Just a heads up, but there will be SPOILERS in this review. Proceed at your own caution.
Last season, Heroes was one of the best new shows on television. It started off slow, but quickly found its legs to become a breakout hit (and not to mention becoming NBC’s answer to ABC’s Lost). Unfortunately, after a terrific run, the show lost millions of viewers after it came back from its winter hiatus. It had also lost that spark that made the show special, and it limped its way to a lackluster season finale. As a whole, though, the first season of the show was very good, and despite its shortcomings at the end of the year, people looked forward to the new season.
Unfortunately, like most shows still riding their first season high, Heroes suffered from the dreaded ‘sophomore slump.’ The writers forgot about what made Heroes work to begin with, and took it in a new direction. The viewers were none too happy about it, and it showed in the reviews and ratings. However, the last few episodes of the season definitely picked up the missing slack, and culminated into a much better finale than last year’s. Let’s start from the beginning, shall we?
Season two started four months after season one ended. The heroes were all in different places, and were all different people. HRG, Claire, & the rest of the family were starting a new life in California, hoping to forget about their sordid past. Mohinder, The Haitian, and HRG were also secretly trying to take down The Company from the inside. Matt Parkman was finally getting the respect he deserved as a detective. Nathan was more of a loss soul after the events of last year’s finale. Hiro was stuck in feudal Japan. And finally, Peter was chained to the inside of a crate in Ireland, not remembering who he was. We’ll come back to each character’s journey in a minute.
We were also introduced to two new characters, Maya and Alejandro. The pair were quickly dubbed “The Wonder Twins” by fans, and slowly went the way of Nikki & Paulo from Lost’s third season. Fans found the duo annoying, and their powers were kind of lame. When Maya gets angry or upset, her eyes go black, and kills everyone around her. It seems as if her victims suffer, and she has no control over the ability. Alejandro, her brother, is the only one who has the ability to ‘suck up’ these powers, reversing their deadly effects. And that’s it. That was the new ‘super power’ for the beginning of the season. Very disappointing.
And most fans were correct. Their story was extremely uninteresting for the bulk of the season. We followed the two as they tried to make their way to New York, so they could meet Mohinder, whom they thought could help them. However, about midway through the season, everyone’s favorite badass returned. Sylar, who seemingly lost his powers at some point during the last four months, crosses paths with the pair. He recognizes their special abilities, and swears to help them find Mohinder. Secretly, he is using them to get to Mohinder himself, so he can regain his powers, and then steal theirs. Even without his powers, Sylar is still a formidable foe for the heroes.
Which brings me to my next point: Zachary Quinto is easily the best reason to watch this season. He is beyond fantastic as the sadistic serial killer, Sylar. He brings an air of menace to the table unlike I have ever seen before. It’s incredible to see him switch between the ‘warm, caring’ person he pretends to be for the twins into the despicable bastard that we all love to hate (and hate to love, for that matter). One of the best scenes from this season is where Sylar is having a conversation with the non-English speaking Alejandro. When Maya isn’t around, Sylar calmly tells Alejandro that the second he gets his powers back, he’s going to kill them both, and enjoy every minute of it. All with a smile on his face. Zachary Quinto makes the character so evil, and he’s so damn good at it. The preview of Volume Three we receive, with Sylar regaining his powers, (while most definitely stolen from X-Men 3) was so damn good, that I can’t wait for next season.
HRG and Claire are starting their lives over with different names in a different city. At first, it seems like a good idea. But eventually, the appearance of another new hero, West, complicates matters. A love interest is formed between the two young heroes. One that is strained when Claire realizes her father was once responsible for West’s abduction as a child. Not really sure who to trust, Claire’s life becomes one difficult choice after another.
Niki and Micah head to New Orleans to start over as well. Micah stays with DL’s family for most of the season, while Niki sets out to try to cure herself of her other personalities forever. She agrees to work with The Company while they try to solve her problem. Unfortunately, she gets infected with the Shanti virus in the process (more on that later). Their storyline, which does intersect with Mohinder & The Company at a few points, is mostly separate. Micah spends his time with his cousins, one of which is another hero, trying to get on with his life. Their story ends with the (supposed) death of Niki, after saving her niece from a burning building.
While Hiro stuck in the past may have seemed like a good idea on paper, it seemed very slow in execution. While somewhat entertaining at first, Hiro’s story slowly became tiresome and very predictable. I’m glad he wasn’t stuck there for the entire season, and went on a revenge mission toward the end. I don’t know, maybe it was just me, but his entire time in the past seemed very cliché. The best part of his time in the past was the introduction of Kensei. Though the character himself didn’t seem as big of a threat as Sylar did during the first season, he certainly had his mind set on a much more terrifying goal.
