Monday, November 30, 2009

Heroes Volume Five, Chapter Eleven: The Fifth Stage

I’m fighting off a cold, folks. Shall we see if Heroes improves when I’m floating on Alka-Seltzer cold tablets?

Lydia tells Samuel she knows the truth. She doesn’t elaborate, but it’s probably safe to assume she’s talking about Joseph’s murder. She tells him she has a daughter to look after, so his secret is safe. If she really wants to keep her daughter safe, perhaps it would be smarter not to let Samuel know she knows he killed his brother in the first place. Samuel doesn’t reply, and indeed looks bored to tears with her. He’s more interested in the arrival of Eli, his brand-new replacement henchman, now that Edgar has fled the carnival. Samuel instructs Eli to retrieve files from Noah Bennet’s apartment. Says Samuel, “They’re in a box marked ‘Primatech.’” Sheesh, like that’s going to narrow it down. Eli, FYI, can form multiple copies of himself. Somewhere, Jamie Madrox is not amused.

Lauren drops by Noah’s apartment, ready for a hot date. Does Lauren have a power? Lauren really, really needs to have a power, or else it kinda punches holes in Primatech’s much-vaunted “one of us, one of them” policy. After Noah discovers his no-good daughter stole his compass, Lauren uses her CIA connections to triangulate Claire’s cell phone signal, mentioning that she can then pinpoint Claire’s location using Google Maps. She name-checks Google Maps like it’s this terribly exotic, very high-tech, CIA-specific program that no one in the audience could possibly know about.

Noah and Lauren determine that Claire is somewhere in southern Ohio. While sorting through files on the carnival, Noah tells Lauren about how they almost had an affair before Rene wiped her memories. To her credit, Lauren doesn’t seem thrilled about this. They’re interrupted by the arrival of Eli, who introduces himself as an emissary from Sullivan Brothers Carnival. Immediately, a swarm of multiple Elis invade the apartment. Lauren and Noah try to fight them off (if Lauren has a power, she’s sure not using it), then they go hide in the bathroom. When they emerge, all the Elis are gone… as are Noah’s files. So that worked well.

The compass guides Claire and Gretchen to the entrance to the carnival. After driving from DC to Ohio, Claire decides it wasn’t worth it. She’s ready to go home, but Gretchen drags her to the entrance, where they’re greeted by Samuel. Hmm. The plotline I loathe the most this season has just intersected with a plotline I rather enjoy. Which plotline will reign supreme? Claire and Gretchen launch into a conversation about how the popcorn at the carnival is, like, sooooooo good, and I think I just got my answer.

Claire and Gretchen enter Lydia’s tent. Lydia doffs her top, as she does every episode, and instructs Claire to take her hand and ask her a question. Claire asks, “Am I supposed to be here?”, and a tattoo of herself appears on Lydia’s skin. I gather from the dialogue that the tattoo shows her wearing the outfit of a carnival performer, but my television screen is very small, and I stopped recording these episodes for posterity as soon as it dawned on me that this season has zero rewatch value, so I can’t really tell for sure. Anyway, Gretchen and Claire continue their tour of the carnival. Gretchen is not impressed, but Claire is amazed to see everyone using their abilities out in the open. She starts daydreaming of a new career path as a carnival freak. Living the dream, Claire. I mock, but it’s nice to see Claire -- or anyone on the show this season, really -- forming something resembling a goal. This is the most wishy-washy, noncommittal, tepid group of wafflers I’ve ever seen, and trying to get emotionally invested in their adventures has been an uphill battle this season. Samuel pops up and offers to show them backstage, which sounds skeezy as all hell, but Claire leaps at the chance.

A swindled carnival customer barges backstage and picks a fight with Samuel, who refuses to defend himself. When Claire intervenes, the dude slashes her across the face with a bottle. Heroes really doesn’t believe in middle ground, does it? This guy can’t just be mean and dumb and cranky about being swindled out of his money, he has to be a total psychopath who slashes a teenaged girl across the face. Claire heals up, and the guy runs off in terror.

Claire bathes Samuel’s bruises, and they talk about how awesome it would be if Claire joined the carnival. It’s a long-ass scene, and it’s entirely unnecessary, since it’s been a done deal since the opening minutes that Claire would join up by the end of the episode. To seal the deal, Eric Doyle, working a pink and blue tux, shows up and gives Claire a big hug. He explains that he’s happy to have found a place where he belongs with the carnival. Claire tells an unenthused and unsurprised Gretchen she’s going to stay for a couple days.

Lydia tells Samuel she hopes Claire is worth it. Samuel, watching Gretchen drive off, tells her he’s not really after Claire. In the carnival parking lot, there’s a flatbed truck with a body in the back, and once again, my television is too small for me to identify who it is.

Angela arrives at the hospital to see how Peter is coping with the loss of Nathan. Peter insists he has a plan to get rid of Sylar and restore Nathan. The Haitian -- Rene -- shows up, and Peter absorbs his ability (presumably the Haitian can turn on and off his ability at will, or otherwise Peter’s power-absorbing ability would have been neutralized by Rene’s power-neutralizing ability). Peter explains to Angela that this way he’ll be able to make Sylar powerless. Not a terrible plan, but here’s a better one, Peter: Keep the vast array of abilities you absorbed from Sylar, then take Rene along for the ride when you go after Sylar.

Peter gets in the elevator with a nurse, who starts checking him out shamelessly, then grabs him by the neck, hurls him through the (open) doors, and shape-shifts into Sylar. Sylar and Peter find themselves in the hospital’s Danger Wing, complete with dangling electrical cords from the ceiling, stacks of two-by-fours, and random power tools lying about. This, of course, is the same hospital where a little urchin was randomly lying unconscious in a supply closet with a collapsed lung.

Peter neutralizes Sylar’s abilities and starts whaling on him while demanding he give him his brother back. They slug each other for a while, which is always nice to see, then Peter picks up a nail gun and proceeds to staple Sylar to the floor. Naturally, he has to lie on top of Sylar while he does this, and hey, it’s good to see the blatant homoeroticism making an eleventh-hour return to Heroes! He uses Rene’s mind-wiping ability to wipe away all of Sylar, leaving only Nathan. Sylar shape-shifts back into Nathan, who, presumably, is still stapled to the floor.

Later, an unstapled Nathan and Peter go up to the roof of the Deveaux building and talk about the good old days, before the show went all to hell and started sacrificing consistent, believable character development for a bunch of ill-conceived and poorly-explained plot ideas. Nathan breaks it to Peter that he’s still really Sylar. Peter insists Nathan is stronger than Sylar -- after all, that’s why Sylar came to find Peter at the hospital. Nathan replies, “I found you because I wanted to crucify you in Times Square.” Nice! To prevent Sylar from taking over, Nathan jumps off the edge of the roof. Peter grabs his hand, Nathan tells him he loves him, Peter lets go, and Nathan plunges to earth, where he smashes into a car. And then Sylar heals up and saunters off, leaving behind a devastated Peter.

Samuel stands at Joseph’s graveside and lectures to his flock -- including Claire -- over a montage of the other characters. There’s Sylar, and Tracy, and even a fleeting glimpse of Hiro, Ando and Mohinder booking it through trees somewhere (it looks like they’re maybe breaking Mohinder out of the asylum, A-Team-style, which I could get behind).

Huh. Well, that’s it for Nathan and Adrian Pasdar, rumor has it. His death scene was emotionally effective, but, like so many things on the show, it didn’t hold up under scrutiny -- Nathan had no reason to believe jumping off the rooftop would kill Sylar (maybe he thought the effects of Rene’s power would last longer?), and if he was hell-bent on destroying Sylar for good, maybe he could have suggested Peter go crazy with the nail gun in the hopes of destroying that part of Sylar’s brain that controls immortality. I don’t see how getting rid of a good character and a good actor will ultimately help the show.

Let’s focus on the good news: This was the last Heroes episode until January, and I think many of us could use the break. Let’s also focus on the even better news: Sendhil Ramamurthy just got cast in a new NBC pilot with David Tennant. If it gets picked up, there goes my final reason to keep watching this toxic mess.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Heroes Volume Five, Chapter Ten: Thanksgiving

At the carnival, Samuel watches the footage of Chandra Suresh at Coyote Sands while Hiro pounds on the door of his trailer, demanding Samuel live up to his end of the bargain and release Charlie. Samuel rambles on about how there are greater priorities than Charlie, now that he’s discovered his destiny.

Lydia discovers that Hiro fixed something in Samuel’s past. Curious as to why Samuel didn’t ask Hiro to save Joseph’s life, Lydia asks Hiro to take her back in time eight weeks and show her what he did.

Eight weeks ago: We see a fleeting glimpse of Mohinder (hi, Mohinder!) leaving Joseph’s trailer. Samuel, lurking in the shadows, confronts Joseph about Mohinder’s intentions. While Hiro and Lydia spy on them, Joseph fills Samuel in on the true nature of his ability –- Samuel could potentially kill millions –- and adds that he advised Mohinder to burn the film to prevent Samuel from becoming dangerous. Nice going, Joseph, you just doomed poor Mo. Joseph claims he called a “man from the government” -- Danko, presumably -- to apprehend Samuel before he becomes a hazard. Furious, Samuel flings a rock at Joseph and kills him.

