'Heroes': The good, the bad, and the meh of the season premiere

Heroes is back, boys and girls, for its fourth season, aptly subtitled Redemption. A better name couldn’t have been chosen, as that’s exactly what this show needs. It needs to redeem itself in the eyes of people like me, once-loyal viewers who’ve felt betrayed by what’s  transpired in the superheroic world that executive producer Tim Kring built.

And, in case you’ve forgotten, last season ended with Nathan Petrelli (Adrian Pasdar) dead and Sylar (Zachary Quinto) brainwashed — by Matt Parkman (Greg Grunberg), Noah Bennet (Jack Coleman), and Angela Petrelli (Christine Rose) — to believe that he was the dead senator. (And look like him, too, thanks to Sylar’s shapeshifting power.) The Bennets have split up. Hiro (Masi Oka) and Ando (James Kyson Lee) are putzing around Tokyo. And Mohinder’s some kind of taxi-driving snake-man.

So how’d the season premiere do in picking up those threads?  Here’s the good and the bad.

GOOD: Superpowered carny folk. Robert Knepper tore it up as Samuel, the apparent chieftain of a band of traveling carnival workers. I suppose it was only a matter of time before Heroes stumbled on a circus as a natural place for the “differently abled” to hide in plain sight. It’s a little unclear what Samuel’s power is — all we see him do is put crazy temporary tattoos on folks that have either divine wisdom or choke ex-Sith Lords (Ray Park, out of make-up for once). New blood is necessary to make Heroes work, and Samuel seems to hold more promise than that south-of-the-border sibling disaster.

GOOD: Peter Petrelli. Milo Ventimiglia’s always been good as the dutiful, power-absorbent son who wants nothing more that to help people. And by distancing himself from everyone with powers, he’s doing just that. He’s super-paramedic-man: Leaping over garbage trucks in a single bound, ripping doors off cars, saving damsels pregnant with twins. Plus, Peter might be the only sane person on the show: “The further I stay away from you, and whatever it is you’re doing, the happier I’m gonna be…. My life is simple. I understand it. I don’t need for things to get complicated.”

GOOD: Mohinder Suresh. Where was he? I don’t know, but I hope he stays there.

UNDECIDED: Claire as Veronica Mars. Claire is taking time during her freshman year in college to solve the murder of her roommate. And she’s forming her very own Scooby gang, beginning with Gretchen (Madeline Zima), who’s rumored to have her sights on Claire — and we saw the first stirrings of that in this episode’s awesomely blunt Guitar Hero bonding moment.

BAD: Claire’s ongoing obsession with everything “normal.” I don’t get it: Why does Claire Bennet (Hayden Panetierre) harp on living a normal life, having normal experiences? Is Kring trying to say something through Heroes‘ clear position on powers? Sylar relishes in them, and he’s evil. Claire hates them, and she’s good.

BAD: Hiro Nakamura. When, oh when, can we mercy-kill Hiro Nakamura? Dial a Hero? Literally saving cats from the Tokyo equivalent of trees? Didn’t we already have a whole season of these two acting like overgrown kids? For a second, about halfway through the two hours, Hiro was interesting. The idea that all of his space-time slippage has given him brain cancer — or is a result of his brain cancer — would’ve given him some drive, some purpose, some reason to stop acting like a child. He went on at length about how monkeying with the past was forbidden, that nothing good ever comes from it. And not 30 minutes later, after taking a slushy for Ando, thereby allowing his sister and his best friend to get it on, Hiro decides that going back in time and futzing with the space-time continuum is a capitol idea.

BAD: Sylar. I was kind of hoping for more time with Sylar’s consciousness buried in Nathan’s body. Play the sleeper-cell dynamic, like in Battlestar Galactica when we learned the truth about Boomer — we knew something bad was going to happen, but we didn’t know what or when. That’s how you build tension. But rather than let that sit, let us get used to the wolf in sheep’s clothing, we already get to see “Nathan” bugging out. Plus, Sylar is now a manifestation of Matt Parkman’s imagination? Or is he actually buried within Matt? Or do I actually care? Survey says, no, because this was done far, far better on BSG (and underscored by having BSG cylon Rick Worthy in the same scenes).

