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Heroes: An Invisible Thread

Hiro: "Payback is very bitchy."

They didn't go flashy; they went smart. What an interesting choice for a season finale. Not that it wasn't cool, because it was. The second half in particular.

I've always liked Nathan as a character, at least until they started frakking around with his motivation. And now he's dead. (I should have known the moment he "came out of the closet" with his powers that it was curtains for Nathan. Lacy, gently wafting curtains.)

But as fond as I am of Nathan as a character, I'm much fonder of Adrian Pasdar as an actor. How long will he be playing Sylar? A few episodes? Permanently? Will he need Matt to stop by and give him periodic booster brain wipes? Has Zachary Quinto been written out to do Star Trek movies while his character remains? I'm actually interested in where they go with this. I really was ready for the end of Sylar because I didn't think there was anything else they could do with him. Guess I was wrong.

And of course, "imprinting" Sylar with Nathan was a huge mistake. You can forcefeed him with memories and make him attend joint sessions of Congress, but won't Sylar still be evil at his core? Won't the real Sylar eventually emerge? Of course, he will. What would be the point if he didn't?

So Peter did pick up all of Sylar's powers when he touched him, and then he outsmarted him by becoming the president first. (Can I call it, or what?) But what about now? Will Peter hang on to all of Sylar's powers indefinitely, until he purposefully touches someone else? Would touching "Nathan" again restore them?

While Sylar was becoming a cast member of Dollhouse, Hiro with the nosebleeds and exploding brain was visiting this season of Lost. Although I did love the Noah/Danko frozen handshake, as well as Hiro and Ando replacing all of the unconscious heroes with frozen soldiers.

So fun was had. This was a clever, visually exciting, and well written episode. But I'm not sure I'm completely back on board. You know why? Nathan's actual death should have upset me, and it didn't. I don't think I'm emotionally involved any more.

Bits and pieces:

-- Viking funeral, too, like on Supernatural. So we had Dollhouse, Lost and Supernatural, my three favorite currently running shows. No wonder this episode felt mildly familiar.

-- Whatever happened to the red goop brigade? Is it a dropped plot, or will we hear about it in the future?

-- "End of volume four. Volume five: Redemption." Tracy's back. Or is it Barbara? And lots of ticking. We know Sylar is in there.

Yes, they pulled it out. Yes, there will be a fourth season. But even though I'll definitely keep watching, I'm unsure about whether or not I'm still fan enough to want to review season four. Please post a comment and tell me what you think. Do you still love Heroes? Do you feel strongly about me continuing to review it? Or should I give a reviewing slot to another show? (I can only do so many.)

Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.


  1. Hey Billie.

    Didn't Peter say something like "Bet you didn't think I'd take that one" when he tricked Sylar? I thought he was saying that he could only take one of Sylar's powers.


  2. Hi,

    well, I don't "love" heroes anymore as much as I did the first season (guess as we all did), but I still think there are good storys to tell in that universe.

    It has become a habbit with a lot of the shows you review to first watch it and then anxiously waiting for your review. Without them, the shows would only be half as great. Which would be dangerously close to personal cancellation of heroes if you'd drop it.

    On the other hand there could be another great show just waiting for you to review it.

    On the other... other hand... it would be "unfinished business"...

    How about you take a break from heroes next season and when you see it picking up your interest again, you can always do summer retro reviews. :)

  3. Hi Billie.

    It's official: I've stopped watching Heroes. (Okay, that's been official for a few weeks now.) However, I, like Corak above, still wait on tenterhooks for your reviews.

    Sometimes I think you could review wallpaper with aplomb. Nice work.

  4. I believe you should continue to review Heroes, but also if possible look into reviewing True Blood or Breaking Bad - cult shows in the making. One of those should replace Terminator because we all know it unfortunately will not be back.

  5. So are we all supposed to ignore the fact that Claire blood can revive people from the dead?

  6. Hey Billie, I for one think you should drop Heroes from the roster. I still enjoy reading your reviews from it, but I stopped watching halfway through the season as its just become hollow and the writing seems more and more blindly stumbling toward an uninteresting conclusion. I've long since ceased to care about any of the characters and by the sounds of it, you might have too. Save your precious reviewing slots for a better show.

    Namely, TRUE BLOOD! This is a perfect show for you to sink your teeth into and if you wanted, you could start reviewing from the 2nd season which will start in the summer lull.