Hiro and Lydia return to the present, where Lydia briefs Edgar on Samuel’s treachery. Edgar faces off against Samuel, but Hiro freezes time and gives Edgar a chance to zip off before Samuel kills him. At Samuel’s behest, Damien, the carnival man who restored Sylar’s memories to him, tries to sift through Hiro’s memories, but Hiro’s brain short-circuits. He spouts gibberish for a while, then teleports off.

Noah invites Claire to spend Thanksgiving with him. Claire, who is going through another of her monstrously self-absorbed spells, initially refuses. She’s sulking because Gretchen moved across campus. Just across campus? Didn’t Gretchen say she was leaving college? Didn’t she buy her plane ticket? Didn’t the Haitian (okay, Rene) follow her to the airport to make sure she left safely? Oh, Heroes, you frustrate me. While picking up groceries, Noah accidentally-on-purpose runs into his former partner Lauren, who has relocated to DC and is now working for the CIA. Lauren just wants to buy her turkey pot pie in peace without former coworkers stalking her, but she accepts Noah’s invitation to join him for Thanksgiving dinner.

Claire shows up at Noah’s apartment, as do a casserole-armed Sandra Bennet and Sandra’s new boyfriend Doug. Wow, Sandra flew all the way from California to Washington, DC to spend Thanksgiving with her estranged ex-husband? With her new boyfriend? Really? Lyle, it is explained, is absent because he couldn’t get time off from school. That's really rough, the way California high schools make students attend classes on Thanksgiving Day. Hey, Sandra: If you have to choose between spending Thanksgiving with your ex and your adult daughter or with your teenaged son, your son should probably come first. Make Noah and Claire fly to California, if spending the holiday together is that important. Sandra and Claire and Noah and Lauren all bicker with each other and make veiled comments about Primatech and mind-wiping in front of poor hapless Doug, who seems kind of dorky but far too good-spirited and decent to be stuck with this nest of vipers.

Over dinner, Doug makes a game attempt at conversation, but Claire is sullen and wretched, and Lauren and Sandra snipe at each other, and it’s all pretty unpleasant to watch. Claire sulks about how she wants to drop out of school. Doug offers her some sympathy, but she’s foul and rude to him. To get attention, she slices her arm open with a carving knife. Right at the dinner table. Nice one, Claire.

When Gretchen, whom Noah had invited on the sly, shows up for dinner, Claire snaps out of her funk. She steals Noah’s compass, then she and Gretchen head off in search of a decent subplot.

Angela stops by Peter’s apartment, caterers in tow, and sets up Thanksgiving dinner for herself and her boys. Angela blithely insists it wasn’t Nathan’s corpse in the storage locker, it was a shapeshifter. Wisely, Angela doesn’t try to explain why she had stashed a dead shapeshifter in a storage locker.

Nathan lends some excitement to this glum family gathering when he starts shooting blue electricity from all parts of his body, then shapeshifts into Sylar. Sylar grins at a horrorstruck Peter and Angela, ties a napkin around his neck, and sits down for Thanksgiving dinner. We cut to commercial at this point, and I swear, if we’d come back from the break to find Angela with the top of her head lopped off and Sylar carving up her brain like a turkey, I would have forgiven this season for a multitude of sins.

Sadly, we don’t. Sylar chows down on pie while freezing Angela and Peter telekinetically to their seats, which is still pretty entertaining. When he tries to kill Angela, the Nathan side of his personality returns, and he flees.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, folks. As Action Figure Mohinder and I will be in New York this week, drinking Prosecco and cranberry juice with Ingrid (festive!), the posting schedule might get a little wonky. I'll try to have Heroes up by Tuesday morning, though no promises.

Five preview clips of Monday's Heroes may be viewed here. For those who avoid spoilers, I won't comment any further, apart from noting the following:
a) Clip #1 looks pretty good,
b) Clips #2 through #5 are pretty much the worst things I've ever seen,
c) in Clip #4, with the single line "You're so likeable!", Doug just became my new favorite character, and:
d) I'm actually sort of okay about being stuck on a plane while the episode airs live.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

FlashForward Episode Nine: Believe

Any huge Bryce fans out there? This is your lucky night. Four weeks before the blackout: Bryce and another doctor examine X-rays. The doctor tells Bryce his cancer has metastasized in the liver, and the prognosis is grim. Huh. This seems like a fairly ginormous part of Bryce’s backstory to spring on us now, and it feels pretty random. Afterward, Bryce wanders in a daze through the parking lot. While backing out of his parking space, he dings a shiny red ’63 T-bird. The driver bawls him out, so Bryce pulls forward, then backs up again, repeatedly hitting the car. He gets out and walks away, ignoring the driver as he bellows at him.

Two weeks before the blackout: In Tokyo, a young mechanical engineer named Keiko practices smiling in the bathroom mirror before she’s called in for a job interview at Nakahara, a major robotics firm. She shares her impressive credentials (she specializes in biomedical engineering and robotics) and her less-impressive hobbies (guitar and salsa dancing). The humorless panel doesn’t look especially charmed by her, which is their loss, because she’s adorable.

Still pre-blackout: Olivia snaps at Bryce for being flaky and spacey during surgery.

Keiko, clearly unhappy at her new job, winces her way through a congratulatory celebration with her friends and family.

The day of the blackouts, Bryce tells a psychiatrist he hasn’t told his friends or family about his illness. Then he heads out to the pier and sticks a gun under his chin. The blackouts hit, and his flash forward happens: He’s sitting in a sushi bar. Keiko approaches him tentatively. They smile at each other, and he says, “You’re really here.” He takes her hand and sees she has the kanji for “believe” tattooed on his wrist.

Post-flash forward, Bryce regains consciousness on the pier. In Tokyo, Keiko regains consciousness on the floor of her apartment, smiling and laughing.

In the present, Bryce learns Japanese from tapes in a room surrounded by his paintings of Keiko. He suddenly rushes to the bathroom and vomits.

Mark calls Aaron to fill him in on his investigation into Jericho. Conveniently enough, they’re headquartered in Santa Monica. Mark ends the call and answers Olivia’s phone while she’s in the shower. He sees the anonymous text message Olivia received about how he was drinking again during his flash forward. When Olivia gets out of the shower, he snaps at her for not telling him this earlier.

At the hospital, Olivia discovers Bryce’s central line on his chest for chemotherapy. He confesses he’s had renal cell carcinoma for a year -- he had his kidney removed just before he transferred to the hospital. He’s okay with it, though -- he now has something to live for.

Tracy fixes dinner for Aaron. When she pours herself a glass of wine, Aaron informs her she can’t drink in front of him -- he’s an alcoholic, so he can’t be around drinkers. Tracy flounces off to drink alone.

Mrs. Levy, a representative from the NSA, meets with the FBI gang about the surveillance footage of Suspect Zero in the Detroit stadium She’s been able to make out an alpha symbol on Suspect Zero’s ring. When Stan asks for a more detailed analysis, she refuses to provide it in front of Demetri, who has been red-flagged as a risk by the NSA, thanks to the phone call made by the mysterious woman who contacted Demetri to tell him about his upcoming murder. A recording of the call exists, but Mrs. Levy refuses to give Demetri any more information.

Keiko sits in her cubicle and stares glumly at a robotic arm picking up jellybeans. Whoa. Keiko, I know any job where you sit in a cubicle is going to suck by definition, but you’re watching a robotic arm pick up jellybeans. How bad can your job possibly be? She goofs off by watching footage of Bob Dylan concerts on her computer, then gets summoned into a big meeting. Her coworker explains that, since she’s the only woman in the department, she has to serve everyone tea. Keiko reacts to this suggestion with something less than wild enthusiasm.

Mark and Aaron clean up after an AA meeting. Mark explains that he’s freaked out that someone told Olivia about how he’ll be drinking in the future. He mentions that he only told two people about that, Aaron being one of them, and while he stops just short of outright accusing Aaron, Aaron reads between the passive-aggressive lines and picks up on Mark’s meaning. Aaron calls him a son of a bitch for suspecting him, smashes a few chairs, and tells Mark to get a new AA sponsor. This is the most vim and vigor we’ve seen from Aaron thus far in this series. Hell, he had less of an emotional reaction when he discovered Tracy was alive.

Keiko visits a tattoo parlor. The tattoo artist scoffs at her at first because she looks like a clean-cut office girl, but Keiko insists she wants to get inked.

Mark, on a mission to alienate all his friends and coworkers, next accuses Stan of texting Olivia about his future drinking. Like Aaron, Stan reacts poorly, though he stops short of smashing chairs. Instead, he coldly orders him out of his office.

Bryce chats with a patient, using the rudimentary Japanese he’s learned, and shows her his drawing of Keiko. The patient identifies the symbol on Keiko’s t-shirt as the logo for a sushi bar in Tokyo. Bryce thinks this might be where he meets Keiko in his flash forward.