BAD: The pace. It was almost a full hour before anything halfway interesting happened: When Ray Park’s carny knifemaster went up against Tracy the ice mistress (Ali Larter). And it was 30 seconds of flash. Boom. Done. Heroes seems to think that what viewers want from it is mood building. People confessing in hushed tones how they feel about stuff they’ve done. Talk. We’ve had season after season of the same thing. And the viewership, and the buzz, and the critical praise, have all steadily dropped off. Isn’t the definition of madness doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result each time? Why should we care any more about what’s happening here, given that it’s the same thing we stopped caring about so very long ago?

I’m encouraged by the circus storyline, even if I can see where all of this is headed: Everyone gets drawn to Samuel’s three-ring nightmare — by hook, crook, or free will — and have to band together and take him down. Oh, and Sylar will do some bad stuff along the way. Heroes isn’t subtle enough, or self-aware enough, to vary that formula. The question, for all of us, is will we keep watching?

I will. I’ve invested four bloody years in Heroes, at the very least, I need to see how it ends. At this point, it’s become a matter of pride. I am, however, pretty sure I’ll spend much of the show’s remaining life shaking my fist at the TV. How about you? Are you in?


Comments (277 total) Add your comment
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  • texastiger

    hell yeah! i’ll be in…

    • Master Chief

      A lot of people here are acting like they need something absolutely interesting in Heroes or else!! They’re NOT going to waste any more time on this show!!!

      Pff look I understand that your time is very important and you really need convincing to watch this or that.

      But, why can’t you just watch the show for what it is, turn your critic off and value things that are there and not things which aren’t there.

      The first season was awesome, this is still the same guy behind it. Have a little faith, let the producers breath a little instead of spiting acid at everything they’re doing.

      I’m sure there are things which make you go “wtf r they thinking, umyah” but chill, it’s not like you have a bunch of other things to do when Heroes airs…

      • tick….SYLAR….tock

        PREACH!!!! Give me a break people. It’s not that serious. However, the irony in Heroes’ apparent lack of redemptive value (post Ep. Uno!!) is worth a chuckle. I say leave all that baggage from past seasons behind, free your mind and let yourself be entertained by what is apparently the last season/chapter(??) of Heroes.

      • chamlo

        Sorry Master C. for disagreeing with you, but this is season 4! Tim K. has had ample time to get it right (3 seasons in fact). Maybe they should go back to the idea of making every season a separate story (i.e., different bunch of heroes or a totally different story each season), because keeping it as a serial where each season links to the other doesn’t seem to be working for them.

      • Nathan

        Heros isn’t going to get any better than the best of season one. Face it. If you’re still watching it it’s because you’re rootin’ for the underdog to score one more touchdown. Let’s hope he does.

  • kells

    i’m giving the show two more episodes this season before i decide to stick around….the show is just meh to me now…the magic is gone

    • Amy

      I agree. I am not excited about it now.

      • angie

        Theye so need the writers from ‘Lost’. I was very disappointed in last night season premier.

      • sidney

        hot key

      • Mike

        It definitely has been a frustrating show. I didn’t watch this season premiere, so it’s sad to hear that it’s more of the same. I hate how they try to draw out episodes with pointless talking without making any real progress in the story.

    • Zan

      1. Liked the carney folk adding new blood. And agree that Samuel’s powers are kind of confusing. It appears to be more than just making moving tatoos. In the opening he waved his hands and moved soil to cover a coffin. Huh?

      2. Even with Suresh in hiding, the show was too long. Hiro’s dial a hero scenes should have been cut, or only dealt with the part where due to his illness, Hiro cannot control his powers and is becoming un-stuck in time. I like both the Hiro and Ando characters, but whenever they’re used for comic relief it’s irritating!

      3. In trying to give each character internal conflict, they’ve made each character predictable and head-strong. Peter: only wants to save people and avoid his past. Parkman: doesn’t want to use his powers and will be influenced by Sylar’s evil thoughts. Clair: has given up on trying to save other heros and is trying to lead a normal life. etc. The writers should make the characters’ motivations more subtle. Sometimes they should be selfish, sometimes selfless, sometimes jealous, sometimes evil, etc. The only character theat is perfect is Horned Rim Glasses guy, but perhpas it’s because HRG’s motivations are always duplicitous.