    I was actually quite surprised not to read anything from you about True Blood when it started. It seems right up your alley!

  7. please continue to review heroes. after i watch supernatural and heroes, the episode is really not complete until i have read your reviews.

  8. Sometimes I think you could review wallpaper with aplomb. Nice work.

    :) Thanks, Josie. I feel the same about you. I read your reviews of Fringe and enjoy them, but I don't even watch the show.

    CoolSid -- very good point. I got the feeling they weren't going to go that way and didn't even consider it. And good point, first Anonymous, for the info about Peter. I didn't catch that. As is probably obvious, I usually watch episodes of shows I review twice, and I stopped watching Heroes twice awhile back. Which means I don't catch everything.

    About True Blood: it's in my Netflix queue and I hope to see it soon. I don't have HBO, and couldn't justify subscribing just for one show. I do love Charlaine Harris' books, though. I can't imagine a show as good as her books.

  9. Peter can only take one power at a time - which is why he was still bleeding when he changed back.

  10. Hey Billie, I love your revieuws, and I still love Heroes as well, especially these final episodes of the season.

    Great how they handeled the Sylar being all powerful by letting him believe he is Nathan for a while. But after his whole identity quest of volume IV, he will be pissed when he gets back to his usualk self, if he ever will.

    Great to have Tracy back with us, it would be fun to see her enact her revenge on those building 26 survivors, and Nathan in particular.

    Further I'm hoping to see more of Zimmerman's research, since he was introduced during volume III as having experimented on at least Barbara, Tracy, Niki and Nathan, and revisisted in volume IV as one of the scientists in the 1961 Coyote Sands facility.

    That said, I hope you will continue to review this show, as I enjoy all of your reviews, and even learned about several shows through them (not a US citizen, so we don't get all the shows here). But the choice is up to you, I'd hate to read reviews if I'd expect you to regret doing them.

    Looking forward to reading your reviews

  11. I'm with Josie here (aren't I always?) - I don't even bother to watch the show, I prefer just to read your review. That being said, why don't you wait until next season to see if anything interesting comes up? After all, if Dollhouse is canceled, that will free up one show from your personal roster. Or, perhaps you could have another reviewer do Heroes, although I don't know if any of the other reviewers even watch it anymore.

  12. Hi Billie! I really hope that you continue reviewing Heroes because even though I want to hit the show sometimes, it's getting much better and your reviews are great! Although, if you were to stop reviewing Heroes and replace it, I'd replace it with House.

  13. Actually I think some of the earlier posters are right too. You should definitely review True Blood. It's awesome and it might help fill in the gap that Buffy and Angel have left behind!

  14. Yup, I couldn't help but feel the Heroes writers were really digging Dollhouse and set themselves up to explore those kind of ideas in volume 5. It's really, painfully apparent that they Doll'd Sylar.

    The Lost and Supernatural rips were visible to me, too.

    Also, "lacy, genly wafting curtains"? I think I might love you.

  15. :) You guys probably already know where I stole the line, but the lacy curtains line is from Joss Whedon's Dr. Horrible. And it was said by another Nathan, Nathan Fillion, which is probably why it popped into my head.

  16. I say drop Heroes from the lineup and maybe do some short reviews the next summer.

    The thing is Heroes will have a shorter season, so less pain for all viewers. YAY. :)

  17. Hi Billie,

    I've been losing interest in Heroes for a while and while i think i'll keep watching (once i commit to a tv show i tend to stick with it no matter how bad it gets)i think the first ep of the next volume will be the clincher. If its good i'll stay, if its bad i won't. Maybe you should wait and see about reviewing.

    I love your reviews and like many other ppl they're a part of my viewing routine. But while i would miss them if they were gone i think it would be unfair to expect you to write about a show you're no longer passionate about.

  18. I think heroes improved in the second half of this season and i can't wait till it returns

  19. I use your reviews as a way of assessing whether I'm going to watch the show or not, so personally I'd love you to keep up with the 'Heroes' reviews. With no tv I have to wait until the shows are out on DVD in the UK, and your consistently excellent and informative work lets me know what to spend my hard-earned cash on! However, if you decide to start reviewing another show you know I'll always lobby for 'Bones'...!
    Great job as always, and if Joss Whedon manages to get a series of 'Dr Horrible' then that would be the greatest....

