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Heroes Reborn: A Rocky Start (Spoiler Alert!)
After last night's latest episode of Heroes: Reborn, I think it’s finally time to point out some of the massive hurdles this series needs to overcome. After seven episodes, I have to say, I'm extremely disappointed with the writers, the production company and in many of the stars of the former world changing series, but that doesn't mean Reborn can't recover and fix many of the continuity issues... that it's created for itself.
The Sylar Knock-Off
One of the things that kept the original series interesting was how they played with morality. There were very few villains from the original series who seemed to be inherently evil, such as the Petrelli patriarch. Most of them were simply confused or cursed by their own abilities, which overtime warped them into malevolent characters, such as in the case of the immortal Monroe or the knowledge craving Sylar. They even flirted with the idea of Peter going dark side, at least three times, and in the end, over the course of four seasons, Sylar, the biggest bad guy the Heroes universe had ever seen, pulls a Darth Vader and switches back to the light side of the force at the 11th hour, saving the day and finally atoning for his past misdeeds.
Luke is a terrible Sylar knock off. His origin story starts off with many of the same themes of personal loss and moral struggle that Sylar's story does... but makes no logical sense. Unlike Sylar, whose literal hunger for power turned him into a serial killer, Luke's story of killing Evos by the truck load comes from a misguided belief that all Evos are somehow responsible for the death of his son. A thread so loose that even after you factor in the relative insanity any parent would go through from the loss of a child, it just doesn't make sense, especially since Luke is supposed to be an MD. It’s a cliché and lessens the character. If the writers had just left it at that, I would just write him off as crazy and watch the fun unfold, but they sabotaged their own set up by turning the character into an Evo seeking atonement for his past sins... within the first three episodes.
I have no doubt that the remainder of the series will expand on the character and put him in a position to atone for his past sins, but it’s simply too soon. The Original series gave us three and a half seasons of hating Sylar before they really delved into his story of atonement, and it was done very well. The three episode Luke killing spree followed by tears and a suicide attempt is just cheap. It’s bad writing.
Reborn has a long way to go if they hope to make this character relevant and interesting enough to not have the fans raving for his death by the season's end.
What's with the Cheerleader?
One of the biggest daggers in the back to the fans is that NBC DIDN'T EVEN ASK HAYDEN TO COME BACK TO THE SHOW!!! I could understand this decision if the plan was to shift focus from the group of Heroes who proved themselves time and time again in the original series, but Claire is still very much a central part of the story line.
After last night's episode, it was revealed that that not only is indestructible Wolverine girl dead, but that she spawned a pair of world saving twins. The truly lame part is that she died of a heart attack during child birth... she can survive a nuclear explosion, but not a heart attack or child birth for that matter. I know I’m beginning to sound redundant, but that's just bad writing.
Among the more popular fan theories is that Claire isn't dead and the body in the Morgue is just some other blonde while Claire is off saving the world behind the scenes. If that was the case, fans might be able to forgive the terrible beginning to her new character arc. Except, why on earth wouldn't Noah Bennet check under the blanket to make sure it was Claire. As far as he knows, she is un-killable and let’s face it, Noah isn't squeamish. His character would want to check under the hood and make sure it’s her, but he never does.
This decision creates a series of continuity issues. They can't really bring Claire back because Molly's power wasn't able to find her... which means she is dead, no doubt. But Claire isn't just a girl who heals fast, she is the Heroes universe version of Wolverine. She has the most advanced healing factor is the world. After Sylar, possibly the most intelligent being on the planet, dug around in her brain to steal her powers, he pretty much confirmed that NOTHING COULD EVER KILL HER!!! The rules regarding the power sets of these three characters are violated regardless of the outcome at this point.
Unfortunately the writers have put themselves in a terrible place. If Claire pops up in the future, it cheapens Noah's character and shatters the explanation behind Molly's powers. If Claire stays dead, it cheapens Claire's memory and shatters our understanding of Sylar's abilities. This is one writing blunder that I don't think the series will be able to recover from. They would have been better off simply claiming the body was incinerated and skipping the morgue scenes all together.
