Heroes Volume Four, Chapter Eight: Into Asylum

Dear Heroes,

For future reference, please note the following:

If the promo for an upcoming episode includes previously-unseen footage of Mohinder, please make sure the episode in question actually has Mohinder in it.

This holds particularly true if the footage: a) shows Mohinder wearing a ridiculous yet fetching paperboy cap a la Newsies, and b) is paired with a cheeky narration about how Sylar is “back on the prowl,” thus raising hopes the episode will feature a triumphant return to the wildly entertaining and vaguely homoerotic Sylar-Mohinder escapades of seasons past.

That is all.

Hugs and kisses,


Patzcuaro, Mexico: Nathan and Claire check into a hotel. Nathan claims he’s trying to protect Claire: “Even Danko’s reach doesn’t extend south of the border.” I don’t know about that, Nathan. Danko’s goons nabbed Hiro in Tokyo, after all. Claire pawns a necklace (she makes a quip about getting quick cash by selling her kidneys twice over. Aw, I like Claire when she’s being funny). Nathan tries to do his part to raise money by getting into a drinking contest with some frat boys. He loses, but Claire and her indestructible liver are game for a rematch. She gets blitzed on tequila, bitches about Nathan, and drinks a frat boy under the table.

Back at the hotel, a drunk and weepy Nathan tells a sober and weepy Claire, “I get a pit in my stomach every time I think of you.” I usually get a wave of nausea every time I think of Claire, but she may be my favorite character this episode. In the morning, Nathan pawns his watch to get Claire’s necklace back, and they head back to the States.

In New York, Angela and Peter get rained on a lot. They take refuge in a cathedral, where Angela frets about how she can’t have any prophetic visions because she’s not getting enough sleep. She also frets about how she didn’t give Peter enough support as a child and how he must hate her as a result. Angela, I am sad to say, is a total drip this episode. Angela prays; Peter wallows in self-pity. It is theoretically possible, I suppose, for this plotline to be even crappier, but as it stands, it’s pretty wretched. Angela rambles on about how she once wanted to be a schoolteacher, but then she developed her ability and realized the world was an awful place, so she had to become evil and manipulative instead. She tells Peter, with maximum sanctimony, “It’s the price I chose to pay to save the world.” This is the precise moment when I start to loathe Angela, just a little. When Danko’s goons invade the cathedral, Bennet spots Peter and Angela, but lets them go. Angela then has a vision which tells her to find Nathan and Claire to reunite the family before going in search of her sister.

Arlington, Virginia: Danko and Bennet find three murdered agents who were on the trail of some guy named Martin, who is in possession of an unknown ability. Danko returns to his car to find a friendly and flirtatious Sylar in the back seat. Sylar offers to help Danko track down Martin. For some reason known only to some lonely soul in the music department, Del Shannon’s “Runaway” plays during this scene.

Back at Building 26, Bennet is still trying to sell Danko on his “One of us, one of them” approach. Give it a rest, Noah! That ship has sailed. Sylar mails Danko the body of another agent killed by Martin and fills Danko in on Martin’s ability: shape-shifting. Danko and Sylar meet up again at Martin’s house. When Danko threatens to shoot Sylar, Sylar scoffs, “The part of my brain that you’d need to hit to kill me is microscopic.” Huh? Since when? They’re just making this stuff up as they go along, aren’t they? Sylar and Danko sort through all of Martin’s crap to find some clue to his location, all while indulging in a buttload of that armchair psychoanalysis Heroes does so well (poorly. I meant to write “poorly”). Sylar finds a matchbook for a nightclub and deduces that this is where Martin hangs out every night. As a detective, Sylar, you’re a outstanding serial killer.

Danko and Sylar head off to the flashy nightclub together, which is the setup for a slash fiction story I never want to read. The shape-shifter: a) has chosen to impersonate Danko, and b) is currently nuzzling with a hot twenty-something brunette. Credulity is officially strained.

Martin spots Sylar and Danko and takes off. He mimics Sylar, but Danko isn’t fooled. He lures him outside and shoots him, but leaves him alive so Sylar can steal his ability. Danko triumphantly presents Bennet with the corpse of “Sylar”, then takes off with the real Sylar, who is having far too much fun with his new shape-shifting ability.

Huh. A mixed bag. Of the three plotlines, the Claire-Nathan one was cute but inessential, the Sylar-Danko one was pretty spiffy, and the Angela-Peter one was right on the cusp of unwatchable. Overall, the episode falls squarely in the middle of the road. Would the sight of Mohinder in a paperboy cap have bumped up the score? Yes. Yes, it most certainly would. Perhaps next episode.


