Heroes Volume Five, Chapter Three: Ink

Okay, look: Seeing how Mohinder’s going to be MIA for another, oh, eight episodes or so, I’m not going to waste our time whining about his absence. Here’s the thing, though: I know the producers and writers have made a big fuss about how this season is all about smaller, more personal stories involving fewer characters at a time, and Mohinder just drew the short (really short -- downright microscopic) straw for these introductory episodes. Seriously, though, the back half of this season better be Mohinder-heavy, with virtually no Claire, to make things right with me. It seems like we’re getting double-doses of Claire, at the expense of Mohinder, and that’s just plain wrong.

Speaking of Claire… She’s busy avoiding Gretchen, who is chock full of questions about how Claire jumped out of a window and didn’t, like, die. When Gretchen does finally corner her, she asks Claire, “What are you, a vampire, an alien?”, which comes uncomfortably close to West’s uber-irritating “Are you a robot or an alien?” babble in Volume Two. Is Gretchen this volume’s West? Discuss. Bennet, who seems pretty hale and hearty considering he got gutted by Edgar toward the end of last episode, shows up at Claire’s dorm and offers to take her to lunch. He fails to pick up on Claire’s unsubtle hints and invites Gretchen to join them.

They go to an Indian restaurant, where Gretchen and Claire act like little snots about the food. Gretchen taunts Claire in front of Bennet by making barely-veiled allusions to Claire’s healing ability. Remember when West taunted Claire in front of their biology class by making barely-veiled allusions to Claire’s healing ability? Gor blimey, Gretchen really is West! Here’s something to ponder: Back in Volume Two, when I still had a naïve and childishly endearing faith in Heroes, I was convinced West was deliberately being written as creepy and off-putting, because he would later be revealed as a villain. Nope -- he was supposed to be a genuine romantic interest for Claire, albeit an extraordinarily poorly-scripted one. So, creepy old Gretchen: Is she going to turn out to be evil, or are the writers aiming for “offbeat and charmingly quirky” and completely botching it?

Bennet does not seem to find Gretchen especially charming. Score one for Bennet. When Gretchen heads off to the ladies’ room, Bennet bawls Claire out for letting Gretchen find out about her ability. He goes to call the Haitian to have Gretchen’s noodle wiped, but Claire threatens to never speak to him again if he does. Promises, promises.

Back at the dorm, Gretchen apologizes for being creepy and confesses that girls in junior high called her Retchin’ Gretchen because she was bulimic. Claire decides it’s the time for deep personal revelations and tells Gretchen the truth about her powers. Bennet calls and interrupts their foray into girl-bonding and self-mutilation to apologize. He launches once again into his patented “I just want to protect you” thing, and Claire does her “You can’t protect me forever” thing, and I swear they just lifted this scene verbatim from another script. Possibly from multiple scripts -- I think we’ve seen this about eighty times by now. Lather, rinse, repeat. Claire asks Gretchen to be her roommate. Gretchen is thrilled.

Matt and his partner, Simon the Cylon (whose name, apparently, is “Mike”, but once a Cylon, always a Cylon), stake out a drug dealer’s house. Matt holds up a thirty-day sobriety chip and tells Simon the Cylon that he’s broken his sobriety. The psychic manifestation of Sylar shows up to mock Matt some more, which is kind of fun. He mutters about how much it blows that he’s stuck in Matt’s mind (“I mean, have you seen yourself eat a burrito?” Aw, Sylar. Cruel and funny!). Matt and Simon the Cylon get a warrant and burst into the dealer’s home. In a suspiciously generous move, Sylar warns Matt about the gun-happy drug dealer hiding in the closet. While Simon the Cylon searches the garage, Sylar goads Matt to use his abilities to find out where the drugs are hidden, but Matt remains stalwart and refuses. Sylar leads Matt to a stuffed animal and a ransom note -- the dealer has kidnapped a little girl. Matt uses his powers to read the dealer’s mind, and finds the girl hidden under the stairs, dead.

Matt beats the hell out of the dealer and quite possibly kills him. Simon the Cylon returns and is horrified by Matt’s actions. When Matt urges him to check under the stairs, there’s nothing there. No dead girl, no stuffed rabbit, no ransom note. Just Sylar, who was using Matt’s powers to have some fun. Matt gives Simon the Cylon his sobriety chip, then uses his Jedi Mind-Tricks™ to convince him everything’s hunky-dory. Sylar tells him he’s proud of him. Their next order of business: Finding Sylar’s body.

