The Husband:

You may have noticed that we the Children of Saint Clare have not written about Heroes since its third episode this season, but it is not without good reason. We’re just simply bored. We’re bored, confused, pissed off and somewhat angry at this show, one that had such a great run during its first season, only to make bigger and bigger mistakes each week. I was originally planning on running through a list simply of what exactly is going wrong with the program, but I have been beaten to the punch by just about every blog, magazine article and online piece written about the show. MSN did a great online bit a couple weeks ago about all the show’s shortcomings and potential solutions, followed a week-and-a-half by Entertainment Weekly bluntly stating exactly what the show needs to do in order to regain any kind of popularity or critical acclaim.

Basically, I agree with pretty much all of what people have said, and I’m sure my wife does, too. The characters aren’t acting like themselves anymore, everyone is following along with Idiot Plot conventions and demands instead of being smart characters, the time travel stories are becoming far too much (enough with the potential futures: it was kind of lame in s1, so why would it be better now?) and the ensemble is simply far too big for the show to attain any kind of true continuity or balance.

We must stop ourselves from ruining our own show.

We must stop ourselves from ruining our own show.

In our last review, I declared that the show was doing a good job in getting itself right back on track, learning from its mistakes in s2 by being more open in a narrative sense and regaining some of its shot-out-of-a-cannon pacing that made s1 so addictive and fascinating. I thought as a standalone piece, the third episode this season showed a lot of promise, but in the following three weeks the entire operation has, quite simply, fallen apart. Nobody seems interested in any sort of continuity, fixing plot holes or putting some real emotion back into the program. Whenever a good new character is introduced, they’re killed or forgotten about almost immediately (I’ll miss you, Andre Royo), basically having the writers admit that they have no clue what they’re doing. And some self-contained plots, like Claire, her mother and her “mother” battling the Puppet Master, are nifty in and of themselves, but hold absolutely no relevance to the central mythology and through-line of the show’s arc itself.

The show is now a fast, cool-looking, fancy sports car running over potholes and roadblocks, blindly speeding through the streets and is about to accidentally drive off a bridge and sink into the murky waters below.

Basically, it looks cool and seems cool, but it’s aimless and dangerous. I don’t know how they’re going to recover, but I don’t have very high hopes. I hate to be that kind of person, the complainer who bitches about every single flaw – I hate Lost detractors, for instance, who defend their ignorance of how good and intelligent the show actually is by claiming that none of it makes sense and never will – and I held out hope during s2 of Heroes that they were simply having a sophomore slump – hell, I defended The O.C. until its sad, bitter end – but I know when I’m bored, and it’s not a pretty sight. I have a high tolerance for bad television, but there’s a major difference between interestingly horrible and just blandly boring, especially when it used to be such an awesome piece of pop entertainment. When I can muster up the energy to write about the 17th season of Survivor each week – a show that has pretty much been repeating itself since it premiered eight years ago – but can’t seem to give a shit about Milo Ventimiglia and his newfound Stallone-influenced talking-out-the-side-of-your-mouth acting style versus Sylar and whatever personality the plot wants him to be this week, I know that there’s something terribly wrong.

I am also not someone who likes to join any kind of cultural bandwagon and only choose to pick on this type of show after a great deal of thought, so don’t think that this is simply me following the popular trend of hate for this show. It’s on my own terms and represents my true feelings on the matter.

I’ll hopefully still check in sporadically over the rest of the season, but consider episode recaps kaput.

The Wife:

We’ve both actually been dreading writing about Heroes, which is why we put it off for so many weeks. We just can’t recap it anymore. I know Heroes still has fans and perhaps those fans stick around just so they have something to be mad at, which was the entire rationale behind my commitment to watching My Super Sweet 16 with my roommates in college. However, I just can’t commit to this show anymore with a full heart. Movies are like a party where you want a lot of people to go and have a good time, but even if they don’t have a good time, they’ll probably come home with a good story about the awful time they had, and that’s just as valuable. (Really, aren’t your “Worst Party Ever” stories ten times as interesting as your “Best Party Ever” stories?) A television show, however, is like a relationship. We commit ourselves to an hour a week with these characters and invest our lives in their stories. A viewer is essentially in a relationship with their favorite shows, and I think my husband and I both feel very married to a show like How I Met Your Mother, or Lost or Mad Men. Heroes we dated for awhile and we liked where it was going, but then things took a turn for the worse and we didn’t feel it was right to break up with it when it was having some hard times, so we stuck around. We tried to be supportive. But now, Heroes? You have betrayed me and the other fans who entered into this relationship with you. I’ll still be watching, but I’m seriously hoping for the series demise at season three’s conclusion.

In addition to all of the failures my husband has mentioned above, I think Heroes‘ biggest failure this season is that it has completely lost the reverence for the medium to which it once paid homage. The first season of Heroes was a wonderful, wonderful comic book origin story that looked at each character struggling to understand what their hero bodies now mean and what their destiny should be. It reveled in the conventions of comic book lore, taking time to develop its stories and adding in a few perfect single-character driven episodes, like the one dedicated solely to HRG or, my favorite, the one where we learn specifically of Sylar’s origins, culminating in a beautiful Edward Scissorhands-esque scene where, wanting to make a snowglobe for his snowglobe-obsessed mother (Ellen Green), Sylar accidentally kills the woman who raised him. No Heroes moment is greater than that one, as it reflects the best parts of the comic book genre.

But now, I feel like the show has begun to mock the medium, and that I find both maddening and disappointing. In the first season, Heroes did borrow from other stories a little bit, but I felt those coincidences were done in a reverential way. Now, it’s like they don’t even care that they’re turning Mohinder (who has always sucked) into a rehash of Dr. Jekyll and The Fly. Or that the entire idea of having superpowers “created” is an arc from The X-Men. It’s no longer done with love or respect, but simply out of an attempt to keep the show interesting. It doesn’t feel interesting to borrow from someone else’s work and not do so respectfully. It just feels lame.

Dont you make me engage in an eyeball-off, mother.

Don't you make me engage in an eyeball-off, mother.

As far as mocking the medium itself, I point to Heroes‘ poor attempt at recreating a panel-to-panel style now that Isaac the painting prophet is long gone. In every episode, Milo Ventimiglia has an eyeball-off with another character, which in a comic book works well in a panel-to-panel reading style. But on the show, these things happen so frequently and are shot with a herky-jerky camera that they just come off as silly, rather than intense. These shots, combined with Ventimiglia’s newfound side-mouth-growl-talking, make his Peter Petrelli laughable. And I don’t want to laugh at Peter. I was supposed to like him. What happened to the nurse struggling to find his place in the world in light of his brother’s political prowess? What happened to all of the good things from season one that make for great graphic novel story arcs?

I miss the way Heroes was when it first began, and at this point, I don’t think I can rekindle my relationship with this show, even though it does seem to make minor improvements every now and again. I just can’t be with you for the long haul, Heroes. You’ve forgotten what I liked about you in the first place. I’ll stay with you until the end of season three, but I won’t talk about you with any of my friends or invite you to any parties. And when you’re done with this season, we’re breaking up. For good.


The Husband:

Heroes is quickly getting better. More specifically, it’s already a whole lot better than s2, but I doubt it will come close to the glory that was s1. (Yes, glory. I watched that bad boy three times.) While I am still annoyed by the inconsistencies of time travel on the show – hey, Hiro, if you can jump through time, why not jump back to when Fasty McFast Pants stole your half of the formula and make sure she doesn’t steal it this time – it seems like Kring and all the behind-the-scenes people listened to the fan gripes for s2 and changed course drastically. The most important aspect? They are moving through the stories and plot twists and characters so quickly that viewers may be susceptible to whiplash. It’s very Prison Break of them, but it’s also very s1 of them. Remember Jayma Mays as Charlie whose power was learning shit really quickly? She was actually barely on the show. The invisible Dr. Who dude who helped Peter out? Five episodes. This show chews up new characters and spits them out. While this does give various results, in the speed of using both characters and stories, it gives the show a forward momentum for better or worse. Me? I’m fine when they do things like this, as I have been weaned on the insanity of Prison Break, which has seemed like a different show each season.

