Heroes has returned for Season, uh, four/”Volume Five,” Redemption, with new lives for some characters and additional backstory for the series—plus the latest return of Sylar and another foray into time travel. Can the once-mighty series redeem itself?

Title: “Orientation”

Cast and Crew

Writers: Tim Kring
Director: David Straiton

Milo Ventimiglio as Peter Petrelli
Robert Knepper as Samuel Sullivan
Adrian Pasdar as Nathan Petrelli Sylar
Zachary Quinto as Caprica Sylar
Jack Coleman as Noah Bennett
Ali Larter as Tracy Strauss
Masi Oka as Hiro Nakamura
Hayden Panettiere as Claire Bennett
Jimmy Jean-Louis as the Haitian
Ashley Crow as Sandra Bennett
Jessalyn Gilsig as Meredith Gordon
James Kyson Lee as Ando Masahashi
Greg Grunburg as Matt Parkman
Christine Rose as Angela Petrelli
Saimi Nakamura as Kimiko Nakamura
Zeljko Ivanke as Danko
Madeline Zima as Gretchen
Cacho Ribeiro as Lydia
Elizabeth Lackey as Janet Parkman

“Orientation”

Premise

  • Noah Bennet wants to work with Danko to achieve some good ends, but he may have to settle for a more troublesome partner: Tracy Strauss. This could be the ultimate mismatched-cop-buddy movie.
  • We encounter a mysterious carnival run by metahumans who have played a hitherto undisclosed role in the history of the Heroes. Their leader has certain undefined powers, along with the ability to delivery the kind of ponderous exposition that recalls the voice-overs of previous seasons.
  • Peter Petrelli becomes a quiet superhero of sorts, using his powers for good—recalling nicely the show’s comic-book roots.
  • Hiro and Ando, back to being child-like otaku, have opened a “Hero for Hire” business, which inevitably leads to a new time-travel plot for the terminally ill Hiro. He decides he must take quantum leaps through time to set right things gone wrong— which also sounds vaguely like something we’ve seen before.
  • Former cheerleader Claire, now at university, begins investigating a mysterious event with the help of her newfound sidekick, nerdy and possibly-gay Gretchen, which, okay, kind of recalls a certain Joss Whedon series, but it could work.
  • Sylar, now in the form of Nathan Petrelli, begins to rediscover himself while Sylar, duplicated in the consciousness of Matt Parkman, causes trouble for him and— okay, wait, this is sounding kind of familiar, too.

High Points

The carnival has the potential to be interesting. The knife-fight between Peter and their heavy-hitter made for some exciting television. Claire and Peter’s current storylines might make nifty (if derivative) shows of their own, and could result in some light but clever episodes—depending on the writers and the actors.

Low Point

Time travel—again? Oh, please, please, let Hiro die so they can stop mucking about with alternative timelines, which they have rarely handled well. Another tip to the writers: it’s pointless to develop characters if you’re just going to keep hitting the reset button.

Sylar-as-Nathan has potential, but they should give his character a rest for awhile. Let someone else be evil. Sylar-in-Parkman thus far plays like an inferior imitation of Battlestar Galactica.

The Scores

Originality: 2/6.

Effects: 6/6.

Story: 4/6. I’m going to award it a Four, and we’ll see how it develops.

Acting: 5/6.

Emotional Response: 4/6

Production: 6/6

Overall: 4/6. Despite its flaws, this may be the most promising season since the first.

As it has to be.

31/42.