So it’s been trailed for weeks. It’s been the one everyone’s looking forward to since it’s by Bryan Fuller – the season one producer responsible for classic episode Company Man who defected to ABC to create Pushing Daisies. NBC described it as ‘a classic’ even before it aired. And there’s many an ex-Heroes fan who has been waiting to use it as a barometer: if it was good, they’d come back; if it was bad, they’d stay away forever.
No pressure then.
So, all things being equal, was it indeed ‘a classic’? Could it live up to the hype?
Oh, yes. It most definitely could.
This was, essentially, a rehabilitation episode focusing on a few characters who needed fixing up: Tracy, Hiro and Ando, Matt and Daphne, and Grandma Petrelli. What was miraculous about it was that it really did make you care for the characters again, even Hiro and Ando who have been getting on everyone’s tits of late.
Tracy, of course, has had pretty much crap-all to do for 18 or so episodes, so giving her something relevant to the plot at last was a blessing. The fact that she’s also about as ruthless and self-serving as Nathan and Sylar hasn’t endeared her to fans either, but – unless you believe the obvious bluff of her death (and I think the wink was an obvious sign that she’s not) – this looks like the start of her spiritual journey towards the good, "everyone working together and not for themselves" side, led in part by Micah.
Yes, Micah’s back everyone. Who didn’t think he was Rebel? Not many of you, huh? Of course, it was obviously going to be him once the ‘Special Guest Star’ in the credits name-checked young Noah, but it was good to see his return all the same, since essentially Heroes is about families and isolated Tracy really needs a family to achieve any kind of grounding and fan-love. Again, I doubt they’d bring him back in the same episode that they got rid of Tracy, so I think she’s on safe grounds.
Matt and Daphne: oh how sad. I’m guessing that Daphne’s departure is permanent, given the return of Janice, Parkman’s ex-wife, and the revelation that Parkman Jr really is Parkman Jr, but what a way to go? Dry eyes, anyone? I don’t think so.
It’s a shame that Daphne’s gone, since of the post-season one characters, she’s the only one that anyone’s liked, but with so many fake-out deaths and resurrections, we do need the occasional actual death to give the show meaning.
Ando’s got a new, hardcore power and Hiro’s got his original power back. Hoorah! Sort of. Not all his powers, Hiro, just a power, thanks to baby Matt. I think they could have allowed him teleportation as well without making him too powerful again, just not time travel, but now he’s useful again all the same.
More to the point, he’s entertaining again. As well as the return to the countless Star Trek references that made him so endearing to the geek population in the first season, we had him in one of the most touching scenes among many touching scenes in the episode, talking about his departed mother. Dry eyes? Again, I think not.
Hiro, in common with the rest of the heroes, is becoming a real person. Indeed, that was one of the truly great qualities of the episode: that the heroes were real people again, with real emotions – and they were adults, too, not overgrown children whining about their lives or their quests. Even Mrs Petrelli abandoned moustache-twirling villainessdom to demonstrate real emotion and even street smarts. You cared about all of them.
In short, this really was a classic. Maybe it was the lack of Claire that did it, although even she’s been improving of late. It wasn’t totally note-perfect, with a plot-dump bit of dialogue to open the show, an obvious piece of imagery to finish it, and a few dodgy special effects in between, but this was a definite return to top form. Well done Bryan! Welcome back!
As usual, Greg Beeman has written a big, behind-the-scenes blog entry, complete with photos, and here’s a trailer for the next episode.