Behind The Eclipse: "Heroes" Week 11

Back on October 23rd, we brought you our first question and answer session with Joe Pokaski and Aron Coleite, two of the producers/writers of the hit NBC series "Heroes." We've been checking in with the guys each week since, grilling them about the show and learning more about what's going on and how things are crafted behind the scenes.

Tonight's episode, "Fallout," is the eleventh and final episode of 2006, which means that this is the final edition of BEHIND THE ECLIPSE for 2006. Fear not, though, as both the show and BEHIND THE ECLIPSE will return in late January, 2007.

So, kick back and enjoy this look at the events surrounding last week's episode, "Six Month's Ago," with a look at what's to come tonight on "Fallout."

This week's questions were asked by Chris Ullrich, George Tramountanas, Jonah Weiland and you! Remember, you can get in on the fun by e-mailing your questions to Jonah Weiland with the subject line "Heroes Question." We'll hold your question for when we start this back up again in late January.

All photos are from the December 4th episode, "Fallout."

Hey guys, if our e-mail is any indication, our weekly Q&As are really beginning to resonate. We received more reader feedback this week than we have any other week. So, as usual, we'll start out with a handful of those questions.

First up, Omri wants to know, "In episode 9, and more so in the webcomic, we saw that Eden has the power of persuasion. But a couple of episodes ago, she told Mohinder to stay in New York, yet he left anyway! Was her power not 'on,' or does he have powers of his own to resist hers?"

I believe that Eden said that she knew that Mohinder would come back to New York. Last we saw in Episode 9, Mohinder was heading right back to New York. Now, we'll leave that to you to debate if it was Eden's suggestion or if she let Mohinder come to that realization on his own. Just because someone has an ability doesn't mean they have to use it all the time.

Good point. Although, it certainly would be tempting!

David G has an odd little question for you guys. He writes, "This is going to sound strange, but my girlfriend is addicted to 'One Life to Live' and I usually catch a good deal of it in the background while playing video games or cooking dinner. On OLTL, there's a blond woman with a split personality, one of which is named Jessica, and the other Tess. Her mother has a split personality as well, and her two names are Vicki and Nicki. Both of their alter egos (Tess & Nicki) are 'evil,' and Nicki has apparently been around for decades. Was the naming of Nick/Jess a faint nod, or is this just a huge coincidence?"

Huge. Coincidence. But, David, seriously, we're extremely happy that you have a girlfriend. Good job.

Chris Grillo checked in and we're happy to let him handle the time paradox question this week. It's a bit long, so let's get to it.

"When Hiro finally meets up with Ando, he tells Ando that he can not change the past. Presuming Hiro is correct, then all things that 'happened prior to now' are immutable. That would mean that when we see Charlie meet Hiro and Ando for the first time, she would have actually known Hiro for about six months. Since her response indicates otherwise, Hiro must not have been around for almost six months which means that he's wrong, he in fact can change the past.

"Furthermore, presuming that Charlie's reaction is correct and Hiro can in fact change the past, there would be a new timeline where Charlie would act like she knew Hiro and still get killed. In this new timeline, Hiro (Hiro2) would jump to the past to save her. Hiro2 is different than our current Hiro because Hiro2's experience with Charlie is that she recognizes/knows him even though our current Hiro's experience is merely that they recently befriended one another.

My first question is: Did I miss something in the episode where Hiro and Ando meet Charlie that indicates that she knows/remembers Hiro? If not, then I guess that my real question is: Have the writers consulted enough time geeks so that we end up with consistent and logical time-traveling effects?"

So, we knew the second that we stepped into the time travel issue that people would be clamoring about alternative timelines and Hiro prime versus Hiro 2 and all of the various holes in the "Terminator" and "Back to the Future" would come and haunt us like the ghosts of Christmas Past… and to all of you we have this to say–

Just hang tight. We have not finished telling this season's story yet. 23 episodes, that was Episode 10. Lots of story to tell my friends… lots of "Heroes" to enjoy… And plenty more examples of Hiros power to lay down the real rules. Then when the season is over, you can all come over and we can talk about time paradoxes.We 'll bake cookies.

And we'll supply the milk!

As a follow-up to Chris' question, JD Romo asks, "If the Japanese phrasebook was given to Charlie by Hiro, why didn't she, or anyone else in the diner, recognize him initially? It is seriously driving me crazy." See what you guys are doing – yer gonna put your viewers into a mental institution with all this time travel stuff!

See above. And seriously… you guys aren't in mental institutions already. We are.

Well, we'll be visiting you there shortly, it seems!

Now, we want to jump in here for a second for a clarification. So, Hiro can't change things in the past but he can change things in the present or future? Examples: He could not prevent Charlie from ending up dead (murdered by Sylar or from an aneurysm) but he was able to save Micah and DL when the car exploded a few episodes back or the girl from being run over in Japan.