Olivia snags Bryce a spot in a medical trial in Houston for a promising new drug, Trifecuab. Bryce refuses, because the testing might kill him, and he wants to stay alive for Keiko. Olivia argues, quite reasonably, that the drug might be the reason he’s alive in the future. She urges him to go to Houston. So Bryce gets on a plane and goes to… Tokyo. He shows the drawing of Keiko around to the chefs at the sushi bar. One recognizes Keiko and tells him where to find her.

Keiko considers quitting her job, over her mother’s protests. Her mom also insists Keiko marry some random office guy. When Keiko refuses, her mother threatens to kick her out of the house. While Keiko is delightful, there’s something a little smug and condescending about the scenes in Japan. The peripheral players -- Keiko’s mom, her employers, the chefs at the sushi bar -- are drawn too heavily on stereotypes. The result makes me cringe a little.

Mark manages to get the recording of the phone call between Demetri and the mysterious woman from the NSA. Demetri, Mark and Vreede listen to it. Vreede identifies some distinctive electronic music in the background as part of a nightly light show in Hong Kong. Stan won’t give his approval for Demetri to go to Hong Kong to investigate. Because they’re rebels who aren’t bound by things like direct orders, Mark and Demetri decide to sneak off on their own.

Bryce shows Keiko’s mother his drawing. She decides to be a butthead and tells him he doesn’t recognize her, then shuts the door in his face. Bryce calls Nicole, depressed he can’t find Keiko. Nicole urges him to come home.

Mark apologizes to Aaron for accusing him of sending the text to Olivia. Aaron complains that Tracy has become an alcoholic. Gosh, this is a fun plotline. In fact, between Bryce’s stage-four cancer and Keiko’s spirit-crushing life and Mark accusing all his friends of betraying him, this is just a fun episode.

Bryce returns to Los Angeles. He exits the plane… followed by Keiko. Neither is aware of the other. We see Keiko’s flash forward in full: She arrives at the sushi bar and meets with Bryce... and the sushi bar is in Los Angeles, not Tokyo.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Fringe: Of Human Action

Just FYI, my recap of last week's episode of Fringe is up at

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

V Episode Three: A Bright New Day

Chad reports on how the American borders are now open to a limited number of Visitors. Anna is the first Visitor to step outside the Peace Ambassador center and onto American soil. She holds up her passport for the cameras.

Erica watches a news broadcast and grouses to Tyler about how there was no time to do a proper threat assessment before opening the borders to Visitors. After Tyler leaves, Father Jack arrives to meet with Erica for a Visitor-fighting strategy sessions. Erica gets called in by the FBI to the Peace Ambassador center, where Visitors have reported receiving death threats. She tells Father Jack she might uncover information there they can use to their advantage, then leaves him behind to sort through the files she’s accumulated on things possibly related to the Visitor threat.

Ryan and Valerie stroll through the city and exchange I-love-yous. Poor Valerie has yet to have anything of substance to do on this show, other than fretting that Ryan is keeping secrets from her. After Valerie leaves, Ryan meets with Georgie to make plans for mounting a resistance. Ryan mentions someone named John May, who was the legendary leader of the Fifth Column, the first organized group of Visitors to revolt against Visitor leadership.

Marcus and a pale, ethereal Visitor named Joshua discuss Dale, who has finally regained consciousness after being stabbed by Erica. As Dale was a highly-placed sleeper agent embedded within human society for over twenty years, Marcus expects he’ll have valuable intelligence. Joshua introduces himself to a confused Dale, who has amnesia from the attack.

Chad reports on a woman named Mary Faulkner, the widow of the fighter pilot whose plane crashed when the Visitor ships first arrived. Mary, who has become the face of the anti-Visitor protest movement, has scheduled a nationally-televised press conference to address the Visitor threat. Anna watches Chad’s report, then asks Marcus for information on Mary Faulkner. You know, I don’t really know for sure that this guy’s name is Marcus, because they never seem to mention it on the show. I had to look it up on IMDB, but for all I know that could be totally wrong. He could be, dunno, George or something. But until I learn otherwise, I’m calling him Marcus. He looks like a Marcus.

Tyler drops Brandon off at the Peace Ambassador center, where there’s a mounting throng of protesters outside. Tyler, still banned from being a Peace Ambassador for fighting, stares wistfully at Lisa.

Erica shows up at the center and gets briefed on the death threats. She’s assigned a partner from the Visitors’ own security force, which seems to be comprised entirely of attractive yet creepy young men wearing head-to-toe black. Kind of strange that the Visitors would need the help of the FBI when they seem to have their own perfectly adequate force, but the ways of the Visitors are often mysterious. Erica, true to her reputation as the world’s least discreet spy, immediately demands access to Visitor’s secret security headquarters.

Ryan enters a deserted shop and meets with Cyrus, a ratty young guy who seems happy to see him. He asks what Ryan’s doing there, and Ryan replies, “I’ll give you 29 guesses.” And just as I’m wondering what the hell that means, we cut to Marcus on the Visitor ship, informing Anna that the leaders of the “Twenty-nine Visitor ships” are ready for their briefing. Aw, V, you’re awfully service-y, aren’t you, hand-feeding your audience information like this? Anna lectures to holographic projections of the other Visitor leaders about shaping human opinions to stop resistance.

Father Jack sorts through files and finds one on Georgie, whom he identifies as the guy who organized the ill-fated warehouse meeting. He goes to an address in the file, which turns out to be a run-down and sad-looking house. He snoops around and gets caught by a woman, presumably the property owner, who tells him no one lives there anymore. Georgie’s entire family was killed -- Georgie claims it was done by aliens.

Ryan asks Cyrus to join his quest to reunite the Fifth Column. Instead, Cyrus pulls a gun on Ryan and presses a big red alarm button to signal the Visitors. He tells Ryan he’s turning him in so the Visitors will “reconnect” him as a reward. And just as I’m wondering about this reconnecting business, Cyrus helpfully explains that Anna will give him something called The Bliss. Service-y again, V. Thank you. Ryan claims The Bliss is what Anna uses to control them, which is the perfect soft-lob setup to a quip I’m not going to bother making. Ryan calls Cyrus a junkie, and now all of a sudden we’re in a different and less interesting TV show. Ryan attacks Cyrus and wrestles the gun away from him.

Brandon sets Lisa and Tyler up on a secret date at a pizza parlor. Lisa tells Tyler they’re letting him back in the Peace Ambassador program.

Erica and her Visitor partner stake out the roof of the Peace Ambassador center. Erica notices a guard missing. They find him unconscious, minus his Visitor uniform. Erica spots a suspicious-looking man disguised as a Visitor and chases him around for a while. The man pulls a gun, but Erica successfully subdues him. The Visitors haul away the attempted assassin.

Erica sneaks around the building a bit and breaks into a room filled with floating monitors displaying surveillance-camera footage from all around. One of the monitors is broadcasting an image of Erica. She traces the camera to a Visitor jacket, which is (oddly) hanging on the back of the door. She leaves the room before noticing that one of the monitors is showing an image of Tyler, who is beaming at himself in the mirror while modeling his new Visitor jacket.

Anna endlessly rehearses words of condolence, trying to hit the right sympathetic notes. When Mary arrives for her press conference, Anna approaches her and offers her sympathy.

Joshua guides Dale through a mental construct of his memories to try to trigger his recollection of who attacked him. Dale’s memories start to return: He remembers there were other Visitors working at the Bureau. (It’ll no doubt turn out to be Erica’s boss, whose name I can’t be bothered to look up right now, but wouldn’t it be kind of cool if Erica turned out to be a Visitor?) Dale insults humans for a while, then remembers that Erica was the one who attacked him. Dale wants to kill her, but Joshua muses that Erica would make a better ally instead. When Dale looks confused at this, Joshua injects him with something and kills him. As Dale dies, Joshua says, “The Fifth Column says hello.”

Georgie approaches Father Jack in the church. Father Jack fills him in on the big resistance plan. Georgie tentatively agrees to join.

At the press conference, Mary Faulkner switches to a pro-Visitor speech, having been won over by Anna. Anna joins her at the podium and reiterates her claim that the Visitors are peaceful.

Marcus arrives at Cyrus’s shop in response to the alarm Cyrus set off, but finds the place trashed and “John May lives!” spray-painted on the door.

Tyler shows Lisa around his bedroom. They make out. When Erica unexpectedly arrives home, Tyler whips off his Visitor jacket and, less explicably, his t-shirt and goes out to meet her. Erica investigates noises in Tyler’s bedroom and finds quick-thinking Lisa in her bra and underwear. I mean, Lisa probably could have gotten away with just taking off her Visitor jacket and stashing it in the closet or something, but points for enthusiasm.

Anna watches Chad broadcast about how everyone is starting to love the Visitors. She thanks the assassin Erica apprehended, who turns out to be a Visitor plant -- the death threats were staged to generate pro-Visitor sympathies.

Erica tells Father Jack about the monitors in the Visitor center. Georgie and Ryan arrive, hoping to join their resistance. All four stand around and stare at each other, and it’s clear no one has the foggiest idea how to go about starting a resistance.

Lisa approaches Anna on the Visitor ship and tells her, “Tyler’s the one. We should use him.” When Anna tells her she’s doing a good job, Lisa replies, “Thank you mother.”

