Heroes Volume Two Analysis: Matt Parkman

Subject: Matt Parkman

Volume Two Summary: Divorced his pregnant wife and shacked up with Mohinder to help raise Molly. Became an NYPD detective. Investigated Kaito Nakamura’s murder. Discovered his long-lost father was somehow tied to the murder case. Used Molly’s ability to find his father. Accidentally drove Molly into a coma. Battled his father on some kind of astral plane and rescued Molly from her coma. Developed cool new Jedi Mind-Control™ powers. Promptly used Jedi Mind-Control™ powers for evil. Teamed up with Nathan and Hiro to stop Adam Monroe and Peter from unleashing the virus.

Analysis: Consistent and logical character development? Check. Interaction with a variety of characters? Check. Involvement in an intriguing plot? Check.

All right, Heroes. Congratulations. Job well done.

All along, Matt Parkman, as ably portrayed by Greg Grunberg, has never been the most exciting character, but he’s always been a consummate team player. In Volume Two, he showed his value. While showponies Claire and Peter floundered in tedious and inconsistent plotlines, workhorse Matt went in and got the job done.

Volume Two built on Matt’s character development in Volume One, in which he was a likeable, good-hearted guy with a tendency toward small yet understandable moral transgressions. In the first season, Matt used his new-found telepathy to hold together his crumbling marriage by deceiving his wife. Later, he pocketed the diamonds in the chaos following Jessica’s assassination of Linderman’s corrupt henchman. We also saw a glimpse of an Evil Alternate Future Matt in the episode “Five Years Gone”, in which it became clear Matt’s accumulated moral failings have corrupted him beyond repair.

In Volume Two, Matt indulged in a few more slight moral transgressions, all of which seemed consistent with his character. (This was in stark contrast to the attempts to pull Mohinder and Peter into morally nebulous territory, which came out of nowhere). Matt badgered Molly into finding his father above her objections, used his telepathy to pass his detective exam, and used his new Jedi Mind-Control™ both to force Angela Petrelli to reveal information and to manipulate his boss into letting him continue working on the Kaito Nakamura murder case. While ostensibly he left Janice because he discovered his former partner was the real father of her baby, it was implied in the episode “Fight or Flight” that not only is Matt is the real father, but also that he knows this and abandoned her anyway. Matt’s a good guy, and it’s far from preordained that he’ll turn out to be a bad egg… but the door to evil opened a little wider this season.

Overall, Matt kept his plotline consistently interesting. His father Maury -- Molly’s dreaded “Nightmare Man” -- wasn’t the most diabolical villain ever (no matter how much Molly talked him up last season as being “worse than Sylar”, he still seemed more pathetic than fearsome), but Matt’s battle against a lifetime’s worth of daddy issues was nicely handled. Matt formed a fun, easy camaraderie with Nathan (it’s good to see at least one healthy adult friendship on the show) and displayed some nice teamwork at the climax by joining Hiro and Nathan to stop Adam and Peter.

Prognosis: Healthy. Slow and steady won this race.

Suggested Course of Action: The expansion of Matt’s powers opens up new possibilities for the character. Whereas Matt’s telepathy in Volume One mostly brought him pain (physical pain in the form of crippling headaches and nosebleeds; emotional pain in the form of marital strife and job difficulties), with his powerful Jedi Mind-Control™, Matt is officially becoming a force to be reckoned with.

Have him build a better relationship with his glamorous gadabout roommate, Mohinder. It was natural enough that they bickered their way through Volume Two -- apart from their mutual love for Molly and their mutual daddy issues, they don’t have much common ground -- but now it’s time to knock off the squabbling, if only because little Molly has been through enough trauma in her young life already. Have him hang out with Nathan more, too, because buddying around with Nathan appears to bring out the best in everyone (Exhibit A: Peter. Exhibit B: Claire. Exhibit C: Hiro).

Keep the building of Matt’s inner darkness steady and gradual. It would hurt to see fun, kind-hearted Matt drift over to the Dark Side™ (keeping with the Jedi analogy, you understand), but in terms of keeping the character fresh and interesting, it might be the best possible thing for him. In any case, whichever path he follows, Matt’s character development appears to be in capable hands. If only the rest of the cast could say the same.

Next Subject: Duck, Nathan, duck!


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