Heroes Volume Five, Chapters One & Two: Orientation/Jump Push Fall

Double episode, folks, so this is a long one. The fourth season (and fifth volume) kicks off with carnival owner Samuel, surrounded by his band of misfits, burying his brother Joseph and monologuing in a distinctly Mohinderesque way about people with special abilities over a montage of scenes from previous seasons. None of the scenes include Mohinder. Just thought I’d point that out.

It’s six weeks after the events of the season finale, and Claire is off to college. She moves into her dormitory room and meets her snotty new roommate Annie, who is taken aback that Claire got into a (presumably prestigious) university with a GED. Annie is a grade-A twerp, but still, that’s a fairly astute observation. Claire informs her that she got really good test scores. Later, Claire gets overwhelmed by her linear algebra placement test and walks out. Ah… Claire? Remember that C-minus in biology you yammered on about in the first season? Still planning to stick to your “I got really good test scores” story? Claire meets fellow Texan Gretchen, who: a) knows all about Claire’s involvement in Jackie’s murder back in Odessa, and b) definitely comes down on the wrong side of creepy.

Noah visits Claire in her dorm. Nothing happens. Really, nothing. It’s this odd vortex of nothingness. Moving on.

Claire attends a mixer, where she and Gretchen make fun of Annie and play Guitar Hero. Watching other people play video games in real life is boring as snot. Watching other people play video games on a television show? Excruciating. Awful. At this point, I was an eyelash away from turning off the television, going to bed, and never thinking another thought about this damn disappointing show. When Claire returns to her room, she discovers Annie dead on the sidewalk, having apparently fallen out of the window. Even though the police find a suicide note, Claire suspects murder. In that inimitable and loveable Claire fashion, she gets sullen and self-righteous with the cops.

Sandra visits Claire at college, and yet again nothing happens. Look, it’s perfectly plausible that both of Claire’s parents would come visit her at college, especially in the aftermath of Annie’s death, but if nothing of importance happens, we don’t need to see it.

Claire and Gretchen decide to find out who killed Annie. Gretchen suggests swiping a cadaver from the medical school so they can replicate Annie’s plunge to see if she was pushed or jumped from the window. In the middle of the night, Claire jumps out of her dorm window to test the trajectory of Annie’s fall. She lands within the chalk outline of Annie’s corpse, suggesting Annie really did commit suicide. She looks up and sees Gretchen watching her.

Sullivan Brothers Carnival: Lydia, a naked tattooed chick who can show prophetic visions in the patterns on her back, reveals a picture of Danko to Samuel, who has a moving tattoo of a compass on his wrist. Samuel sends his henchman Edgar to kill Danko. When Edgar refuses, Samuel stains Edgar’s wrist with ink, which spreads up creepily and magically to his throat.

In Tokyo, Hiro and Ando set up a side business (Dial-A-Hero) dedicated to helping people in need. For their first assignment, Hiro and Ando help a girl rescue her cat from a high platform. Ando falls from the platform, so Hiro freezes time and saves him. When he unfreezes everything, he freezes himself into a comatose state for a while. He resists Ando’s attempts to take him to see a doctor: he’s has already seen one, and he knows he’s going to die soon.

There’s a little plot detour about Ando’s crush on Hiro’s sister Kimiko, who has apparently loathed Ando ever since he accidentally dumped a slushy on her at a carnival fourteen years ago. Hiro remembers he met a fortuneteller at the carnival who told him he would become a hero, which was the incident that set him on his current path. While he’s pondering this, Hiro accidentally teleports back in time fourteen years to Samuel’s carnival.

In the present, at the carnival, Lydia produces an image of Hiro on her skin. Samuel tells an elderly man he’s found someone who can help them fix the past. The old man sends him back in time fourteen years. At the carnival, Hiro is approached by a younger version of himself, who asks him to take a picture of himself with Kimiko and Ando. Dude, hasn’t Hiro encountered various young versions of himself about eight times by now? After young Hiro scampers off to the fortuneteller, Samuel approaches Hiro and introduces himself, saying they’re going to be great friends.