Monday, November 16, 2009

Heroes Volume Five, Episode Nine: Brother’s Keeper

At the Sullivan Brothers Carnival, Hiro stares at Charlie’s waitress nametag while Samuel tells him he needs to go back in time eight weeks to a motel room in Texas to prevent Mohinder from destroying a film from 1961. If he can deliver the film to Samuel, he’ll save Charlie.

Nine weeks ago in Chennai, Mohinder lectures a girl on plate tectonics while his Volume One fiancée, Mira, beams at him. He tells Mira he’s thinking of making lamb biriyani for dinner. It’s worth pointing out that he’s clean-shaven and looking especially pretty. Mira, who is familiar with the way Mohinder’s side projects tend to get him into trouble, urges him to throw out a box he had delivered filled with his father’s Coyote Sands research. Mohinder agrees and throws the box away.

In a diner in Washington DC, Tracy looks at the spinning compass Samuel gave her and gets into a debate with the waitress about carnival freaks. When she picks up her coffee mug, her power malfunctions, and the mug freezes and shatters. Tracy hurries out.

Peter and Nathan go to Nathan’s office, where his staff seems only mildly surprised to see their errant Senator back after his prolonged absence. His helpful assistant tells him that Angela let her know he was on indefinite vacation. The Haitian -- Rene -- arrives. Obviously suspecting the truth about Nathan, Rene orders him to stand back while he speaks to Peter. Why the Haitian, of all people, would have any reason to fear Nathan/Sylar, I can’t even begin to guess.

Claire lugs her laundry over to Noah’s apartment and finds the doorknob has been smashed. She sneaks inside and stalks the intruder around with a butcher knife for a while, then discovers it’s just… Tracy, whose freezing power is malfunctioning again. Claire fixes her a hot bath, and Tracy strips down to her underwear and soaks in it. The water starts to freeze over. When Claire grabs Tracy, Claire freezes solid. Horrified, Tracy tries to move Claire into the bathtub to thaw her, but Claire’s foot breaks off. Tracy starts sobbing at this, which seems like a perfectly reasonable reaction. Claire regenerates, foot and all.

Later, Tracy, powers firmly back under control, drinks tea with Claire and compares notes with her about Samuel. Noah comes home and sees Claire’s spare broken-off foot resting on the coffee table.

The Haitian -- Rene -- tells Peter Angela sent him to wipe Nathan’s and Peter’s memories. He implies, strongly, that he knows what’s going on, but he refuses to give Peter a straight answer, because where’s the fun in that? Instead, he gives him a card with the number for a storage locker scribbled on it and tells him the answers can be found there.

In India, Mohinder lies in bed with Mira, wide awake. He sneaks out of bed and rummages through his box o’ crap, which he’s salvaged from the trash, and extracts the film reel about Chandra’s experiments at Coyote Sands. You know, the film reel that Mohinder lost in the desert after getting nabbed by Danko’s goons? I guess it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Mohinder could have sent someone into the desert to look for it and mail it to him in India, right? He watches black-and-white footage from 1961, in which Chandra speaks of wanting to alert the authorities to the dangers of having so many people with abilities in one location. A small force emanates from individuals with powers -- get a bunch of them together, and the force increases exponentially, like magnetism. One of the residents of Coyote Sands, a pregnant woman, is about to give birth to someone possessing a great deal of magnetic energy. Off screen, the woman gives birth, and chaos erupts. Chandra ducks for cover as the walls rattle.

Peter visits the storage locker with Nathan, who is disgruntled that Rene didn’t want him in the loop. There’s a coffin in the storage locker; Nathan peeks inside and sees his own corpse. This begs the question: Angela, why on earth are you keeping your son’s body in a storage locker? I mean, really. Nathan touches his corpse and gets an impression of the events of his death: He sees Sylar and a hotel room, and hears Matt’s angry voice. Peter and Nathan decide to find Matt to search for answers. Nathan’s extremely useful assistant locates Matt at a hospital in Texas, where he’s in critical condition after getting riddled by bullets by cops last episode.

Nine weeks ago: While the film still runs, Mohinder launches into some incredibly intricate project, scattering bits and pieces of debris all around. Mira finds him asleep on his desk, the filmstrip flapping, crud all around him. He wakes and tells Mira enthusiastically that he’s made a remarkable discovery. He’s built a compass, which will help him locate the super-magnetic baby who was born on Chandra’s film. Mira is not amused. She tells him to think carefully about what he has to lose -- if he disappears again, she won’t wait. I’m flabbergasted that she waited this long for him in the first place. Mohinder’s a catch, granted, but around the time he moved to a different country, and started raising a small child, and found himself another girlfriend, maybe it was time to stop holding a torch for him.

Peter and Nathan break into Matt’s hospital room, and Peter uses his healing power to restore Matt’s health. Matt, aware that Sylar is still in his head, yells at Peter and Nathan to get away. Sylar takes over Matt’s consciousness again. Sylar-as-Matt tells Nathan that Nathan is really Sylar. He urges him to take his hand. Peter tries to stop this nonsense, but Nathan uses telekinesis to shove Peter aside. A guard bursts into the room to see what all the ruckus is about. In the chaos, Nathan and Matt touch hands, and there’s a transfer of energy. Nathan picks up unconscious Peter and flies with him out of the hospital as Matt, handcuffed to the bed, yells after him.

Matt uses Jedi Mind-Tricks™ to persuade the guard to wheel him into the morgue on a gurney. He manipulates the guard into thinking Matt died.

Eight weeks ago: Mohinder’s compass leads him to the carnival, where he runs into Samuel’s brother Joseph. He informs Joseph that Samuel can dangerously magnify his ability. Joseph claims he has no idea what Mohinder is talking about. When Samuel joins their conversation, Joseph tells him that Mohinder is researching a book on carnival folks.

Safely away from the hospital, Peter and Nathan (or, rather, “Nathan”) discuss their next move. When it seems like Nathan is planning on leaving him behind, Peter steals his flight power so he can stick with him. Hang on -- if Sylar passed into Nathan’s body which is really Sylar’s body, is he going to be able to fly? Can Sylar fly? Did Nathan retain his flying power even when he was in Sylar’s body? This is confusing. They fly off together. So I guess that answers that.

Joseph tells Mohinder that Samuel has no idea of the true nature of his ability. Joseph has been trying to keep him in the dark, because Samuel has great ambition that can be dangerous. He’s kept the carnival deliberately small to keep Samuel’s powers under control. Joseph advises Mohinder to burn Chandra’s film, then kicks Mohinder out of the carnival. Unseen by Mohinder and Joseph, Samuel lurks outside the trailer, listening.

Mohinder calls Mira from a motel room to tell her uncovering his father’s research again was a mistake. He places the film in the trash can, douses it with lighter fluid, and strikes a match (psst, Mohinder: Film is highly flammable. No lighter fluid needed!), but before he can ignite it, Hiro freezes time and saves the film. He warns the still-frozen Mohinder to be careful: the “Evil Butterfly Man” will be coming for him.

Before vanishing again, Hiro unfreezes Mohinder, who drops the match and starts the fire in the now-empty trash can. Samuel bursts in, demanding to know what’s on the film. Samuel crushes a rock into pebbles and, when Mohinder refuses to give him any information, hurls the pebbles at him. They embed themselves in his chest. Mohinder collapses. After Samuel leaves, Mohinder wakes up, coughing and gasping, and notices he’s wearing a bulletproof vest. Hiro pops up out of nowhere and says, “Hello, old friend.”

Hiro explains that he’s come from eight weeks in the future to save the film -- he saved Mohinder via bulletproof vest kind of as an afterthought. Mohinder wants to stop Samuel before his power can grow stronger, but Hiro needs Mohinder to disappear for eight weeks in order for Samuel to release Charlie when Hiro delivers the film. Mohinder and Hiro squabble about it, and Hiro freezes time again. He teleports away with Mohinder.

Present day: Hiro delivers the film to Samuel and asks for Charlie back.

Mohinder wakes up wearing a straightjacket in a padded cell in an asylum in Florida. An attendant calls him “Ahmadi” and tells him it’s time for his medication. Above Mohinder’s protests, the attendants drug him.

Matt calls Janice to tell her Sylar is back in his own body and, hence, out of his own.

Samuel joins Tracy at the diner and tells her she can accomplish great things with him.

Peter and Nathan discuss how Nathan is actually Sylar. Peter tries to argue that it doesn’t really matter, but Nathan points out that Peter is always going to see Sylar whenever he looks at him.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

FlashForward Episode Eight: Playing Cards With Coyote

It’s been two months since the blackouts. There’s a news broadcast about Al’s suicide and the possibilities it suggests about how the events seen in the flash forwards can be changed.

Lloyd sends an email to several parties, titled “We have to take responsibility.”

Janis returns to work and gets hugged by Stan, who is especially paternal in this episode. Lots of comforting shoulder pats. When Janis tries to resign, Stan won’t let her, claiming he needs her in the office. She confesses that, in the wake of Al’s death, she’s confused about her own future.

