Heroes Reborn – Season 1 Episode 4
“The Needs of the Many”
“Forget the past, save the future” is the new tagline that Heroes Reborn has come up with to rival “Save the Cheerleader, save the world” and it’s a guiding principle that the writers really need to start following to keep this show interesting.
One major problem that Heroes Reborn has had up until now is that it has been too focused on the past. Whether that be the histories of the characters involved or the past of the show itself there hasn’t been an awful lot of forward momentum within most of the different stories that are due to start converging.
The worst offender of this is Noah and Quentin who waste a lot of time in their scenes trying to figure out what happened to Quentin’s sister Phoebe and Noah’s daughter Claire. While this is a noble purpose and it’s something these characters need to know it has become apparent that there are other priorities right now. It’s a shame that their scenes feel somewhat redundant as I was enjoying their interactions. Much of it this week seems like repetition as there is no real deepening of their partnership. Noah in particular seems like more of a catalyst for the story as he doesn’t react to information he is given in a way that seems believable. It’s almost as if the writers want to rush to the next tease of a reveal rather than focusing on how Noah feels.
Noah and Quentin’s biggest contribution to the overall story this week was getting to Molly and trying to save her. Molly has proven interesting so far as her ability comes with an inherent tragedy as her ability to detect other evos will be invaluable to pretty much anyone who has a grudge against them. It has become apparent to her that she can never live in peace so she takes her own life to finally put an end to the constant terror and looking over her shoulder as well as removing the potential for her power to be abused by people who want to hurt others like her. It was a real shock when she put the bullet through her brain and it shows how well the character has been established as well as the strength of Francesca Eastwood’s performance that her death would be so effective. It is a pity that she’s gone but maybe that’s for the best in case she outstays her welcome and goes the way so many of the characters in the original series did.
Before her death we get some teases that might one day lead to answers such as her plea for Noah to stop investigating the events of June 13th. She was apparently there when Claire dies and assures him that he doesn’t want to know the truth. Obviously this won’t stop him but I hope that when he discovers the truth he will realise that she was right and it will change his character in some way.
Her death also accomplishes something important in the context of the overall plot. For the moment it keeps Erica from finding the location of Malina who still remains enigmatic but it has now become irritating that there is no real development for her. I mentioned last week that I quite liked that he character was mysterious as her development seemed to be connected to the event that she was trying to control. For some reason this week we see her resurrecting butterflies in the arctic and making a tree grow but aren’t given any context to it. It does make sense to take her away from whatever is coming for a little while but that should be coupled with some meaningful development for her as a character. Instead there is some vague dialogue about what’s coming and a poorly defined relationship with her invisible guardian (?) Farah. A couple of characters spouting meaningless dialogue that suggests portents of doom does not equate to character development, it equates to lazy writing and a lack of a grasp on how to develop a story properly. It’s amazing how one of the most interesting characters can become one of the most infuriating in the space of a single episode.
On the subject of Erica and her master plan. Now that the corporation has a face in her it has become a lot more engaging as a villain. Her plan either focuses on draining Evos of their powers or some kind of control. Either way she is a genuine threat to their continued survival and the mystery surrounding what she is really up to is engaging enough for now. Noah’s comparison of her to Sylar will tell fans all they need to know about how much she is regarded as a threat.
Erica’s relationship with her daughter proves to be more interesting than any of that. Last week Taylor was fierce and uncompromising but the most interesting thing about her was that she has feelings for an Evo which drives a wedge between her and her mother. Erica seems to have some sort of hatred for Evos that hasn’t been fully explained as yet. At the very least she doesn’t recognise them as human so the thought of her daughter having feelings for one disgusts her. Her mother’s disapproval and the understanding her feelings gives Taylor about the plight of the Evos is more than enough motivation for her to betray her mother. It’s a pretty standard motivation but at least it comes from a very human place and can be easily understood. This show is definitely at its strongest when the character motivations are at the root of the story.
One aspect of this episode that is totally nailed is Tommy’s story. Last week I talked about how his story was more focused on the magnitude of the events rather than the effect on his character but this week it is completely flipped and is all about him as a person. His story is actually quite a simple one, he wants to save his mother who desperately needs a blood transfusion or she may die. This is a very human problem that people can instantly relate to. Couple this with the fact that he’s a teenager who has no other family -that he knows of- in the world other than his mother and there’s some real dramatic urgency there and the episode develops this wonderfully.