We accept him! One of us! We accept him! One of us!

We accept him! One of us! We accept him! One of us!

So, now that Sylar is captured and tampered with, Mama Petrelli has found it beneficial to partner him with Noah Bennet despite, you know, Sylar being crazy psycho evil and all, and set them loose on a bank robbery being perpetrated by the four escaped Supers. Posing as FBI agents, they easily infiltrated the bank, where Sylar goes – surprise! – crazy psycho evil and decided to steal super-sound-manipulation powers from Francis Capra (after Future Peter pulls Present Peter out of the goon’s personality, though). This is, of course, after Marlo from The Wire sensed The German’s fear and decided to punch a hole through him. So that’s two bad guys down from the Big Four that were let out of Level Five last week. See what I mean about whiplash? I’m not going to complain, though, because this is nothing new with the show, and maybe if they can get out of the gates so strongly this season, hopefully they have far more up their sleeves.

Parkman wandered in the desert a bit more. He found future paintings much like the ones Isaac did in s1, only this time on rock. Do you think that maybe the showrunners realized their mistake in killing of Isaac and are backtracking? I think so. But hey, now Parkman has see-future-paint-future powers after listening to a magical walkman provided by creepy African guy, so I guess that’s different. Kind of.

Hiro and Ando, now bumming around Berlin in search of Fasty McFast Pants and the formula, do in fact find Fasty McFast Pants, discover that she is not a Baddie so much as she is just a Super-For-Hire and that The Haitian (welcome back!) has something they need, too. I’m honestly fine with the repetition of this storyline so far, because I – and probably my wife as well – am smitten with Fasty McFast Pants and how ridiculously hot and awesome she is. I knew she was a cutie on Friday Night Lights – if you haven’t watched that show yet, catch up on DVD now goddamit! – but she is so striking on this show that I want to start a website about her and continue calling her Fasty McFast Pants, even though, yes, I know that’s not her character’s name (Daphne Millbrook) nor is it even her nickname (Speedster). I just think that the writers found the right balance for her character, that she can be feared and yet have a Stan Lee-esque sense of humor and a mocking awareness of how silly this show has become. It’s a welcome change, to say the least, because a little levity is exactly what the show needed.

But I’m really impressed by the Tracy Strauss story, because it’s so ballsy to find out that apparently the showrunners hated Niki/Jessica as much as my wife and actually killed her off, and yet replaced her with the same actress playing someone far cooler. (Look! A pun! Because she freezes things! I’m a genius!) Tracy, worried about that video of someone who looks exactly like her banging the shit out of Nathan Petrelli in Las Vegas way back in s1, travels to New Orleans to find out what’s the deal with that split-personality weirdo and finds that Niki/Jessica really is dead. Dead and in a coffin. Seriously. Dead. It’s over. Micah is at the wake and knows immediately that Tracy is not actually his mother, but trusts something in her enough to use his technokinesis to pull up her birth record and find that she and Niki/Jessica were born on the same day at the same location and delivered by the same doctor. Tracking down the doctor, he lets loose with the proclamation “I created you.” So maybe there are a dozen Ali Larter clones roaming the Earth, which is something I very much like. As I always say – the more Ali Larter clones, the better.

Ali Larter had to do a lot of regrettable things to stay on this show . . .

Ali Larter had to do a lot of regrettable things to stay on this show . . .

The Wife:

I have to disagree with my husband a little bit about the breakneck pace with which Heroes likes to destroy its characters. By now I’m sure you are all aware of my rabid love of Veronica Mars. You can only imagine how excited I was when I heard that Francis Capra was going to be given a recurring role on Heroes. Yay! He’s working again! But now he’s gone. In two episodes, he is completely gone. And that’s not okay.

