Heroes Review: Villains– “The Second Coming”

They quote the poem by Y.B. Yeats, but I’m wondering if the title also suggests they’re pretending this is really the second season, after last year’s debacle.

Titles: “The Second Coming” and “The Butterfly Effect”

Cast

Milo Ventimiglio as Peter Petrelli
Adrian Pasdar as Nathan Petrelli
Sendhil Ramamurthy as Pavitr Prabhakar Mohinder Suresh
Zachary Quinto as Sylar
Hayden Panettiere as Claire Bennett
Masi Oka as Hiro Nakamura
Dania Ramirez as Maya Herrera
Stephen Tobolowsky as Bob
Jack Coleman as Noah Bennett
Dana Davis as Monica Dawson
Ali Larter as Tracy Strauss
Kristen Bell as Elle Bishop
James Kyson Lee as Ando Masahashi
Greg Grunburg as Matt Parkman
Christine Rose as Angela Petrelli
Brea Grant as Daphne Millbrook
Ashley Crow as Sandra Bennett
Malcolm McDowell as Daniel Linderman

Premise

Mohinder Suresh discovers the secret of super-powers, but his path to power appears to have side effects. The identity and motive of Nathan’s assassin become clear, but Nathan survives and experiences a religious conversion which, for some reason, makes him wildly popular among voters. Hiro and Ando meet the Flash Daphne Millbrook, Claire tussles with Sylar, the Hero formerly known as Niki Sanders (or her duplicate) works for a politician, there’s trouble at the company, several captured villains escape, Parkman wakes up in Africa, the New Orleans characters are nowhere to be found, and….

Those are details. What really happens is, we learn about a dark, world-threatening future (several, actually), the heroes will have to band together to prevent it, and enigmatic art by someone apparently able to glimpse the future plays a role. Sound familiar?

High Points

1. The idea of a team of heroes facing a team of villains has potential, if handled with the same approach that marked the first season: comic-book reality grafted onto reality in a manner that could be both serious and amusing.

2. While one could tire easily of emo-cheerleader, Hayden Panettiere handles her character’s experiences effectively. We need to see her develop as a character in an interesting fashion, much as Hiro did in the first season.

3. The mysteries surrounding Linderman and Strauss show potential.

4. The premiere, at least, manages to be more exciting that the second season. Perhaps they will strike a balance between non-stop violence and mysteries, and plot and character development.

5. “Why are you talking to a turtle?”

Low Points

1. Claire Bennett’s character demonstrates some development here, and we see an indication of her possible futures. Generally, however, the writers appear ready to have new things happen to the characters to change them, rather than have the characters develop and respond naturally to circumstances they encounter.

2. Okay… Hiro wants to save the world. First, he impulsively does one really stupid thing which he could have handled in a thousand other ways. He can prevent some of the consequences of his action by travelling back in time a few minutes: stopping the theft, say, or warning himself not to be a jackass. But he decides even that much time travel backwards is too dangerous, so he travels forwards in time, which has proven even more problematic in past episodes. How big an idiot is Hiro?

Similar plot-problems await Peter, given his time-travel abilities. Time-travel has become the transporter of this series; it creates problems the writers really don’t want to address seriously, so they have to tap-dance around its implications.

3. Is this now a fannish in-joke, or are the writers just being really obtuse? Please: stop, stop repeating the nonsense about people only using ten per cent of our brains. For anyone who cares, I rant about that here.

The Scores

Originality: 3/6. Mohinder’s story, in particular, feels too familiar.

Effects: 6/6. I especially enjoyed the “flash” trail that Hiro follows.

Story: 4/6 See “High” and “Low” Points. The writers obviously intended the Hiro plot to be comic in both senses, but it still feels forced and contrived.

Acting: 4/6. The performances vary, but generally work. Panettiere, in particular, provides a strong performance. The problem is the writers are not consistently taking the characters seriously as characters, and it’s difficult to act when you’re behaving to serve the plot, rather than from any rational motive.

Emotional Response: 4/6

Production: 6/6

Overall: 4/6 The series has tremendous potential, but recapturing the power of the first season does not mean repeating it. They could also resolve some of the lingering questions before introducing hundreds of new ones. I feel ambivalent about this season, rather than inspired to continue watching.