Samuel encourages Hiro to correct the past. Somewhat accidentally, Hiro prevents Young Ando from dumping the slushy on Young Kimiko, then returns to the present and finds that the timeline has indeed been altered: in the new timeline, Kimiko and Ando have been a happy couple for years. Hiro decides to devote the remainder of his life to undoing all his past wrongs.

Angela Petrelli meets Sylar-as-Nathan for sushi in a very long and very tedious scene, in which Nathan babbles on about how he’s determined to change himself for the better and Angela tries to convince him he’s having a midlife crisis. Later, alone in his office, Nathan moves coffee mugs telekinetically and shoots blue lightning from his hands. Freaked, Nathan calls Peter, who ignores his calls.

In Los Angeles, Matt Parkman is now back together with Janice and helping her raise Matt, Jr. He’s also an LAPD officer again. He fields a call from Angela, who wants Matt to do another mind-whammy on Sylar to make him continue believing he’s Nathan, but Matt refuses. He’s being haunted by a psychic manifestation of Sylar, who keeps taunting him and threatening his son and being a general nuisance.

When the apparition of Sylar shows up at Matt’s addiction support group (Matt is addicted to mind-reading, apparently, which is almost as cool as Willow being addicted to magic back in late-series Buffy), Matt yells at him like a crazy man. Matt and his partner, who is played by Simon the Cylon, interrogate a drug suspect, but Sylar won’t stop taunting him. Matt goes bonkers and yells and throws a chair against the wall, which perturbs Simon the Cylon. Watch out for that guy, Matt. He’ll steal one of your ovaries if you’re not careful. (Eh, skip it. A little Battlestar Galactica humor there. My apologies). Back at home, Matt acts like a creep to the good-natured water delivery boy, who has established a friendship with Janice. While Sylar gloats, Matt bribes the guy to never visit Janice again.

Angela calls Noah, who is currently living in D.C., to warn him that Tracy Strauss is murdering people involved with Building 26. When Noah gets in his car, it floods with water and ice. Danko arrives and saves Noah from Tracy’s wrath by shooting out the windows of his car. Danko wonders how Tracy survived after he shot her last season. I’m kind of wondering how Danko is out wandering around after Sylar framed him for murder, so let’s call it even. Seriously, Heroes, there’s not a whisper of a mention of the whereabouts of Mohinder, and yet Danko is still kicking about? Low blow, Heroes. Low.

Tracy confronts Noah in a sushi bar for an overly long and tedious scene in which they talk about redemption and Noah offers to get Tracy her life back. Kind of a long, talky episode. Not bad, just… long and talky. Later, Noah meets with Danko and tries to give him a buttload of money to stop hunting Tracy. Danko refuses, so the Haitian pops up out of nowhere and wipes his brain. When Tracy shows up on Danko’s doorstep to kill him, he doesn’t recognize her. Edgar shows up and knifes Danko to death in super-speed. Edgar tries to hack Tracy to bits, but her freezing power protects her. Edgar zips off.

New York: Paramedic Peter Petrelli leaps and hops his way through back alleys in a distinctly superheroish fashion to reach a pregnant woman trapped in a wrecked car. Even though he saves her, he mopes and complains to his long-suffering partner, Hesam, about how he almost wasn’t fast enough to save her. There’s a chapter in The Emerald City of Oz where Dorothy encounters the Flutterbudgets, a magical race who spend all their time moping and panicking about things that didn’t happen, but could have happened. Peter is a Flutterbudget. Anyway, Peter has been living like a recluse and doing a whole bunch of super-powered rescues, thanks to the powers of strength and agility he absorbed from Mohinder. Yeah, that’s our only reference to Mohinder’s existence in this entire two-hour block of Heroes. I have no comment, other than to point out that the world is sometimes a dark and empty place.

In D.C., Noah burns his dinner in his crappy apartment. He calls Sandra, but hangs up when a strange man answers the phone. Tracy summons him to Danko’s apartment, where Danko lies dead. Noah rummages around inside the wounds Edgar made in Danko’s abdomen and finds a key to a safe deposit box. Tracy refuses to get involved further, so Noah picks up Peter and takes him to the bank. They open the box and find a broken compass. Edgar bursts in and attacks them, but Peter absorbs Edgar’s super fighting skills and fights him off. When Peter touches the broken compass, it springs back to life.