At the Sullivan Brothers carnival, Samuel gets dressed up in a suit, while Lydia ties his necktie in a provocative manner. Samuel mentions that they need to get the compass back. Wait -- if Samuel doesn’t have it, who has the compass? Didn’t Edgar knife Bennet toward the end of last episode and make off with it? Did I totally misunderstand that? What am I missing here? Samuel sucks a bunch of tattoo ink from a jar into his skin. Yeah, the carnival folks are definitely a lot of fun.

(There’s a commercial for some sort of Sprint-sponsored miniseries thingamajig featuring Lydia and Edgar. I like Lydia and Edgar, but not enough to research it further.)

Peter gets served with a subpoena: One of the people he rescued is suing him. Peter goes to the records office at the hospital to get a copy of the accident report, failing to realize that the pretty young woman manning the desk, Emma, is deaf. When she knocks over a coffee cup, she sees the noise made when it smashes against the floor as a burst of colorful lights. Later, a doctor tells Emma she’s experiencing synethesia, in which one sense is perceived as another.

Peter tracks down the man suing him, William Hooper, who turns out to be Samuel. Samuel claims Peter rescued him from a crashed bus, but dislocated his arm in the process. Thus the lawsuit. Peter doesn’t remember saving him, but Peter’s long-suffering paramedic buddy Hesam confirms Samuel was indeed on the bus. Hesam also mentions that people are claiming Peter has been causing all the recent accidents to get all the glory that comes with saving lives, which…yeah, that doesn’t make much sense, actually. Causing bus crashes? Trapping pregnant women in overturned cars? Really? Does this seem at all likely and/or physically possible?

Peter examines a newspaper photo of the bus accident and sees that Samuel was indeed on the bus. He meets Samuel in a park and apologizes for doubting his story. He offers to make amends. Samuel asks him, “Have you ever lost a brother?” Peter, curiously, answers “No,” which isn't quite right, actually. Yeah, Peter doesn't know about Nathan's most recent death, seeing as his mother and Bennet and Matt all conspired to hide that information from everyone, but didn't he see an alternate future version of himself gunning down Nathan during the press conference, right before trapping the real Peter in the body of Weevil from Veronica Mars? Man, somewhere along the way, this show got really convoluted and wonky. Peter and Samuel shake hands, and Samuel tells him he’s dropping the lawsuit. Meanwhile, in the same park, Emma sits on a nearby park bench, watching a group of musicians. She sees the music made by a cello as colorful lights. When the cellist conveniently leaves behind his instrument, she picks it up and makes rainbows of light with music. It’s a Skittles commercial! She plays the cello for eight hours or so -- I don’t know, it’s just a really long scene -- then stops when she notices people staring at her, Peter among them. She runs off.

(Wow, there needs to be an awesome payoff to Emma’s plotline, because the setup is deadly dull.)

Samuel approaches a mansion where a gala party is taking place. He tells the lady of the house that he grew up there -- his father was the butler and his mother was the maid. He asks to take a look around the carriage house, but the woman shuns him. Later, Peter and Hesam are called to the scene of a terrible accident: Three people died in a sinkhole that sucked the entire mansion into the earth. While Samuel watches from the shadows, Peter looks down at his own forearm. A moving tattoo of a compass has mysteriously appeared on his arm.


Lou said…
Great recap Morgan, much better than the show. In fact I might quit watching and just read your blog instead; it's a damn sight more entertaining.

Yawwwwwnnnn was my primary reaction. The only part I engaged with was Sylar's mind meddling with Matt. The rest I was barely listening. I even wandered off to clean out the cat litter during Claire's scenes I was so bored.

Gretchen is indeed the new West. Good catch there! I honestly thought she was going to do something creepy (or at least reveal a power or something) when Claire was on the phone and we could see her sitting there in the background. At least that would have made her more interesting. But no. Zip. Nada. Tsk.

Also did you notice Sylar alluded to the fact Matt suffers from InstaLove? Have the scriptwriters been listening in on this blog? Hmmmm.
Dan said…
Agreed, Lou. Sylar's taunting was the definite highlight of the episode. Especially using the (eventually imaginary) bunny as an impromptu muppet.

