As part of our Best Of 2015 coverage, The A.V. Club opted not to include a list of the worst TV of the year. Instead, we argued the greater crime was being inessential, wasting the audience’s time with forgettable narratives and bland characters. A prime example of this is Heroes Reborn’s latest episode, which continues the series’ underwhelming, contrived, and overlong journey to its inevitable finale showdown. At this point, it would be satisfying to tune in to an episode of Heroes Reborn and walk away angry or upset. That would indicate the episode had taken a chance or made a statement with its choices. Instead, even when “Send In the Clones” flirts with style or personality, these moments are watered down to the point of uselessness. This episode isn’t offensive, it doesn’t invoke ire, it’s just there, taking up space and time and wasting the few opportunities the series has left to make an impression.

Advertisement

The best example of this is the duel between Miko and Harris Prime, who at last meets his end. As the pair start circling each other, the camera zooms in on them, threatening to go into a surprise B-movie style showdown, with stylized camera work, heightened dialogue, and impressive fight choreography. While Miko does manage to catch Harris monologuing—sly dog—and gets to throw off an appropriately cheesy pun, the rest of the fight’s potential is wasted. The camera invokes a spaghetti Western at the start of the sequence, but the score remains subdued, devoid of energy. The physicality from the actors that could feel menacing or imply coiled strength instead comes off as stiff posturing, due to the sedate editing. Two equal, badass foes are about to battle, and yet the only intensity present is what little the actors can muster on their faces. When Miko kills Harris, the relief that comes is not out of a fear for Miko or the other characters, but the knowledge that Harris clones can no longer swoop in whenever convenient to the plot. Miko is gone, for now, and Harris is dead; there are two fewer characters for the writers to contend with, and this can only be a good thing.

Also threatening to be interesting is the time given to Parkman, who spouts some rather rote motivation before embracing his baddie status. Matt’s invasion of Taylor’s mind and subduing of her will, and seeming enjoyment at doing so, could be a powerful development for the character, whose menacing manipulation of Carlos and Captain Dearing remains one of the season’s few memorable sequences. However, as anyone who spent the hiatus watching Jessica Jones knows, this concept can be done much, much better and the few moments given this storyline are not enough to turn the tide on what has been a half-baked detour from the start. The only elements in the Sunstone storyline with any bearing on the larger narrative have turned out to be Miko’s duel with Harris, Taylor’s capture, and Micah’s captivity and release, and none of them justify the sheer time spent on this arc.

In a surprise turn, the character most in danger of having fun is Phoebe, who it seems has taken a page out of Janice in accounting’s playbook. This more heightened, unreservedly villainous Phoebe is rather different from the lost or struggling character introduced earlier in the season, but given how unbalanced the cast currently is, with almost every performance dripping in either angst or earnestness, the change is a welcome one. Without Miko and Ren together, adding some charm to the proceedings, or Emily or Hiro on hand to be adorable and heartwarming, the lack of charisma throughout is glaring. Phoebe’s attitude is engaging and hopefully the writers will let her stay entertainingly snarky a while longer, before having Quentin bring her back from the dark side. There’s nothing wrong with earnest heroes—The Flash has worn its heart on its sleeve from its pilot, to great effect—but without more energy, humor, or a sense of fun, the dire, looming stakes of Heroes Reborn make it a slog to endure. Only two hours remain for the miniseries, and if “Send In The Clones” is indicative of the tone the creatives are striving for, those will be two very long hours.

Advertisement

Stray observations

  • Erica and Tommy continue to maneuver around each other, each making remarkably stupid decisions that ensure the audience doesn’t invest in them. Really, Erica, you think Joanne will be able to take out Malina and Luke, when Phoebe failed? And Tommy, you’re just going to sit in that chair, trusting Erica doesn’t have it rigged somehow? If Erica’s going to be straight-up evil—this episode throws eugenics into her bag of goodies—why not embrace this and have her go full on mad, cackling villain? It would have to be an improvement over her bland, forgettable characterization so far.
  • Surprisingly, Farah and Carlos have a smidge more chemistry this episode! However, the connection that feels most real in this corner of the show is the warmth from Farah towards Jose.
  • Father Mauricio, we hardly knew ye. I’d feel worse about your untimely and incredibly contrived death if it weren’t for that first thing.
  • Miko’s post-Harris pun is fun, as is Luke’s, “Can’t block a Glock.” How great would it be if the show dropped the self-seriousness and went full-on campy and ridiculous to the end!
  • Speaking of, is that an opinion on gun laws I see lurking beneath Luke’s Missouri line? It’s okay to have a point of view, Heroes Reborn. In case you’re wondering.
  • I was pleasantly surprised to see that Tommy’s mom is still recovering from the car crash—this is the kind of detail most shows would skip over; credit where it’s due. However, Emily’s pretty chipper for someone plucked out of danger who has a whole family and social circle still theoretically stuck in the middle of a terrible storm and dangerous fire.
  • At last, the French comic book comes into play, telling Tommy where to send Miko. Now we just need Hiro to pop back in with Noah and we’re all caught up on looming payoffs.

Advertisement