“Do we have to be invisible?”
–Gretchen.

Title: “Strange Attractors”

Cast and Crew

Writer: Juan Carlos Coto
Director: Tucker Gates

Hayden Panettiere as Claire Bennett
Madeline Zima as Gretchen Berg
Zachary Quinto as Sylar
Ali Larter as Tracy Strauss
Jack Coleman as Noah Bennett
Greg Grunburg as Matt Parkman
Rick Worthy as Parkman’s Partner
Robert Knepper as Samuel Sullivan
Elizabeth Lackey as Janet Parkman
Mark L. Young as Jeremy Greer
Tessa Thompson as Rebecca
Cacho Ribeiro as Lydia

Premises

  • In a Halloween plot, Claire and Gretchen face real danger during a fairly far-fetched sorority initiation.
  • Parkman battles with his inner Sylar.
  • Tracy and Noah try to rescue Jeremy from the justice system of West Memphis Cainan, but their plans drag out. Samuel, meanwhile, uses Jeremy’s situation to draw others into his fold.
  • The obtrusive commercial for “Slow Burn” grows longer.
  • Hanging over this episode is the notion that the Heroes may soon move out of the shadows.

High Point

Despite obvious criticisms that the show can be derivative (its entire premise was deliberately derived from comic books), I’ve always thought it would benefit from a little Joss Whedon. This show gave us a number of Whedonesque quips, set against darker themes and events. They don’t have the balance consistently right, but they’re doing a reasonable job and I’m enjoying that aspect of the show.

Low Point

The people in this episode appear and disappear as the script requires. Everyone in small-town Cainan knows Jeremy must be responsible for his parents death and gather to face him, but no one sees his murder or examines a corpse in the street and no one comes out to see an entire building collapsing in broad daylight? And doesn’t Samuel stand out just a little in his Irish gunslinger outfit?

In the Claire and Gretchen plot, meanwhile, the other girls appear exactly when required. That plot by itself arguably shouldn’t be happening, since Claire and Gretchen don’t really fit in with the sorority girls and don’t even seem to like them. Why are they going through with the hazing? And does Rebecca have limited vulnerability or mutant healing as well as invisibility? She should be noticeably injured at this point.

The Scores

Originality: 2/6. We move closer to the X-Men and Brotherhood of Evil Mutants dichotomy suggested by the series. One version of Sylar has been freed and can be a chaotic evil villain once more. I enjoyed the Buffy reference in the Claire plot. In fact, this plot recalls Buffy, with Halloween trappings, Cordeliax2 in the persons of “Paris and Nicole,” and a quip-equipped heroine who demonstrate real intelligence in finding the villain.

Effects: 6/6. Magneto Samuel puts his powers to good, if over-the-top, effect.

Story: 4/6. The episode has been paced effectively. I also like the movement towards the heroes acknowledging their existence. They’ve played out the heroes-in-the-shadows angle too long. It’s time to try another approach. Derivative as such a development would be, the show has always looked at the conventions and tropes of comic book superheroes in a somewhat more realistic light. Such a look at public metahumans could work, if scripted properly.

Acting: 5/6 Madeline Zima’s Gretchen continues to develop as a character. I made some comments last week based on false information about how often she would appear in this season. I hope she remains for some time.

Emotional Response: 4/6 I found this episode uneven, but enjoyable.

Production: 6/6

Overall: 4/6.

31/42.

Lingering Mysteries

How many new ways will the directors come up with to push Claire and Gretchen together in suggestive ways?