  20. CatherineJ, you can watch Heroes on BBC iPlayer online for a week after the episodes are shown on TV, if you want to.

    As far as Billie continuing to review Heroes, I can't quite make up my mind. I really enjoy all your reviews and several of the shows you review are amongst my all time favourites (Buffy, Angel, Firefly, BSG, Veronica Mars, Alias, Six Feet Under, Dexter). I enjoy reading your insights and opinions on Heroes, but I'm just not sure whether the show itself deserves to be reviewed.

    I really did enjoy the first season, and I did think it was of a high standard compared to a lot of rubbish on TV. I don't think I fell in love with it as much as a lot of people did, though. For me, it was a pretty good first season but I was expecting a brilliant second season to fulfil all the potential which the show had, and that never arrived.

    I think comparing it to something like Buffy helps- Buffy's first season wasn't amazing in comparison with how sophisticated and perfect some later seasons and specific episodes were, but all the raw ingredients for success were there- likeable characters, witty dialogue, humour and interesting metaphors. It was the second season when they started to really bring the show to life brilliantly, with more complex story arcs and major character developments.

    With Heroes, I even felt the first season was slightly disappointing, because it had been building so well and the characters had begun to interact after episodes of solo storylines, Sylar was a deadly and interesting villian, but I was expecting it all to end in an emotionally satisfying and climatic battle, and it ended more with a whimper.

    Season two tried to go off in a slightly different direction, for example Hiro being in the past, which I think was admirable, but it was pretty clear that it wasn't working, with Peter's "Oirish" adventure being one particularly jarring thread for me.

    At both the first and second halves of season three, my hopes were again raised. The first part seemed to concern the escape of several dangerous, corrupt villians and it would have been fun to see our Heroes united and setting out to capture them again. Instead it evolved into a ridiculous soap opera between the Petrelli family (with Sylar as an honorary member).

    It seemed to be setting off an interesting premise, with the heroes united together to take on a fairly straightforward and believable menace. Nothing particularly new to anyone who has read or watched X-Men, but it would have been nice to see old themes and ideas refreshed with some new ones with our Heroes characters. Unfortunately I felt disappointed again, to be honest I find most of Heroes quite forgettable now, with only a few important plot points or episodes really that memorable.

    I think on a whole the show lacks cohesion or a grand plan, which was one of the things that Whedon shows benefit from. After a couple of seasons watching Buffy, all the rules of the Buffyverse were firmly established and it wasn't too difficult to understand the rules, and even when that universe began to expand (for example with the introduction of a god as a villain rather than simply a vampire or demon, or Dawn being "written" into existance, or Spike being able to obtain a soul), it either fit in with previous knowledge or simply developed upon it, and was usually explained in a coherent way.

    I won't deny that by the end of the series it had become quite complex and harder to follow for a casual viewer- the relationships between the characters, who has slept with who, that Spike had a chip then a soul, was then brainwashed and then had his soul removed- but that's to be expected after seven seasons and wouldn't be too confusing for a long-time viewer. And they were even able to point things like that out and laugh at the show itself quite often.

    Heroes has become pretty incomprehensible to me, since sometime in season two. It's impossible to keep track of who works for which side, who's evil and who's good, who's dead, who's alive, who's from the past, who's from the future, who's a clone, who still has powers, who has lost their powers, what happens in the future (there have been so many potentially catastrophic future worlds that I can't keep track), whether you are actually allowed to go back and change the past. Can Claire be killed? Because there don't seem to be any consistency or clear plan and the end result is confusing to say the least.

    I don't really find any of the character particularly likeable or believable anymore, as they exist solely to serve the ridiculous plotlines and I can't understand their motivations. Any time we have seen a new interesting or likeable character introduced (Elle, Daphne, Adam, Meredith) they end up being killed off in favour of retaining boring and directionless characters like Mohinder and whoever Ali Larter is currently playing. Even characters who have been roundly hated, like Maya, Alejandro and Monica, you can see that better writers could have done so much more with the basic premise. For example, with Monica, they could have written interesting storylines about her using her powers to help others and rebuild her community.

    I think part of the problem was that they wrote themselves into corners with certain situations- for example, Sylar was almost too powerful in the first season, which is probably why they depowered him, but then gave him his powers back again. Wouldn't it have been interesting to see him without any special powers but simply a murderer? Or if he had been able to continue collecting powers by killing people but having lost all those he previously possessed? Or even let him reacquire only one ability so he isn't limitlessly powerful. Better yet, now that they've done so much with the character, introduce a new and interesting villian rather than a serious of shady organisations with some vague conspiracy in tow?

