Heroes Volume Five: Chapter 1

Posted: September 24, 2009 in Review
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Volume Five: Redemption

401 – Orientation

Spoiler warning.

So here we are – six months after the most unsatisfying Volume yet, Tim Kring and his team return with more superhero-based drama. Time to ask the same question we keep having to ask – is it time to finally let our Heroes go for good?

Six weeks have passed since Nathan’s funeral/ bullshit plot contrivance and a lot’s happened, as the opening shows us. Peter’s gone back to being a nurse and spends his time running around New York saving lives. He’s basically become Superman, short of ripping his shirt open to reveal a costume. Bennett spends his time alone, mourning the loss of his wife while Claire goes to college. Hiro and Ando are back on comedy duty, having invented the hilarious ‘Dial-A-Hero’ business, which, as Hiro’s sister Kimiko is quick to remind them, is failing miserably. Angela is trying to restart the Company with the slightly unwilling Bennett, while Nathan is beginning to lose control over Sylar and isn’t sure what’s going on. Matt Parkman is back together with his wife, raising their baby together.

The majority of the episode is spent setting up the rest of the storyline for the Volume. Once the token boring ‘we’re just trying to get our lives back to normal’ routine is out the way, the visible structure is revealed and it could be a good one.

This time, we’re following the antics of the Sullivan Bros travelling circus, led by Samuel. He’s got a vast team of superheroes with his already – most notably, his girlfriend – she can create tattoos of people and know everything about them – and Edgar, the super-fast knife-wielding assassin. The story whips along with a tidy pace, putting most of the characters in the right place for the rest of the story, but also getting the interesting ones off to a good start, like the shaky alliance between Tracey and Bennett.

Predictably, the most boring chunks of storyline are given to Claire and Nathan, who spend the episode making the audience wonder quite why they’re still in the show, having contributed nothing to the overall storyline since Villains. Claire goes to college which, like every college on American TV, is nothing like real life, gets an annoying roommate, makes friends with the upcoming lesbian lover and goes to classes with professors that read the same literature as this writer. Nathan spends most of the episode behind a desk, wondering why he can create lightening and summons cups of coffee to his hands at will. We all know it’s just delaying Sylar’s overpowered return, so hurry up.

What’s left is a tidy variety of really good memorable scenes, the first in a long time. Bennett drowning in his car, the Haitian’s stunning three seconds of screen time (seriously, it’s short, but his entrance is one of the best ever), Edgar getting choked by Samuel’s tattoo – bizarre but great – and the Tracey/ Edgar battle, featuring some of the coolest CGI effects yet seen in the show.

Also, a thousand points to the writers for killing off Denko in a manner fitting the rage the audience feels for his abysmal character. One down…

By the end, you’ll be left with the impression that the show is going somewhere good – again. Sure, there are some predictable elements – Hiro’s plot device photo, Samuel’s plot device compass – but there are just as many tantalising morsels to keep you going. It might not be as ballsy as the opening of Villains, or even Genesis, but it’s a damn sight better than Fugitives. A good start – keep it up, guys. There’s life left in the Heroes yet.

Four stars

Part 2

Picking straight up from the cliffhangers laid so carefully in the last part, the episode feels a lot slower than the opener – surely that’s the wrong way round?

Claire’s roommate has apparently committed suicide, so her and future lesbian lover Gretchen spend their time pondering physics and trying out a bit of low-rent CSI. Matt is now seeing Sylar everywhere, which gets fobbed off with the idea that Sylar fought back against Matt invading his mind at the end of the last season and now has a place in Matt’s psyche. Whatever – he just spends ages taunting the detective and trying to get him to use his powers. This strand could go somewhere good, as long as they have the balls to go the whole nine yards and do an ‘evil Parkman’ storyline.

Bennett walks in on Denko’s body and deduces in five seconds that there’s a key hidden in his stomach, setting up the episode’s best scene – a knife fight between Edgar and Peter, both moving at super speeds. Later on, Bennett is stabbed and left for dead over the plot device compasses that keep on popping up, which sets up the most frustrating part of the story so far – a blossoming romance between Tracey and Bennett. Didn’t Tim Kring swear off romantic storylines after the disastrous Hiro/ Yaeko mess in Volume Two?

Aside from the above, the little remaining aspects of the episode feature Hiro somehow being pulled back in time and having his mind slowly warped by Samuel, while Peter continues trying to act like a noble prick.

It’s very disappointing that things have slowed down so much just when you want them to kick into high gear. On the other hand, exactly where the story is going is a complete mystery, and that’s a huge plus.

Three stars


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