Friday, May 1, 2009

Up In Smoke: Arturo v. Heroes 4.12!

Cross-posted to Racialicious!

A note about this week's especially tardy report: Monday morning I had to undergo an emergency wisdom tooth extraction. The procedure required more than the usual amount of local anesthetic to prep me, because for most of the previous 10 hours, I'd felt like the tooth had grown flaming tendrils designed to stream shards of glass down my jaw and up my temples, despite my efforts to contain the pain; literally, I was popping antibiotics and pain relievers at a rate that would give Hollywood starlets pause, and it didn't help.

I tell you all this because the experience was less frustrating than the latest season finale for Heroes.

True, “An Invisible Thread” did give us a pair of sincere OHMYGOD moments. But even when it's good, this series can leave you dissatisfied. Why all the filler between the killer? The best and worst aspect of the episode was, it made stuff like 1961 look even more pointless in retrospect. And it brings other uncomfortable questions to mind:

1. Will less episodes mean more good episodes?
Advertising Age recently reported that the show is getting trimmed from 25 episodes to 18-20 eps next season. From the examples given us by British television, that could bode well.

At the very least, it could mean we don't have to wait for months while the Benetrellis and friends run around in circles before finally getting their crap together in the proverbial nick. This time, the First Family ended up outwitting Sylar before he could fulfill his Presidential aspirations.

Again, though, let's stop and think for a sec: exactly why did Sy want to usurp President Worf's form? If his motivation had been to follow through on Micah's idea to repeal the persecution of metahumans, that might have made things more interesting. As it was, we got a solid 40 minutes of Zachary Quinto getting his Snidely Whiplash on – which, hey, the guy is good at. But we've been here already.

This time around, the Heroes' victory was costlier than usual. As Roundtable member Mahsino predicted last week, Nathan and his eyebrows were cut down by Sylar and his, eyebrows. The scene and its' aftermath, with Angela losing it at the sight of his body, were each gruesome in their own ways. But Angela's and Noah's idea to “save the day” -- using Parkman to brainwash Sylar into believing he is Nathan, was, admittedly, clever in its' own ugly way – it's the kind of f'd up gambit the two old pros are used to after 20 years in the life, although Parkman, still very much a do-gooder, is already chafing under the guilt. But HRG's explanation is the right one: Sylar becoming a news story would only have made things worse for everybody with powers, and their families.

So, in the next volume, “Redemption,” one can expect to see Mr. B and Mrs. P try to both keep SyNate under control and guide Primatech's rebirth as a government agency. But, see, consider one thing about these past few grafs ...

2. What will the series' POC characters matter in the grand scheme of things?
Now more than ever, the answer seems to be: not much. The overarching plotline would seem to not feature any POCs. And in Volume IV, remember how Rebel and his mission – shepherding metahumans to safety – was seemingly so important early on? As soon as we saw it was Micah, the character and the story were dropped, aside from last week's run-in with Sylar. Previously, Claire and Hiro had received communications from Micah; do their cell phones not have a Reply button? And this is without bringing up the rest of Micah's family being brushed off over the course of the series.

In “An Invisible Thread,” Hiro manages to get his own mini-arc, as he defies the pain his powers are now causing him to “shut down” Building 26 and free Mohinder and the other imprisoned superhumans. He also saves Noah from getting betrayed by Danko. But witness the cremation scene: only Hiro, Mohinder and Ando are still part of the main ensemble, three characters out of a POC group that numbered seven in Season One – nine, if you count Charles and Kaito.

And of these three, only Hiro has been mentioned as having a subplot in the upcoming season, as he continues to struggle with his powers. Some predictions: next season, Hiro's going to go through a Flowers For Algernon-like journey designed to be “emotionally wrenching.” Ando will get his own costume. And Mohinder will get manipulated by somebody while providing the voiceovers.

3. Why should anybody stick with this show after the past couple of seasons?
Honestly, I couldn't tell you right now. And coming from a guy who was positively enthralled by Heroes' first season, that's a tall statement to make. The show that seemed to be on a path to expand racial dynamics in sci-fi on tv isn't even a very good sci-fi show anymore – let alone a positively diverse one. The show has lost its' direction, its' heart, and most damningly of all, it's lost its' point. It has been passed by, creatively and/or commercially, by the likes of Lost, Doctor Who, Battlestar Galactica, and, hell, arguably even Dollhouse.

So we come to you, dear readers, and ask: should we even care about recapping this show anymore? Several people at The R have written in that they don't even watch Heroes anymore, or only watch it because they want to snark at it with our Roundtable. That is the saddest commentary of all on a show that once held so much promise: that it's just around for us to laugh at. Much like my Monday morning, after the pain and the frustration, the season and this series have only left me numb.

Next Week: A special chat with the Racialicious Roundtable
All images courtesy of HeroesWiki
Previously: Racialicious Heroes Archive

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