When Hiro said he could not change the past, he meant it. He could not save Charlie. Debate the reasons:

  1. He doesn't have enough control of his ability yet.
  2. Some force, higher power, DESTINY is preventing him from saving Charlie.
  3. Something else entirely is yet to be revealed.

I'm sure there are other possibilities as well. One of them is correct.

OK, so last time related question of the day. We want to know – has anyone in any of the writers meetings said, "Oh, man, we should never have created a time traveler?" It's hurting our brains – we can only imagine what it's doing to all of yours!

We're already nutso – so we're cool. Thanks for asking.

Alright, getting back to reader questions, Brooke wrote in with an interesting observation from the "Homecoming" episode. Brooke said, "Perhaps, the 'heroes' saved the wrong cheerleader. What if Claire's former friend and arch nemesis had powers, too, and Sylar was coming to kill her, not Claire. Since Sylar can detect 'defects' in people, wouldn't he have been able to detect that the girl he was killing was not defective. Maybe I'm reading way too much into it, but what if?" We'll add to this – does Sylar actually detect those defects, or is he simply going from the list he got from Suresh?

Wouldn't that suck if Future Hiro came back and said, "You saved Claire? You idiots! I meant Jackie. Next time I won't worry about time paradoxes and give more specific instructions, because obviously people care a lot about time paradoxes."


And at the end of Episode 10, Sylar aka Gabriel, tells Suresh that they'll find them together. So, yeah… he's been going off that nasty list Suresh put together.

Alrighty, we're done with this week's batch of reader questions and now we get a chance to play. We noticed that in the flashbacks, the heroes seemed to manifest their powers the first time during times of great stress: Matt when he fails the detective test, Niki when she sees her father again, Nathan during the accident, etc. How significant are these challenging moments in their lives to those who gain powers? Are they a catalyst?

Catalyst is a really good word. Look back at the pilot when you get a chance. We're just carrying through on something that Tim Kring put forward that these characters are going through extremely emotional situations. And at the end of the day, aren't we all. Moments of stress, anxiety, love, hate… that's why we love this show. The emotion is pure humanity.

Alright, let's tak about "Six Months Ago." In the hospital, was that an eclipse over Nathan's head when he got the news about his wife? Or, just a coincidence or lighting issue?

There is no coincidences in lighting.

Really? Huh … OK, now Nathan also had an interesting reaction to the news when speaking with the doctor – anger! Not something you would expect. Was he sad about his wife or about what that meant for his political career? Or simply that someone would make an attempt on his and his wife's life?

First of all. Adrian Pasdar is just doing a tremendous job playing Nathan. He's bringing an energy and dedication to the role that continues to make our jaws drop.


That being said – Nathan just learned that his wife was never going to walk again. The doctor was trying to be kind, but Nathan (the bastard) wasn't having any of the kindness. After all, he blames himself. So if he was lashing out at anyone, he was lashing out at himself.

We learned a lot about Sylar in "Six Month's Ago," including his real name - Gabriel Gray. When the character was created, was the selection of his last name intentional considering Sylar's fascination with "gray matter?" Or any relation to the biblical "angel of death" or perhaps a certain telekinetic X-Men Female we all know and love?

I like all those answers. Never thought about the Gray Matter one… that's cool. But, if you look at the bulk of the names on the show… Isaac. Matt. Peter. Gabriel. Micah. You might see a connection – or you might see a connection that we didn't see.

Why did Suresh seek out Grey/Sylar first? What makes him "patient zero?" On the list it looks like there were a number of others who could have been approached first.

It appears that Suresh was contacting all of them at once, but it wasn't until later that he dubbed Gabriel/Sylar patient Zero. What does that mean? It means that there's some more story to be told of what happened between Sylar and Suresh.

Ahh, something to look forward to in 2007! Very cool.

It's interesting that Grey/Sylar is a watch maker. Does his profession have anything to do with Richard Dawkins' "The Blind Watchmaker" or William Paley's "watchmaker analogy" regarding evolution?

Or is it a homage to Dr. Manhattan in the Watchmen? All good references. All good answers. The greatest thing about this writing staff is that everyone brings their own references to the game. We all agree on watchmaker, but it means something different to all of us.

Continuing with the watch thing, might his ability to understand and fix these tiny, very intricate watches be a metaphor for the larger "Heroes" puzzle?

We hope that it works on a lot of levels. Time. Evolution. Tiny cogs and gears coming together to make something greater than the sum of its parts. We can debate for hours.

Considering how we've been picking apart these episodes each week, there's no doubting that.

So, Sylar seems to have a similar power to Peter in that he can absorb people's powers. Although, for Peter it seems temporary, but for Sylar it seems permanent. True? Have we got his powers figured out?

Not at all. Surprises yet to come.

Chandra Suresh told Gabriel that if there is a soul, it must exist in the brain. Does this have something to do with Sylar's fascination with the mind? And any hint as to when we will discover what exactly he is doing with these brains he cuts open?

The key to all of these abilities seems to be in the brain. And yes. We'll learn a lot more about Mr. Sylar in the coming episodes.

