Baseball Toaster Western Homes
The "Heroes" Finale: It Has to Be Good If It Rips Off Evil Dead 2
2007-05-21 22:25
by Mark T.R. Donohue

While the final episode of the first "volume" of "Heroes" wasn't precisely the slam-bang climax Entertainment Weekly had me expecting, it was as entertaining and satisfying as any episode of the breakout first-year hit. Spoilers ahead, so be warned.

I was expecting a somewhat higher body count. The only character we know for a confirmed kill is Malcolm McDowell's Linderman -- having a fist put through the back of your brain is something you don't come back from, and dialogue made it a certainty. Other than that, who knows? Adrian Pasdar's Nathan appeared to be making a tremendous gesture of self-sacrifice at the episode's close, after the whole arc of the season made him appear like a weak and power-crazed villain. However, it's possible that Nathan could have ditched Peter's exploding body high in the atmosphere and flown to safety. As for Peter, it seems pretty clear that he's not a goner either, since a discussion between Nathan, Claire, and the deliciously wicked Mrs. Petrelli made it clear that Peter's absorption of Claire's mutant healing factor would make it possible for him to go nuclear and then somehow recover. (Also, the departed Ted was somehow immune to his own radiation, although he unlike Peter wouldn't survive a free-fall from several miles in the sky.)

One of the closing shots of the episode implied that Sylar after being run through with a samurai sword by Hiro escaped to the sewers, although as far as we know healing power is not one of the skills the "Heroes" serial killer absorbed from his victims. D.L., Mr. Bennett (who finally in the last episode of the season gained a first name, Noah), and Parkman all sustained injuries, but the tone as the curtain fell seemed to suggest that each and every one of them would survive into Season Two. Even Missy Peregrym's shapeshifter Candice only got knocked out even after Nikki/Jessica had a perfectly good opportunity to kill her. What's interesting about the possible survival of both Candice and Sylar is that the future posited in the episode "Five Years Gone" is still completely possible, assuming either that Nathan is not dead as well or that Sylar is able to absorb Candice's power and assume Nathan's identity before the death of the senior Petrelli brother becomes public knowledge.

One of the underrated aspects of "Heroes," a show that certainly would not have been possible even five years ago with the way digital effects have evolved, is the way the various hero powers are visualized. They combine physics and metaphysics in often-unexpected ways. There are two interesting ones in particular from the finale I would like to mention. The first is the effect used to show how the power originally belonging to the painter Isaac, absorbed by Peter, and stolen by Sylar, worked. During the episode from tonight's teaser visions of the future flashed into Sylar's eyes and the completed paintings hazily projected themselves onto canvas, like a futuristic paint-by-numbers set. What is interesting about the story of "Heroes" going forward about the way this was all presented suggested that the painting part of the future-vision was unnecessary.

At the time Isaac first began using his power, he was in the throes of drug addiction. Since he was a professional painter anyway, it's easy to see how in his experience of the power he needed to be painting in order to see the future. Peter also used a paintbrush to try and foretell what was coming after contact with Isaac, but that was after seeing several of Isaac's paintings come to life. The visions flashing before Sylar's eyes at the close of "How to Stop an Exploding Man" suggested that the villain, whose own inborn power is a never-quite-articulated ability to "see how things work," had streamlined the process to the point where the oil and canvas was unnecessary. This makes Sylar, of course, even more dangerous, and it also raises all sorts of interesting questions about the underlying nature of the series' reality. For example, take Peter's astral visit to the home of Simone's late father (Richard Roundtree) in tonight's episode. Was Peter manifesting Hiro's time travel ability, or Isaac's visions, or another unexplained function? Or perhaps it was something Charles Deveaux was/is able to do. It would be pretty cool if Shaft ended up being the mastermind of all this stuff, right? I can imagine a recurring situation in future seasons where characters from all over the timeline have to consult with Deveaux, dead in the present, through Hiro or Peter's abilities.