Do you think the dead girl was supposed to reflect Sylar tapping into Matt's subconscious guilt about Molly? Or is that giving the writers too much credit for subtlety? For wouldn't they have punctuated the scene with an "Oh no, a small girl cowering in an enclosed space, fearful for her life, just like Molly, the girl I saved from Sylar and sort of adopted with that Bangladeshi guy - don't remember his name now - and then abandoned once I found out my real child had adorable powers!" Do you think the writers even remember Molly?

My other thought was that many of the Heroes characters seem to share abilities with characters from my beloved X-Men collection of the early to mid-1980s. Claire has Wolverine's healing power. Peter takes powers, a la Rogue. Matt reads and screws with minds, like the good Professor and so forth.

And that's cool - there are only a finite amount of powers out there and there's bound to be some overlap. And there's enough variation that it's not exactly the same.

But I couldn't help notice that Peter's deaf friend (and did Peter really not notice she was deaf? How empathetic is he really?) seems to be channeling something akin to the powers of, uh, Dazzler.

Dazzler, people. That's not right.
Morgan Richter said…
Yawwwwwnnnn was my primary reaction.

Yup. Between Claire's plotline and Emma's plotline, there was an awful lot of filler. Bad sign, considering we're only at the second episode. Still... I liked the Sylar-Matt scenes, and I liked the Samuel-Peter scenes, so all is not lost.

Do you think the dead girl was supposed to reflect Sylar tapping into Matt's subconscious guilt about Molly?

I sort of wondered that, too. The dead girl under the stairs was a definite callback to Matt first discovering (alive) Molly hiding under the stairs after Sylar killed her parents, which is as close as they've come lately to showing that Matt remembers Molly exists (still, it's not very close).

But I couldn't help notice that Peter's deaf friend (and did Peter really not notice she was deaf? How empathetic is he really?) seems to be channeling something akin to the powers of, uh, Dazzler.

If she launches a singing career, I'll really start to get worried. Please, please tell me that Emma is going to tie into some other (better) plotline somewhere, and we're not going to have to sit through a budding romance where Peter and Emma bring each other out of their respective shells and discover The Beauty and Magic of Life. Because I think that's where they're heading, and, because this is Heroes, it's not going to be pretty.
levitatethis said…
You are so in my head with your take on this episode that it’s kind of scary.

Wonderful recap!

I find Claire’s story the least interesting right now and I think you touched on why – it’s very much the Claire/West storyline (that I disliked) complete with creepy (right off the bat, no build up) potential friend/love interest that we’re supposed to be rooting for but I keep expecting will turn out to be a bad person. Gretchen is so in Claire’s face about everything that I honestly couldn’t figure out why Claire would want to tell her the truth. Claire in Season 1 seemed much smarter about stuff like this.

Don’t even get me started on the Indian restaurant scene in which the two of them acted like idiots. Have they never had Indian food before? I found the whole way it played out offputting. On the flipside I don’t think it’s been a long time since I liked Bennet this much and it was him figuring out he’s not too crazy about Gretchen that did it.

I’m still interested in the Samuel/Carnival storyline so that’s a good thing.

A friend joked that she’d be up for Emma/Peter except that Peter has a terrible track record. We’ve still never heard him mention Caitlin once since losing her in that terrible future. That scene where Emma is pretending to listen to her music? I do the same thing when I’m going home after work on the subway. But I have my headphones plugged into my Ipod. The point is to keep the one off crazy person from talking to me. It works quite well.

But that scene of Emma playing music? That went on FOREVER. And it was like a Skittles commercial.

Surprisingly the story I was most interested in was Sylar fucking with Matt and a big part of that comes down to this take on Sylar actually being more like Season 1 Sylar – smart and manipulative. I love him using Matt’s power against him but I’m still not sure about this whole “it’s a piece of Sylar that’s in Matt”.

Heh…you say Simon the Cylon (which I should have noted but didn’t) and I say Felicity’s art professor who she thought was hitting on her but wasn’t.