Later, Peter responds to an incident report and finds Noah Bennet badly injured, having been attacked by Edgar, who stole the compass. Tracy visits Noah in the hospital and shares some clam chowder with him.

Edgar returns to the carnival and tells Samuel he met an empath (which the closed captions decided to translate as “impasse”, which… sort of works, too). Tattoos of all the various heroes (I mean, not Mohinder, naturally. Let’s not get crazy here) magically appear on Lydia’s back...

Much as with last season's finale, I'm not quite sure yet how I feel about this episode. Parts interested me, parts dragged. Overall, did I like it? No, but I'm bearing in mind that I haven't liked much of anything lately (except last week's episode of Psych. That was kind of awesome), and the problem might be with me, not with Heroes. Maybe by next week, I'll have mellowed my current anti-Heroes stance.

Comments

Ingrid Richter said…
No Mohinder?!? I thought for sure he'd show up during the first half of Heroes (which I missed).

Overall, I liked the second half of Heroes quite a bit. I enjoyed Sylar's taunting of Matt and I'm downright fond of our new carny villains so far.

But no Mohinder? Really?? Really?!?
levitatethis said…
Best acting of the night goes to Baby Parkman who looked suitably scared to death of Sylar in that scene where Sylar is holding him for the first time.

Other than that, like you there were things that interested me and things I didn't care about at all. I actually liked the Carnival Crew more than I thought I would and think the tattoo aspect (both Samuel's ability to make the ink do his handiwork and the woman, whose name I can't recall right now, having the tattoos manifest prophetically on her skin) worked far better than the simple repeat of Isaac's power in other character's hands. These guys seem like an interesting bunch and right now they're the reason I'm interested in next week.

Claire at school was...ho hum. And you're absolutely right that watching people play Guitar Hero on tv is incredibly boring. Gretchen is a little too weird right off the bat and that goes to one of my issues with this show. The pacing is all over the place and while scenes dragged the actual plot feels like it got rushed. I understand it's six weeks since the events of the finale but I was hoping to see more of Nathan going about his business not noticing the odd glimpses of strangeness.

Also I would have preferred that Matt being haunted by Sylar be a manifestation of his own guilt rather than a piece of Sylar actually being in his consciousness. Though I have to admit I got a vague kick out of Sylar taunting him.

No Mohinder. At all. And one off hand mention by Peter (and sounding somewhat pissy as he said it) does not count. So all the other characters get some thing and he's completely dropped? I'm offended on his behalf. A part of me was hoping he'd be one of the faces in the last tattoo but I should have known that it's all about Claire/Sylar/Peter. Poor Mohinder, once such an integral part of the show now tossed aside.

So, uh, were we supposed to get Bennet/Tracy vibes? Because I did and given how coupling is done on this show it did not make me jump for joy.
Morgan Richter said…
Yup, I got distinct Bennet/Tracy vibes. In theory, I think that could be pretty cool -- they're a couple of interesting characters, and I like oddball pairings -- but I suspect it'll get botched. I mean, in theory I liked the idea of Sylar/Elle, too. I was young then.

I dug Samuel and his band of sinister carnival folk. I thought all of that worked pretty well. I'm having a real problem with feeling distanced from some of the regulars, thanks to last season's spurts of unsympathetic and inconsistent behavior -- I'm thinking specifically of Matt, Peter, Nathan and Angela here -- to the extent that, even though there was nothing really wrong with their plotlines in this episode, I'm just not emotionally invested. Maybe that will come with time.

When did watching Heroes turn into such a chore?
levitatethis said…
I'm having a real problem with feeling distanced from some of the regulars, thanks to last season's spurts of unsympathetic and inconsistent behavior -- I'm thinking specifically of Matt, Peter, Nathan and Angela here -- to the extent that, even though there was nothing really wrong with their plotlines in this episode, I'm just not emotionally invested.

I'm somewhat in this predicament as well. I actually don't have much vested interests in the regulars, while the Carnies have captured my interest. I wish Mohinder could be involved in storyline...well, any storyline actually.

