Heroes Volume Two Analysis: Mohinder Suresh

Subject: Mohinder Suresh

Volume Two Summary: Cohabitated with Matt and Molly. Infiltrated the Company as part of a cockamamie scheme with Noah Bennet to take it down. Cured the Haitian of the Shanti virus with his blood. Partnered up with Niki. Got his nose broken by Niki. Went around with an unflattering nose bandage for far too many episodes. Fell out with Bennet. Got his nose broken again by Bennet. Shot Bennet in the eye. Resurrected Bennet with Claire’s blood. Got kidnapped by Sylar. Resurrected Maya after Sylar shot her. Inadvertently restored Sylar’s abilities.

Analysis: Whatever your opinion of Mohinder, you can’t say he was boring in Volume Two. Peter Petrelli? Peter was kind of boring in Volume Two. Hiro? Also kind of boring. Mohinder? More fun than a barrel of greased-up drunken monkeys.

Hurricane Mohinder got off to a brilliant start in Volume Two, what with infiltrating the Company and tricking Bob -- and the viewers -- into thinking the Haitian wiped his brain (well played, Heroes, for neatly skewering the preconception of Mohinder as a dim bulb). And then it all went horribly awry as he suffered a series of catastrophes, some beyond his control, some of his own making: Molly fell into a coma, the deadly Shanti virus mutated beyond his ability to cure it, his partnership with Bennet ended in bloodshed, and that was all before he came home to find Sylar cooking him breakfast.

Right from the start, Mohinder’s team-up with Bennet was a bad idea. As the season opened, their partnership was already established, which denied us vital bits of information as to why Mohinder thought this wouldn’t end in disaster, considering the way Bennet and Mohinder clashed throughout Volume One. It seemed like the show had this cool idea for an end result -- Mohinder shooting Bennet, as predicted in one of Isaac Mendez’s paintings -- but had difficulty shoehorning events and characters into place to make it work. Thus, all the key players in this plotline were forced to make enormous blunders. To wit:

1. Bennet murdered Ivan and left his fingerprints all over the crime scene, which let the Company know what he was up to and shook Mohinder’s faith in their partnership.

2. Claire, under explicit orders to keep a low profile, pulled a dumb public stunt that led the Company to her doorstep.

3. Bennet abandoned Mohinder in his time of crisis and, worse, let Mohinder know he considered him expendable.

4. Mohinder went along with Bob’s plan to kidnap Claire for her blood to save Niki.

More than the act of shooting Bennet, done to prevent him from killing Bob, this last part was Mohinder’s biggest misstep. Mohinder has a history of making well-intentioned errors in judgment, but he’s got a crisply defined sense of right and wrong. By the time you participate in a kidnapping, you know you’re not working on the side of the angels, and thus Mohinder’s involvement in this seemed… improbable. Mohinder wouldn’t endanger Claire to save Niki. Hell, he probably wouldn’t endanger Claire to save Molly. His actions didn’t make sense, and they damaged his character.

Mohinder went along with the plan for one reason: because the plot required him to go along with it. That’s not good enough. The showdown was an intriguing idea that fell apart under scrutiny and left the audience with a lingering fear that Bennet and Mohinder were a couple of idiots.

If Mohinder lost ground in this plotline, he made up for it with the awesomeness he showed in his encounter with Sylar. My very clever sister uses a rock-paper-scissors metaphor to explain the Mohinder-Sylar dynamic: Sylar can beat everyone else, and everyone else can beat Mohinder (before you argue that point, remember he got his nose broken twice this season)… but Mohinder can beat Sylar. While he may not have defeated Sylar in the season finale, he was marvelously snotty and gutsy in his dealings with him. Only Mohinder can get away with bullying Sylar without getting his head ripped off. He’s becoming Sylar’s weak spot -- he’s now twice walked away from dangerous encounters with him -- which is fascinating and weird and kind of sexy all at once.

Prognosis: Pretty healthy. Apart from some bizarre and under-motivated behavior, Mohinder had himself a pretty successful season. No reason he can’t keep up the momentum.

Suggested Course of Action: I’ll be honest: Sendhil Ramamurthy’s beauty is so much fun to look at that I’m always going to enjoy Mohinder’s plotline, even when he’s not doing anything of interest (remember in the first season when Mohinder went to India and took a lot of naps?). Still, it’s even better when he actually gets good stuff to do.

First off, and to reinforce a plea I’ve made before, the show needs to hire a science advisor. For a top-rated, Emmy-nominated, prime-time network series with a premise based upon a hypothetical scientific event (the evolution of supernatural abilities), it has no excuse for being so sloppy in this area. The science is bad, and, as Heroes’ resident science guru, this hurts Mohinder the most. Mohinder’s passive immunity to the Shanti virus is a big example of the sloppiness: somehow, the concept of a mother passing antibodies on to her unborn child has evolved in the Heroes universe into Mohinder having magical virus-curing blood. Mohinder, in all earnestness, refers to a virus that has infected two people thirty years apart as a “plague”. He creates a universal heal-everything serum by mixing his blood with Claire’s. This is lazy, and silly, and could be avoided by having a qualified consultant vet the scripts before filming.

In a nice change of pace from all the solo plotlines this season, Mohinder interacted with a staggering number of characters: Matt, Molly, Sylar, Maya, Nathan (okay, they didn’t really interact, per se, but they were in the same room with each other at one point), Niki, Monica, Bennet, Claire (where “interacted” means “shot her dad in front of her”), Bob, and Elle. He’s starting to fulfill his purpose as the Great Uniter, the eventual Professor X to this motley bunch of possible future superheroes. In Volume Three, it’d be nice to bring the remaining characters into his orbit: it’s high time he met Hiro, and it’s long past time he was reconciled with Peter (bonus points if he manages to make any friends. For such a gentle soul, he’s got a knack for alienating people). It’d also be swell to see him cross paths with Adam Monroe: Mohinder seems to naturally gravitate toward evildoers (outside of his complex relationship with Sylar, he’s had friendships or partnerships with Bob, Elle, Thompson, Eden, and Bennet), whereas Adam is partial to sweet-natured gullible young things, if his friendships with Peter and Hiro are any indication. He’d have gobs of fun with Mohinder.