Ingrid Richter said…
Good review, Morgan! Odd episode: I found one-third of it interesting (Sylar/Danko), one-third tedious & boring (Angela/Peter) and one-third completely nonsensical (Nathan/Claire).

I suppose they picked "Runaway" for soggy Sylar and the line "I'm walking in the rain; tears are falling and I feel no pain."

Really should have gone with the Weather Sisters "It's Raining Men" instead...
Morgan Richter said…
That Peter-Angela drivel might have been the worst subplot in Heroes history. Yes, worse than the Indian wedding. Gah! Between Angela tearfully confessing that she had to be evil to save the world and Peter angrily railing at Jesus for not answering his prayers, it was pretty much total unadulterated crap.

(Peter has a rather literal interpretation of the power of prayer. Then again, he's died and come back to life at least three times, and Nathan has died and come back to life once, so maybe he has reason to feel like Jesus is his own personal wish-granting genie.)

And, seriously? I don't care about Angela's sister, whomever she may be. I don't care about finding out more about Angela's past. Really. Not interested. If there was one thing we learned from this episode, it's that the more we find out about Angela, the less interesting she becomes. Move along, Heroes. There's nothing to see here.

The Claire-Nathan plot was sheer filler (they go to Mexico to hide! and then they decide they don't need to hide, so they go back to the States!), but hey, it was watchable filler.

Sylar as a shape-shifter opens up all kinds of dazzling possibilities. It was the single development in the episode of which I wholeheartedly approved. At least Quinto was firing on all cylinders last night. Oh, Sylar. You can be my little runaway any time.
Morgan Dodge said…
I missed big chunks of this episode, and based upon your review I'm pretty sure I didn't miss anything. This was a half-watch it episode if I've ever half-watched one. And in my state of having half-watched it I quite liked it.

I'm trying to figure out if Angela P. was implying that her sister is biblical, as she looked up at the stained glass window?

I predict that Sylar shape shifts into the shape of Mohinder's girlfriend next week. Slash fiction that teenage girls of the world. (To the tune of "It's Raining Men," just for Ingrid.)
Morgan Richter said…
Clearly that's the higher purpose of having a cool shape-shifting power: playing sexy and inappropriate mindgames on Mohinder. Obviously.

Or maybe that's just what I'd do with a cool shape-shifting power. In any case, with or without sexy and inappropriate mindgames, I'm quite pleased with this development. Did it make up for lowering both Peter and Angela in my estimation by turning them into a couple of whiny, entitled snots? Not really. Still, I dug it.

There was something kind of poignant in Nathan's realization he can no longer drink brawny frat boys under the table. Getting old is hell, Nathan. Also, Nathan is kind of a fun weepy drunk.
Ingrid Richter said…
"I'm going to go out and let myself get absolutely soaking wet!" Aw, thanks, Boy-Morgan!

I'm hoping Sylar's shape-shifting power means we're not going to see less of Quinto as an actor. Because that's usually how it works on television.

On the other hand, it means we can finally have, say, Isaac Mendez pop up again... so thumbs up!
Anonymous said…
Great recap and supplementary analysis!

Things I liked about this episode:

1. Claire's new haircut. Oh come on, Mohinder wasn't even in this episode and we still get lots about him. I'm allowed to notice.

Things I hated:

1. Nathan is the WORST father ever. Yes, his stuff with Claire down in Mexico was sweet, and fair enough the poor guy is sorry he missed out on so much when she was growing up, blah blah blah. But he does have two other children, who he never sees, so he could just try and get fatherhood right second time around. And isn't it very likely they will have powers? In which case the way he went to the president to start this crusade was pretty poor long term planning. What is it about these fathers that Claire is the only one of their children that they take an interest in?

2. Peter in the church was beyond cringe. Those of us who do go to church can understand that in moments of crisis and despair one might very well say the things he did. Some of us might well have been angry about things in church in the past, and I'm sure all of us can understand how this might happen. But I guarantee you that NO ONE actually says these things in church OUT LOUD. Especially if other people are in the church. Come on, does anyone ever do that except on tv?

3. Angela Angela. You only became bad to save the world, you always meant well. Angela Angela... Are we meant to forget that your plan in season one was to blow up New York city and make your son president of the United States? Yes, you always meant well.

Patrick (who has forgotten his password!)
Ingrid Richter said…
Ah, but Claire has the Power of Pretty, Patrick (excellent analysis, BTW). Never underestimate the power of pretty.

