'Heroes' recap: A walk down memory lane

Marc Bernardin was so traumatized by last week’s spooky-scary sorority hazing that he had to take the week off. (That’s completely untrue.) While he’s off, I’ll do my best to guide you through last night’s Heroes, which managed to be the least bad episode of the season so far, but only by turning the clock back to the salad days of late 2006.

Back then, it seemed like Heroes got better, darker, and twistier with every episode. Characters died constantly, and besides Claire, they stayed dead. A cast fatality can make for game-changing plot twist: 24’s season 5 killed off a couple of main characters in the first three minutes, and the result was the show’s best season. Of course, it can also be ruinous: 24’s season 6 off Curtis and half of Los Angeles, and the result was the show’s worst season.

To a certain extent, then, last night’s Heroes was a cowardly embarrassment, an admission that the show needs to revive minor characters from three seasons ago in order to be exciting. But it also felt attuned to the fans in a way that the rest of the season hasn’t. After all, we all want the show to go back to season 1.

Full props to Jayma Mays, taking a break from Glee to resurrect Charlie. She managed to make Masi Oka seem not-bored for the first time in years. It’s not Oka’s fault; for years now, Hiro’s been an unplayable mess of emotions (He’s heroic! He’s goofy! He’s dying!) Seeing the two of them playing off each other was great. You can believe that Charlie, the nerd-goddess-next-door, could actually fall in love with Hiro.

Also great in the episode was Sylar. Specifically, season 1 Sylar, before mindwipes and bouts of powerlessness reduced him to two separate bad characters. (There’s a long, sad road between the grinningly malevolent villain we saw last night and last week’s embarrassing “Alcohol, my only weakness!” fakeout.) Hiro had to make a deal with Sylar in order to save Charlie, and although the stakes never really got too high with their Faustian bargain, seeing these two old enemies play off each other was fun.

Perhaps worried that the Sylar-Hiro-Charlie story line was too entertaining, the creators also included an unnecessary subplot about season 1 Noah Bennet, back when we only knew him as Horn Rimmed Glasses. (Discussion question: Was the revelation of HRG’s real name the last great moment in Heroes history? If memory serves, it happened right before the deeply unsatisfying Kirby Plaza showdown, which really would have been better if at least two characters had died.)

Turns out that Noah had an affair of the heart with a coworker, played by Law & Order casualty Elisabeth Rohm. Rohm’s character made no sense (a typical scene, paraphrased: “We’ll save your daughter! But first, kiss me!”) Still, I thought she made a good match for Noah, if only because it’s exciting to see him do anything besides the Tragic Father bit. And the unexpected end to this subplot introduced the phrase “Going Haitian” into the national lexicon.

Robert Knepper’s Samuel spent the episode doing what he’s done all season: lurking in the shadows, twiddling his mustache, and reading a recap of the first three seasons of Heroes via the tattoo lady’s omnisciently-inked back. He hung out with Hiro in Charlie’s coffee shop, and offered helpful advice, like “This place is a minefield. One mistake here and it’s kablooey history!” (He was right: by my count, three separate timelines were crossing over each other. Thank god for string theory!)

The very end of last night’s episode cast some light on just why Samuel is such a shady fellow. He trapped the rescued Charlie somewhere in time, and will only tell Hiro where and when if Hiro can fix Samuel’s past. But what does Samuel have to fix? Flashback to eight weeks ago. Samuel is telling someone he’s sorry. The camera pans over to… DEAD MOHINDER SURESH! OMFG! OMFG! I’ve been loudly screaming at the television set to kill Mohinder Suresh for years now, and at last, TV listened. Hooray for cast fatalities! Of course, now it seems like the plot going forward will be about saving Mohinder’s life, which is officially the worst idea Heroes has ever had.

Did you enjoy the trip to better days, viewers? Didn’t Claire look great back in her cheerleading outfit?  Wasn’t Ando’s hair better back then? Or was this just more flogging of a dead horse? Certainly, we can all agree: if the show killed off half its current cast, it could only be better. In fact, if it killed off everyone except the Haitian and gave him his own spin-off, “Going Haitian,” it could only be better.

Comments (132 total) Add your comment
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  • Tiffani

    hilarious. all true. bored to tears last night. and what about the painter-dude hero, what’s his name… not the same actor, duh! Boring all around. I skipped ahead on DVR to Trauma.