And because it can’t be said enough (and I’ll mention it until he shows up), where the hell is Mohinder? We’d better get more of him at the backend of the season to make up for his not showing up for the first half of the season.
Morgan Richter said…
I have no idea why Claire is putting up with Gretchen's crap, much as I had no idea why she put up with West doing the same thing. If I had a huge, potentially dangerous secret that I was desperately trying to keep concealed, I would not warm up to anyone who kept jokingly threatening to reveal it.

Yeah, the Indian restaurant scene bugged me too, just because it was played from a mocking perspective of "I can't believe people really eat this stuff!" Both Claire and Gretchen should know better than that. And the writers should know better than that. Like you, though, I sort of loved Bennet during that scene. I'm just sad they kind of ruined it by having him call Claire later to apologize/launch into his "I just want to protect you, Claire-Bear" speech.

I'm theoretically okay with the idea of Peter/Emma, much like I'm theoretically okay with the (still theoretical) possibility of HRG/Tracy this season. But that was a draggy start, and an awfully draggy introduction to what could be an interesting character.

At least Sendhil has been filming up a storm lately (Wendi just tweeted that he's shooting today, as well as yesterday. Quinto is also on set today... dare we hope? No, probably not). So unless the show gets canceled mid-January (I'm putting about 50-50 odds on that happening), we will at least get some Mohinder. Better be a lot. A whole lot.
Ingrid Richter said…
Excellent recap, Morgan!

How on earth did Noah Bennett (who travels around the world, is fluent in Japanese, and loves Indian food) raise such an Ugly American daughter? Hating Indian food is like hating Mohinder in my big book of tv shortcuts.

Also, I thought it was kind of tacky to show how to 'pretend' to eat food in front of your parent and spit it out later, followed by a mention of eating disorders.

On the plus side, though, I still like the carnival folk (glad they're intersecting with Peter) and I'm downright fond of Sylar messing with Matt. The dead girl under the stairs was definitely creepy.

I'll keep watching... for now.
levitatethis said…
And you're absolutely right that that "I just want to protect you"/"I don't need you to" conversation between Bennet and Claire is one we've heard before...a few times. Talk about a recycled storyline.

Interesting enough in the past storylines got repeated but with het pairings (like the roadtrip revisited, but with Maya in place of MOhinder and then the Sylar/Elle dad fight with Elle replacing Mohinder...hmmm, notice a theme?) and yet here it's the Claire/West storyline but with West replaced by Gretchen. So...girl-on-girl is good and boy-on-boy is icky? How about chemistry is good and lack thereof is bad.

I'm thrilled at seeing all the updates about Sendhil filming. I'd love it if Mohinder and Sylar crossed paths but this show seems uninterested the the very storyline they set up in Season 1 for these two so I'm not holding my breath.
Morgan Richter said…
The Indian restaurant scene reminded me of the ugly bit in the Heroes pilot at the Bennet family dinner table, when Lyle mentions seeing a "dead Mexican" on the way to school and Sandra lets it pass without comment. The Bennet family tolerance of their kids' ethnic insensitivity/ignorance makes them seem like a bunch of... well, as you aptly put it, Ingrid, ugly Americans.

We're just seeing so... much... Claire, and she's not doing anything. It's a bunch of scenes of Claire's college life, and trust me, Gretchen isn't likeable and vivacious enough to make it interesting. The only hook to Claire's plotline -- Annie's suicide/murder -- wasn't explored at all in this episode.

in the past storylines got repeated but with het pairings (like the roadtrip revisited, but with Maya in place of MOhinder and then the Sylar/Elle dad fight with Elle replacing Mohinder...hmmm, notice a theme?)

Oh, yeah. Simple strategy: Take all the audience-pleasing elements of Sylar's first-season plotline and strip them of all homoerotic undertones to make them appeal to a wider crowd. Except it didn't work, because the reason the whole Sylar/Mo dynamic worked so well and was such a lovely surprise is because they had unexpected, outrageous chemistry in their scenes together, whereas the Sylar/Elle pairing ended up being a pile of cold salt cod (and the Sylar/Maya pairing was too off-putting and unbalanced to ever get off the ground, though both Quinto and Dania gave it a good shot).

(I'd argue that the Sylar-Luke roadtrip was another attempt to recapture the appeal of the Sylar-Mohinder roadtrip, only they deliberately neutralized any homoerotic undertones by making Luke underaged and goofy and kind of deliberately irritating. And... that didn't work, either. Missing the point, writers.)

