Posts Tagged ‘tim kring’

408 – Shadowboxing

Oh dear. After that wonderful crescendo episode comes this: Claire, Parkman and Peter, none of whom do much about anything.

Claire and Gretchen try to find invisible girl Becky, who – they’ve apparently forgotten – is invisible and not likely to be found. So they do what they always do when faced with a plot hole – they call in the Haitian, who stands around wondering if it’s worth the payday. Mercifully, Gretchen fears for her life and leaves Claire, only to be replaced by Samuel, who tries to tempt Claire over to his team. Bennett tangles with Becky when it is revealed that he killed her father some years before and by the end, yet another wedge has been driven into their fractured relationship. They’ve gotten back together more times than Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee, why is this remotely worrying?

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Meanwhile, the Real Sylar wakes up and accidentally turns into Nathan, flying away from the carnival in fear. Yeah, it’s as stupid as it sounds.

Fake Sylar is still in control of Parkman’s body and sets off on a quest to New York intending to get some answers out of Peter Petrelli. On the way, Parkman repeatedly pisses off Sylar, who murders innocent people until he finally is told the truth of what happened at the end of the last season. Parkman makes the ultimate sacrifice and gets them both shot, but we all know it won’t ever end so neatly.

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In other boring plots, Peter and Emma deal with a train crash in New York. Peter uses his healing hands on patients whenever he gets a chance while Emma remembers he doctor training and finally confides that the dead ‘Christopher’ in her past was her nephew who drowned because she couldn’t hear him, making her leave medical school. It’s still completely unclear quite how the hell this is going to tie up with the main story in any believable way.

It’s a plodding episode, but one that finally gets rid of Gretchen from the story and simultaneously brings Samuel towards his final target: Claire. Now if only we could get moving on that slightly more important issue: what the hell does Samuel’s murder of Mohinder have to do with anything?

Two stars – generously

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407 – Once Upon a Time in Texas

You know an episode is going to peak in quality when it features any of the following characters: Hiro, Sylar or Samuel. This episode features all three.

Hiro, having arrived three years in the past outside the Burnt Toast Diner, reminisces on his failure to save Charlie’s life from the clutches of Sylar. Apparently he’s forgotten that she had a clot and was going to die no matter what. But then he meets Sylar three years in the past before he murders Charlie and Heroes is off and rocking again.

It seems that Kring and his writing team are doing what they always do when they get desperate – they go back to season one and tie the current plot around one of the beautifully crafted tendrils of the origin story.

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Meanwhile, Samuel, with actor Robert Knepper now a main cast member (and about bloody time, too) needs Hiro desperately to fix a problem in the past which his own rapidly dying time traveller is no longer capable of fixing. Unfortunately, Hiro’s too wrapped up in the problem of how to save Charlie without destroying the time-space continuum, a problem that requires the attention of Sylar himself.

Meanwhile Bennett is back in town to watch over Claire before the Homecoming game and torn between fidelity or having an affair with colleague Lauren (guest star Elisabeth Rohm.)

The genius of the episode is that it’s all built on the wonderful Hiro/Charlie romance that was so delightful to watch in the first place. With Sylar shown here in his murdering heyday and Hiro on top comic form, the stage is set for what is easily the best episode of the season. Superpowers are used, battles are fought, jokes are made, decisions are pondered and best of all, it’s got a genuine punch-in-the-face cliffhanger that’ll see you begging for the next episode. It’s so exciting, so thrilling that all the notes made during the episode are in capital letters and full of expletives.

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This is it. This is the Heroes magic. Whatever you did to make this happen, Kring, keep doing it. Spellbinding stuff.

Five stars.

406 – Strange Attractors

You know an episode is going to dip in quality when it features any of the following characters: Tracey, Claire or Parkman. This episode features all three.

The episode see-saws between reasonably interesting and claw-your-eyes-out tedious as Claire and Gretchen get kidnapped for a Sorority day out, but it turns out to be a ploy by invisible girl Becky (the murderer of Claire’s former roommate) to try and off Gretchen for Samuel’s Master Plan, in the manner of the movie Saw.

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Speaking of Samuel, the carnival one crops up in a wooing plot with Tracey. While Bennett tries to get healing hands boy Jeremy out of prison with the former governor’s secretary’s help, Samuel attempts to show her that Bennett’s plans for the boy to disappear won’t work and that the specials need each other to survive in this world. It all goes wrong when she refuses, however, and Jeremy winds up dead at the hands of ignorant cops.

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Elsewhere in the episode, the excellent Zachary Quinto struggles to make sense of the gone-on-for-far-too-long saga of Sylar in Parkman’s brain. This time sees the arc finally take a step forwards as Sylar lures Parkman into getting drunk and lowering his defences, allowing the evil one to come forward and take over his body.