Simon shows up at the hospital while Lloyd is doing card tricks for Dylan. Simon refers to Lloyd as a Nobel finalist, which is a little confusing. Nobel finalists aren’t publicly announced, are they? I just a spent a few minutes hunting for a conclusive answer at the official Nobel Prize site, and I can’t say for certain, but no, it doesn’t seem like Lloyd would know he was a finalist. Anyway, Simon is Not Amused about Lloyd’s email (they make repeated references to a “Myhill”, who is either another recipient of the email or the name of a company). Lloyd wants to go public with the information that they were responsible for the blackouts. Simon is rather vehemently opposed to this idea. He suggests he and Lloyd settle their dispute in a civilized way, i.e. with a high-stakes hand of Texas Hold ‘Em. If Lloyd wins, he and Simon will reveal their role in the blackouts to the public. If Simon wins, they’ll keep their mouths shut.

Mark and Olivia roll around in bed together, celebrating the notion that their future can be changed. Poor cute Al -- his death is cause for a lot of rejoicing this episode. Mark gives Olivia a gift, which she doesn’t open. Demetri calls and interrupts their nuzzling and cuddling: The police department in Barstow sent the FBI video footage of the murder of a man named Parovsky, committed by a man with three stars tattooed on his arm, just like the tattoo on the man trying to kill Mark in his flash forward. The video was shot by a woman named Ingrid Alvarez on her camera phone. Janis produces enhanced photos of the footage -- one of the photos, a close-up of the star tattoo, was on Mark’s evidence wall in his flash forward.

At the hospital, Olivia opens her gift from Mark: a sexy black bra and matching underpants, which is what she wore to greet Lloyd in her flash forward.

Aaron’s house: Tracy, sleeping on the couch, wakes up crying and screaming. Aaron rushes to comfort her. She struggles with crutches, and we see she has a prosthetic leg. She won’t let Aaron tell anyone, her mother included, that she’s still alive. More, she refuses to talk about what happened. Aaron lays some guilt on her, mentioning that he’s been through hell thinking she’s been dead for two years. I’m firmly on Team Aaron here. Oh, and Tracy? Call your mom.

Janis, Mark and Demetri go to Barstow to interview Ingrid Alvarez, whose roommate has just been murdered in what was most likely an attempt by Parovsky’s killers to silence Ingrid. She tells them about Parovsky’s murder: She was walking to her car after work and spotted three men fighting in the alley. She hid and called 911, then filmed the assault with her phone while she was on hold. She saw the victim give the men a case before the two other men killed him. One of the assailants was gray-haired; the other was a muscular blond. She heard them mention something about “QED.”

Simon and Lloyd play cards in a casino. I’m actually less than fascinated by watching people playing cards, but Simon’s running patter is pretty entertaining. When he snarks to Lloyd about how Lloyd’s prize for winning would be confessing to mass murder, he casually explains to the aghast other players that “confessing to mass murder” is just a Manchester figure of speech. Dominic Monaghan is a fine, fine addition to this cast. Another player mentions something about an Inevitability Index: People are trying to calculate the odds of the events seen in the flash forwards actually happening. Simon claims it’s a scam, because the future has already happened. (Not that either of the assailants in Ingrid’s footage resembled Simon, but it’s probably worth mentioning that Simon punctuates his remarks on the subject with “QED.”)

At the hospital, Nicole talks to Olivia about how she’s feeling optimistic now that she knows the flash forwards might not come true. Olivia is feeling upbeat as well, as are Mark and Demetri. And won’t they all feel silly when Zombie Al pops up to show the future can’t be changed? (I feel certain that Zombie Al is within the realm of possibility. It was implied last episode that Al was Creole, what with his dirty rice and all. I could totally handle a good voodoo plotline, if it means bringing Al back.)

Tracy finally confides in her father: Two years ago, while working long-range reconnaissance on an village in Afghanistan, she’d witnessed military contractors working for a private firm called Jericho (aha -- not Jericho missiles. That makes much more sense) massacring everyone in the village. She reported this to her superior officer, and a week later her Humvee was ambushed. She’s been in hiding ever since.

Against Tracy’s wishes, Aaron secretly tells Mark that she’s still alive. Since other soldiers in the Humvee were blown to bits, Aaron theorizes that they buried Tracy’s leg with parts from other soldiers. Hence the DNA match during the exhumation.

Mark and Stan become increasingly convinced there’s a mole in the FBI reporting their movements to someone. Mark believes that’s how men with assault rifles will gain access to the Federal building during the events in his flash forward. Yeah, the mole is Agent Vreede, who was in the building during Mark’s flash forward and who saw himself going out the emergency exit for unknown reasons. Of course it’s Vreede. Unless that’s too obvious, and it turns out to be… dunno. Janis, maybe. Still, I’m betting it’s Vreede.

When Aaron confesses to Tracy that he filled Mark in on her situation, she panics. Aaron tries to reassure her by telling her about his flash forward, which proves she’s alive in the future: They’re in Afghanistan, in a bunker or a cave with graffiti on the walls. Aaron went outside the bunker and talked to a tall, dark man with a scar, who told him, “The account has been verified,” and Aaron gave him an envelope. Tracy identifies the man as Khamir, a field medic who nursed her to health. She doesn’t mention what she saw in her own flash forward.

While Mark and Demetri stake out the exterior of Ingrid’s place, Ingrid shows Janis her exotic pet birds. Ingrid says in her flash forward, she saw herself working at the Bronx Zoo. When the lights suddenly go out, Janis protects Ingrid while Mark and Demetri enter the building. Mark shoots and kills a gray-haired man with the three stars tattooed on his arms. Because the other murderer is still at large, Janis tells Ingrid they’ll need to place her in the Witness Protection Program, which meshes with her flash forward of living in New York.

Poker game: Simon is winning by a significant margin. He (foolishly) declares they’ll play one final hand, winner take all. Oh, Simon, what are we going to do with you? Simon has four of a kind… but Lloyd trumps him with a straight flush. He tells Simon the game was too important to leave to chance, so he cheated by doing magic tricks with the cards. You know, Lloyd, maybe you shouldn’t have mentioned that.

In the office at night, Janis visits websites on sperm donation. She shows Stan a slightly less blurry photo of Suspect Zero at the stadium in Detroit during the blackouts. Janis and Stan can barely make out a ring on the man’s finger.

Mark comes home. He tells Olivia he killed the man who was going to come after him, in order to change his future. Olivia hugs him tightly, though she looks kind of freaked out by Mark’s actions.

In an unidentified location, a man with a shaved head and three stars tattooed on his arm removes a suitcase from an armored car in the rain. Another man brings the case to a middle-aged man, who is seated at a table inside a warehouse. The middle-aged man examines the contents of the case: a series of rings with thick bands and large center stones, like class rings. “There were supposed to be seven,” he observes, before quoting a little Oppenheimer and shooting the man who brought him the case.

Well. That was enigmatic.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

V Episode Two: There Is No Normal Anymore

Erica and Father Jack sit outside the warehouse following the massacre, looking stunned by what just transpired. They discuss their plan to build an anti-Visitor resistance. When a shuttlecraft from the Visitor ship lands near them, they secretly observe the Visitors clearing away the bodies. Erica uses a payphone to anonymously call 911 and report the massacre, but Visitors intercept her call and send one of the little spike-shooting floating orb thingys after them. Erica smashes it into bits, then orders Father Jack to go home.

When she returns to her own home, she finds that Tyler isn’t in his bed. She heads downstairs with a baseball bat to investigate some suspicious noises and ends up almost braining Tyler, who is sneaking back inside. It wouldn’t have been a huge loss if she had, actually. She asks him not to get involved with the Visitors. Tyler promises, then returns to his room and hides his Visitor Peace Ambassador jacket under his bed.

Erica showers. Well, we saw Scott Wolf in the shower last week, so I guess it’s only fair that it’s Elizabeth Mitchell’s turn. Her FBI supervisor Paul calls to inform her that her duplicitous, treacherous, secret-lizard partner Dale is missing. This is not news to Erica, who whacked him over the head with a pipe last episode, but she gamely pretends to be shocked. Erica secretly retrieves her gun from Dale’s car, which she’d left with him before going into the anti-Visitor meeting at the warehouse

FBI Special Agent Sarita Mali, who is played by Tory the Cylon (Rekha Sharma), visits Father Jack to grill him about the guy who died in his church. She’s part of the Visitor Threat Assessment Task Force. Jack lies and tells her the guy didn’t say anything about the Visitors. Father Jack worries about not telling the FBI the whole story, but vaguely sinister Father Travis assures him he did the right thing.

The Visitors torture someone they captured at the anti-Visitor meeting by making him imagine he’s covered with snakes (…sigh). They grill him to see if anyone from the meeting was involved with the “first resistance.” They’ve got low-resolution photos of the meeting, in which Father Jack and Erica look like blurry, fuzzy blobs. Visitor surveillance technology: Not all it could be.

Ryan enters an auto repair shop and talks to a guy named Angelo, who turns out to be a fellow human-friendly Visitor. While Ryan drones on about how he loves Valerie, Angelo repairs his arm injury sustained in the warehouse fight by healing his fake human skin. Angelo secretly drugs him, telling him he can’t trust him. Ryan wakes up later, alone in the shop. He gets a phone call from Angelo, who tells him to stay away from Valerie -- he’ll just end up putting her in danger. Angelo has left Ryan the phone number of someone named Cyrus. When Valerie asks about Cyrus, Ryan dismisses him as “some guy I know.”