Without hesitation Tommy offers to have his blood tested to see if he is a match for his mother. This puts him in great danger as it gets the government on his tail for being an unregistered Evo. It says a lot about Tommy as a person when his desire to save his mother is so strong that it doesn’t even enter his mind that it could put him in danger. It shows how compassionate and selfless Tommy is as a character. There was also a great subtle moment when Emily and Brad tell Tommy that they were both worried and Tommy looks baffled but also incredibly grateful. It really puts forward that Tommy has never had friends before and is really enjoying the experience now that he has some. He has something in life worth fighting for now and that makes him more interesting as he also has plenty to lose. Personal stakes are always more interesting to me than global so I hope that Tommy’s part continues to be this strong.
I still quite enjoy Miko and Ren’s story as ridiculous it is. Visually their scenes are quite interesting with more colour and personality to them than most of the others. Miko’s past is a complete mystery to her but things are being slowly revealed about her. Ren’s appeal to all his online gamer “friends” using social media was really cheesy but I can’t help being interested in how this turns out.
On the opposite end of the quality scale we have Carlos and his identity as El Vengador who seems to be graduating from Arrow to Batman but not in a good way. All he really does this week is get a new suit and work on a car while doing nothing to develop meaningfully as a character. If this character was cut completely it would make absolutely no difference.
Luke and Joanne are similarly infuriating. I would say that Luke is going more emo than Evo and his tortured ramblings are pretty insufferable to watch. His flip from needing to kill Evos for whatever reason to understanding that they are innocent people now that he is one is completely unearned. The character that was established should become self hating rather than have some kind of epiphany about the people he hunts being innocent after all. This alteration to his character should come gradually and leave him as a hypocrite for a while. For one thing it makes for a deeper and more interesting character. This attempt to make him sympathetic stinks of lazy writing. Zachary Levi is doing a good job with what he is given but isn’t given a lot to work with. Joanne is even worse. I can see that the writers are trying to build a character who is consumed by grief but it’s really not coming across. I didn’t find her reaction to finding out that her husband is something that she hates at all believable. Their scenes did have one powerful moment though. After Joanne had killed the Evo in his house and the dog went to lie down next to his dead owner it was wonderfully moving and subtle. It was the perfect tragic image and was executed perfectly.
This show really needs to get moving with the overall story as a lot of time has been wasted stagnating. I could accept it if there was an overall sense of character development but we are only now getting a sense of how it all fits together. I’m hoping that these stories will start to converge in interesting ways soon. The scene where everyone looked at the lights in the sky at the same time from vastly different locations was really effective as it was a powerful reminder that everything is connected no matter how different it all seems.
An uneven episode that definitely had some notable high points to it elevating the overall experience. The lazier parts of the episode still really stand out and look worse by comparison.
Noah and Quentin’s partnership is starting to stagnate with no meaningful development of either of them. It seems that the writers want to skip past Noah reacting to information that he finds out rather than developing in any significant way. Their part in the episode does feed into the more interesting character drama connected to Molly’s suicide. it was shocking but made sense from her point of view as it’s a lot to deal with living your entire life being hunted by various parties for an ability that is sought after. Her death also prevents Erica from using her ability against other Evos.
Giving the corporation a face in the form of Erica really enhances their threat level and adds a personal touch to the whole thing. Her true motivations are a mystery but it is clear that she’s a genuine threat to Evos. Her relationship with her daughter Taylor is more interesting than her master plan as the conflict is a very human one. Taylor has feelings for an Evo but Erica sees them as something less than human. Taylor’s decision to turn against her mother is motivated by love which is fairly standard but very relatable.
Tommy is back to being the most interesting character as his scenes are completely focused on very human conflicts. His mother needs a blood transfusion to survive and he offers himself up for testing without hesitation as she is the only family he has. This speaks to his selflessness and compassionate nature as well as the tragic urgency of the potential loss of his mother. When Emily and Brad tell him that they were worried there’s a wonderfully subtle moment where Tommy looks both surprised and grateful. It’s clear that he has never had friends before and is enjoying the experience.
Miko and Ren’s story remains quite entertaining despite being cheesy and ridiculous in a lot of ways. Visually it’s more interesting than most of the other stories and I’m finding the slow reveals about her to be pretty interesting so far.
Carlos and his identity as El Vengador is neither interesting nor well developed. If the character was cut entirely it would make no difference. Nothing has really been done to give him meaningful development.
Luke and Joanne don’t fare much better. I find Luke’s newfound sympathy for the plight of the Evos to be completely unearned as he is only thinking that way after realising he is one. It would be far more interesting if he was portrayed as a self hating hypocrite. Joanne fares even worse. It’s obvious that the writers are trying to craft a character consumed by grief but it’s so clumsily done that it doesn’t work. Her reaction when she found out the truth about her husband wasn’t at all believable either.