    I'll probably tune in to see if they again try with renewed effort to win over the fans with season four, but I'm not optimistic. When we've seen three seasons and only the first was any good, it looks like they've been flogging a dead horse. The original premise was about ordinary people with extraordinary powers- the fact that they were ordinary people meant we could relate and like them, whilst the extraordinary powers kept us entertained and fuelled the plotlines. But none of the characters have ordinary lives anymore and the plots are focused entirely around cliched sci-fi scenarios such as a character coming back from a dystopian future to warn everyone about it.

    Oh, and one last thing that has annoyed me ever since the first episode- please someone drop the pretentious, waffly, vaguely ominous voiceovers from Mohinder bookending each episode- they add NOTHING to the show. It reminds me of the same technique being used in Desperate Housewives- it's not really necessary for someone to metaphorically hit us over the head by explictly pointing out the themes of the episode we've just watched, surely good writing would do that. In shows such as Veronica Mars the narration was a handy way of greasing the plot along without having to show an entire scene with Veronica discovering new information, and to provide us with her entertaingly caustic world view, in turn enriching the character. Has Mohinder become even marginally less boring due to these insights? Has it helped anyone understand the ridiculously complex plot better with some vague synopsis of what we've seen?

    So I'm not sure whether I want Billie to keep reviewing Heroes because I don't think it really bears up to close scrutiny and there is no real depth to the characters or stories beyond the superficial which are helpfully pointed out to us by an offscreen Mohinder. If there is another better show which deserves reviewing, and which you enjoy more than Heroes, then I would definitely switch, and then if season four of Heroes turns out to be at all an improvement then catch up on reviews next summer.

    Bille, I was just curious as to whether you watch Mad Men or The West Wing? Mad Men is one of my favourite shows running at the moment. At times it can be infuriatingly slow, but there is so much atmosphere, so many layer beneath the obvious in what the characters say and are seen to be doing, and I think it would make a good new show for you to look at.

    I had never really seen The West Wing before, but I liked Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, and based on that invested in the West Wing complete series and it has been one of the best investments I've ever made. It's incredibly well written and performed, the blend of tone is impressive as it flits between drama and humour with believable style, the plotlines are still relevant, and it encompasses so many interesting areas- obviously politics, but also relationships, ethics, society and personal dramas. I genuinely think it is one of the best series I've ever seen. I don't know if you would even consider reviewing it anyime soon (seven seasons would be a lot to take on) but I'd just be very interesting to know your opinions on the show.

  21. Marc,

    This is an awesome post. You articulated absolutely everything that has been bothering me about Heroes that I haven't succeeded in putting into words. In particular, you said:

    "It's impossible to keep track of who works for which side, who's evil and who's good, who's dead, who's alive, who's from the past, who's from the future, who's a clone, who still has powers, who has lost their powers, what happens in the future (there have been so many potentially catastrophic future worlds that I can't keep track), whether you are actually allowed to go back and change the past."This is what drives me the most nuts. It makes the series difficult for me to write about; I can't retain it. I've been staying on the surface of Heroes for a long time because I've been unable to find any depth to explore.

    Rumor has it that Dollhouse was renewed. Even though it didn't have a stellar first season, they did lay the groundwork in exactly the ways that you mentioned. I enjoy writing about Dollhouse, because I can get my teeth into it and find depth and complexity to discuss. I no longer enjoy writing about Heroes, for the same reason.

    So yesterday, I made a decision. I'm dropping Heroes. If they reboot and fix their many mistakes and give us a decent season four, I may do reviews during the summer. If they don't, I probably won't bother.

    Thank you all, every one of you, for your comments.

  22. Oops, didn't answer your question. No, I don't watch Mad Men and I haven't watched the West Wing; I tend to watch sci-fi/fantasy shows almost exclusively. But that's what DVDs are for. I'll think about giving them a try.

  23. I think Supernatural got better with the years. The lst season where better than the first one. Lost was the best from the beginning to the last season and hopefully the next one. But heroes kind of lost his beauty and i think the first season was better. The only good thing remains Sylar hope he'll come back the way he used ti be ;))


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