Here is another one regarding Candice, the shapeshifting character. First of all, the special effects and dialogue in past episodes have established that this hero doesn't change her own physical appearance, but rather does something to affect the minds of all those observing her. In that sense the term "shapeshifter" is a misnomer, but years of watching "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" have conditioned me for using it, so bear with me. But here is the really interesting question. In an earlier episode, Candice admitted to Micah that her actual physical appearance is that of a grossly obese woman, since her ability allows her to eat all of the junk food she likes and still appear to others as the fragrant Missy Peregrym. However, when Nikki knocked out Candice veiled as Jessica, she caused the fake Micah Candice had created to disappear and "Jessica" to look like... regular slim hardbodied face-she-presents-to-the-world Candice. Curious. Either Candice's power is persistent enough to maintain an illusion to those who have seen her face before and accepted that as her true identity even when she is rendered unconscious, or the "Heroes" brain trust were cheating a bit. Why would they need to, though? It's not like we don't know exactly who Candice is and what she's capable of. Indeed, the flash-forward episode with Sylar impersonating President Nathan Petrelli has made her one of the most important characters on the show.

Well, I could go on forever, but I imagine we'll have all summer to begin really picking apart the mythology and the internal consistency of the "Heroes" multiverse through reruns. I did just want real quickly to compliment Tim Kring and his staff on a job well done. Without a doubt "Heroes" is the only freshman show of the 2006-07 season to punch through and become appointment television. What's more, unlike "Desperate Housewives" or "Grey's Anatomy" in seasons past, it's a show that at heart is made for people just like me who obsess over things like why in the "Star Trek: Next Generation" episode "The Next Phase" Geordi and Ro Laren can walk through bulkheads on the Enterprise but don't fall right through the floor. That's why the comic book geek Hiro is the show's breakout character. It might have been a coincidence, but somehow I doubt it; I am pretty sure the closing scenes of "Heroes" season one, with Hiro falling through time into the middle of a battle between feudal Japanese warlords, was an allusion to the twist ending of one of cult cinema's most endearing classics, Sam Raimi's Evil Dead 2. "Heroes" might be mass entertainment, but it maintains the sensibilities and the heart of a cult show, and that's why I have nothing but positive expectations for Volume 2, "Generations," debuting this fall.

2007-05-22 04:37:21
1.   weatherman
I normally post on Dodger Thoughts so I hope you don't ming me posting here as well. I really like all of your points, especially the one regarding Nathan flying away and the one regarding Candice not turning into the "real self" I was expecting.

I am confident that Peter was using Suresh's ability when he went back to talk to Shaft. Episode 8 is when Suresh was home in India and had bizarre dreams about following himself around as a little boy.

Here was what bothered me the most:

1. Why didn't Peter just fly himself away? He has shown that he can use his powers simultaneously before, right? He has flown while invisible before

2. If Hiro is such a comic book fan, why didn't he chop off Sylar's head. Stabbing a villain and assuming he's dead is one of the most typical mistakes made.

As for Hiro landing in feudal Japan, I thought: If only we'd seen the "hungry like a wolf" old spice commercial immediately following the scene.

Thanks for your post.

2007-05-22 06:50:34
2.   Hythloday
1 - I thought the same thing about Peter flying away.

Also, if Candice's ability to alter reality is some Jedi mind trick how does it work through TV's. Presumably if future Sylar becomes president using this ability there are going to be TVs on him. Would the ability affect cameras or people halfway around the globe watching the president on live TV?

Regardless, it is a fun show for recovering comic book geeks. Between this and 30 Rock I found two new shows to watch this season (though Scrubs fell off the list I think).

2007-05-22 07:08:49
3.   DXMachina
1 If Hiro is such a comic book fan, why didn't he chop off Sylar's head.

Not just a comic book fan. As I said on another discussion board, are we expected to believe that Hiro's never watched Buffy? You always cut off the head.

I'm with you on the flying thing, although I've seen a lot of fanwank that it's likely that Peter was trying so hard not to explode that he couldn't concentrate on anything else. It was kind of neat that five seconds after meeting Niki, Peter was pounding away on Sylar with super strength.

As for Candice, was she lying to Micah when she said she was fat, or can she maintain her base illusion even while unconscious?

In the feudal Japan scenes, I thought that the person occupying Kenji's armor looked a lot like George Takei.

