'Heroes' recap: The good, the bad, and the really bad

Heroes isn’t completely terrible, even if it is the worst show on television. Parts of the show are still practically genius. There were three things I liked about last night:

1) Peter Petrelli, who’s still an intriguing protagonist. Every time he uses his new healing powers, it hurts him. But there are always people to save, and to Peter, not using his power is the same as killing someone. Sure, this complex internal struggle is just like Kurt Busiek’s Samaritan, but Heroes was always enjoyable when it was “paying homage” to the best. (Season 1 is basically Days of Future Past with no costumes and no Kitty Pryde.)

2) When Sylar walked through the airport metal detector (in Parkman’s body, remember), we saw Parkman match his movements on a security screen in the same shot. That’s an awesome visual, right out of The Manchurian Candidate (Sinatra, not Denzel.)

3) The Sylar/Parkman Brain Battle finally got mildly unboring. Even though Sylar controlled Parkman’s body, Parkman still controlled his telepathy (Why? Don’t ask questions!). Advantage Parkman… until Sylar used Parkman’s surprising upper body strength to murderize a helpful tire-changing passerby. “The world is my hostage,” purred Sylar. Despite all the amnesias and power drains and fake parents, Zachary Quinto still makes you believe that Sylar is a bad enough dude to really mean it.

The problem with Heroes is that these few good things are drowning in a sea of terrific badness. The main problems:

1) Everything of consequence that happens will be erased by a resurrection or by the Haitian. At the start of the episode, two other sorority girls had just seen Claire get impaled. Claire convinced them that they were just tripping on accidental sorority acid, because everyone knows that’s how acid works: you see one crazy hallucination, and otherwise you’re totally fine. (The next morning, Uncle Haitian paid them a visit and took the bad memories away.) Later in the episode, Parkman pulled a murder-suicide on himself, with some help from the Texas PD. Exactly twenty billion bullets went through Sylar/Parkman’s chest… so naturally, he was alive in the ambulance at the end of the show. (Spoiler alert: He’s not gonna die!)
2) The villains make no sense. Samuel Sullivan has the amazing ability to come around any corner in America for a good shock before a commercial break. He’ll talk to whichever character he saw on Tattoo Lady’s back about the importance of family. He might do something cool with his terrakinesis, which is a word you should never say out loud unless you want to sound racist. Then he’ll disappear, and leave everyone wondering just what the hell that was all about. He’s basically the Great Gazoo. The really depressing thing is that, without him…
3) The different plot strands no longer have anything to do with each other. Hiro doesn’t care about Claire’s college troubles, Peter has no idea there’s two Sylars running wild across middle America, Tracy Strauss hasn’t been invited to Ando’s wedding, and the Haitian is actively trying to forget all of these people. The running bummer of season 4 is that these characters no longer really seem to have anything to do with each other; if Samuel didn’t keep randomly teleporting into their lives, Heroes would basically be 10 different soap operas, none of them watchable.

I know there are some people who still think this show is good, or watchable. I think you’re wrong (especially since, as Michael Ausiello noted, one of the best reasons to watch the show will soon be no more.) Just because there are a few cool things left from the salad days doesn’t mean Heroes isn’t a mess. Listen, we all loved Old Yeller, but remember what happened when he got rabies? I’ll give you a hint: the cure did not involve Mohinder Suresh.

Comments (106 total) Add your comment
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  • AA

    That was a great review. Loved the Old Yeller-Suresh comment. I think Heroes could have redeemed itself if it had actually kiled Parkman. Does anyone like this character anymore?

    • lori

      He’s loathsome – you know I just noticed I watch a show in which I cannot stand 3 of the main actors. Vampire Diaries understands casting….this show does not.

    • Madge

      Totally agree with you – I thought, wow – cool plot twist, finally! And then there could have been some fun times ahead for Sylar/Nathan. Bummer it’s not going to work out that way.

    • Schyler Martin

      Parkman’s always been my favorite character, other than Sylar. Still is.

    • Ruxandra

      My boyfriend actually started cheering when they shot Parkman. I told him not get his hopes up since nobody dies on heroes except the interesting ppl I actually cared about (wormhole guy, takeso kenzei, veronica mars -sorry I don’t remember what she was called on heroes:) ). He kept trying to convince me that this was “for real” and that the writers finally figured out how to hang on to zach quinto while getting rid of sylar, parkman and petrelli in one fell swoop. Aaah, to be so innocent and naive again… Suffice to say by the end of the ep he was sobbing gently and I almost wished I could haitian him of the entire heroes experience. I still love the show even if it doesn’t make any sense and completely shuns the idea of continuity regarding anything (powers, chars, timelines). Then again I never expcted it to make sense from the begining so it was hard to be dissapointed when they confirmed my expectations. I watch cartoon network for the exact same reason :)

  • AA


  • Michael

    Worst. Review. Ever.

    • DW

      Best. Review. Ever.

    • Sarah

      Agreed. Terrible review.

    • Schyler Martin

      Definitely the worst review I’ve seen in a very long time.