I don’t understand why a writer would establish a quartet of evil-doers (Knox, The German, Flint and Jesse) and then kill two of them off so quickly. I mean, it’s nice to see how bad-ass Knox is, even though I still don’t really understand his power. He exploited The German’s fear . . . by punching a hole through his torso? Was that really The German’s fear? From an evil-doer standpoint, The German was a good guy to have around, as a technokenetic. Imagine all the security systems he could help you bypass in the future. But no, now he’s dead and we’re down to a dude who throws blue flames, someone who punches holes through other people and a guy who yells loud enough to destroy shit.

R.I.P. Eli Weevil Navarro. Heroes fans hardly knew ye.

R.I.P. Eli "Weevil" Navarro. Heroes fans hardly knew ye.

And about that guy with the loud yelling . . . his death really pissed me off. Francis Capra got fucked over completely as an actor. I haven’t minded all of the previous quick dispatches of characters on Heroes, but this one just seemed so wrong to me. And believe me, it’s not just because I love Francis Capra. This dispatch would feel wrong even with a different actor.

Let’s take a look at this role. So, you’re an actor and you get a part on Heroes that you’re told will be recurring. You get the script for the first episode and find out that you won’t actually be doing much acting at all, because your character’s body is just going to be a vessel for another character. So you’re only going to be seen in mirror reflections and the other guy, the established character on the show, will play you the rest of the time. That already sucks balls. And then you get the next script and you see that they’re finally going to pull that established character out of your body. Hooray! You get to be you again! People will finally get to see your take on the character. You’ll get to do your job, which is acting. Oh, wait . . . what’s that you see on the next page? Sylar kills you. That’s just fucking great. Just fucking great.

I wish the showrunners had handled that a little differently so it didn’t feel like such a complete misuse of Capra’s talents. I’d be so much more comfortable with this if they had chosen, say, to respect the intellegence of the audience and allow Capra to be Jesse all the time, even when he was Present Peter. If you tell me that another dude is residing in someone’s body, I will believe you. You don’t need to show me more than once. Can you imagine how much better those scenes would be? And the kind of range Capra would have been able to show as an actor, doing an awesome Milo Ventimiglia impression before switching to his super-badass yelling self?

The Husband:

After a lackluster second season — come on, you all know it’s true — Heroes returned Monday night with story and attitude to spare. Instead of basically spinning its wheels as it did last season, creator Tim Kring and the writers took fan/writer criticism like men (and women) and figured out what we as an audience needed — a strong forward momentum that gets you pumped for the next episode. I don’t recall ever feeling that way during the strike-truncated s2, especially not for the Wonder Twins or the New Orleans story (although I did like Saint Joan). Was everything in the two-hour premiere perfect? No. It’s going to be very hard to capture the magic and overall awesomeness of s1, which had so much goodwill going toward it that the writers blew their load early and basically wrote themselves into a corner by season’s end.

Hiro/Ando: Upon the death of his father (the fabulous and recently married George Takei), Hiro decides, upon being given a video will, to find the valuable one-half-of-the-formula — which I will call F0.5 — and do…something with it. Doesn’t matter that he didn’t want to be a F0.5-protecting sentinel, because he’s going to have to accept that title. Why? Because within seconds of retrieving the small piece of paper, Miss Fasty McFast Pants (hot nerd chick from Friday Night Lights) super-runs in and steals it, thus giving Hiro a proper nemesis. Soon he’s on a collision course with destiny — once again — in a mission to find the other half of the formula before it’s too late.

You are not faster than me!

You are not faster than me!

It’s also super-awkward between him and Ando, as when Hiro jumped into the future to see the result of the formula’s menace, only to apparently view his own death at the hands of a lightning bolt-wielding Ando. Depending on which Time Travel Rules the show wants to follow this week (more on that later) I’m not sure if I’m even supposed to care, since we know from earlier that future Hiro is still alive when future Ando is dead.

Mohinder/Maya: Mohinder discovers a way to harness the hero/mutant gene and inject it into his own skin. After a few Spider-man moves and some hot bangy-bang with Maya, he discovers that his skin is peeling off in big honking chunks. Come on, you’re a doctor. You know that you should always test on animals first. But hey, at least his character has a reason for being on the show, because last season I honestly didn’t know why they simply didn’t kill him or make him disappear, which pretty much happens to every character on the show once they become irrelevant.