Father Jack, feeling guilty about not having told the FBI the whole story, meets with Agent Mali at the FBI office. When Erica spots him, she bawls him out for giving Mali the photos the dead guy had given him, insisting that he can’t trust anyone.

Paul calls Erica into his office, plays her 911 call, and demands an explanation. On the spot, she whips up a nifty web of lies about how she suspected Dale was conspiring with terrorists, so she trailed him to the warehouse and watched him meet with members of the cell they’d been tracking, then called 911 so as not to blow her cover. Paul is somewhat convinced. He notes that the call was never received by 911 -- he received the copy from the DEA, who were monitoring the payphone.

Erica meets with Dale’s wife Joceyln, who gives her Dale’s phone records. Jocelyn claims Dale had been distant since the Visitors arrived. Prior to his disappearance, he’d been making a lot of regular calls to an untraceable number.

Erica drops by the church to apologize to Father Jack, who has decided he no longer wants to be part of any resistance. He then meets her after work to tell her he’s changed his mind (again). Enough with the waffling, Jack! Make a decision and stick to it! Erica gives him a list of everyone who has contacted the Visitor Threat Assessment Task Force, speculating that they can find more anti-Visitor activists that way.

Tyler and Brandon show up at the Visitor compound for their Peace Ambassador thing. They gurgle some more about how Lisa’s really pretty (“Two words, man: Awe. Some”), and Tyler and Lisa flirt shamelessly. He shows her lots of photos of his motorcycle and asks her out for pizza. When Lisa playfully turns him down, Tyler replies, “Wow, you space girls are funny.” You know, Tyler is so loathsome he might wrapping all the way around the other side and starting to become likeable. In any case, he’s maybe growing on me, or at least I’m becoming convinced that the show isn’t trying to portray him as sympathetic and botching it horribly. A scuffle breaks out between Brandon and a group of anti-Visitor protestors, and Tyler ends up punching someone. Lisa looks gravely disappointed and disapproving. She tells Tyler he’s been kicked out of the Peace Ambassador program for fisticuffs, which seems reasonable enough, really. Tyler is heartbroken.

Anna addresses the people of Japan and Mexico, who have agreed to give their full support to the Visitors. Russia, India and the United States, however, have not committed to anything.

Chad watches tape of his interview with Anna. His producer Hailey asks why he’s beating himself up over agreeing to Anna’s demand that he not ask any tricky questions. Eighty million viewers watched the interview, so Hailey thinks he’s clearly doing something right. Still, Chad feels guilty, so he hosts a televised discussion with a bunch of anti-Visitor political figures about how maybe people shouldn’t be so quick to trust the pretty aliens. Post-broadcast, Anna summons him onboard the Visitor ship to chew him out. Chad claims it was a deliberate move to support her: The public now sees him as trustworthy, and the overall opinion of the Visitors went up following the interview (not entirely sure why that would be, but Chad seems pretty confident about it). Sure enough, soon after the broadcast, the US agrees to open diplomatic relations with the Visitors. Anna calls Chad to thank him.

Dale wakes up on the Vistor’s interrogation table.

Kind of a slow installment, but I liked it a bit better than the pilot, actually -- it wasn't quite as scattershot and scrambled. Not a great show, but there's some potential here. I'll give it another week at least.

Fringe: Earthling

Oh, hey, folks, my debut recap of last week's Fringe episode ("Earthling") is up at TVgasm. Check it out, if you're so inclined.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Heroes Volume Five, Chapter Eight: Shadowboxing

A mostly joyless and charmless Heroes this week. To preserve my sanity, I’m giving it a bit of a lick and a promise. Rest assured that, even still, more thought and effort will go into this recap than went into Claire’s blasted sorority plotline.

Sylar tosses and turns in bed. I’m not talking about the cool, evil Sylar, mind you -- this is the fragile man-child Sylar who’s been hanging out at Samuel’s carnival. Still sleeping, he shapeshifts into Nathan. He wakes and gets dressed, visibly agitated, and wanders out of his trailer.

At the slaughterhouse, Claire and Gretchen manage to convince the other sorority girls in their rush group that Becky really didn’t turn invisible and attack Gretchen, and Claire really didn’t get impaled on a meat hook -- instead, Becky must’ve put hallucinogens in their water bottles. The girls buy it. Hey, why are college students in Virginia speaking with Valley girl accents? Just wondering.

Back at the dormitory, Claire wants to figure out why Becky tried to kill Gretchen. She decides to snoop around Becky’s room and orders Gretchen to stay put. Gretchen worries that Becky will try to kill her -- Becky might be with them in the room right now, after all -- but Claire spurts a few puffs of baby powder in the room as proof that they’re alone. This… is embarrassing to watch.

Claire visits the sorority, which is gearing up for a Halloween party. Halloween, like Heroes, is yesterday’s news. Claire’s fellow rushees don’t remember anything about the previous night, because their feeble brains have been wiped by the Haitian, who has arrived with Noah at Claire’s request. Aw, man, we so rarely get to see the Haitian! Please don’t squander him on this lazy, insulting, derivative plotline!

Noah searches Becky’s room while the Haitian goes back to the dormitory with Claire to neutralize Becky’s invisibility, should she try to attack Claire and Gretchen again. Claire casually calls the Haitian “Rene.” Rene? Really? That’s going to take some getting used to.

When Claire returns to her room, she finds Gretchen packing, having already booked her flight home. Gretchen says she’s leaving forever. Is that a promise? I’m going to hold you to that, Gretchen. Claire tries to convince her to stay, telling her she’s important to her, but Gretchen refuses, and the only thing salvaging this scene is that the Haitian -- sorry, Rene -- looks a step away from rolling his eyes in exasperation at the sheer tediousness of these two. Gretchen storms out, and Claire asks the Haitian to make sure she’s safe. He takes off after Gretchen. Don’t walk away, Rene!

Noah searches Becky’s room and finds a compass. Invisible Becky stalks him for a while, until he pulls a high-voltage stun gun and threatens to shoot her. She shows herself and accuses Noah of murdering her father when she was five years old. We see a flashback, and yep, Noah burst in to capture Becky and her super-powered dad, who tried to use some kind of force field to protect them. Noah shot and killed him, but couldn’t find Becky, who turned herself invisible. Okay, that’s awesome that they’re addressing that Noah was/is a bad guy, but why have they spent so much of the season downplaying his past misdeeds? Becky explains that she wanted her vengeance on him by murdering Claire… or, failing that, at least murdering a couple of her monstrously annoying roommates. Noah prepares to shoot her with the stun gun, but gets interrupted by the arrival of a couple of sorority girls.

Samuel knocks on Claire’s door and introduces himself as Becky’s uncle. He goes on his whole rambling spiel about how the carnival is family and how super-powered people need to stick together. Noah bursts in and pulls a gun on Samuel. He asks Samuel about the compass, which is like the one they found earlier this season, thanks to the key that was inside Danko (hey, that’s going to get explained somewhere down the line, right? Why Danko had a key hidden inside his flesh?), and Samuel mentions that Danko killed his brother Joseph. Well, now we’re sort of getting somewhere plotwise. Maybe?

Noah handcuffs Samuel, but Becky arrives and frees him. There’s a weirdly choreographed fight where Becky gets tasered by Noah and Claire tries to stop Noah from shooting Samuel and Becky… you know, I don’t know why anyone does anything that they do on this show anymore, and what’s worse, I’ve stopped caring.

Claire returns to her dorm room. She lies in bed, stares at the ceiling, and sighs deeply.

Samuel and Becky return to the carnival. Becky apologizes for messing things up with Claire; Samuel tells her it’s okay and promises she’ll still get revenge. Lydia announces that they have a big problem: Sylar is gone.

In his apartment, Noah has a bunch of newspaper articles posted on the wall. He writes “Samuel” on an article about the sinkhole that swallowed the mansion where Samuel used to live.

New York: Peter gives emergency medical treatment in the back of an ambulance to a man who was paralyzed in a train collision. Peter uses the healing ability he absorbed from Jeremy to heal him. At the hospital, which is in chaos due to all the accident victims, Emma wanders around in a daze and is generally totally worthless. This is someone who does not belong in an emergency room. At some point, she finds a surgical kit and starts stitching up a wound, which is a step in the right direction. Peter spots her, and they exchange dewy glances. Peter keeps growing weaker and weaker whenever he uses Jeremy’s power -- it drains out of him, and he has to wait until it replenishes. He asks Emma where she learned to stitch people up. “Clown college,” she replies, before admitting she dropped out of medical school.

Emma and Peter find a random girl randomly unconscious in a random supply closet. Dear Heroes: Please don’t be this half-assed. Emma diagnoses the girl with pneumothorax, and no, it’s never addressed why this girl’s lung collapsed in a supply closet. Emma tells Peter she needs to do an emergency thoracoscopy, which is a major, risky surgical procedure that apparently takes about eight seconds and can be performed without anesthetic on the floor of a supply closet, while a trained nurse with the power to heal anyone twiddles his thumbs next to you.