  • Mike

    Darren, can you be any more of a downer. If there is one thing you can depend on, it’s a negative “oh how horrible is this show” review from you after every episode. I for one, never thought the show was all that the first season – entertaining to be sure – but certainly not the potential second coming everyone was trying to turn it into. And yes, the show got overly convoluted, but really, it’s been a comic book come to life since the beginning – it was just more grounded the first season. Frankly, of all the seasons, THIS one is the closest to season one than any of the others – individual stories, all going to intersect at some point, not all characters appearing in every episode – and people are still complaining. It was cool to be fan at one point and now it’s cool to NOT be a fan and Darren, I think you are trying too hard to be cool.

    • Tiko

      God its so annoying when people say the guy gives a bad review every week for a few reasons
      1. This is no the same guy as previous weeks. Marc is the A hole who gives terrible review week after week
      2. This review is actually decent . Darren highlights some of the good parts of this episode (and episode I personally think has been one of the best this season)
      3. EW Has finally found a reviewer to do what fans have asked. Be somewhat objective and give fans good with the bad and not talk about how bad the episode sucked.
      I wish people would pay attention before pulling bullshit out their a$$

      • Tiko

        God its so annoying when people say the guy gives a bad review every week for a few reasons
        1. This is no the same guy as previous weeks. Marc is the A hole who gives terrible review week after week
        2. This review is actually decent . Darren highlights some of the good parts of this episode (and episode I personally think has been one of the best this season)
        3. EW Has finally found a reviewer to do what fans have asked. Be somewhat objective and give fans good with the bad and not talk about how bad the episode sucked.
        I wish people would pay attention before pulling bulls**t out their a$$

    • Michael

      Totally agree with all your points. The show doesn’t need to have them all connected all the time. That leads to seasons like last one. Darren is on the bandwagon. Why do we even waste our time?

    • Chris

      When the show gives the audience a bad episode, the critics will give us a bad review.

      • Nose

        Amen to that, dude. The show has many sucktastic moments, so why shouldn’t the reviewer talk about them? Otherwise, NBC should just put him on the payroll.

    • Brittany

      By the way, where’s Marc Bernardin? Has he left EW permanently? I like this reviewer, but Marc’s references were always amusing and and his reviews were well-written. Is he coming back??

      • Leila

        I don’t think he is with EW anymore. A big crew of some of the best writers were let go.

    • Matt

      I agree! I have watched since the very begining of heroes and this season totally reminds me of the first season!

  • Kate

    I too (even though I like…wait, I think I like Greg Grunberg, but Parkman, eh) am disappointed in the fact that Parkman’s idea won’t be working. I really don’t know if it would have worked (I was theorizing that since Sylar wasn’t all there, he might springboard back into his whole body, and it would be funny to do it while Nathan was pleading with Peter that Peter is suddenly talking to Sylar (and even funnier, they were hugging and Peter managed to get back his power, yes I know that Sylar doesn’t have it, but the power stealing is very similar and why I am still convinced Sylar and Peter are related, only Angela is the parent in common, or heck, they are full brothers and Peter is not that Arthur Pertrelli’s son)

  • Terri

    I was having such fun with the episode until I saw that Parkman/Sylar was coming back. I thought “Cool, the Nathan death was a big trick to get our guards down and hit us with the Parkman/Sylar death!” That would allow them to take amnesiac Sylar in any direction they wanted and cut some dead weight. Certainly redeem themselves for that idiotic drinking game of Parkman’s.

    So up comes the preview and I was PEEVED. I am tired of being jerked around by this show. Charlie’s death meant something until you did a takeback on that. So let me guess, we are not going to kill people (Darwin would call bull****) and just keep resurrecting characters?

    This show is so self indulgent and I am sick of it. I want to see some heads roll, literally *and* I want those characters to stay decapitated. Know what I mean?

    I thought during the writer’s strike you folks worked so hard to create a gameplan for the next few years. Was this plan to wander aimlessly giving nobody any character development, forward moving plot, or watchability? Because if that was the plan you are doing a bang up job. Either kill some characters or kill the show.

    • Tony

      Completely, I was so psyched at how Parkman was dead. Not really because I wanted him to die, but it was such a great way for him to take final control and end it all. I thought, just like 24, they finally had the gall to take out a character! Then the preview hits, and I was peeved as well. They need to be able to pull the trigger and live with wiping out characters.

      • Caryn

        I felt the same exact way! I started yelling as soon as I saw the preview. I was like ‘just when you rope me in with something good…it doesn’t really happen!’ I love this show and continue to watch, but I find myself so frustrated that nothing is ever really progressing or happening. Just kill someone, anyone, and don’t heal them!

    • Amanda

      I absolutely agree, I felt the same way. They should get rid of Parkman and permanent amnesiac Sylar would possibly redeem that character. I think this show is headed for cancellation — I am still hanging on but I don’t know how much more of this I can take!

