number of Honduran Wondertwin moments we’ve endured lately. Other things we learned.

The biggest revelations this episode concerned the mysterious “Adam Monroe.” It turns out he was one of the original organizers of the Company and the group of elder Heroes. He was extreme, and urged holocausts and wars as ways of saving the world. He’s the one that gives Maury Parkman (the Nightmare Man) his orders. He was also in the Company’s custody until 2 weeks ago, when he escaped. While in custody, he met Peter, and likely helped him escape.

Also, he’s Takezo freaking Kensei. It always seemed likely that the immortal swordsman would show up somewhere in the present day. That he showed up so deeply interleaved with everything else that’s happened this season is a pleasant surprise. No tedious Central American trek for this guy – he lept right to the heart of the action.

The “Hiro breaks history” plotline wrapped up quite neatly I thought, considering the predictable path it had been trundling along. Having the final tale of Kensai and the Dragon become a metaphor was a nice touch, even if substituting “a love lost” with “cutting out your heart and giving it to a dragon” feels like a really laboured lyric from an 80’s power ballad.

I was also pleased to see that Hiro shares a weakness with myself: Opium.

jacktripper.JPGThe lowest moments in the episode would have to be the bits involving West and Claire, which shouldn’t come as surprise, seeing as West remains an insufferable douchebag. The whole “waffle surprise” struck me as possibly the creepiest thing he’s done yet. Also, the West-Claire-Mr. Bennet misunderstanding feels remarkably forced and artificial. Everyone involved only knows part of the whole story, and they all keep storming out of the room before they can be enlightened. It’s like an episode of Three’s Company, only with an insufferable douchebag instead of a sufferable one.

Aside from his awkward and uncomfortable Daddy-issue laden monologue, this was a great episode for Parkman. No longer content at being merely competent, Parkman was actually effective at something this episode. Parkman’s been one of my favorite punching bags in this series, so although I’m pleased to see him growing as a character, it’s kind of sad to see him go. I imagine it’s how a parent must feel watching their ugly, stupid child trundle off to his first day of school.

The other conspicuously doughy character in the series, Bob, has been given a little more color in recent episodes, probably to try and make him a little more sympathetic. Personally, I don’t buy it. He’s clearly keeping information from Mohinder, and likely knew that Mohinder’s blood would no longer cure the modified virus. My guess is that he’s deliberately designing a superweapon, and wants to test the new virus on Claire to make sure she’s not immune to it. If she isn’t, he’ll have a weapon that can kill Adam Monroe. The exact nature of his conflict with Adam remains unknown, but I suspect one of the core reasons is professional jealousy of his strongly defined chin.

Mohinder is probably the dumbest scientist alive. I’ve commented before about his tendency to have poorly concealed cell phone conversations within the walls of the organization he’s infiltrating. But considering that he turned Molly back over to the Company, and then bought Bob’s story hook line and sinker, the evidence is starting to stack up that his ability is “Staggering Gullibility.”

In the future, Peter learned a bit more about the plague that threatens the world. With all the time-bending abilities already in evidence in the Heroes universe, I’m finding these flash-forwards and prophetic paintings a lot less compelling than I did last season. We aleady know these guys can change the future with their time travelling and cheerleader saving and so-on. Seeing “what might happen” feels like empty navel gazing, although it was funny watching Peter strand his new girlfriend in a post-apocalyptic future. That has got to be one of the great dating faux pas’ of all time.

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Chris Bucholz

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