    • EL

      Completely agree that this was a terrible episode. (I can’t believe the writer thought this was the “least bad” episode.) Everything about it was stupid.

      Hiro telling the backstory via the little (cow)boy was just cheesy and lazy writing.

      The HRG (almost) affair was pointless.

      I hate when people use the term “jumped the shark” describing a TV show, but I don’t really know what else to say about Heroes anymore.

      I really wanted to like it still, but it is just too hard to do that. I think I’ll just read these recaps from now on and save myself 40+ minutes.

    • Jane

      What? They brought back Isaac and didn’t use the same actor? Lame. this is why I don’t watch the show and only read the recaps. I imagine the racaps are as fun as watching the show.

      • Jose

        Yes they did use the same actor.

      • Mark

        That was the same actor guys!

  • Dennis

    I definitely go with flogging a dead horse. I’m just watching it now because it’s so bad it’s laughable.

  • LisaMay

    Sigh… I so want to enjoy this show again, but I can’t seem to get onboard with their crazy plot lines. The Noah subplot last night was a complete waste of time, and Hiro saving Charlie felt like a huge stretch that should have massive consequences that will probably be ignored. I’m going to keep trying, but I don’t know how much more I can take…

  • Julie

    This was the worst episode of the season. It seemed like a lot of wheel-spinning. I hope they make the consequences of the time-meddling clear in future episodes. I am interested to see how Mohinder got involved with the Carnival.

  • Kate

    I agree, Noah’s story was so boring I was tempted to fast forward through it, but I kept holding out that this was so close in time to “Company Man” that the real interesting thing would be after the kind of interesting Hiro story would be something more about Noah or who that woman was (shouldn’t she have been a one of them with her own powers?). I also kept thinking, the only think that would have saved Charlie (and not include this stupid brain tumor/aneurysm storyline) was Hiro sacrificing himself to Sylar (meaning also, that we could revisit Kirby Plaze without Hiro’s part, that would have changed some things), but most importantly, Sylar would have that power too. And then, maybe Samuel is kind of a good guy relunctantly as the one to try to follow up everything, or, he hates Sylar so much that Sylar has a real adversary through that time Sylar was really cool.

    • Zan

      1. Noah’s story meandered and had no bearing on the Heroe’s story arc – unless it added to introduce the fact that he has always been interested in young blondes aka waterlogged-Tracey. I’m surprised Elisabeth Rohm’s character was not played by yet another Larter clone.
      2. The writers should have beefed up Noah’s tale by reminding us that the Paper Company operatives work on the philosophy of “one of us, one of them”. Shouldn’t Elisabeth Rohm’s character have been one of them? I was so disappointed that she didn’t have a power, and that she didn’t die.
      3. Can someone go Hatian on me so that I can forget this season?!?

    • Brennilyn

      I don’t think she was his partner (wasn’t he partnered with the Hatian at that time?) – I thought that she was a co-worker that he met up with a couple of times a week…

      • Kyle

        Obviously she was another agent of “The Company” that works with one of them. I dont even think it is possible that at that time HRG would of gotten involved with someone with powers. Considering his profession. Besides his wife is really hot why would he want to leave her?

  • Steve

    Could not disgree more. Killing off Characters is a terrible idea. What should’ve happened with the Heroes is that they should form a Legion of Heroes. I can live without Mohinder, but to kill off anymore of the original Heroes would be a tragic mistake. There was a chemistry there. The problem was the writing for season three did much harm to the show..you didn’t know who the characters were as their personalities changed week to week….sometimes minute to minute. The show need to go back to their roots and killing off characters just puts a nail in the coffin of the show. Room has it Nathan is the next character to go…..bad decisions have killed a great show. As for this season, I like it. Personally I can not understand why someone who hates a show as much as this writer still watches.

    • Dennis

      “There was a chemistry there”

      Emphasis on “was”. The chemistry is long gone. My understanding is the original plan was to continuously have characters leave/die and new ones come in, but when the fans became attached to the original characters, the writers were afraid to kill them off. At this point, the show is beyond saving. They just need to come up with a nice way to wrap it up this season.

  • michaelsacal

    Wasn’t the original idea after the first season for the show to introduce new characters with a new story, but the popularity of the show made Kring change his mind and keep the original characters?