      4. Please pull Claire out of college and send her back to NY so that she can deal with her evil grandma and psychotic Sylar-in-hiding dad. Pretty please. It would be much more interesting than Claire just trying to hide who she is while attending school.

      5. Is there someway you guys can resurect that black dude who can walk through walls? That actor was great. With his death and the disappearance of his son, we’ve lost a slew of black actors associated with the Uhura’s bloodline. I know you guys can do it. Come on, you killed of Larter’s first character and invented a watery twin named Tracey…

      • Zan

        Just wanted to add another point.

        6. Please, no more blowing up the world/city/building. You guys have done it to death. Something is going to blow up and the heros try to stop it. Ugg!

      • Bryne Berry

        5) SO THIS to the comment above (Also Star Trek reference FTW). What the hell happened to all the people of color. They killed off the Black Man who walked through walls and his son disappeared. And then they kill off the Latino hero twins! Ok Heroes? (Dubious Side Eye) And why is the Indian guy a TAxi driver? Ugh Heroes used to be so good.

      • Barak

        Boy! Me TOO! I can’t STAND to watch a show where all the ethnic people keep getting killed off. We ought to pass a law!

      • Anthony

        Im sorry to interrupt your non sensical tirade about how the ethnic charecters appear to keep getting killed off. However, lets make a small comparison just for fun shall we? Syler has killed off about 75 characters and unless I am mistaken quite a few of those were main cast and to add mainly just to refresh your memory, white!!! Ell, Nathan, The original seer come to mind. So please do us all a favor and put down your anti racist reverse racism hand book down and realize that this is one show that does make a point of using other ethnic groups in powerful roles. For example the most powerful hero is not Hiro, Claire, Syler, nor Peter. It is without a doubt Rebel. Please get over yourselves and instead of bagging on shows that do use many ethnic performers, try fighting the good fight and help in trying to make other shows use more that the obligatory token ethnic. CSI anyone???? Three shows three ethics average one per show.

      • Bryne Berry

        Ugh Anthony YOUR nonsensical tirade makes no sense. I don’t care how many characters Sylar killed off because there are more white people than Blacks on the show in general. How many of the ORIGINAL White Main characters got killed off in comparison to the main colored people? Uh basically all of them and then reverting the other two people of color Hiro and Mohinder to comic and relief and TAXI DRIVER and we shouldn’t be outraged? That’s what we were bringing up, not the fact that they kill nameless background POC with two lines. When there are only a few ethnic characters in the FIRST PLACE and those FEW ethnic characters get killed off…Hell yes it’s a big deal. “Reverse Racism” please Oh yeah i forgot…It’s “racist” to talk about racism.
        Oh and “try to help in trying to make other shows make more than the obligatory token ethnic” Yeah that’s why i switched from Heroes to CSI At least they last longer. good advice

    • Jane

      I’m with you. I’m surprised I actually tuned in last night, but I kind of had had enough. It better ramp up really soon, like next episode soon, or else I’m not coming back.

    • Mikey

      How disappointed am I in the show? I followed it religiously for the first three seasons. Last night I watched House.

      • jared

        I’m surprised people lasted that long. 4 eps into season 2 I gave up. it just got bad.

    • LC

      After last season, I made the decision that if Heroes didn’t get my attention within 2-3 episodes of the 4th season, I was jumping ship. Season 3 was a real disappointment, especially the last half. It was fun while it lasted……

  • Bubbatwo420

    I’m definitely in. Thought this was a great premiere that finally had some realistic dialogue and decent fight sequences. By keeping the number of characters to a minimum, we actually get to revisit each storyline and invest in these characters. Loved the carnies and Darth Maul going all dual weapons again but Sylar egging on Parkman was my favorite. The compass as a macaguffin brings questions which builds buzz. Thank god, Heroes is back!

  • JJ

    i actually liked the premiere a lot. i did wonder aloud where suresh was, and i’d definitely be happy to see him back, at least for a minute. i thought robert knepper was great and i like when the characters are actually grounded in their real jobs, i.e. peter as a paramedic, parkman as a detective, claire as a student. that sense has been missing since season 1 (other than a few brief minutes in the season 3 opener).

  • Jim

    I’ve broken up with the show. For reals. We’re not even Facebook friends even more. (But I might still check out the profile from time to time)….