Time traveling and continuity
One of the big hurdles Heroes has always had to deal with is the impending continuity changes created by Hiro's powers. Last night's episode leaked a small but noticeable continuity problem when it comes to Tommy. Earlier in the series Tommy is amazed when he figures out how his powers work. The entire time he figured he was a black hole. Touch something and it disappears. By the third episode, Tommy has finally figured out he is a teleporter. The continuity issue is created in the final scenes of episode 7 when Tommy (in the past) tells his mother he is ready, "I remember everything dad taught me."
If you assume that "dad" is Hiro, who was seen bonding with the infant Tommy moments prior to taking him into the past to raise him, then the logical assumption is that Hiro taught him how to control his powers, teleporter to teleporter. Meaning the boy would have known how his powers worked all along.
It’s not a big deal, but tiny continuity issues have a way of spiraling out of control. As Hiro would say, "Too many butterflies." A small screw up now has ways of unraveling itself to the point that the series becomes too confusing to keep up with.
Another small continuity issue that needs to be addressed is how exactly does Tommy's power work? Sci Fi superhero stories have always grounded themselves in real theoretical sciences. The writers of the original series admitted from the get go that in order to make Hiro a teleporter, they had to make him a time traveler as well. It’s a problem with our current understanding of physics that links the two theories together. Teleportation is impossible because the body would be incinerated in the process, but if you can travel through time, then the idea of a fixed point anywhere on the earth becomes impossible because the location of your living room today is not the same place it was at 5 minutes ago, because the earth and our solar system are constantly spinning and moving through space. So in layman's terms, Hiro doesn't teleport, he only travels through time, it just so happens that the spot he is standing in shifts based on the time he travels to.
Without the time traveling aspect of Tommy's powers, the writers will most likely have to come up with a wormhole explanation for his abilities. The way Marvel did for Night Crawler by disguising teleportation as the crawler's ability to step into another dimension and step out of it, within a fraction of a second.
Again not that big a deal in a make believe world, but it’s an issue that needs to be addressed.
Stop killing people that matter
The series premier left a really bad taste in my mouth after they kill Renee, the silent memory erasing Haitian. I don't have a problem with killing main or beloved characters if it helps tell the story, deliver emotion or enhances the arc of another character. I loved how they killed Nathan in the original series and used it as launching pad toward Sylar's redemption, it even created some interesting questions as to the flexibility of human consciousness, but the Haitian's death... sucked.
It was as if the writers just wanted to throw in a cameo and then kill the character off so fans wouldn't ask about him later. It also made zero sense. The Haitian can wipe memories and rather than wiping the memories that caused Noah to seek him out, he instead decides to kill his best friend. It was distasteful and not a part of the character's nature. This trend of corrupting the core pathos of beloved characters without explanation needs to end.
More alarming than the death of the Haitian, was the death of Molly Walker. Before I get into why killing her was horrendous, I want to point out the terrible casting choice. Francesa Eastwood is a fine actress, but she is simply too beautiful, posh and confident to play a 17 year old girl (16 when dealing with her in the time travel scenes). When we last saw Molly in 2008, she was 10 years old. She is supposed to roughly be the same age as Tommy and Micah but is far too bodacious to be a tweener.
Which brings me to my next point. America fell in love with the little innocent Molly Walker, whose family was viciously killed before her eyes. Starting off a new series by killing a character, who is beloved as an innocent in the hearts and minds of viewers was simply done in bad taste.
Coupled with her continuing role in the series whenever the characters travel to the past, and we are left with nothing more than a cheap, poorly written death that is ultimately meaningless. Making death a meaningless concept is a quick and sure fire way to get the series canceled.
With that said, one death that needs an immediate retcon is the Miko's demise. During the first 6 episodes, viewers fell in love with the Hiro sword wielding Katana Girl. The fact that she was never a real person and was simply a game sprite given physical form by her Evo creator... MADE HER THE SINGLE MOST INTERESTING CHARACTER IN THE NEW SERIES!