Basically, it’s a pretty middling episode livened up only by the episode’s climactic sequence where Samuel takes vengeance on the cops who murdered Jeremy by levelling their station, more than making up for the missing sequence where he did the same thing in episode two.

It’s telling that things are starting to drag – perhaps the writers didn’t plan this set of storylines through properly? The Claire/Gretchen romance is so bland it’s funny, with the bizarre change of atmosphere in this episode coming off as sadistic. The Parkman/Sylar battle has taken six episodes to get to the point where it has changed pace and did the story of Jeremy really need to cover two episodes? With a bit of trimming and tight plotting, this could all have been covered in three episodes, four max.

Thank god for Samuel.

Two stars

405 – Tabula Rasa

Tabula Rasa means blank slate, which describes both Sylar’s mental condition and the attitude the writers have approached this episode with. Put simply, this is the best Heroes has been for a very long time.

The main bulk is spent with the always watchable Sylar being toyed with by his new masters at the circus, leading to several excellent confrontations – Sylar trapped in a house of mirrors that replay all his old murders while he screams for mercy, a brilliant – though far too short – first clash between Sylar and Edgar, a spectacularly cataclysmic showdown with the pursuing police officer in the hall of mirrors and the final baptism washing Sylar free of all his guilt.

The other parts of the episode are just as good and entertaining – Claire once again has no classes to attend and shows up at Bennett’s house, but before you can say plot drag, Hiro is pulled to Peter, who absorbs his power and takes Bennett on a quest to find a healer. Slight annoyance – Claire’s healing will not stop Hiro’s tumour, yet a healing touch will? This raises more questions than it answers, but it sets up an absolutely jaw-dropping freeze-time sequence where Peter stops time at the exact moment a bullet passes through his body. The trigger-happy healer who can give and take life is a great character on his own and gives Bennett a chance to play the good guy and make up for his past mistakes, which is always nice.

Elsewhere, Emma tries to talk to Hiro about her desire to turn her potentially dangerous power off, but the delighted geek wants instead to prove to her what a good thing it can be, setting up another outstanding CGI freeze-time sequence, this one involving a room of clapping people and those beautiful sound wave colours.

All in all, a fantastic step forward for the show. It loses a star for only teasing a Sylar/Edgar smackdown and for dismissing Claire’s healing power, but the cliffhanger suggests that the next episode is about the go off the rails in terms of quality. More, please.

4 stars

404 – Hysterical Blindness

A comparatively busy episode by this season’s standards, one that flips between being smack-your-head-on-a-table middle of the road and genuinely interesting, though still lacking in the pizzazz we’ve come to expect from Heroes.

The most boring part of the episode is Claire’s ongoing romantic saga with Gretchen. As the two bond while living together, Claire is tempted into the world of irritatingly smiley sorority sisters, dragging Gretchen’s weirdly long face with her. As the story unfolds, Claire begins to doubt Gretchen and starts to believe that her new roommate murdered her old one, but all that gets blown away when Gretchen finally does what we all knew was coming from day one and kisses her.

Elsewhere, Peter Petrelli accidentally absorbs the ability of Emma, the deaf mute who sees sounds as colours and the two begin to get to know each other. Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple and before you can say ‘murky past’, hints about Emma accidentally killing someone named Christopher six years ago are thrown up. It also turns out that, when Emma plays music angrily, the colours turn dangerous and lash out at bits of dry wall.

Linking the episode together is Samuel’s circus and his promise that, by the episode’s end, they will have a new member in their family. It’s just tantalising enough to keep you guessing – who is it, Sylar, Peter or Claire?

The best parts of the episode are completely owned by Sylar. No longer bound by the ridiculous conceit that he believes he’s Nathan, everyone’s favourite superpowered murderer is finally free… except he’s got no memory because his mind is busy dicking about with Matt Parkman. Zachary Quinto steals the show here with a phenomenal demonstration of a broken man, aided by some great editing and fairly decent side characters. While the idea that a psycho-analyst would be willing to help an escaped murderer is laughable, it’s all forgiven by the fact that the ball finally starts rolling on whatever Samuel is planning.

Yes, it is light on people being extraordinary or even getting that plot arc moving, but there is a genuine sense that now the pieces are in place and the answers are about to start coming. If it wasn’t for Zachary Quinto, this would be disastrous. As it stands, it’s a marked improvement. If only it would hurry the hell up and get to where it’s going, already.

3 stars.

403 – Acceptance

What the hell is going on? Every time Heroes seems to be finding its feet and preparing to sprint again, the pace slows down so much you can almost feel the writers stumbling on their shoelaces.