I lost much love for Peter & Angela this episode. Kept hoping the Kurgan from Highlander would stride down the aisles and shut them up...
Patrick said…
It was actually the first password I tried, not sure what happened!

Not sure if any of you are/were West Wing fans but if so I think we must follow Josh in season 6 and find our Santos - find our new show in the summer that we will follow next year. I fear for Heroes and I think we have to be prepared for the worst. But we can still go on... Can't we?

I am thinking a lot about the West Wing because Aaron Sorkin controlled everything in the scripts for the years he was there. Bryan Fuller did great work last week, but whoever was responsible for this week's mess should be sacked. Fuller needs to be given control over all the episodes, and he needs to be responsible for deleting all of the junk that other writers put in. For example, what Morgan rightly noted about Sylar and the microscopic part of the brain that he needs to be hit in. Or the usual Heroes thing of going somewhere like Mexico just to go back again.

And the idea that the shapeshifter found that the best way to pick up girls in a nightclub was by impersonating powerful men was CRAZY! if that's all he's after he would just bump into George Clooney, Brad Pitt, or Mohinder, and spend the rest of his happy days living off that. And there is NO WAY looking like Danko would have worked in ANY nightclub. Come off it. Only if the shapeshifter had a very charismatic personality - in which case he wouldn't need to be shapeshifting.

Mr. Sorkin would never have allowed this... Even at his most distracted.
Morgan Richter said…
1. Claire's new haircut.

No argument here. Her hair did look really cute. I found myself being oddly pro-Claire this episode, hairstyle and all. Weird.

What is it about these fathers that Claire is the only one of their children that they take an interest in?

Well, Patrick, it's because Claire is just a little bit more special than most people. Point well taken, though. It'd be swell if we saw some indication that Nathan even remembered he has another couple of biological children somewhere out there.

Peter in the church was beyond cringe.

It was mortifying to watch. I can only imagine Milo's crushing humiliation at having to act it. It's my pick for the single worst-written scene in Heroes history, narrowly edging out West's inane "Are you a robot, or an alien?" babble to Claire. I rewatched that scene this afternoon, just to see if I'd been unfairly harsh about it, and... nope. It's awful. Sure, there's nothing uncommon about railing at God during times of strife, but wow, Peter, that was just lame.

(Back in high school, Ingrid and I had a book of monologues for actors. One of the monologues was the scene from The Breakfast Club where Emilio Estevez tearfully recounts the time he taped some guy's ass cheeks together. We always thought this would be an outstandingly sucky drama-class monologue, but seriously, I think Peter berating Jesus might be just a little bit suckier. It'd certainly stop any self-respecting acting class right in its tracks.)

Angela Angela. You only became bad to save the world, you always meant well.

Not terribly convincing, is it? “It’s the price I chose to pay to save the world.” Oh, Angela, would that we all could be as noble and selfless as you.

I lost much love for Peter & Angela this episode.

So did I! I've never disliked either one before, yet now, in one fell swoop, they're both in the doghouse.

And there is NO WAY looking like Danko would have worked in ANY nightclub.

Yeah. I will admit that Zeljko Ivanek has a certain charisma, and there's more to life than just appearance, but honestly, impersonating a short, middle-aged bald guy is not the way to pick up hot twentysomething chicks in a nightclub.
Ingrid Richter said…
And there is NO WAY looking like Danko would have worked in ANY nightclub.

Aw, give Danko a break! At least he got to swill martinis and smooch an attractive gal. That's what we'd call a good day of filming...
Morgan Richter said…
I fear for Heroes and I think we have to be prepared for the worst. But we can still go on... Can't we?

We shall prevail. It's frustrating having these dizzying swings in quality -- last week made me optimistic that finally they were starting to get a handle on the problems with the writing (i.e. the great, all-encompassing sloppiness), but then this week dashed those hopes. I'm still holding onto a faint optimism that Fuller's influence will be enough to pull up the overall quality, not just the episodes he pens.

And if not, there are other shows out there, somewhere, waiting to be watched and discussed...
Patrick said…
Excellent point that Danko found 'a friendly and flirtatious Sylar in the back seat'. That's exactly what I thought all through the episode. Well, first I was thinking that Sylar does seem to getting more and more handsome and dashing every episode. And then that the dashingness seems to be a little directed at Danko...