Mohinders new super powers make him super sexy.

Mohinder's new super powers make him super sexy.

Parkman: Future Peter comes into the present and sends Parkman to some remote African desert, where he meets some kind of soothsayer. It took them two hours to get through this five-minute story. Hey, that’s the problem with having such a large ensemble — one story is always going to feel extremely awkward.

Tracy Strauss: Ali Larter + actual purpose on show = newfound relevance. I think my wife has more to say on the subject than I do.

Sylar vs. Claire: Despite her main character status and her pretty sweet powers, Claire has finally succumbed to a Sylar attack. She is spared from a top-of-the-headless existence only because of Sylar’s declaration that she has a greater role in fate or the Apocalypse or something — honestly, the show already has a dozen of these, so they all tend to run together in my head — and soon she begins to feel that she may have no soul. Is she going to be a villain? As we see in Future Claire, what with her black hair and evil grimace, it’s starting to look that way. (This is a far cry from her romance with stupid-flying-boy in s2.)

Mr. Muggles will never steal your super powers. Or will he?

Mr. Muggles will never steal your super powers. Or will he?

I also have a feeling that Zachary Quinto is disappointed that, now that we have seen how Sylar takes hero powers from one’s brain, it isn’t nearly as gross as he hoped. I recall an online interview that, when asked how he personally thought Sylar would drain powers, responded, “Yummy yummy.” Now, he just kind of points and pokes. Boooooring.

Nathan: After being shot by Future Peter at the end of s2, he has come back to life and has found Jesus. Seriously. That’s his story. I really can’t point to why Nathan suddenly feels this way, because it was pointed out to him that he survived the s1 finale explosion without giving credit to the J-Man, but I guess his purpose is to become a self-righteous, potentially dangerous martyr. (And no, I’m not being anti-Christian. The show is outright telling me that.) You would think that being “graced” with the presence of Linderman’s invisible spirit/ghost/power would tell Nathan that it’s not any kind of Christian spirituality that is ocurring, but…oh well. The show seems to do what it wants to do.

Future Peter: It seems another Big Bad Thing is looming ominously on the horizon, and Future Peter carries this story with him. Apparently, all Supers, as a result of Nathan opening his big mouth re: his ability to fly, will soon be hunted down in a sort of Hero Genocide, and Future Peter can’t have that. He has traveled into the present, shot Nathan, then in his doing accidentally sets free three villains from Level 5: a firestarter (wicked firestarter…HEYHeyhey), a sound manipulator (Weevil from Veronica Mars), the German and…some guy (Marlo from The Wire) who apparently finds somebody’s weakness and…exploits it. (So, he’s a lawyer?) During all this, Mama Petrelli is screaming at Future Peter to stop messing in the present, because his attempt to change the past will have a butterfly effect on the future.

Here’s where I get a little pissed at the show and its idea about Time Travel Rules.

Time Travel Rules: Honestly, it’s very hard for any show or film to deal with time travel, because it only complicates matters to the point where it’s just simply not worth it. I happen to subscribe to the “Bill & Ted Theory” of time travel, where if you have to go back into the past to change something, then technically you were already there in the past, and your presence then made history what it already is. I’m always fine with other theories of time travel in movies and on TV – I loved how the first Futurama movie became so helplessly complicated that they basically admitted the idea’s fault by parodying it within its own running time – but you have to own up to it. In the underrated 2006 movie Deja Vu, the wriers at least attempted to explain away changing one’s present by journeying into the past with their insistence that there are many different branced timelines as a result of each of our decisions, thus allowing the audience to jump into another branch by film’s end. (Brain hurtee. I know.) On Heroes, though, it seems to lack consistency.

This season, one can in fact change the future by changing the present, but finally posits that their meddling has equally negative effects on the future. By Future Peter changing the past, he has unleashed another kind of evil. (But it’s not like the recent Guy Pearce version of H.G. WellsThe Time Machine, where whenever he changed the past to save his wife, fate always found a way of killing her, thus rendering everything he did useless.) The show hasn’t done this so far. In fact, its notions of fate and destiny go against what the new season is trying to tell us.