I am every bit as emotionally invested in a budding romance between Gretchen and Claire as I was in the budding romance between West and Claire. I'll leave it at that.
levitatethis said…
I remember during season 2 over at another website there was this constant back and forth with some of us about whether West was supposed to be creepy and possessive/obsessive(because that's how he came across) or if we were supposed to see him as charming and rebellious. When we realized we were supposed to like West I think the consensus was, "Way to completely write him wrong then".

You've nailed why I had a problem with Sylar/Luke. Though interesting enough there are quite a few Sylar/Luke shippers out there...but for me Luke just came across as so young and annoying.

This is one of those shows that strokes gold with naturally good chemistry and then annihilates it on purpose.

Oh man, I don't even remember that line from Lyle. The Bennet family could use a lesson in sensitivity.
Morgan Richter said…
I was absolutely convinced that West would ultimately turn out to be sinister. No doubt in my mind. Criticizing Claire for not volunteering answers in class and for not defending her gym buddy from mean cheerleader Debbie's snipes AND for not following through with Debbie's dare to jump from the platform was weirdly inappropriate, considering West himself didn't do any of those things, either (nor did he seem like the type who would ever raise his hand in class or defend someone from bullies). And then there was the way he went on about how "you can be better than that, Claire, if you'd just let me show you the way" (i.e. if Claire makes herself better, she might finally be worthy to snag West, lucky girl!). Then there's the deal with jokingly threatening to expose her secret to the class. Factor in him hovering outside her bedroom window at night, and we're definitely in disturbed-creep territory. But no. Just a kid in love.

(Wow. I still have Unresolved West Issues. Who knew?)

There was a faint yet pungent aroma of West about Gretchen in yesterday's episode. I'm unspoiled on this plotline, but I think there's a better than even chance Gretchen will, in fact, turn out to be evil, or at least have sinister ulterior motives, which would at least provide some justification for her creepiness. Why Claire isn't picking up on it, though, is beyond me.
levitatethis said…
With the West/Claire storyline I honestly thought we were going the route of "Heathers" with West as JD and Claire as Veronica with West appealing to that darker side of her but also trying to manipulate her into being something more like him only to have her eventually take him down.

And then that didn't happen and I realized I was supposed to think West was cool teenage boy. Um...no. I'm expecting Gretchen to be more sinister...
Ingrid Richter said…
Me too, levitatethis, me too.

I'm about 75% sure that Gretchen defenestrated Claire's roommate. Of course, that leaves 25% of me thinking the show will never mention the suicide again.

P.S. Heathers reference = awesome!
Morgan Richter said…
I'll forgive a lot about this Gretchen-Claire plotline if it turns out she killed the roommate. (I won't forgive everything, of course. Let's not get crazy. Someone has to answer for all the maligning of tasty Indian food in this episode.) That'd be a step in the right direction, especially if Gretchen has some ties to either the carnival gang or some other great evil.

(Oh, man, how lame would that be if it turns out Annie's death is all wrapped up: "Yeah, it totally was a suicide! Case closed!" And then is never mentioned again.)

Outstanding Heathers reference! Maybe Gretchen will turn out to be the JD to Claire's Veronica? I could support that.
Dan said…
Huh, Heathers. I haven't seen Heathers in, like, twenty years. (Can that be right? IMDB assures me it can be, IMDB having devoted an awful lot of their web site to tracking my own personal movie-viewing history.)

Of course, due to the cursive font on the title, my brother was convinced the movie was called 'Heathens', which we therefore still call it to this day.

I remember during season 2 over at another website...

Wait, what? People are discussing Heroes at other websites? Don't they know this is where the action is? Those madcap fools!
Ingrid Richter said…
Here's to Heathers and Heroes!

"Que sera, sera.
Whatever will be, will be.
The future's not ours to see.
Que sera, sera."

Er, I should probably do some work while I'm at work, shouldn't I?
Morgan Richter said…
I've heard rumors of a Heathers (or, indeed, a Heathens) remake and/or television series in the works. I am closing my eyes and plugging my ears and ignoring all such rumors. This is exactly my same tactic for handling rumors of a live-action Akira remake.