Later, Emma goes off on another of her Starburst commercials, playing the trusty hospital waiting room piano again and marveling at the colorful lights. Peter joins her. She shows him a photo of her nephew, Christopher, who drowned while she was babysitting him. Peter gives her a tiara and says “Meagan wanted you to have that.” I guess we’re supposed to conclude that Meagan is the girl whose lung randomly collapsed? He places the tiara on Emma’s head, and it’s so joyless and low-energy it hurts to watch.

Back at his apartment, Peter takes down the newspaper articles about his rescues that he taped to his wall. There’s a knock on the door, and it’s Nathan/Sylar. Nathan hugs him and tells him, “I think I’m in trouble.”

Matt, with Sylar in control of his body, moves through airport security at LAX. Sylar is headed to New York to see Peter to find out what happened to his own body. It seems like Sylar should maybe know Matt’s thoughts, seeing how they’re sharing a brain and all, but that’s not the case. Anyway, Sylar gets busted at the security checkpoint, thanks to a gun Matt smuggled in his suitcase.

Four hours later, after sorting things out at the airport, Sylar and Matt are driving across the country. They end up with a flat tire, which Sylar, in Matt’s body, tries in vain to repair. (Sylar: “Do you have any upper-body strength at all?”) A friendly tow truck guy arrives and offers to help. Sylar whacks him repeatedly over the head with the tire iron. Now that’s the Sylar we know and love: the rat bastard who kills even when it actively goes against his best interests (see: murdering Candice in Volume Two). Sylar orders Matt to keep in line, or he’ll kill more people.

They stop at the Burnt Toast Diner in Midland, Texas, where Sylar flirts with the waitress, Lynette, and orders the Tahitian pancakes. He reminisces fondly about almost killing Charlie here, then threatens to kill Lynette unless Matt tells him where his body is. Matt finally breaks down and tells Sylar the truth about how he and Angela and Noah conspired to make Sylar believe he was Nathan Petrelli (“Well, that’s just crazy,” Sylar says, which… yeah). Sylar, who doesn’t seem to realize he’s frantically doodling on a napkin, decides to find Nathan and get his body back, then kill every single person even remotely involved with the conspiracy. That’s sort of okay with me, actually. I pretty much despise Angela and Noah these days, and I’m not really feeling that kindly toward Matt, either.

Lynette clears away the dishes, and finds that Sylar, thanks to Matt’s influence, has written “I have a gun, and I’m going to kill everyone in here” on a napkin. When Matt and Sylar get outside, they’re surrounded by cops. Matt decides to do a little suicide-by-cop to take Sylar down with him, which actually is a much sounder plan than his big “I’ll drink Sylar out of me!” idea a couple episodes back. He pretends to reach for a gun, and the cops riddle Sylar -- Matt -- with bullets.

Next episode: Mohinder looks beautiful and gets murdered. Mohinder, my dear, you’ve been missed.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

FlashForward Episode Seven: The Gift

Well, this is tricky. See, this episode kicks off with a bit of misdirection, which I can’t describe in too much detail without giving a clue to the ending. So I’m leaving a key point out of this description of the opening scene, in which a woman named Celia (remember, that’s the name Al searched for on the Mosaic website a couple episodes back) finds a flyer stamped with a blue hand tucked into the windshield of her car. It instructs her to go to (don’t bother -- it just redirects to ABC’s official FlashForward site) with the phrase, “You are one of us.”

Zoe tries to interest Demetri in a heated discussion about wedding invitations, but his attention is distracted by the alreadyghosts website. At the Benford home, things are still frosty after last episode’s revelations: Olivia tells Mark she’ll be working late, and he barely responds.

Al, Demetri and Mark examine the three corpses found at the empty house on Halloween. All have blue-painted hands, and all are dead from self-inflicted gunshot wounds. One of the corpses has been identified as a Scottish national named Ian Rutherford. Al has advance knowledge of the Rutherford case from his flash forward, in which he was in London discussing the case with MI-6 agent Fiona Banks (Alex Kingston).

Corporal Mike Willingham, who served overseas with Aaron’s dead daughter Tracy, drops by Aaron’s workplace to give him Tracy’s pocketknife. Aaron remembers his flash forward, in which he returns the knife to a still-living Tracy. Overwhelmed at this suggestion that his flash forward might come true, Aaron cries and hugs Mike. I gotta tell you, Aaron might not be the most interesting character, and he sure doesn’t have the most interesting plotline, but he sells his scenes.

Fiona Banks drops by FBI headquarters to follow up on Ian Rutherford’s death. According to Demetri, Rutherford and the other two corpses were “ghosts” on the Mosaic site -- i.e. none of them had a flash forward. Demetri, Mark and Al go visit the almostghosts site and find a message from a Dr. Maurice Raynaud, inviting all ghosts to a meeting in downtown Los Angeles that night.

Al and Fiona discuss their mutual flash forward in London. Fiona remembers a bird hitting the windows and dying while Al took a phone call from his attorney. We see Al’s side of the flash forward: While Fiona is occupied with the bird, a visibly-upset Al tells his attorney, “I killed her.”

Zoe gets upset with Demetri because he blew off their scheduled appointment to pick out wedding invitations. He explains that he was busy with a case, and she points out that she had a busy court schedule, and yet, “Somehow I made it to the printers anyway.” Hmm. While getting stood up undeniably sucks, I’m going to have to side with Demetri on this: They’re just wedding invitations, he’d already made it clear that he was happy with whichever one she chose, and an FBI case probably should take priority. She yells at him for a while about how she feels like he’s been ignoring her, so he gets nasty and says, “The more you jump down my throat, the less I want to be here,” then storms out.

(You know the moment I knew I was going to love the new Doctor Who series? It was in the premiere episode, when Rose and Mickey start squabbling and Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor orders them to take the domestics outside. This is my feeling exactly: I can’t stand watching relationship squabbles on television.)

Nicole, still wanting to make amends for whatever she’s done that she feels so guilty about in her flash forward, volunteers at the hospital. Olivia foists her off on Bryce, who is charmed and impressed when Nicole speaks fluent Japanese to soothe an upset patient. Hey, Nicole has layers!

Mark, Demetri and Al follow a trail of blue hands to the ghost meeting in a downtown warehouse. An old duffer in a fedora whips out a revolver and orders them to play Russian roulette. While Mark and Demetri look flabbergasted, Al promptly takes him up on it and fires on an empty chamber. The old man removes the bullet from the gun and gives it to Al, telling him it’s their ticket inside. On the bullet is written, “Not today.” Demetri and Mark chide Al for his death wish, but Al replies, in reference to his flash forward, “There’s no way I’m going to die tonight.”

The bullet gains them entry to what seems like a pretty standard warehouse party. Mark asks the sexy bartender if she can point out Raynaud, but she tells him the identity of Raynaud changes at each gathering. He finds the matchbook with “BLUE HAND” scrawled on it that was pinned to his evidence wall in his flash forward.

Lloyd drops by Olivia’s office and assures her he would never do anything to come between her and Mark.

Bryce shows Nicole a drawing of a girl he saw in his flash forward. In the background of the drawing is an unfinished kanji character. Nicole completes the strokes and tells him it means Believe.

Mike, worried that he gave Aaron false hope by returning Tracy’s knife, visits him again and confirms that he was with Tracy when their Humvee was attacked. We see a flashback to the attack, in which Mike and Tracy express panicked surprise that their black-garbed attackers, who do not look especially middle eastern, are firing Jericho missiles. I know exactly squat about missiles, but according to our ever-reliable friend Wikipedia, that’s a weapon that comes out of Israel, whereas Tracy was killed in Afghanistan. Mike confirms that he saw Tracy blown apart by the attack.

Mark and the boys find a back room at the blue hand party where horrible tortures are (voluntarily) taking place. All the flash forward-free partygoers are encouraged to act out their sickest fantasies. Raynaud, with his hands painted blue, finally shows himself, and hey! It’s Leoben the Cylon, just as creepy as ever. Demetri, Mark and Al identify themselves as FBI agents and start making arrests.

Back at FBI headquarters, Raynaud is revealed to be Jeff, a creepy and twerpy teacher at Fairfax High School. Question: Has Callum Keith Rennie ever played a character who wasn’t creepy and twerpy? Jeff claims he finds people to invite to the blue hand gatherings from the Mosaic site. Demetri wants to know the connection between Jeff and the guy with the blue hand stamp who tried to kill Janis. Jeff replies, twerpily, “The script for this conversation has already been written.”

Al invites Fiona to his place for some dirty rice. Claiming jetlag, she nicely turns him down. Al suggests she try taping her window when she returns to London, to prevent the bird from flying into it in her flash forward.

Mark and Olivia watch cartoons with Charlie. It seems as though tensions are easing between them.

Al makes his dirty rice, alone in his apartment.

Demetri brings Zoe a peace offering of cinnamon rolls and finally tells her about his upcoming murder. Zoe confirms again that he was alive in her flash forward, on their wedding day on a sunny beach.

Aaron meets with Mike, thanks him for giving him some peace about Tracy’s death, and offers him a job at the Department of Water and Power.

Bryce shows Nicole his paintings of the woman in his flash forward, who seems to be in Japan. Nicole encourages him to put his story up on Mosaic to find her.