31/42.

Questions

1. I was looking forward to the fact that the heroes exist being known. It would have created a whole new set of problems for the characters and directions for the series. It also seems improbable that such a thing could be kept secret for long. Instead of taking that path, Heroes gives us a glimpse of where it might lead, and then uses time-travel to hit the reset button. The season may yet become memorable, but the premiere suggests we’re going to get another variation of Season One.

2. If a politician was shot, and become some kind of low-rent, cliché-spouting religious guru after his recovery, would he really become wildly popular? Just wondering.

3. To repeat a question from last season: What, exactly, did the company originally set out to do? Were they keeping their eye on metahumans? Developing viruses? Contracting for a Bond villain? This is not necessarily a problem but, rather, something the show may yet clarify.

4. Will we receive a good explanation for the formula existing at all? Because it’s a major flaw if we don’t.

16 replies on “Heroes Review: Villains– “The Second Coming””

  1. Tekzel says:

    I kinda dug the premiere.
    While I loved season 1, I thought of season 2 as a season 1 beta. I, personally, did not get a season 1 vibe from this premiere at all. Sure, it does have is flaws, but based upon the subject matter that is absolutely unavoidable. I think they have struck a decent balance between catering to the superhero geek and the general public. Which is important for this show.

    Regarding your questions:

    "1. I was looking forward to the fact that the heroes exist being known."

    My feeling is that they are showing the inevitability of it becoming known, no matter what Peter does. Sort of showing that even though he can travel in time and make changes, that the general GIST of the time-line will remain intact although the details may vary. On this, I am probably wrong, but its what I am getting from these first 2 episodes.

    "2. If a politician was shot, and become some kind of low-rent, cliché-spouting religious guru after his recovery, would he really become wildly popular? Just wondering."

    In short? Yes. This is the America in which we live. They believe in fairy tales (religion) while scoffing at the idea of others. The hypocrisy often blows my mind.

    "3. To repeat a question from last season: What, exactly, did the company originally set out to do?"

    My feeling is that they are doing the "keeping an eye" bit while also a little damage mitigation. Finding the bad guys and locking them up. Maybe also doing a little mad scientist studying along the way. Its a fun mixture of various secret organization cliches in one package.

    Over all, I have decent hopes for this season and look forward to future episodes.

    • Tekzel says:

      Re: I kinda dug the premiere.
      I forgot to mention the best thing about this episode: Brea Grant. Is she adorable or what? Those eyes. I would watch this season to see more of her alone. Wow, I am a sad pathetic individual.

  2. jayhawk88 says:

    Thoughts
    Regarding the "heroes becoming publicly known/oops not so much" thing: The Wiki for Heroes states that the writers intended for the Shanti virus to be released and become a big plot point, but because of the writers strike this was abandoned. I suspect that Nathan’s speech, or lack thereof, may have something to do with this as well; writers needed a good cliffhanger at the end of last season, and decided to just go another route. In fact one could argue that Mohinder’s "disease" may reintroduce the Shanti virus plot in another form.

  3. TwistyHat says:

    10%
    Sure you linked to the right thing?

    Either using 10% of the potential computational capacity of the brain. Nobody has disproved that, simple reason is they can’t.

    • Timeshredder says:

      Re: 10%

      Sure you linked to the right thing?

      A footnote to that review explains why it might matter that an obvious fantasy would repeat a common fallacy.

      Either using 10% of the potential computational capacity of the brain. Nobody has disproved that, simple reason is they can’t.

      Huh?

      If you want a link to a brief discussion of the problem, try:

      here and here

      with Bill Nye!

      wiki

      here

      kiddie version

      et cetera

  4. joe__gee says:

    Linderman as Six …
    Talking about God, even. It can’t be unintentional. Flying Man as Baltar?

    -Joe

  5. Fozzy_Bear says:

    That’s about it for me.
    Well, I for one am throwing in the towel on this show.

    The reasons are many, but it all boils down to this…

    Nothing matters.

    When characters who die don’t stay dead, then I have no interest in if they live or die. If they die, they will just come back next week.

    – Seems simple to me, but apparently the network people and comic fans don’t see it the same.

    If Syler and Peter had stayed dead, then the suspense would have been fantastic in this episode. But now, nothing anybody does matters, since it could all be undone next week by either Hiro or Peter, or the OTHER Peter.