As awesome as Mohinder is, he needs to knock it off with the hissyfits. In Volume One, he tossed a laptop across the room in a fit of pique; in Volume Two, he hurled a stool into a cabinet to protest Bob’s request to inject Monica with the virus. These tantrums make him seem ineffectual and weak. He’s much better served when he limits his wrath to moments that really deserve it -- like in the first season when he became Heroes’ official avenging angel by going balls-out ballistic, to the edge of gratuitous sadism, against Sylar. Nothing ineffectual or weak about him there; in fact, he was downright scary.

By the second season’s end, Mohinder was still working for the Company, though it seems pretty well indicated he doesn’t trust them: he knows Bob has secret surveillance cameras in his laboratory, and he knows the Company didn’t tell him about keeping Sylar alive. Volume Three should have him stick to his original plan to take down the Company, as pulling this off would go a long way toward redeeming his errors in judgment in his dealings with Bob and Bennet. Care should be taken not to let his gullibility cross into foolishness. His natural credulity can be delightful, such as when he showed up on Sylar’s doorstep and wound up traveling cross-country with the man who, unbeknownst to him, was the killer he came to New York to find in the first place (doesn’t it seem like this sort of thing happens all the time to Mohinder?). It’s less delightful when he ends up shooting someone in the head because he’s listening to the wrong people.

What with the aforementioned head-shooting, there seems to be an inclination toward moving Mohinder into more morally dubious territory. I hope they don’t, for reasons I’ve gone into at great length before. You know what’s more fun than morally ambiguous Mohinder? Sexually ambiguous Mohinder. Between his are-they-or-aren’t-they living situation with Matt and his charged encounters with Sylar, the door is left wide open on this, and it’s ripe with possibilities.

Throw him in Sylar’s path as much as possible, because they really do bring out the best in each other. At the beginning of the series, Sylar was a shadowy apparition who committed ghastly murders, whereas Mohinder was a pretty fellow who made a lot of phone calls in his dark apartment and frowned at maps. Then Mohinder knocked on Sylar’s door in the episode “Run!”, and suddenly their characters began to take shape and sizzle. Volume Two only magnified their chemistry.

Also, don’t break his nose again. I suppose this was a bone tossed to those who feel Mohinder would benefit from a good punch in the face every now and then, but it sums up how Heroes sabotaged itself at every turn last season. Much in the way it took the most charming and enthusiastic character -- Hiro -- and left him to flounder in a charmless solo plot, it took the most beautiful character -- Mohinder -- and wrecked his face. Heroes, you’ve got an awful lot going for you, but you should be trying to attract viewers, not drive them away.

Next Subject: Oh, let’s go with… Sylar.


Alicia said…
While watching season two I had a difficult time, as you did, reconciling Mohinder's character with the choices he made to sacrifice one person to save another, or do a bad deed in order to do a good deed, because like you say, the whole "kidnap Claire to save Niki" decision really isn't him; Mohinder doesn't think of people or morals in that relativistic manner. I pondered it and came to the only conclusion I could, that the company (its structure, how it's basically autonomous and wields its power and influence without any outside control or restriction) corrupts people in it. To specify, it's not because the people in it are bad and corrupt that the company is, but rather the other way around, and through the last episodes of season two I kept praying Mohinder would realize this and get the hell out of there before he stopped being himself.

But then, I do tend to try to interpret the plot with as positive an attitude I can, rather than saying the writers just royally fucked it up. But you're right, they probably didn't know what the hell they were doing. :P

I agree with most things you write here, but I'm not so sure about sexually ambiguous Mohinder instead of morally ambiguous Mohinder. I think in season two he seems to have moved pass sexulity and into the more or less asexual realm of fatherhood, which I liked because I always liked that Mohinder, since season one, has had objectives other than sexual relationships. I'm with you that he should be thrown in the path of Sylar as often as possible (my dream scenario for season three is a vary partnership between them to take down the company), but I'd rather not they made it more blatantly sexual than the actors' chemistry already makes it.

Interesting article all around! I'm looking forward to reading about Sylar.
Morgan Richter said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Morgan Richter said…
Hi, Alicia. Thanks for commenting (are you the Alicia who's also Medoroa on LJ, or some other Alicia? (deleted my earlier comment because I was mixing you up with Weaselistic -- sorry!). I'm interested in seeing how Mohinder's arc with the Company plays out -- I cut the show some slack because I know the season got botched a bit due to circumstances beyond its control, but it still seems as though plot decisions were made that, as presented, don't make much sense. Mohinder's decision to go along with the plan to kidnap Claire is a big problem for me.

Yeah -- to be clear, I'd pitch a fit if the show ever tried to suggest the possibility of a functional sexual relationship between Sylar and Mohinder (the whole you-killed-my-father business is a dealbreaker), but I do I like the ambiguity of Mohinder's leanings. I like that, unlike Peter and Hiro, there was no attempt to stick Mohinder in a hasty romance this season, hetero or otherwise.
Alicia said…
Yeah, that Alicia is me. Weaselistic is Anna. I'll be linking this blog entry to her when I talk to her, though, and I'm sure she'll love it. :)
Morgan Richter said…
Cool -- give my best to Anna when you talk to her.

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