The event that really kicks this season’s main story into gear is the death of Hiro’s father. Someone pushes him off a roof, right in front of Ando’s eyes. It turns out that someone is targeting the older generation of heroes, and some of the members of the new generation are trying to stop it. This season’s main theme is derived from this storyline, and is how we all pay for the sins of our fathers. And that’s true in spades here. After a miraculous recovery from the atomic explosion at the end of season one, Nathan sets out to redeem himself and make things right. He starts the season off as a bearded drunk, obviously distraught over the loss of his brother, and blaming himself for it. He eventually teams up with Parkman to try to find the person who is targeting the founding members of The Company. The journey leads Parkman to his birth father, the ‘Nightmare Man’ that Molly spoke of at the end of last season. It seems that, like father like son, they both have similar powers. Through the help of his father, Parkman begins to fully understand the extent of his abilities. When Matt realizes his father is working with whoever is killing the original heroes, he must put his newfound powers to the test to try and stop him.
The man behind of all the madness is Kensei, the man who becomes Adam. After being alive for over 400 years, he comes to realize that the world never changes. He is one of the founding members of The Company, and apparently was their leader for a short while. Eventually, his ideas turn to the destruction of the human race, to wipe everyone out and start from scratch. Because of these extreme ideals, the other members of The Company lock him away for thirty years. Eventually, with the help of Peter, he is able to escape and begin his quest anew. He tricks Peter into thinking that he wants to help destroy the Shanti virus.
The virus itself was named after Mohinder’s sister. Apparently, it’s a sort of a disease to the heroes, causing some of them to lose their powers. Peter, and his new girlfriend, Caitlin, accidentally make a jump into the future, and see that most of the human race was wiped out because of the release of the virus. After his girlfriend gets left behind in the apocalyptic future, Peter sets out to destroy the virus, and stop the terrible tragedy from ever happening.
Eventually, through the intervention of Matt, Nathan, and Hiro, Peter finally realizes that Adam is actually trying to release the virus and destroy the human race. Though there isn’t much of a showdown between them, their story is beautifully executed and was a great way to end the second volume. Hiro’s solution to taking care of Adam is one of the most messed up things to ever grace the small screen, especially because of Adam’s abilities. It’s fantastic.
Also, the assassination of Nathan Petrelli right as he’s about to announce to the world that he has special powers was incredible and very unexpected. The shooter, whoever he was, was obviously employed by The Company. The ending scene of Volume Two, where Angela is shown to clearly have knowledge of her son’s execution, and does nothing about it truly shows how far The Company will go to keep their secrets safe.
In all, though it had a lot more downs than ups, I’m pretty happy with this season of Heroes. We were introduced to a lot more information about The Company, which really blurred the line between whether they were good or evil. The things we learned about the older generation of heroes were surprising, and I’m sure the effects of their actions will be felt well into the future as well. The heroes we know and love from last season also began to learn a few new things about their powers. Matt can now place thoughts into others heads, like a pseudo Jedi Mind trick. Claire, with her amazing healing ability, now knows she can regrow limbs. And not only can she heal herself, but her blood can heal others as well.
We were also introduced to a lot of new characters, my favorite being Elle. Sure, she was hardly used for most the season, but I really think she will come into her own if the writers really develop her more. Kristen Bell was a great choice for her, and I must say, she has definitely grown on me.
Heroes continues to ‘borrow’ its storylines from other comic sources. The most prominent this season was taken from Watchmen, the fantastic graphic novel by Alan Moore. The whole ‘mask killer’ and ‘starting the world over’ plots were ripped directly from the novel’s pages, but had a few new twists to make it its own. As much as I enjoy Watchmen, I really wish the writers will develop their own storylines next year, and come up with something entirely new.
What also worked in this season is that the scales continue to tip in both directions. While some things may be obvious, other times we never know how things are going to pan out. Even when a character dies, we can’t know for certain that they won’t come back. The death of HRG at the end of episode nine was definitely a surprise to a lot of viewers. We thought he was gone for good. What a surprise it was to see him come back to us, because of Claire’s blood.
I’m also very happy with the way Tim Kring responded to this season’s criticism. It’s not often that a show runner comes forward and admits that the fans are right, and they were wrong. He outright apologized for the lackluster beginning of the season, and vowed to fix it in the coming months. And truthfully, I think he did a damn good job of correcting the mistakes. I hope it continues over into the next season as well.
And speaking of next season, what of it? Heroes was originally slanted to continue its second season in February 2008, with the rest of Volume Three playing out. Even last night, at the end of the episode, NBC said that Heroes would return in 2008…they just didn’t say when. Due to the writer’s strike, the plans for Volume three picking up in February were scrapped, and the Volume Two finale was retooled a bit to make it more of a season finale. With the writer’s strike continuing, and no ending in sight any time soon, we may have to wait until late 2008 to see more of Heroes.
All in all, a fairly decent season. Even with a very slow start, the last few episodes definitely brought the series back to what we love. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.
7 OUT OF 10