One of the great things about “Heroes” was its scope. Everything was big: the ideas, the stakes, the range of stories covered and part of the globe traveled. Even the characters were big — for better or worse (looking at you, Spider-Mohinder). When it failed, which it did often, the failure was on an epic scale. “Heroes” was many things, but it was almost never boring.
The same can’t be said of “Heroes Reborn,” which in its fifth episode, is still teasing the audience with information, still skimming the surface of its new characters (not to mention letting HRG coast), and still holding back anything with which one might connect. It’s not bad, per se, it’s just not very interesting. For a show that’s dealing with superpowers, fractured families, grief, genocide, and global destruction, that’s a very big problem.
All that “The Lion’s Den” really has to offer is plot, and even that falls flat. This feels like an episode designed to move the pieces around, but there are so many pieces, moving in so many directions, that it’s nearly impossible to care about any one of them. Still, some important things happened, and hopefully now that we’re (almost) getting somewhere, the journey will be a little more interesting.
One of the week’s biggest developments: thanks to Noah, Taylor and Quentin’s snooping, we’ve got a sense of what Renautas is planning. The episode’s big finish shows us the unnamed disaster that our heroes seem destined to stop, but I found the first big reveal the most disturbing: a seed bank (“That’s Latin.” Thanks, Quentin.) seemingly prepared to help repopulate the world. No sooner do they find it than someone arrives to start moving it elsewhere. It would seem that disaster is imminent.
Noah also manages to wrench a few more juicy tidbits out of the truly frightening Erica (Rya Kihlstedt). In one of the episode’s stronger scenes, the former co-workers square off, and Erica gets the upper hand when she lets slip that she knows Noah’s altered his memory, and that he’s done it in order to protect not something, but someone. The return of “Heroes” in any form would be welcome, simply because it means we get more Jack Coleman, and he’s particularly great here. Even if this is familiar territory, it still feels grounded and honest in a way that little else here does.
That scene leads into the other high point of the episode: Miko’s grand entrance. Even if HRG’s visit to the Kravid house hadn’t resulted in any new information, it would have been worth it to see the tense standoff interrupted by a shower of glass and a badass in a pink ribbon. Miko and Ren’s story remains the most exciting of the series thus far, and even in an episode where they do almost nothing but peek around corners can’t keep them down. Now that Katana Girl has her sword, I hope we’re about to see more of the animation that made the first few episodes such a welcome surprise.
While there were moments that worked, there were more that didn’t, and it weighed down the episode in such a way that it can’t help but feel like wasted time. Luke’s return to his home packed little emotional punch, because his character — not to mention Joanne’s — remains largely undefined by anything but the dark clothing and the hot hands. Watching a grieving parent walk into the room of an absent child should be a wallop to the chest. At the very least, it should mean more than watching said parent sort through their mail, an activity to which this week’s episode actually devoted a few precious moments. But it felt so impersonal, so generally sad without substance, that even the fire seemed sort of ambivalent about its job.
The lack of character development weighing down Luke’s storyline can be found throughout this episode. Even a kidnapping hasn’t made Carlos’s story feel significant, and while the addition of “Orphan Black’s” Dylan Bruce to the cast is a most welcome one, so far he hasn’t done much but glower. Farrah and Malina still seem like sketches, and while it’s understandable that the writers would want to hold back on the details for later reveals, we’re given so little to go on that even Farrah’s shooting lacks any heft. If the only scene featuring those two had been their final ambush—which, granted, included the reveal of an Evo who seems to cancel out Malina’s abilities as she creates a bunch of tiny versions of the smoke monster from “Lost” — we’d know exactly what we do now. Wasted time is never good, especially when a fireball is about to melt the face off the earth.
Most disappointingly, Tommy’s story wilted. Robbie Kay isn’t the cast’s strongest performer, but Gatlin Green, Krista Bridges, and Pruitt Taylor Vance are all standouts, so it’s unfortunate that their scenes lacked the potency they had previously. It isn’t that the meat of the story wasn’t important this week. Not only did Tommy wind up in the National Register of the Evo Department, which is apparently a part of the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, but he also found out he’s adopted, and that his “real name” — one of five names he’s used over the years — may not actually be his own. That all sounds like great dramatic fodder, but somehow it turned into several scenes of brooding and one big temper tantrum. It was like the worst parts of the fifth “Harry Potter” book, distilled into a big vat of water. Unpleasant, but mostly flavorless.
The pieces moved this week, and it seems like we’re primed for some big revelations (and hopefully some Hiro), but if “Heroes Reborn” can’t give the characters some of the big, bold, epic stuff that defined the first series, there isn’t a twist twisty enough to make them compelling.
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