And not to get into the race aspects of the show but I'm going to for a moment. With the exception of Hiro/Ando and the brief (and the brief appearance I think of The Haitian) I noticed what a far cry from the diverse ensemble this show was back in season 1. I could look past it if the storylines/characters we had were interesting but they're not.
Morgan Richter said…
Here's something to ponder: we know from the press release and from Sendhil's interview that when Mo does finally return (which doesn't seem to be anytime soon, sadly), he'll have news about a new threat. Do we have any idea what that's going to be? The carnival threat is already well incorporated into the main plot, what with Samuel meeting Hiro and Edgar attacking Peter, Tracy and HRG, and Mohinder is far distanced from the Sylar-as-Nathan threat, so I'm guessing it has to be something new. It's the only thing that makes me a bit optimistic about Mo's plotline, actually -- if there's a wholly new threat, there's a faint, fleeting chance he'll be more involved in whatever it is in the back half of this season.

As to the race issue, I don't understand why Heroes voluntarily surrendered one of the aspects of the show that distinguished it from the pack. As I've said before, there are plenty of shows out there centering entirely around white upper-middle-class Americans. The multicultural aspect was something audiences and critics really responded positively to (it won a NAACP award! Can you imagine that happening these days?), so it speaks of a certain tone-deafness on the part of the creative staff that they discarded it.
Anonymous said…
Oh my god. Love that you referenced one of the later Oz books. :)

When I was a kid, there were all these books I'd read that it seemed like nobody else had.
Morgan Richter said…
Love the Oz books. There are days I hang around my apartment wearing a tiara and pretending I'm Ozma. True.
Red Haired Stranger said…
Hmm, I just started watching the episode, but I wanted to chime in on the professor who stole my heart by reading "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" while the hapless Freshmen sweated over Algebra. *sigh* Now my triumph is about to be ruined by the rest of the premiere, isn't it? Oh, well, ever onwards!
Lou said…
OK Im still pissed about this. They can find time to show Claire playing bloody Guitar Hero for no reason whatsoever, but can't even spare a second of screentime for Mo?

Harrumphhh. Sulky Lou is sulky.

(normal service should resume in a few days)
Morgan Richter said…
Oooh, yeah, Red Haired Stranger, I completely forgot to mention the professor reading Pride & Prejudice & Zombies. Nice touch!

Yeah. We had to sit through Claire and Gretchen jamming to Guitar Hero for an ungodly amount of time, then no screentime at all for poor Mohinder. Lou, I'm sulky too. I've been in kind of a foul mood all day, and I strongly suspect it's Mohinder-related.
Dan said…
Just finished watching it:

* Aye, Red Haired Stranger, the Zombie Austen was well-received in my living room also

* So, when Sylar's not taunting Matt, does he hang out with Cutthroat Bitch from House and Head Six from BSG at some kind of Mind Antagonist Pub?

* Does Nathan really have nothing else to do with his day other than try and make things move with his mind? Is this what Senators do over there? I swear, your system of Government is beyond me.

* Loved that it was Roy the water guy who finally broke down Parkman's sterling psychic resistance. Oh, Roy, what has your devotion to quality water care unleashed!?

* Boy, Hiro's sister. She sure can hold an inexplicable grudge, can't she? "Ando, I was going to kiss you on the ferris wheel (ooh, er, sounds a bit rude) and devote (at a minimum) the next several years of my life to you. But nope, Hiro bumped into you and knocked blue slushie all over me. You are certainly not the man for me." Huh! You ladies! So fickle.
Morgan Richter said…
Does Nathan really have nothing else to do with his day other than try and make things move with his mind? Is this what Senators do over there?

Hey, at least we got a rare sighting of Senator Nathan in a professional office-type environment. Considering how last season he spent all his time either chained up in Haiti, or getting drunk in Tijuana, or digging up skeletons in Coyote Sands, this is surely a step in the right direction.