2007-05-22 07:25:50
4.   Mark T.R. Donohue
3 I have been wondering a lot about Candice too. I thought the scene with she and Micah where she was explaining how the motivation behind her alliance with Linderman stemmed from the horrible impressions she had formed about people from back before she was able to use her power to make her appear as a beautiful woman was a really poignant one. It would be self-undermining, not to mention uncharacteristically scattershot of the "Heroes" writers, to make that whole speech a put-on.
2007-05-22 07:27:12
5.   Mark T.R. Donohue
2 Perhaps Future-Sylar would not be able to use Candice's ability to appear as President Nathan on television... but what if he absorbed Micah's ability as well?
2007-05-22 08:01:50
6.   Hythloday
5 - That's possible. I tend to think that Candice actually is changing reality. When Micah tries to escape and is running through the repeating doors if it was only his perception of reality that changed then he would be running into a bunch of walls. If it were only an illusion then the perception of reality would change, but the hard physics of the real world would remain. If that is the case then it might explain Candice staying good looking after she is knock unconscious.

It is also possible that she was lying about her looks, but not the rest (but I don't remember that dialogue that well).

2007-05-22 08:09:53
7.   Mark T.R. Donohue
6 Further Candice questions: If she is indeed a large out-of-shape woman, how could she hold her own in a fight against Nikki, or indeed do most of the action-oriented things The Organization is always asking of its operatives? Does her ability to alter others' perceptions extend to the point where, if she hits Nikki in the face, Nikki perceives being hit by an athletic woman in good fighting shape and therefore the punch has that sort of effect?
2007-05-22 08:42:08
8.   Hythloday
7 - Maybe she is merely large and in charge.

And how could Nikki get her butt kicked anyway? If the superstrength is always there wouldn't she be a bit more immovable? I mean there is difference between punching me and a middleweight boxer even if we have the same weight. That can't all be perception right? Even if Nikki doesn't believe that she is superstrong the basic wiring to be superstrong is there right?

One thing that disappointed me was that Nikki/Jessica's power seemed to only be superstrength. In the first episodes she was tearing people limb from limb in a matter of seconds (the poker game). That seems to be something a bit more powerful than superstrength (and a bit cooler).

2007-05-22 08:52:46
9.   DXMachina
7,8 - I think the reason that Candice could beat the crap out of Niki is that Niki didn't expect to be able to beat "Jessica", so she just took the hits without even thinking about trying to fight back. Plus there was the shock of seeing "Jessica" in the flesh.

I think if it had been Jessica in Kirby Plaza (which was a great shout out, BTW), and IF she'd felt disposed to get involved, she would've torn Sylar into teeny little bits. Niki just isn't as blood thirsty.

2007-05-22 09:04:05
10.   Mark T.R. Donohue
9 Jon touched on this as well, but there isn't a single character in the "Heroes" pantheon with a less favorable development-to-screen time ratio than Nikki. I'm still not exactly sure what it is she does or why it might be useful to anyone. And Ali Larter's role as the breakout sexpot of the show has seemingly been stolen by Hayden Panetierre, so maybe she's first on the list of fatalities for season 2. I wouldn't mind seeing her go.

And recognize on the Jack Kirby shoutout.

2007-05-22 09:38:52
11.   weatherman
3 - I think that was definitely George Takai. He is awesome.

10 - Nikki/Jessica thing is a pretty silly plotline. By far the least popular on other blogs I've read. That said, here's my theory: Nikki's mutant ability is super-strength. She also suffers from some sort of multiple personality disorder stemming from the death of her twin sister. The Nikki did use her super-strength because she didn't know how (like Peter having to discover/master his latent abilities) and had to be "taught" by her other personality. Does this make sense?

2007-05-22 09:39:02
12.   Mark T.R. Donohue
It's worth noting, I see after further reflection, that while the show has done a beautiful job of marketing geek staples to a mass audience, it's still genuine geeks to whom it speaks most clearly and directly. Those of us weaned on comic books accept things like Peter's wildly inconsistent powers as a matter of course. Why can't he use all of his powers all the time? Because that would make him Too Good, of course. Any comic book geek worth his polyhedral dice knows that.
2007-05-22 09:52:41
13.   weatherman
12 - Absolutely. How fun will an RPG spin-off be? I guess a video game would work the best, but the key would be that the PC couldn't know what his/her power is until they have earned a certain number of XP or reached a certain level.

Comment status: comments have been closed. Baseball Toaster is now out of business.