This week: Hiro gets trapped in a comedy subplot time paradox thing that sees him repeatedly trying to stop a man committing suicide for being fired. It’s all a smoke and mirrors illusion though – the real point is for Hiro to finally admit to Kimiko that he’s dying. This, unfortunately, takes far too goddamn long to get through and the payoff is something we already know – time itself is making Hiro its bitch, instead of the other way round.

The other major storylines include Tracey getting her old job back working for a governor (last seen briefly at the start of Volume Three) but finds that it’s lacking – before she’s even spent a full day on the job, she starts questioning her life choices.

Elsewhere, Claire – presumably, with very little time actually dedicated to being on campus – pays old man Bennett a visit and tries to help him find a job. Mercifully, he’s not interested and starts looking into the compass plot device, motivated by Peter’s discovery of the tattoo on his arm.

The main thrust of the plot is dedicated to the mind-bogglingly boring journey of Nathan as he learns he’s done terrible things in his past – namely, an accidental killing that was hushed up and forgotten by all involved.

It’s a duff episode, devoid of superheroics, nail-biting decisions or even humour, easily one of the worst in the show’s entire run and that’s saying something. The only saving grace is that the cliffhanger suggests things might finally be about to kick into high gear. Here’s hoping they don’t trip on those laces.

1 star

So it turns out that last week’s opener was one long episode, not two as originally thought. I done fixed it.

402 – Ink

Chapter two brings four smaller storylines into sharper focus, in a notably Hiro-free episode. The main bulk focuses on Samuel getting to know Peter, apparently making sure he’s up to whatever task the circus folk have in mind for the rest of the arc – the previously-glimpsed tattoos of Sylar, Peter and Claire are the only hints we currently have. It’s interesting and well staged, with Robert Knepper’s Samuel slowly becoming an insidious force who corrupts whatever he comes into contact with.

Less interesting is the Claire-Gretchen romance arc, which seems to be taking forever to go in a direction that’s immediately obvious from the off. Claire seems to have gotten over the suicide of her roommate with remarkable speed and spends her time onscreen eating curries with Bennett and wearing skimpy shorts.

Excitingly, there’s also the introduction of a new character, Emma, a deaf woman who seems sound waves as beautiful bursts of colour. It’s had to see how this will tie in with anything and precisely what use it is that she can play a cello and see lovely CGI notes taking to the air. Whatever – she’s an addition to an already overstuffed cast, so perhaps some older characters are about to be shuffled off?

The best scenes this episode are, in sharp contrast to last time, the battle of wills taking place between Matt and Sylar as Parkman tries to find evidence of drug smuggling in a man’s house. Zachary Quinto’s casual delivery pretty much saves the entire episode from slipping into the realms of sub-par, and the set-up seems to suggest that we will have an ‘evil Parkman’ story before the run is out.

A fairly clunky episode reliant on character development over superheroics. Not great, the cliffhanger is a duff one, but a brave episode nonetheless.

3 stars

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

Adam has completely dropped the ball on this week’s comic, so instead we’re going to take a detailed look at the teaser for Heroes Volume Five: Redemption. Is it redemption for the show? Or the characters? Volume Four took a battering for being poorly handled, poorly written and having the same pace as a snail with one eye. With that in mind, let us return like a battered housewife to the show that works to the opposite of the Star Trek rule: odd numbers good, even numbers bad.

Heroes Volume Five Trailer Breakdown

Story:

So, it seems that this time there’s going to be an actual overarching story, focussing on the Heroes equivalent of the Brotherhood of Mutants, led by new villain Samuel – or is he a good guy? It’s not yet been made clear, but you can bet that it won’t be entirely obvious from the outset.

What we can guess is that Samuel is gathering together a great fighting force of Specials for some unknown purpose, and Hiro Nakamura is a vital part of this plan, while several others are standing in the way of it. The plot device for the story seems to revolve around a Pirates-style compass, and it seems that the group of villains – or at least some of them – can travel through time.

His girlfriend has the power of magic tattoos, while Samuel himself, it seems, is psychic, as evidenced by his burying of a grave and throwing another man against a wall.

They seem to have acquired an assassin of some kind, a man armed with two knives reminiscent of Resident Evil: Extinction. Little is known about this man, apart from his super speed. He is shown twirling those knives at a rate of knots normally seen by fast-forwarding a VHS and knocking seven bells out of Tracey later on. It would be safe to assume that he has something to do with the dead man (the unseen Joseph – whatever the plan is, it seems to be entirely his) and is forced into becoming the group’s killing machine. His knives are shown frighteningly close to Bennett’s face.