I had a great deal of sympathy for Peter's paramedic buddy, what with Peter fretting that he was almost (but not quite!) too late to save the pregnant lady and his surprise that his partner was actually thinking of, like, going home after his shift was over instead of working a double shift. If Peter had an office job, he'd be the type to send everyone work-related emails at odd hours just so everyone would know how very, very busy and productive he was being.
Patrick said…
Really enjoyed the recap, felt like I had watched the whole thing. But, I have not. I fear that this may be the year that Heroes and I part ways, though I will keep following the recaps just in case it gets good.

What I loved about watching the show and then going on this blog is that we could analyse it carefully and then predict things that were going to happen. But soon it became clear that the writers were just making things up as they went along, and ignoring things that had already been established. Exhibit A: Sylar's father. Ah, I remember my wonderfully innocent theory that the annoying kid on the road trip would turn out to be Sylar's dad.

To show off a little - and show that my predictions are not always wrong - I saw the movie 'Perfect Getaway' when it came out, not having read any reviews or spoilers but just knowing that there was a twist. I had the twist worked out BEFORE the opening credits were finished and before we had been introduced to any of the characters. Pretty pleased with my work there!
Morgan Richter said…
Patrick, you've pinpointed the exact reason why watching the show has become a bit of a chore for me: No one behaves in a way that consistently makes sense for his or her character, and the plots tends to contradict or ignore previously-established events, so there's no pleasure in watching everything fall into place. It's more like trying to extract a coherent narrative from a stream of entirely unrelated events. At best, it's hard to get involved; at worst, it's frustrating and annoying.

Ingrid made the observation a while back, in reference to Chekov's statement about how a gun introduced in the first act has to be fired by the third act, that in the hands of the Heroes writers, a gun introduced into the first act turns into a banana by the third act. Which sounds about right.

Like your Perfect Getaway discovery, I read a lot of Agatha Christie, and it's very rare that I can't solve the mystery by the end. Not because I'm clever, and not because her mysteries are predictable, but because I've read so many of her books that I'm able to zero in on the details she considers important. With Heroes, there's no sense in doing that, because details that should have future significance get dropped or changed mid-plot. Literary devices exist for good reason, and Heroes' assumption that they can just be ignored on a whim bugs the crap out of me.
Patrick said…
In Heroes they would introduce the gun at the end of the episode and have Mohinder say something like: 'This gun is the key to understanding everything. This is the gun that will either save us all or kill us'. And then next episode there will be no sign of the gun or Mohinder...
Morgan Richter said…
Heh. Okay, that's awesome, Patrick. And very true!
Lou said…
It's more like trying to extract a coherent narrative from a stream of entirely unrelated events. At best, it's hard to get involved; at worst, it's frustrating and annoying.

Exactly!! I think this may be the other reason I was so annoyed by the show. The character inconsistencies seem more like convenient plot devices rather than demonstrating people realisitically dealing with the experiences they've had.

...a gun introduced into the first act turns into a banana by the third act Heh so true! Im suspecting we won't hear anything about that compass again.
Morgan Richter said…
The character inconsistencies seem more like convenient plot devices rather than demonstrating people realisitically dealing with the experiences they've had.

It's a problem, and it really limits my emotional investment in the characters. Matt, for instance: Since they established last season that Daphne was the great predestined love of his life, I really can't care about him making things work with Janice, especially since there's zero reference to Daphne's existence or the affect she had on his life. I also can't care about Matt wanting to be a good father to Baby Matt, since in the second season he made a big deal of wanting to be a good father to Molly... and yet hasn't mentioned her since. So... that's a huge chunk of Matt's plotline that I don't care about, and indeed am kind of irked by. Matt's relationship with Janice seems like a self-contained random event, much like his romance with Daphne turned out to be a self-contained random event. Events don't build upon prior events, and the characters don't take anything away from their experiences.

Ditto for Nathan. Just from Monday's episode, could anyone unfamiliar from the show guess that last season Nathan was responsible for a crazy and destructive scheme to imprison everyone with powers? Granted, Nathan is (quite literally) not himself these days, but isn't this the sort of thing that the other characters would still be holding against him? But in the Heroes universe, events that happened in the past might as well have never happened at all, since they have no bearing on the present.