Danko's actions make perfect sense. Oh wait. To recap. He hates people with powers. He doesn't trust Sylar. But he leaves the shapeshifter alive so that Sylar can steal his power. Because that's exactly the kind of power you want someone like Sylar to have. For someone so against the 'One of us, one of them' rule ten minutes earlier he took to it pretty quickly. So now his plan is to kill all the people with powers, letting Sylar steal them along the way, and hope that in some way that fulfils his objective of making the world a safer place? Although I suppose he did try and blow up Washington DC. Almost as believable as watching him with the girl in the nightclub.

He's certainly getting cosy with Sylar. He probably goes to sleep every night dreaming that he's Captain Kirk.
Morgan Richter said…
Danko's actions make perfect sense.

Well, sure. Just let Sylar kill off every single super-powered person in the world. Then all Danko has to do is kill the immortal guy with the billion super-powers. Should be a cake walk.

In Danko's defense, when Sylar comes to you and proposes a madcap scheme to work together, it's probably not a good idea to tell him, "No, you know what, I think I'm going to do my own thing and try to kill you, thanks."

Well, first I was thinking that Sylar does seem to getting more and more handsome and dashing every episode.

Remember the early days of Sylar when he was the gross and creepy brain-eating dude who lurked in shadows? Then we found out he's actually sort of socially maladroit and dweeby (yet still gross and creepy). And then he discovered hair gel and the importance of wearing all black, and boom: Sylar's a hottie.

And then that the dashingness seems to be a little directed at Danko...

And yet somehow it was sexier back when Sylar was flirting his way across Montana with Mohinder during the Sexy Roadtrip of Sexy Awesomeness. (Deep, poignant sigh.) Still, Danko seems duly flattered and ego-boosted by Sylar's interest in him.

Do we have a pick yet as to who's going to kill Danko at the end of the volume (oh, come on, you know someone's going to do it). Sylar? Matt? Nathan? HRG? A vengeance-driven Micah?
Dan said…
Ugh. I did worse than you guys. I was bored silly by both Angela/Peter (I sure hope it's revealed at a later point that Jesus got all his kick-ass powers because of an eclipse) and Claire-Bear/Nathan (despite Tequila Guy's best efforts to channel Luke Perry).

I never thought I'd say this, but... can we have the Baby Matt Parkman plot back, please?

Also, I cast my vote for an all Del Shannon Heroes soundtrack.

... impersonating a short, middle-aged bald guy is not the way to pick up hot twentysomething chicks in a nightclub.

Then I shall stop trying immediately.

No, wait, I'm tall. Phew. I'm okay.

Except that I'm also married. Hmmm... Probably best to scrap the whole idea, really.
Ingrid Richter said…
Fake-Danko's seduction technique: "Hey baby, I work for a top-secret government agency. We kidnap people we don't like, make them wear orange jumpsuits, stick tubes up their noses, and sometimes chain them up and throw water on them, but only if they're exceptionally sexy. Are you turned on yet? Want to make out?"
Morgan Richter said…
Forward momentum! That's what the show needs a big heaping dose of. Three plotlines, two of which did not move the overarching story forward one whit: Claire and Nathan went to Mexico, accomplished nothing, and left Mexico. Angela and Peter whined around a church. Okay, at the end Angela had her vision about visiting her sister, and maybe that might lead into something crucual to the plot, but there's no bloody reason why she couldn't have had her vision at the start of an episode and gone to find her sister without indulging in all that tedious filler. Really, the only thing that was decisively accomplished was Sylar nabbing the shape-shifting ability. This is awesome and cool, of course, but we're within sprinting distance of the end of the season -- more needs to be happening. Much, much more.

(And here is where presumably the writers would make an argument that this episode provided valuable character development: we learned more about Nathan's daddy issues! And about Peter's crumbling faith and how Angela only does evil things for the ultimate good of society! To which I reply: 1) In any action-oriented series, please make your character development emerge organically through the action, not through long, static, crushingly boring scenes, and 2) particularly in regard to Angela, character development doesn't count if it contradicts everything we've learned about this character to date.)

"Hey baby, I work for a top-secret government agency. We kidnap people we don't like, make them wear orange jumpsuits, stick tubes up their noses, and sometimes chain them up and throw water on them, but only if they're exceptionally sexy. Are you turned on yet? Want to make out?"