Al leaves an envelope on Demetri’s desk. During a meeting, Demetri opens it and finds a letter addressed to Celia and a Post-It for Demetri: “There is always a way out.” Demetri reads the letter. In the opening sequence, by the way, Al reads this letter aloud in a voice-over, and they deliberately try to connect it to the flyer we see Celia receive from the Blue Hand people. Misdirection! Unnecessary misdirection, perhaps: I spent the first half of the episode puzzling about cute Al’s connection to the twerps in Raynaud’s group.

We see the phone call in Al’s flash forward in full: Al’s lawyer tells him Celia was taken off of life support an hour ago, and her two twin boys were placed in foster care. The lawyer reassures a devastated Al that it was all a terrible, random accident.

In the present, Al stands on the edge of the roof. Demetri charges up to the rooftop and pleads with Al not to jump. Al tells him if he can kill himself, it means the future can be changed: Celia will live, and maybe that means Demetri can live, too.

With that, Al dives off the building. I, uh, cried at this. Kind of a lot.

Back in London, Fiona tapes up the window to protect the bird. Somewhere, Simon toys with a bracelet that spells out “ANNABELLE.”

And Aaron returns home to find his daughter Tracy in his living room. She greets him with, “Hi, daddy.”

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

V Episode One: Pilot

Hmm. I don’t know. I might not hang in there with this one.

All across New York, the ground starts to vibrate. FBI agent/single mom Erica Evans (Lost’s Elizabeth Mitchell) tries to find her teen son Tyler (Logan Huffman), but he’s nowhere in the house. When she calls his phone, she discovers he’s in a medical clinic receiving treatment for minor injuries after getting into a fight at a party. Tyler’s a rebel. He’s also one of the more obnoxious teens on television, and there’s some mighty stiff competition in that area. I’m pretty sure we’re supposed to find him perfectly odious, though, so we’ll be able to see his growth as the series progresses. I hope so, at least.

In St. Joseph’s Church, Father Jack Landry (Joel Gretsch) notices the rumbling and vibrating. Stuff starts to topple down, and he has to scurry to push a wheelchair-bound man named Roy out of the way of a random toppling crucifix. Roy narrowly avoids getting impaled by Jesus. Ah. Symbolism.

Hunky anchorman Chad Decker notices the vibrations while he lathers himself up in a hot, soapy shower. This scene is totally not just an excuse to get Scott Wolf’s clothes off. Meanwhile, equally hunky Ryan (aw, Morris Chestnut! I love Morris Chestnut!) is picking out a wedding ring for his beautiful fiancée Valerie when he notices the rumbling.

A fighter jet careens between skyscrapers and crashes to the ground. Reflections of gigantic alien spaceships, which sort of resemble extra-large, extra-bloodthirsty ticks, appear on the shiny glass-and-steel buildings. Against his mom’s fervent pleas for him to stay put until she can reach him, Tyler leaves the clinic and hops on a motorcycle. Remember: He’s a rebel. Don’t forget. It’s his defining character trait. Tyler tries to get a closer look at the ships, then throws a fit when the National Guard tells him to move back. Oh, Tyler. You’re loveable.

Erica finds Tyler in time to see shiny reflective panels appear on the underside of the ship. The humongous (but very pretty!) face of a dimpled pixie appears on the panels. The pixie introduces herself as Anna (Firefly's Morena Baccarin) and describes herself as the leader of her people. All in all, 29 alien ships appear over major cities across the world; Anna appears on each ship, speaking the native languages of the various regions. She explains that her people just need water and will give the humans their advanced technology in exchange. On the ground, everyone bursts into applause, because in the V universe, alien invasion movies don’t exist.

Odious Tyler and his odious friend Brandon talk about how the aliens, who have been officially dubbed “Visitors”, have a lot of hot chicks. Erica calls her partner Dale (Alan Tudyk -- hey, it’s a Firefly reunion!) to tell him she observed a sharp spike in the activity of one specific terrorist cell just prior to the arrival of the Visitors.

During a news conference, Chad watches Anna go through her “we come in peace” spiel with admiring eyes. Chad wins Anna’s interest by flattering her, and they flash their dimples at each other. Back on the Visitor ship, Anna tells her henchman Marcus re: Chad, “I want him.”

Three weeks later: The cities hosting Visitor ships are seeing an economic boon as people flock to get a closer view. The Visitors set up healing centers to treat 65 different human ailments to which they’ve discovered cures. Despite a few protests, all appears to be well.

Erica and Dale, on the trail of the splinter cell, find an underground corridor filled with C4 explosives, plus fake IDs and passports. There’s also a dead man tied to a chair.

Ryan fields an urgent call from someone named Georgie, who tells him “They’re here. It’s starting.” Ryan replies, “I’m not that guy anymore,” and hangs up.

Tyler and Brandon take a tour of the Visitor ship, the interior of which looks like an amalgamation of every alien spacecraft interior seen in films or on television in the past decade. Cute blonde Visitor Lisa (Smallville’s Laura Vandervoot) flirts with Tyler, and he falls in love. You can tell by the way his smirk broadens. The Visitors demonstrate their ability to manipulate gravity, then Lisa encourages the boys to join the Peace Ambassador Program, where they’d get to hang out with the Visitors to learn more about them. Tyler and Brandon think this is, like, way cool. Argh. Why is it so hard to write believable flesh-and-blood teen characters? I’m not trying to pick on V -- two-dimensional clichéd teens are an epidemic on network television -- but the flatness of Tyler and Brandon is the episode’s big weak link.

Erica and Dale search the house of Owen Chapman, the dead man they found in the terrorist cell. Erica finds a text on Owen’s phone about a Super-Top-Secret Informational Terrorist Meeting.

Georgie meets with Ryan and invites him to the Super-Top-Secret Informational Terrorist Meeting. Ryan brusquely tells him he doesn’t want to get involved.

From the pulpit, Father Jack preaches about the dangers of getting on the bandwagon and how the Visitors have to earn trust before it can be given. It’s not entirely clear why he thinks this is good sermon fodder. Wheelchair-bound Roy stands up and shows Father Jack how the Visitors healed him. Later, Father Jack finds a mortally-wounded parishioner bleeding all over his pews. The parishioner tells him the Visitors tried to kill him. He gives Father Jack an envelope and tells him to go to the Super-Top-Secret Informational Terrorist Meeting.

Chad gets hand-picked to do a one-on-one interview with Anna, live from the Visitor ship. Just before the interview, Anna instructs him not to ask anything that would portray the Visitors negatively. Chad initially refuses, but backs down when Anna threatens to cancel. In the interview, Anna maintains that the Visitors are a happy and tranquil people. They want to open more healing centers and offer the world universal healthcare. Chad looks vaguely appalled at this. Why is everyone so afraid of universal healthcare?

Erica attends the Super-Top-Secret Informational Terrorist Meeting. Yeah, she just kind of wanders in, and nobody asks her any questions. She leave Dale sitting in the car in case of trouble, but the meeting is mostly filled with a bunch of uncertain-looking folks, Georgie and Father Jack among them. Before the meeting starts, a doctor injects everyone with an anesthetic and carves a bit of skin behind the ear down to the skull to confirm that all attendees are human. Erica asks everyone a whole bunch of prying questions about the purpose of the meeting. Way to be undercover, Erica. Georgie fills her in on the Visitors: Underneath their cloned human skin, they’re reptiles. They’ve been on Earth for years, plotting the eventual extermination of all humans. In the meantime, they’ve caused worldwide instability: Wars, the recent economic meltdown, religious extremists… Nope, I’m pretty sure us humans did that all by ourselves. Nice try, though, blaming our failings on aliens.

Father Jack opens the envelope given to him by the dying parishioner, which turns out to contain photos of Visitors. Erica recognizes the photos from the fake passports and realizes the terrorist cell she’s been tracking is comprised entirely of Visitors. Their meeting is interrupted by a hovering metal ball, which shoots out spikes and kills a bunch of the attendees. Then the room is swarmed by… I dunno, ninjas or something, and pretty much everyone else dies. Dale shows up and, oddly, starts to strangle Erica. Erica fights him off, whacks him on the head with a pipe, and discovers reptile skin under his flesh.

Ryan appears and gets Georgie to safety. Along with Erica and Father Jack, they’re the only survivors of the massacre. When Georgie thanks Ryan for showing up, Ryan reveals he’s a Visitor, too, but he’s loyal to the human cause.

Tyler forges Erica’s signature on the permission slip to join the Peace Ambassador Program, where he flirts with Lisa and gets his own snazzy Visitor jacket. The Visitors make Chad their official spokesmodel. Erica and Father Jack, who are evidently this version’s Faye Grant and Marc Singer, decide to start an anti-Visitor resistance group.

So that’s where we are. That’s the new V. Mixed reaction, mixed rating. It’s a little flat, especially compared to the high-energy cheeseball earnestness of the 1984 version. I think it misses something with trying to draw a connection between the Visitors and terrorists; the Visitors = Nazis analogy of the original was probably a better fit. In general, I liked all the Visitors -- Anna, Lisa, Marcus, secret kind Visitor Ryan, secret nasty Visitor Dale -- more than the humans. Still, not bad. We'll see where it goes from here. Up, one hopes.