Although her death was heroic and made for a very neat character arc, she isn't really human so death doesn’t have to be final for her. I hope they do decided to bring her back. I mean they set her up as the series replacement for Hiro, who I suspect just used up his last cameo for the remainder of the season.
Despite my ramblings as to how terrible the new series is going there is still hope. Deciding to bring back Noah Bennet as a main, if not the main, protagonist was a stroke of genius. The original series used Noah as a nod to the fact that you don't need superpowers to be a hero otherwise the series would be called Super Heroes. Making him the front runner is a world full of extraordinary people speaks to the impact of the Noah Bennet character. The moment when he opens the envelope revealing his horn rimmed glasses was a tear jerker moment. It was as if Batman had hung up his utility belt followed by a scene where you see him putting on his mask for the first time in years.
Another similar plot that seems to be unfolding comes from Carlos, another non-Evo who has become a hero in his own right. Although I question the writer's choice in making him a Luchador style costume, the tie back to Mexican culture and his grief over the loss of his crime fighting brother explains the choice in ensemble quite nicely. It also serves as nice nod to Marvel Comics, who's X-Men is source of inspiration, by introducing the franchise's first costumed vigilante. I look forward to how this revelation might branch off and effect the other characters.
In the super powered category there are two characters in particular whose story arcs have come full circle is a very awesome way. Micah growing up to become a badass Hacktivist was a stroke of genius, especially considering the relative badass points of both his parents and his cousin, and I really hope he ends up having a recurring role in the series. However, the absolute best decision thus far was the reimagining of future, now present, Hiro.
Peter may have been the heart of the original series, but Hiro was always its soul. Now that he has grown into the badass-katana-wielding-pony-tail-loving version of himself, many fans were afraid that the years would have stripped him of his naive persona and turned him into the cold broken version of himself we saw in the latter half of Heroes Season 1. This Hiro may be older, wiser and more serious, but after successfully saving the world no less than four times he still retains the kind heart and naive moments we have all come to expect from this character. To top it all off, turns out he used to just be the novice of time and space. The Hiro of today is the true master. Not only does he demonstrate a mastery over his abilities never seen before, such as when he checks half a dozen future outcomes within in a few seconds, relative to us, but he also has developed a more mature philosophy as to when he should or should not interfere with the space-time continuum. This is the part where I begin to slow clap....
Lastly, there has always been a strange continuity problem that I don't think has ever been addressed until now. In a universe where precognitives like the Petrelli Matriarch and time travelers like Hiro exist, the idea that fate is not set in stone becomes a reality that is muddled by the fact that the precog should never have had the vision to begin with, if the time traveler ultimately changes the future. But yesterday's episode finally laid that question to bed. Fate is fate. There is nothing anyone can do about it once Momma Petrelli has a vision. What she dreams will come to pass, the only thing Hiro can do is direct how it comes to pass. At least that is one less confusing time travel paradox to worry about.
I am a huge fan of the original series and I would love nothing more than for the current series to be a hit. Agents of SHIELD got off to a rocky start as well and is now killing the ratings. If Marvel was able to save its agents, I'm sure NBC can pull off Reborn, but I think the path to success has to be paved with closure.
There are many loose ends from the original series that really need to be addressed, not necessarily this season, but Season 2 better deliver. One of the most important ones is what happened to Peter? The last time we saw him, Peter was saving the life of what appeared to be his next great love. The question as to whether or not the two of them became a couple needs to be answered. If anyone deserves a happily ever after, it’s Peter. Between the deaths of two girlfriends, being betrayed by his family at least 6 times, losing his god like powers, saving the world and rehabilitating Sylar, we have to know what happened to him. There also isn't any explanation as to why he isn't in this season. He was a founding member of the new company, which is Renatus, and his family is still involved in a big way. So where is he?
The last and most important string is what became of Sylar? I honestly don't care if the Sylar we get has returned to his evil ways or has become the loving father we glimpsed in Heroes Season 3, but his fate needs to be answered.
If NBC wants this series to make it big, it needs to step up its game. Deliver some closure for the fans and then we can really explore the new characters in detail, and while their answering the Peter and Sylar questions, where is Ando?