Another interesting aspect of Sylar was his appearance – when we first saw him on the screen, we thought he was a dead ringer for Clark Kent. Was that intentional?

Zachary Quinto is just crushing this role. We're so glad to have him as a part of the series. His resemblance to a certain reporter on the Daily Planet was fortuitous, but not planned from the start. Besides, does Clark Kent have those killer multi-lens glasses that Sylar had when he fixed watches. I loved those things.

What more can you tell us about Sylar's motivations – why all this anger and need to own it all, as it were?

We all have anger issues. Some people have more than others. We'll hint at his issues a little tonight, and we're going to get to know Sylar a lot better over the rest of the season.

Looking forward to that. Alright, let's move off Sylar for a bit and talk about some of the other cast members. We learned a lot about Niki's origin in "Six Month's Ago," but at the same time, it created many more questions. Was Jessica the one with powers who managed to "leap" into Niki's body (like DC's Jericho - you can ask Jeph who that is...)? Is Niki just a damaged psyche from what she's experienced? Or is she really two people?

Dude, first of all – we know who Jericho is. We've read the Wolfman/Perez "Teen Titans." We were thinking more about Malice possessing Polaris (You can ask Jeph who that is.) But, we digress…

Seems to us that Niki has had enough trauma to create a split personality, but since this is "Heroes," who knows if that is actually the case. If you can't tell, we like the debate. Debate is good. Complacency is the evil that we fear. And Jessica, she scares us, too.

When Mr. Bennet was interviewing Eden with the Haitian after he captured her, was it the Haitian's powers that blocked her abilities? Or does Mr. Bennet have some secret abilities of his own?

Haitian. Same as he did with Matt in Episode 4. And we know what you're going to say… "But, Matt heard HRG think the name, Claire, in episode 4." And you're right. Matt broke through the Haitian's defenses and heard a word. The Haitian isn't perfect. Geez. Give the man a break.

Alright, but will we ever hear the Haitian speak?

That's a good question.

Following the "your not good or evil, it's your actions that determine it" line of thinking, does it stand to reason that any of the heroes at any time could become good or turn evil? Example: Niki in particular seems like she could go either way (get your mind out of the gutter) – is that a fair assessment?

That line in particular is trying to get at the heart of what the show is about. These people have incredible abilities, but it's what they chose to do with them that's interesting. What would any of us do – we all have different answers. That's what makes us human and the show unique.

Alright, who on the staff owns Eden's Lamborghini? And can we get a ride? Or was that a rental? And if it was, did you get the optional insurance?

Sadly, it was a rental. And yeah, it was beautiful. I stared at it and one of the teamsters told me to stop because I was ruining the paint job.

We keep coming back to the eclipse, because it sounded important in our previous Q&As and - as noted - it's part of the series' logo. As we've now seen in the most recent episode, the characters' super-powers have been "activating" for some time now. Is the eclipse merely a symbolic image, or does it truly tie in to something larger?

Something larger. Even in the pilot, people had been experiencing the abilities before the eclipse. After all, it's not as if that's the first eclipse that's ever happened in the history of the cosmos.

TV Guide had an interesting bit of news about Christopher Eccleston's role on the show. His name is Claude and he'll play an invisible man beginning with the January 22nd episode. According to TV Guide, "'He's been living with his invisibility for many years and has come to grips with it, so he'll give us a different view into this hero world,' [Heroes creator Tim] Kring explained, 'He's big, imposing and charismatic, and will become a mentor to Peter - albeit a tough, reluctant and stern one. He'll help Peter learn to use and control his powers.'" While not as complicated as the time paradoxes Hiro presents, invisibility could be a challenging power to present without it becoming an easy fall back or cliché. Talk about the challenges a character like Claude present to you guys.

Let's talk more about this after you've met the guy… wait a minute, he's invisible, what's to say that you haven't already met him… hmmmmmmm.

Oh, man! So he could have been hovering in the background? Interesting.

All right, wrapping up here, let's do the weekly tease. TV Guide says of "Fallout," "The heroes struggle to come to terms with the Texas tragedy; more is learned about the nuclear bombing predicted in Isaac's painting; Matt and Audrey (Clea DuVall) pursue a new lead in their hunt for Sylar; Niki makes a difficult decision, which will allow her to keep her family safe." Anything to add?

Best. Cliffhangers. Yet.

Seriously, as this is the last new episode for this year, we just wanted to take a moment to thank you. This has been amazing for us to see how you've all reacted to the stuff we're doing.

This episode is going to have you on the edge of your seat until our return in January.

Thank you guys for all of your support and questions. Can't wait to do more of this in 2007. Happy New Year.

This first half of the season has been a blast and all of us at CBR have enjoyed bringing this closer look at the series to our readers. So, thank you, Joe and Aron, for all the time you've set aside for us and we look forward to talking with you further in 2007.


Want to talk "Heroes" with other fans? Join the discussion right here on the CBR Forums!

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