Another week, another Heroes episode! Or is it too early to say that one week after the premiere? Either way, this week marked the third episode into the fourth season of Heroes entitled “Ink.” Let’s dive right in, shall we?
Heroes made a lot of mistakes after the finale of it’s first season, and it’s with this new season that we are hoping they will finally correct it. A lot of the people responsible for all the other stuff we didn’t like are gone now, and we essentially have a new creative team working to make us love the show again. This episode is written by Aron Eli Coleite, who has been around for a while and wrote episodes like “Six Months Ago” which introduced is to Gabriel Gray and then “1961” which made the plot even more insane in an attempt to add resolution to history. It’s hard to make a lot of hard judgements in the show this early into the new season but there are a lot of things we can in fact pick apart and look at just from this issue. And, to be honest, all of it is pretty good signs.
The first thing we have to look at is the plot of the episode itself. We’ve got our new character Samuel meeting Peter under odd circumstances, we’ve got Matt and Sylar expanding on their relationship, we’ve got Claire continuing her odd romance with her new college friend, and we meet a brand new character. Right off the top you can see that we’re shrinking the show down character wise. One of the earlier problems was that the show tried to have too many characters and the writing staff just couldn’t pull it off. It isn’t impossible to have a large cast of characters, but the show was becoming way too intense and too convoluted. Fortunately, it is possible to actually break down what is good and bad about the episode based on the character interactions:
- Peter and Samuel: It is very clear that Samuel and his band of Irish circus pals are the main plot of this story. The missing/dead brother, the odd compass, and the search for some kind of replacement. As always, Peter is placed at the center of everything (as he is essentially the “main” character) and is the one Samuel needs (for now, based on the end of episode two). The way the show gives us this story is a very good example of how the writing can in fact be decent. Slow hints, a gradual build up, and it doesn’t seem to complicated while leaving us with many questions. It’s pretty perfect for what the show needs. The best part is that Peter is finally not so insanely powerful that we can’t deal with him anymore, and he loses his best power in this episode by complete accident bringing him back down to a more normal playing field that we were used to in season 1. And the ever mysterious Samuel is still a great addition to the show, and not just because his accent is fun to listen to. Samuel’s allegiance to either good or evil is still unclear, and it makes his character more intriguing because we don’t know what his intentions are. What does he want the Petrelli’s for exactly? What is this all leading to? Is he the new Big Bad? It’s a good start.
- Matt and Sylar: This is my favorite part of the episode, but also one of the worst elements. The dialogue between Matt and Sylar is absolutely amazing, and Zachary Quinto continues to make Sylar one of the best television villains of all time. The way the episode plays out for the two of them is absolutely great except for one detail – it all leads to one of the biggest issues the show has, and that is that Sylar is still around. Look, I love Sylar. He’s a great villain. Quinto is amazing in the role. But we need to let the character go, and the show is still looking for ways to get him back after his ‘death.’ It’s just too much to have him around so much. Let’s look at it this way – if the X-Men can go without Magneto for 3 years (which is forever in comic books), Heroes can go a season or so without having Sylar around. When Sylar become Nathan, I thought it was a great way to leave the character alone for a bit. Instead, he’s part of Matt Parkman now, and he taunts him? Ok, it’s a cool idea and it plays out great in this episode, but this whole interaction essentially represents one of the things that is wrong with Heroes, and that is that it is too afraid to stray too far from it’s beginnings for fear of some kind of repercussion. We had a great villain with Adam, but Loeb killed him. Peter and Nathan’s dad Arthur was interesting as well, but that would have become too ridiculous after a while because he was too powerful. Danko was just lame. Through all of it, though? Sylar. It’s time for the show to leave him alone for a while, as great as this part of the episode was. I will mention one thing, though – the whole scenario between them could lean to Matt becoming a Big Bad, which had been foreshadowed a long time ago and could be a really great twist. Continued below
- Claire and Gretchen: Claire represents, in a similar element to Sylar, the part of the show that needs to let go. As I mentioned, the cast has been severely cut down. Mohinder is gone for good, and only 5 main characters we’ve previously had appear in this episode. This is a great start. However, the show LOVES Claire, and unfortunately most of us don’t anymore. Claire represents entirely the part of the show that doesn’t matter. Before when we had to save the cheerleader, she had a very intriguing future. Now? She’s in college. Spoilers and rumors tell us that Gretchen and her will eventually become more than just roommates. Ok, great. But who cares? What does this bring to the show? Nothing. Whenever Claire comes on screen, I know I don’t have to pay attention as much because she doesn’t add anything to the plot. We know Samuel will look for her eventually, but he’s not after now so who cares? Leave her at college. We know she’s there, we can come back to her later. It’s like how we focused a lot on Hiro in episode 2 and now we give him a break for episode 3. It’s a good methodology to use. I say Claire needs the boot.
- The New Character: Emma: Emma represents to Heroes what has been one of it’s greatest problems in the past. Heroes had a tendency to introduce a lot of new characters into the show and then never really do anything with them (where’s Monica?). Here we have this new female character and we don’t know what to do with her. She’s deaf, she loves cats (instant points for her in my book), and she has the lamest “power” ever: she can “see sound.” I’m not even sure what that means, or really what she does. I can’t see what she can contribute either, and this is where I get worried. It’s one thing when the show continuously brings back characters I don’t like much. That’s inevitable and in the greater scheme of things not that big of a deal because actors need paychecks. I just see this new character and I get very scared that the show will fall back into bad old habits after a good opening. The show had a good set of new characters. I don’t think we need Emma. I could be wrong, though. Maybe she’ll save the world?
As I said, I think Season 4 is off to a good start, but we’re on very shaky grounds. Only three episodes in (two depending how you look at it) and the show is repeating a lot of it’s mistakes from the past already. There are really great elements to the new direction, like how it’s minimizing the focus cast and veering off into strange new territory without rehashing old plotlines, but it just isn’t ready to give up a lot of it’s old ghosts yet. Look at this way: in the opening of the season, a lot of the bad things that we didn’t care about from last season were resolved. Tracey’s story was quickly haulted, Danko was taken out of the picture before you could blink. These were good moves on the show’s part. However, until the show realizes it needs to part from some of the humdrum typicality of it’s routine, it ultimately won’t seek the redemption it so craves. Who knows, though. The rest of the season might turn everything around and prove me wrong!
We’ll see how it all plays out, but just know that I’m calling it now – until the show finds a final resolve for Sylar and trims off all the unnecessary fat while learning to focus on the characters that matter and can really push the story forward, this show will be as worthwhile as Rulk.
Heroes airs every Monday at 8:00 PM EST on NBC.