  • killyourego

    It was a race to see who could act the hammiest and most obnoxious last nite: Claire, Sylar and Matt Parkman. Parkman taking the win! I really pray he doesnt survive his gunshot wounds, but with all that blubber to protect him, he most likely will

  • Liz

    Three reasons to watch Heroes: Zachary Quinto, Zachary Quinto, Zachary Quinto

    • beth

      The *only* reason to watch is Zachary Quinto.

      • Doris

        There are three reasons to watch (in alphabetical order): Jack Coleman, Robert Knepper, & Zachary Quinto. Or if you’re a hormonal male, Ali Larter!

  • Jon

    Yeah, okay, it’s time to admit it — this show (most of the time) really sucks. I have a weird ambivalence toward this show, though — it annoys the hell out of me, but I can’t imagine not watching it anymore. These last two episode have been absolutely putrid. The episode before this one by far the worst in its history. What has become obvious is that the writers don’t map out their seasons, and they continually have to readjust as the season rolls on. Now things that have happened in seasons past don’t match up to what’s happening today, and the currently storylines inevitably hit a lull. Sylar and Noah are the only remaining characters on this show worth keeping around. I’m just sick of everyone else, especially Claire (and I hope her roommate, which provided us with the worst acting I’ve ever seen, is gone for good). “Heroes” writers always do the most obvious thing. They don’t work to be inventive. And nothing ever makes sense. Why could Parkman take control of his own body with Sylar in it — enough to make him fall — but couldn’t prevent him from killing that man? If he was going to make the ultimate sacrifice and kill himself (again controlling the body) why did he do it after telling Sylar everything that had happened to him? Why does Claire feel so close to her roommate — because they shared an awkward kiss? And could that story Emma told about why she doesn’t want to be a doctor be anymore cliche? Is that the best they could come up with? Listen, “Heroes” had a great first season — but it was a season of revelation, as all the heroes discovered who they were, and they had a locked-tight plot to travel on. Since then, the writers haven’t given them anything to work with but a jumbled mess. And it’s stayed afloat on the strength of its acting and production.

    • EL

      Your post is exactly what I would have written (except I would have used a few paragraph breaks.)

    • Al

      And why did Parkman think that his dying would trap or kill Sylar? If Parkman died, wouldn’t that release his control of Sylar and Sylar would just get back to his body, exactly what he wanted anyway?

  • lori

    Come on Heroes! Thats a good boy! Out to the shed out back with me! Good boy! We’re gonna play a little game. Click. Click. BANG.

  • mark in nyc

    I agree with a lot in this review. I did find the Sylar/Parkman thing interesting (for once!), but kept thinking there is no way for PArkman to get out of this. I am pretty sure that the writers will gloss over the fact that Parkman killed someone, or they will just write it away. Regardless it was finally Sylar being Sylar.
    The thing I could not stand was anytime Claire was on screen, boring boring boring. Not only is the writing weak and aimless, she still can not act. Why does anyone care about her character?
    Oh and why does Noah keep wearing a suit and tie? He has no job.

    • Tina

      She’s a bad actress. And coupled with that fact, the Claire character is more annoying than I can describe.

  • Grady

    Love this review! Great job! The Old Yeller thing was hilarious!

  • Tony

    I don’t know which is more pathetic, a reviewer watching and then writing, poorly, about a show he doesn’t like or people making an effort to comment on a crappy review about a show they don’t like. Sad really.

    • Dave

      Sorry Tony, but as a fan of season 1 (except for the finale) I now only watch Heroes in “Mystery Science Theater” mode. The show is laughably bad and poorly written. Boring characters never stay dead, but return again and again.

      • Michael

        As another fan of season 1 (finale included – the showdown was weak, but exciting nonetheless), I think this season shows the most storyline maturity in a long, long time.

      • Dave

        I wish the writers would come up with their own ideas, instead of giving us retreads of X-Men and Carnivale. Get rid of dead weight like Tracy and Parkman, stop using Hiro + Ando as comic relief, stop repeating situations again and again (overuse of the Haitian, Claire’s whining, making enemies “team up”, etc.), and stop tearing down the characters of HRG and Sylar.

  • Alex

    okay, i understand where your coming from, i do, but thats just a lot of negetivity. I’d like to piint out, Heroe’s ratings have been up each week so far for the past month. People are cathcing on to the fact that it’s ‘redeeming’ it’s self in a way. It’s not longer all about the flashy powers. It’s about the people. I will agree with you that they do not interact enough with each other at all. But S4 is better tehn S3.

  • Axie

    Heroes needs to get back to their roots. Even if it means (bum bum bum bum) more bagging and tagging. I LOVED those episodes and it opens up ENDLESS possibilities for ‘testing’ out new characters/abilities…seeing if they work and if not…kill um’ off. They were VERY creative in the past (Elle, that one dude who created vortexes…etc.) And wtf happened to Ando’s power??? Is that storyline ever going to grow? I’m sick of Samuel and his lurky-pedophile creepiness. Just tell us what you want already! Heroes season 4, I love you…I think you’re a great show…but I’m going to wait til you’re out on instant view before watching more of you b/c you’re driving me batty.

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