Hiro:

Despite his body breaking down from his abilities in the closing scenes of the last episode, he appears to back to good health and up to his old tricks. He has magically regained the ability to teleport – maybe he’s unable to control time as a result? Whatever the reason, we’ll finally have more magnificent excuses to go back and forward in time. What is clear is that he’ll be doing it all alone – maybe bringing Ando along was why his body couldn’t handle it? Perhaps he got an injection of Claire’s healing blood? Or possibly a visit from the Plot Contrivance Fairy has sorted out all his problems?

Claire:

It seems that Claire’s dark side flirtations in Volume Three have been well and truly forgotten. In spite of the fact that she could go down the route of Dr Manhattan – and who wouldn’t want to see Claire lose touch with humanity? – we’re to be subjected instead to the young Miss Bennett instead go to college and find love with another woman. Clearly not happy with the ratings slide, Tim Kring appears to be turning Claire gay in exchange for media publicity.

What we do know about her story for the season is that, besides going gay, she will continue to experiment with her powers, as last seen in Volume Two. Her new lesbian friend suggests finding a dead body – who could this be? We’re shown boring bastard Denko crashing to the ground with a knife wound in his head, could she resurrect him? (Note to Kring: don’t let this happen.) Another shot shows an injured Bennett, could she save him? (She’s done this once already, so that’s a no.) Perhaps she’ll heal Joseph’s unfortunate case of death and we’ll find out more about the man one which the whole story seems to hang. Or, maybe, an entirely new character will come back from the dead. Whatever happens, it will either be a huge story-altering decision or a throwaway gag – what if she resurrects someone who committed suicide? Comedy gold, right there.

Ando:

In spite of the fact that Ando is one of the most likeable cast members, he only gets a short look-in on the trailer, shown kissing someone who appears to be Kimiko Nakamura, Hiro’s sister. Unless having the power of red lightening (or was it power enhancement? Get your facts straight, Kring) has managed to significantly alter his standing in Nakamura Industries, you can bet that this is a fantasy sequence.

He is also shown carrying Hiro on a hospital gurney. Perhaps he rushes to his friend’s aid when the aforementioned body breakdown gets too much?

Bennett:

The most consistent in terms of storyline and one of the only watchable parts of Volume Four, the Man with the Horn Rimmed Glasses is seen very little in the trailer. He seems to have a moment with Tracey in which the two reconcile and seem to be putting aside their differences. He even suggests that the two of them are looking for redemption, so at least he’s still divorced. He is also shown with a nasty gut wound lying on some steps – Claire’s college maybe? – and his fate is uncertain. Will HRG be on the receiving end of a cast cut-down? Pray not, his constant good-guy-bad-guy crossovers are endlessly enjoyable. He’s also shown trapped in a flooding car – is Tracey going to try and murder him? Or is this a vision of the future?

Peter:

Back to being a nurse and still appears to have all the abilities he borrowed from Sylar. Does this mean, though, that he can’t touch anyone else, like the X-Men’s Rogue? Or is it selective? Whatever the case, a brief shot of his hand holding the twirling plot device compass confirms that he is, once again, the crux on which the entire story will hang.

Sylar/ Nathan:

The most predictable of the lot, Sylar is set to remember who he is and finally oust Nathan from the cast forever. He will tangle notably with Angela Petrelli and Matt Parkman, as shown by his holding Parkman junior hostage.

We can hope that this means Nathan will finally be killed off – his story finished in Volume Three. Fingers crossed for a return to form for Sylar, who managed to become the greatest, scariest and funniest villain in TV history in the final parts of Villains (‘oooh… cake!’)

Matt Parkman:

Fatherhood has done everyone’s favourite policeman/ detective/ fugitive/ murderer no favours as he seems to believe that having a baby makes him exempt from the world of superheroes. Happily for us, Angela is on hand to bring him back into the game and, failing that, Sylar turns up to get his kid and, with any luck, bump off his annoying ex/ wife. Also shown freaking out in a police cell – does Sylar kidnap his kid?

Angela:

She’s still dreaming the future and talking cryptically to everyone involved. Let’s at least see the bloody nightmares this time around, okay?

Tracey:

Hell hath no fury like a woman who willingly freezes herself to death, gets shot into thousands of pieces and then reforms with power over water. Everyone’s favourite twin/ mental case is going around and killing those with abilities for some unknown reason. It’s shown that the knife-wielding assassin gets up close and personal with Tracey’s stomach. She won’t die, she’s made of water!

Denko:

Shown collapsing to the ground with a knife wound. Hooray!

Mohinder:

Not shown at all. Hooray!

And that brings us to the end of the trailer. Will it be any good? Only time will tell, and unless we manage to bamf into the future and watch the episode on September 21st, we’ll just have to settle for waiting. Come on, Kring, don’t let us down.