Archive for May 23, 2009

Heroes Volume 4 Review

Posted: May 23, 2009 in Review
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Heroes Volume 4 Review

Heroes is a strange beast. It can be a loving show, one that rewards watching with occasional flushes of majesty. Sometimes it can bite the hands of its viewers with teeth made of hard-edged steel.

After the horribly patchy-but-turned-good-at-the-end Volume Two (‘Generations’) came the thoroughly magnificent third Volume, ‘Villains’. A thing of absolute beauty, it was television sci-fi writing at its very finest, with character arcs, plot twists, huge super-powered showdowns, great new characters, a story with a conclusion already planned in advance and the most impressive thing – not a single weak episode in all thirteen.

So what can the fourth Volume (‘Fugitives’) offer? Well, on the whole, a nasty trip down memory lane. For starters, the entire Volume is completely directionless, wandering from set-up to set-up without really ‘doing’ anything. Sylar spends the first half of the Volume wandering aimlessly as he tries to find his father, a far cry from the brilliant, hilarious and genuinely frightening villain he managed to become by the end of Volume Three. For the second half of the Volume, the writers seem to have decided that a mental breakdown would be an interesting thing to watch happen to a once great villain. Problem is, it’s not. And now that Sylar can shapeshift, he has been made completely indestructible.

Peter’s manufactured ability has changed from the flight we saw in the last episode to the new power of absorbing one ability at a time. Where this came from is anybody’s guess, but it means that he spends the whole Volume partnered up with useful people so he can actually do something.

Matt Parkman gets conveniently ‘gifted’ with the ability to paint the future, but this gets forgotten after about four episodes. He also gains a son – even though we were all told it wasn’t his.

Hiro and Ando struggle to even come across as comic foils. With Hiro powerless, what could have been a nice role-reversal for the only genuinely brilliant duo is instead forgotten as they bumble about not really doing anything. Ando’s manufactured power has also changed – where it once amplified other Heroes’ abilities, it now just shoots red lightening. Even when Hiro regains the ability to stop time, Ando never once suggests teaming up their powers. Surely the two are perfect? And now that Hiro’s body is slowly breaking down because of his over-reliance on his powers, isn’t it obvious that Ando is the perfect partner? But, no, such logic has no place on this show, it would be entertaining.

Claire goes back to being boring, even after the wonderful flirting with the dark side briefly seen in the last Volume. This time she’s given a four episode love interest (hint: it’s boring) and then spends time looking confused. Bennett fairs better, with a slightly more meaty story of deception and betrayal, but it’s never that interesting compared with the man we all know from past seasons.

Worst offender is new character Denko, a man born to hunt the Heroes. Across the whole Volume, he serves zero purpose. He might get to team up with Sylar in the final episodes, but given that the rest of the time he chases people around and gets more guns aimed at him than Jack Bauer, it’s not worth the wait.

There are some really great moments in this Volume that remind you why you bother sticking with creator Tim Kring through the ups and downs. Daphne’s death – her actual death – is incredible; a mixture of great writing, genuinely touching acting and good CGI. Likewise, the send-off given to Tracey is just as excellent, as she freezes everything around her to protect Micah. If the former glory of Heroes can be seen in these flashes, what was stopping it breaking through the whole time?

Even when the Volume limps to its damp squib finale, where Sylar plans to take the place of the President, the show continues to bite its viewers’ hands. A major character is finally killed, only to be resurrected minutes later in the laziest plot device twist ever. This was once a show that had the balls to sever all its connections to an entire season just because viewers didn’t like it. What’s going on now? We’re even cheated out of a proper climax, as the Amazing Flying Petrelli Brothers prepare to take on Sylar when, for the second time, a door is slammed, ensuring that the battle is unseen to lower costs. Thanks, Kring.

All in all, this is hands down the worst Volume of Heroes’ entire run. Kring and his boys need to figure out where they’re going with this, because after that weak cliffhanger (ANOTHER character is brought back from the dead, are you kidding me?!) the entire show looks to be dying. Let’s hope the magic returns soon.