    Really disappointing.

    • J_W_W says:

      Re: That’s about it for me.

      Well, I for one am throwing in the towel on this show.

      The reasons are many, but it all boils down to this…

      Nothing matters.

      When characters who die don’t stay dead, then I have no interest in if they live or die. If they die, they will just come back next week.

      – Seems simple to me, but apparently the network people and comic fans don’t see it the same.

      If Syler and Peter had stayed dead, then the suspense would have been fantastic in this episode. But now, nothing anybody does matters, since it could all be undone next week by either Hiro or Peter, or the OTHER Peter.

      Really disappointing.

      I’m not as down on the show as you are but I’m asking the same question. Has ANYONE stayed dead on this show!!!

      The only major characters to STAY DEAD that I can think of are DL and Issac Mendez, EVERY other character thats died has come back.

      I agree, you can’t invest in the characters if theres no chance they’ll ever stay dead….

      • PuppetSocko says:

        Re: That’s about it for me.

        I’m not as down on the show as you are but I’m asking the same question. Has ANYONE stayed dead on this show!!!

        The only major characters to STAY DEAD that I can think of are DL and Issac Mendez, EVERY other character thats died has come back.

        I agree, you can’t invest in the characters if theres no chance they’ll ever stay dead….

        Well, at least they’re staying true to their original inspiration, Marvel and DC comics.

        • J_W_W says:

          Re: That’s about it for me.

          I’m not as down on the show as you are but I’m asking the same question. Has ANYONE stayed dead on this show!!!

          The only major characters to STAY DEAD that I can think of are DL and Issac Mendez, EVERY other character thats died has come back.

          I agree, you can’t invest in the characters if theres no chance they’ll ever stay dead….

          Well, at least they’re staying true to their original inspiration, Marvel and DC comics.

          You do have a point….

  6. bitbangerok says:

    Writers Stirke Damage
    My wife lost interest in most of the TV shows. They were gone for too long. The writers shot themselves in the foot with the strike.

    Only House still holds her interest. Hot Guys Rule.

    • Timeshredder says:

      Re: Writers Stirke Damage

      My wife lost interest in most of the TV shows. They were gone for too long. The writers shot themselves in the foot with the strike.

      Only House still holds her interest. Hot Guys Rule.

      Mad Men Rule(s). Television retains one outstanding show. However, it really doesn’t fit with what we review here.

  7. TomSwiss says:

    Continuity, schmontinuity
    Continuity? As I recall, after Nathan gets shot at the end of last season, his mom gets a call intimating that The Company was responsible. Now, suddenly, Future Peter’s the guy?

    And, if Claire could never die in the first place, how could anyone "save the cheerleader" in order to save the world?

    OTOH, I like the potential of Ando and Mohinder getting powered up. (Mohinder-fly, anyone?) And the "speedster" girl could prove interesting (and, ok, some fan service there too.)

    If they use the "butterfly effect" to write time-travel stories out of the bag of plot tricks once and for all, this still might all prove a decent story. But right now, my hopes are not high.

  8. tsunayoshi says:

    Sylar & Claire
    My favorite line was from Sylar when he had Claire’s head opened:

    Claire: Are you gonna eat it?
    Sylar: Eat your brain? Claire, that’s disgusting.

    So we finally get to see how Sylar steals people’s powers. I am guessing he is using his only true power (seeing how things work) to see how someone’s power works, then he is able to copy it. But it looks like he broke Claire somehow when he was probing around since she no longer feels pain anymore

    • TomSwiss says:

      Re: Sylar & Claire

      But it looks like he broke Claire somehow when he was probing around since she no longer feels pain anymore

      Could be psychological – emotional and even physical numbness is a common symptom of PTSD, which one might well develop after having Sylar open one’s head. So, broke, yes, but not necessarily directly.

      • J_W_W says:

        Re: Sylar & Claire

        But it looks like he broke Claire somehow when he was probing around since she no longer feels pain anymore

        Could be psychological – emotional and even physical numbness is a common symptom of PTSD, which one might well develop after having Sylar open one’s head. So, broke, yes, but not necessarily directly.

        Sylar may have even thought that that would make her power even better… not understanding her view of things.

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