Also, there was no Mohinder in the episode. I don't think this grievous oversight has been adequately addressed.
Dan said…
I read a lot of Agatha Christie, and it's very rare that I can't solve the mystery by the end.

Spooky. I'm currently doing an online chapter-a-day reading of And Then There Were None aka Ten Little... Whatevers. So, assuming you've read that, don't tell me who the murderer is. At least, not for another week or so.

This gun is the key to understanding everything. This is the gun that will either save us all or kill us'. And then next episode there will be no sign of the gun or Mohinder...

While I do like the gun turning into a banana idea, Patrick's version is pure brilliance. It's not just that they introduce the guns in the opening act - it's that they make big deals of them (erroneous enough in itself in writing terms) and then forget all about them.

So... that's a huge chunk of Matt's plotline that I don't care about, and indeed am kind of irked by.

I just want him and the water boy to get involved in an extended fist fight. "That's for using my wife's first name and cooing at my baby, you self-important punk!"
Morgan Richter said…
Yeah, I think Patrick won the internet this week with his comment.

Matt was so damn spazzy about the water boy, even without Psychic Manifestation Sylar impishly goading him into a frenzy. Someone should probably suggest to Matt that insane, extra-bitchy, overprotective jealousy is not an especially loveable personality trait.

By the way, does anyone know exactly what Darth Maul's power is? Is it plain old super-speed, or super-speed-with-knives, or super fighting ability, or what? In any case, I thought he was pretty awesome. I liked how he put up a big fuss about wanting Redemption when Samuel asked him to kill Danko, and then spent the rest of the episode cheerily trying to hack Tracy and Peter and HRG to pieces.
Dan said…
Is it plain old super-speed, or super-speed-with-knives, or super fighting ability, or what?

I sure hope it's not plain old super-speed and that he has to wield knives in a dangerous fashion at all times to access the speed.

Just so I can see Paramedic Peter Petrelli try to incorporate that into his overachiever regime. "Don't mind the flurry of knives, ma'am. I'm here to help. Honestly."
Morgan Richter said…
(Great merciful Zeus. I glanced over the comment thread, and I'm clocking in a record number of typos today. Apologies. We're having a heat wave, and I'm afraid it fried my brain.)

I can't speak for everyone, but I'd sure be a lot more interested in Paramedic Peter Petrelli if he constantly waved around swords in a menacing fashion. That'd be cool.
Dan said…
BTW, Morgan - 'Heroes you're on thin ice with me' is an awesome tag. Surprised it only brings up this one episode when I click on it.

Y'know what I wish? I wish that at the exact moment Claire-Bear decided to jump out the window, HRG decided to pop in for a visit. And, hey, look who he brought along! His good friend, Uncle Haitian.

Is that wrong?

One thing's for sure - that dorm room would start to get a rep.
Morgan Richter said…
I think I'm going to go back and re-tag all of last season with the "Heroes you're on thin ice with me" tag.

Heh. Yes, Dan. That's wrong. But funny! I admit to feeling a brief pang of excitement during Monday's episode when Paramedic Peter came across Noah Bennet's stabbed and crumpled form on the steps, followed by a small wobble of disappointment when I realized they weren't really killing Noah off. Which is weird, because I like Jack Coleman, and I (mostly, sometimes) like HRG. But just for a moment, I really wanted them to get rid of a Bennet. Or a Petrelli. Or a Parkman. Not feeling too fussy, really. Any of them would work.
averys said…
I've recently rewatched S1, and there is a hint at Hiro's bucket list in S4: when Hiro blames himself for not saving card players (killed by Jessica), Ando says that he could learn to control his ability better and come back to fix things. Hiro replies: "A do-over? I like that!"
I doubt we'll actually see Hiro saving those guys, but nice link nonetheless.

Overall, I liked the premiere, especially Sylar/Matt scenes.
Sylar should be careful not to taunt Matt to the point of causing him an actual heart attack, though. If Matt dies, Sylar's gone too.
Morgan Richter said…
Good to see you over here, averys! That's a good catch with Hiro's bucket list -- I haven't rewatched that part of season one in a long time, but you're exactly right about Hiro wanting a do-over, which is pretty much the whole gist of his plotline this season.

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