Take Isaac’s prophetic paintings for instance. He predicts the future, and no matter what knowledge the characters have of his prophecies, they always ended up in that picture one way or another. Peter had his vision of the New York explosion that would have rocked New York at the end of s1, and everyone who was supposed to be at that location on Manhattan as prophesized was there at the end, once again with the characters already knowing the future and trying to change it.

But then they all save the day, so the future can be changed. So it’s sort of “Back To The Future Theory” in work.

But…Isaac’s paintings. You see what I mean?

How about Hiro’s presence in the past in Feudal Japan with Takezo Kensei? Hiro was told stories as a young boy about this fierce warrior, but then grown-up hero is thrust back into that time, finding that Kensei is just a cowardly drunk. It was Hiro that turned Kensei into a hero, and I can only assume that the stories kid Hiro was told was a direct result of his own meddling in the past. See? That’s “Bill & Ted Theory.”

Which is it, Heroes. Can you change your present or not? Future Peter is changing his present, but with the butterfly effect in…effect. But in s1, the heroes taking Sylar down didn’t seem to have much of a butterfly effect.

What the fuck, Heroes? Pick a theory and stick with it. Right now you’re just doing whatever is useful for the story that is happening at that very moment. But you can’t have your cake and eat it too. Not when I’m around.

The Wife:

I do indeed have more to say about Tracy Strauss because Ali Larter’s character on this show has always been a weak point. Having a split personality is not a super power. It’s just not. My husband has spent far too much time trying to convince me that her Nikki/Jessica is like the Incredible Hulk. Yeah, I don’t buy that because I don’t care for the Hulk much either. I mostly think he’s just a big green asshole. I spent two seasons hating on Nikki/Jessica because I was tired of Nikki being nothing but weak and Jessica being nothing but a bitch. And then there was that third personality, Gina. Do you remember her? Her basic character trait was being a party girl. She showed up in one episode and was never heard from again.

Hi, Im Ali Larter, and I no longer totally suck.

Hi, I'm Ali Larter, and I no longer totally suck.

Now we meet Tracy Strauss, who has depth and intelligence and is chillingly adept at getting what she wants. Tracy spends this episode trying to coerce Nathan Petrelli to accept a vacant senate seat, and insisting to some political gossip rag reporter that she is not, in fact, Nikki Saunders and that she did not, in fact, have sexual relations with that man, Mr. Petrelli. Tracy is referred to as “The Ice Bitch” or “The Ice Queen” by the reporter and it turns out that this nickname refers to more than just her demeanor, as Tracy has the power to FREEZE PEOPLE TO DEATH. Now that, my friends, is a fucking superpower. Ali Larter went from playing my least favorite character to my new favorite in the course of two hours. Nice work, Tim Kring.

I also enjoy the return of Jesslyn Gilsig, who I last saw getting fucked off a building on Nip/Tuck, as Claire’s mommy, as well as the addition of The Speedster, who I think is awesome and adorable and looks so cute in those silly red pants. It’s good for Hiro to have a proper nemesis, indeed.

Also nice to see: Eli “Weevil” Navarro (Francis Capra) and Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell), together again. Albeit, together in the sense that Weevil was behind the glass for the majority of the episode and the only scene they had together was when Weevil (who plays Jesse on Heroes, a dude who can manipulate sound whose body is currently inhabited by Present Peter) saved Veronica after she wasted all her energy electrocuting Sylar. Francis Capra got gypped in the episode. I want Peter to get out of his body immediately so that I can see Francis Capra actually do some acting and not simply bang on glass or appear as a reflection in a mirror.

On a final note, I want to see more Milo Ventimiglia-Greg Grunberg eyeball-offs. That was amazing, and hilarious. And then Grunberg ended up in Africa. I thought for sure Future Peter was going to teleport him to a remote island in the middle of the Pacific where he’d be dying in the cockpit of a plane.