Review: Heroes 4×7 – Strange Attractors

A Tracy episode can't be a complete waste of time, can it?

In the US: Monday 26th October 2009, 8pm, NBC
In the UK: Start of March 2010, probably

After all the forward progress in terms of pacing that the show has made in the last couple of weeks, it’s a shame to have such a filler episode thrown in our faces this week. Still, there were a few good moments, most of them towards the end, to avoid it being a letdown. And Tracy was in it.

Spoilers and more after the jump.


Matt (Greg Grunberg) goes to extreme measures to extinguish Sylar (Zachary Quinto), who continues to torment him. Elsewhere, HRG (Jack Coleman) calls in a favor from Tracy (Ali Larter) to save a troubled young boy whose misfortunes resemble her own. While Claire (Hayden Panettiere) and Gretchen (guest star Madeline Zima) are being hazed by their new sorority sisters, they realize pledging might not be their biggest problem. Robert Knepper also stars. Lisa Lackey, Tessa Thompson and Rick Worthy guest stars.

Was it any good?
Once again, we return to the slow pacing that has beset this season. Damn.

The trouble is the episode was filled mainly with side-plots or temptations for the characters that could have been resolved in a few minutes. Indeed, the episode headline – "THE HEROES ATTEMPT TO RESCUE THEMSELVES AND OTHERS WITHOUT THE USE OF THEIR POWERS" – gives you a fair idea of the problems.

The pairings
We had three main pairings this week: Tracy/HRG, Matt/Sylar and Claire/Gretchen. None of them was great.

If you read the press releases that went out before the season started, you’ll know that "Tracy’s quest for revenge" was going to be a centrepiece of the season. Oh aye? Where’s that then?

Because this week, at least for a few horrible moments, it looked like she was going to be baby-sitting for the rest of the season. Last week’s new hero, a boy who could heal or kill, depending on his mood, needed springing from jail so HRG calls in Tracy to help out.

Did we really need this? No. Could we instead have had something a bit more interesting, say finding out what Tracy’s been up to for the last two episodes now she’s quit her job? Maybe she’s been off looking for Barbara, say? Visiting her folks back in Beverly Hills? Finding a new job at a registered charity somewhere? Or maybe just going out and fighting crime with the second-best set of powers in the entire Heroes arsenal? How about that?

Hell, if we get to watch Claire doing her laundry from week to week, I don’t think it’s totally uncalled for.

Actually, since most of this thread involves the formerly strong, go-getting Tracy (literally) turning into a weepy wreck, maybe she’s been sat at home in her pyjamas, watching The View and feeling more and more depressed.

What a waste. Not totally, mind: the highlight by far was the arrival of the Carnival in Tracy’s plot thread, and it’s possible she might be the first, after Nathan/Sylar, to jump to the Carnie side, confirming that ‘revenge’ press release. She’s got the compass, thanks to Samuel, and now she’s got the motivation, since she doesn’t think she can hide in plain sight any more. It could just have been done in a far more interesting way.

Shame, too, that she’s split up with HRG, since that was quite a nice little pairing. But with Nathan/Sylar remembering their liaison, maybe she’ll be the catalyst that restores Nathan’s control and memories. Tune in in 17 weeks or whatever to find out.

So finally, after working the addiction metaphor for weeks, Matt turns to drink and gets an actual addiction. It’s been entirely obvious where the whole plot thread has been going and, at last, we’ve finally got there – Sylar’s in charge of Matt’s body.

Quite why Matt thought that drinking himself into a stupor would work as a way to exorcise Sylar, I don’t know. It’s his brain – if Sylar’s out of it, unless he’s given himself permanent brain damage, so’s Matt, and when Matt wakes up, Sylar wakes up. Plus Sylar could hardly have got drunk as Matt drank more drinks, since his body wouldn’t have had time to metabolise it.

Silly Matt.

Interesting, though, that Mohinder’s name has popped up: at last we know how he’s going to return to the story – he’s going to help Sylar/Matt. Poor old Mohinder – always getting fooled by Sylar. And will Janice be able to help out in some way, once Matt/Sylar hits the road and starts looking for his body?

Tedious. Sorry, but the whole sorority scare house thing was underwritten and seemed purely a Halloween gimmick. And Gretchen’s too wet and drippy to be interesting. Plus she doesn’t know what a strange attractor is.

But at least the Invisible Girl has been exposed, and Claire’s invulnerability has been exposed too. With Tracy’s arc this week ending in super-boy’s powers getting revealed and Claire’s now having been witnessed, too, methinks this is going somewhere. Or maybe not.

The Carnival
At last we get to see Samuel’s powers in action. The appearance of the Carnival out of thin air and the revelation of the compass’s true nature were neat additions to our knowledge. Sylar’s hat was a disaster though.

Really, we could have cut to the chase on most of this, but it did at least end well. Still, next week, we have Hiro, Charley, and a quite literal return to season one. Yey!


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.