    Maybe Heroes was a victim of its own success. Had it not been as successful as it was, they would have replaced the original characters with new ones as they had originally intended.

    • Dennis

      I should have read this post before making mine :)

  • kingworks

    Wow, Heroes has gotten so bad, it’s breaking reviewers.

    I HATE time-travel retcons and I did not appreciate them turning HRG into a emotional adulterer with someone we’ve never seen before.

    Also more than a little perturbed by Samuel’s seemingly unaided comings-and-going through time and space, only to pass Charlie off to a carnie-crony (car-ony?) who just happens to have the same powers as Hiro.

    And Sylar’s x-ray vision aneurysm removal . . . WTF? If he can see inside her brain to diagnose and fix the problem, why did he ever need to chop off heads to get powers and draw unwanted attention to himself?

    I missed some of the meat of last night episode due to my 4 year old refusing to stay in bed, and still felt like I didn’t miss anything.

    • westcoastfan

      Sylar didn’t HAVE to kill anyone to get their powers. Kristen Bell’s character, Elle, showed him that, before he killed her.

  • Old Sylar rocks

    I agree with you completely about old Sylar, he was a badass back in the day, now he is comic relief with fat albert parkman (who does a better job acting on the McDonalds monopoly commercial than on Heroes”….I hope the show is going down a path where they reset time and the cast forgets how lame they become and we see a new path for the heroes and get to meet the cool future hiro and peter…not the lame current version we are forced to view week to week

    • Sylar like it in the butt

      I disagree…I believe that old sylar like to take it up the rear

  • Zayne

    One of the best this season. I think this show is reclaiming some of its former creative glory. However, the thought of reviving Mohinder is indeed the worst idea this show has had. Does ANYONE miss him?

    Hmm, Mohinder has been gone this whole season and it’s become our best since season 1. Get a clue guys. It’ll be like Lana’s return driving last season of Smallville into the ground they couldn’t recover.

    • tatonca

      I had hoped Mohinder was with Molly and Grandma Shuresh in India… I don’t really miss him, but I’m curious now to see what happened between him talking to Peter in Ep1 this season and now…

  • Todd

    Overall, I think this was the best episode in a while. It was fun to go back to Season 1 and see Hiro really square off with Sylar. He showed a confidence he did not have in Season 1. I wanted to see Hiro win, and in a sense he did, but he still ends up losing somehow, which made me mad. But, we got see Hiro finally get really angry about something, and his character is now finally coming into it’s own. Growing up as it were.
    I agree the whole subplot with Noah was a waste-Unless, they use the affair and the love of teaching he expressed to Claire somewhere else in the present.
    Mohinder coming back? Hmmm. The jury is out. If they can find a way to make it interesting.
    This episode kept me at the edge, which Heroes has not done in a while. I think it still has alot more to offer than people give it credit for.

    • Delon

      I 100% agree.

  • tatonca

    Please be aware that last nights episode also included back story from the Heroes Novel “Saving Charlie” from 2007. The aneurysm plot is from that novel. Saving Charlie has been a theme to Hiro’s story since Charlie was introduced. I was very happy to have this woven in, and for the attention to detail. Showing Hiro willing to do anything, having literally nothing left to lose – it gives me hope that perhaps they could retcon Peter too and deal with another lass lost in time,…

  • The Truth

    Heroes is a one season concept, people discover they have powers and learn to cope with them. No thought was given what to do after the adjustment phase wears off. Its been a mess since. No disrespect to Jayma Mays but when the season is half over and the only highlight so far is the resurrection of a very minor character it shows the show is running on fumes.

    • BobDob

      I disagree. The reason Heroes tanked is because they creatively blew their wad in season one. Giving two characters nearly God-like powers was fun in the short term, but totally destroyed the future of the show. There was no way they could come up with interesting villains and challenges after that point. They had no choice but to resort to amnesia and intermittent power impotency, which is always completely hackneyed and boring.

  • Nancy Jo

    Does anyone think be showed us the blond girl who likes Noah so they can bring to the present since he is single now?

  • Clare

    This may be the worst ep I’ve ever seen of Heroes. I’m assuming it will be cancelled by the end of the winter so I’ll finish watching.

    Hiro could just get Matt Parkman to read that guys mind and find Charlie and then the two Sylars can meet up and end that story line.

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