Whoah - there's some marvelous lunacy going on with my Google keywords (no, Dan, Sendhil is not part turtle. He's part gazelle. Clearly) right now. Seems there's some confusion about last week's episode:

peter petrelli impasse
edgar heroes met a empath
heroes edgar i met
heroes edgar i met a
heroes edgar i met an
heroes edgar met a empath
heroes edgar met and empath
impasse noah heroes
met an impasse heroes
peter petrelli empath jump push fall

Granted, Ray Park's accent did make "empath" sound like "impasse", but even still, why the fervent interest in this? Please, someone, explain.
Morgan Richter said…
(Ha! I've been wondering why I've been humming "Que Sera Sera" for the past hour. I just now put it together.)
levitatethis said…
Wow, I had no idea a little Heathers reference on my part would bring out all the love. That movie still rocks my world.

If I can get one scene of Gretchen saying to Claire, "Why are you pulling my dick?" I'll be in heaven.

Hmmm, the idea of Gretchen as the JD to Claire's Veronica could actually work. Which means the show will doubtfully go there or will do it in a way that doesn't work at all. I have very little faith. At the very least I like the idea of Gretchen offing the roommate which in itself may be a bit "Single White Female" meets stereotypical crazy lesbians.

Do you think the maligning of Indian food was a subtle dig at Mohinder? Normally I'd say no it was just stupidity on the writers parts, but with the treatment of Mohinder on this show I'm willing to buy the grade school shenanigans.

Wait, what? People are discussing Heroes at other websites? Don't they know this is where the action is? Those madcap fools!

Shocking isn't it? I admit I was one of them but upon being directed to this blog I see this is obviously the place to be. I have seen the light.

PS I don't want to think about the Heathers remake...or sequel...I'd prefer to live with the brilliance of the original.
Morgan Richter said…
Strangely, I can easily picture Gretchen saying to Claire, "You were a Bluebird. You were a Brownie. You were a Girl Scout cookie." Of course, that would make her more Heather Chandler than JD, but that works too.

Do you think the maligning of Indian food was a subtle dig at Mohinder?

Ingrid and I were actually discussing that yesterday. The show has developed this weird contempt toward Mohinder, so it's possible. At the least, I think the show might want to, shall we say, re-examine its attitude toward Indian culture (see also: last volume's Indian wedding).
levitatethis said…
At the least, I think the show might want to, shall we say, re-examine its attitude toward Indian culture (see also: last volume's Indian wedding).

Along that line I think this show should re-examine it's attitude in general towards the non-white spectrum of the world.

Oh yeah, I could see Gretchen delivering that Girl Scout cookie speech.
Morgan Richter said…
Along that line I think this show should re-examine it's attitude in general towards the non-white spectrum of the world.

Oh, yeah. Though I forgot to point out last week, it was nice seeing Ando in the changed future in what looked like a healthy, mature relationship with Kimiko. I got sick pretty fast of season one's running gag of, "Ando keeps lusting after blonde women (Nikki, Hope) that he doesn't stand a chance with! Isn't that hilarious?"
Patrick said…
I'm still following these recaps and enjoying them - will start rewatching the show if one of two things happen.

1. We learn that Gretchen is evil and has been working with West who has been a secret master villain all along. Or did West die? I can't remember at all how that story resolved.

2. You say Mohinder has some important plot or news of something big in a few weeks. Well this better be connected to the Big Reel O'Plot or Boxes O'Plot from last season. That would be a little amusing.
Morgan Richter said…
Or did West die? I can't remember at all how that story resolved.

Lived, sadly. Though for all my West-bashing, I have to say he improved greatly by the end, and in his final appearance, where he diplomatically tried to point out to Claire that blowing the lid off the existence of special abilities and thus turning a lot of innocent people into targets to avenge HRG's "death" maybe wasn't such a hot idea, he was actually pretty sympathetic. Still, I don't miss him.

Well this better be connected to the Big Reel O'Plot or Boxes O'Plot from last season

I think there's a chance Mohinder has been MIA because he hiked back out to Coyote Sands and retrieved the Big Reel O'Plot and is busy investigating whatever plot-based mystery contained therein. I mean, at least that's what they were sort of implying his new plot direction would be last volume, but, this being Heroes, odds are better that, a la Caitlin, the film reel will never be mentioned again.

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