  • mark

    This show died with the horrible season 1 finale. It hasn’t recovered since. It’s a shame, but it’s also a shame that NBC thinks it can be saved over higher quality shows.

    • Baco Noir

      Mark, couldn’t agree more. When Sylar wasn’t killed off as promised, the series was dead in the water. Season two was horrible and then I just stopped. Will never be back.

  • Jackie

    It’s off my dvr list. They should have had the guts to leave Sylar dead at the end of the first season. He was really scary then. Not anymore.
    I’ll just read the recaps to see if anything interesting is going on.

  • Sigh

    I thought the review nailed it. A couple of interesting moments that I nearly didn’t see because I was *this* close to deleting the show about 40 minutes in and never going back. The carnies were by far the most interesting part of the show. Every time someone got talky, I just fast-forwarded, which means I missed most of Clair’s scenes. Here’s a thought — kill off Parkman, Clair, her dad, and sadly, Hiro, and remake the show around Robert Knepper and crew. Or someone else. But take it in an entirely different direction. Oh, god — put Sylar out of his misery, too. Through no fault of Zachary Quinto, he has been written into a corner as a complete and utter caricature.

  • Mac

    ZZZzzzZZzzz… poor, action-starved Heroes. Can a network please try again, this time with lengthy action sequences every other episode or so?

  • Eric

    The whole point of a premiere is to set the tone for the season. I enjoyed this premiere. I don’t care that Claire wants to be normal. Anyone who is different just wants to be normal. Plus, she’s young and has been through things a young person should never go through. Can anyone blame her for wanting to just have things be a little less crazy in her life? I like the Matt Parkman storyline. I don’t like the Hiro storyline, but he’s always been the comedic person on the show.

    In my opinion, Heroes is a movie being done for TV. You’re never going to eclipse the first season because it was brand new. Rarely had we seen something like that on TV. It’s an ensemble cast, and I do think it’s getting difficult to make everyone seem relevant. They need to go the “Lost” route and kill one or two of the major characters. I know Nathan is supposedly dead, but I have this odd feeling they’re going to somehow bring him back.

    If anything, i am interested to see where they go now. That alone makes it worth watching.

  • Andrea

    I’m a loyal viewer – through thick and thin. I’m here until the end (and that better not be soon.) I think most are still hurt over S2 being a disappointment and then when S3 started to pick up the greatness again come Chapter 4, so many jumped ship. Wow. What a way to stick through it…

    • Me!

      News flash: Um, you don’t HAVE to watch a television show if it does not interest you. A marriage you should stick out and work through when times get rough. A television show: not so much.

      • mike

        then why are you here, all these people complaining that heroes hasent been good since season 1 but you still come on here, read the articles and comment to piss the regular fans off who still watch the show, so if your not even going to comment on the first episodes dont even come on here and get a life

    • matt

      hey, no show can be perfectly the way we wish it to be, tho we can hope, time and time again. I’ve watched the show since ep 1, and love it. Will still be watching it til the end. S4 Pre, I thought was great, the circus story has me excited, as well as the new chacters, which are interesting, and actors that can act. It isn’t BSG and isn’t trying to steal that storyline. I liked seeing Nathan bug out, as well as Matt lose it by seeing Sylar, who may have his entire cons. embedded in matt’s mind. Like I said I love the show, and don’t plan on all the negative talk ruin my enjoyment of the show, some ppl will order a cheeseburger then complain it has cheese! LOL Relax and enjoy the entertainment.

  • DavidJ

    I’m surprised ANYBODY’s still watching this show. The first season was great fun, but the writing has gone completely off the rails since then– the storylines feel completely random, and it’s lost all touch with reality.

    • Ricardo

      “Reality?” It’s a show about Super heroes…Really?

  • Andrea

    Though, can I add that the Milo v. Ray park fight needed to be LONGER!?!?! It was pretty darn awesome and then, poof! it was over…

  • Heather

    I feel the same way, once I invest in a show I can’t stop watching until the end. I really enjoy the new circus idea, but I’m scared to hope for anything more than just a repeat of old storylines.

  • Brittany

    Did anyone else see the compass work for Peter and think ‘alethiometer’? I really hope they don’t go that route, considering it was done so well in the His Dark Materials series (and I mean the books by Pullman, not that awful movie).

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