Well, I'm sold! Where do I sign up? Are sexy heat lamps also somehow involved? Could you strap a bomb to my chest and dump me off in a public location for no real reason? Because that would be awesome!
Morgan Richter said…
Ha! Just checked my site stats, and I had a surge of hits yesterday from people looking for "Mohinder paperboy hat." I see I'm not the only one who feels terribly hoodwinked and misled by the NBC promo department. I feel like we should start a petition or something.
Ingrid Richter said…
"Huxtry! Huxtry! Read all about it!" Much as I love Mohinder, I'm not quite sure the world is ready for the return of newsboy caps.
Morgan Richter said…
"Get yer papes!" I'm already working on a narrative in which Mohinder, having lost his job as a cab driver, is forced to shill newspapers on street corners. This plotline will be punctuated with plenty of high-kicking, jazz-handy, show-stopping dance numbers.

...what? Can you honestly say that would be worse than the Peter-Angela chuch plotline?
Morgan Richter said…
I feel like I'm spamming my own comments section, but here's a pretty interesting interview with Bryan Fuller about the script problems:

"As an audience member, I could see the issues and why people were frustrated with it. [...] To be honest, I was absolutely "I'll be right over," and they sent me the episodes that completed the "Villains" arc. After I finished watching them, I wasn't sure I could do this. I didn't recognize the show anymore. It had become something else entirely. My favorite characters had become my least favorite, and there was a second I thought I had to get out of this."

"I just really wanted to get everything back to a character base. I think character was shoved aside for plot. [...] Mohinder went from a noble scientist to being a mad scientist with Jeff Goldblum hair and wardrobe. Claire became so strident and unlikable because she was just whining, bitching and holding a gun."

Yup. Yup, yup, yup. Granted, there's still a gap between identifying the problem and fixing the problem, but it's nice that they've got at least one key member of the creative team who has a handle on the situation.

I'm trying not to be so crabby about Monday's episode, but I think I'm just peeved by the inessentiality of it. The entire Claire-Nathan plotline could have been dispensed with in a couple lines of dialogue at the end of the prior episode:

(Nathan hovers with Claire outside her bedroom window while Danko's goons search the Bennet house)

NATHAN: I'm taking you to Mexico! You'll be safe there!

CLAIRE: We can't run forever. Let's stay and fight!

NATHAN: Okey-dokey.

Ditto for Peter-Angela:

(Peter and Angela stand in the Statue of Liberty's head and stare moodily out over the water.)

ANGELA: I just had a vision. Let's grab Nathan and Claire and go see my sister!

Economy in storytelling. It's a good thing.
Ingrid Richter said…
But... but... how would they fill an entire hour that way?

Answer to self: a Sylar/Danko montage set to Del Shannon, of course!
Morgan Richter said…
As long as they were using Del Shannon tunes, I wish they could have found a way to work in "Hats Off To Larry" too ("Hats off to Larry, he broke your heaaaaaaart...")

(As Ingrid knows well, I have a weird "Hats Off To Larry" fetish. Once when she was out visiting me, we went to Johnny Rockets (a chain of cheeseball faux-Fifties diners), and I refused to leave until "Hats Off To Larry" came up on the jukebox.)

(We haven't even mentioned the episode's other totally bizarre song choice: The Animals' "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place." I'm convinced their music person just hit shuffle on his/her iPod and stuck in the first couple of songs that came up.)

Other ways to fill the half-hour or so that would have been freed up by getting rid of the Nathan-Claire and Peter-Angela rubbish: someone could have thrown more buckets of water on Mohinder, or even manhandled him sexily. Or they could have just, I don't know, actually advanced the plot in some way? Maybe?
Dan said…
Answer to self: a Sylar/Danko montage set to Del Shannon, of course!

You've sold me. I'd watch that for 42 minutes - particularly if, at the end, Sylar morphed into people of all colours and creeds a la the end of Michael Jackson's Black or White.

"Hey baby, I work for a top-secret government agency. We kidnap people we don't like, make them wear orange jumpsuits, stick tubes up their noses, and sometimes chain them up and throw water on them, but only if they're exceptionally sexy. Are you turned on yet? Want to make out?"

"I have to warn you thought, I'm kinda seeing this guy and he can get a bit... psycho."
Morgan Richter said…
On the bright side, NBC has an advance clip of next week's episode, and it looks somewhat promising, maybe? Matt is swearing vengeance and giving Mohinder manly hugs, so I'm sure we can all agree this is an improvement...

...just me? Okay, then.
madhatter said…
Does anyone know the title of the song playing in the night club when Sylar and Danko arrived (before the break) ?

madhatter said…
I found it. :D

Title is Warhead played by Zircon.
Morgan Richter said…
Cool. Glad you found it, madhatter. I had absolutely no clue.

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