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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Illustration for article titled iHeroes/i: Angels and Monsters
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Illustration for article titled iHeroes/i: Angels and Monsters

When Sean and Noel asked me to cover Heroes this week (NBC still hasn't been restored to Sean's neighborhood), the first thing I did was head to NBC's press site to find a post photo/witness the future horror I was about to inflict on my eyeballs/earballs/soul. But I found something wonderful, something that could possibly change the way I watch this season of Heroes.

Bubbles was coming.

Yes, it appeared Andre Royo, my favorite character from one of my favorite shows of all time, was going to be swinging by–as someone with powers (ahem, abilities) no less.

Sigh. Poor, poor Bubs. Royo's appearance fell into the Heroes formula for failure, and basically summed up everything that's wrong with the show this season.

Let's start with the obvious: His character has no purpose–Claire tracks him down because she's, like, so rebellious now, and…actually, I'm not all that clear as to what drove her to read Daddy's files and find/possibly kill the evildoers found within. (Sure, she said as much in that sweat lodge two weeks back, but at this point, how much do we trust the words coming out of her mouth? And remember season one, when she was one of the only characters who could pull off the corny lines with some semblance of conviction?) But regardless, she's here and ready for blood. Only she's so easily swayed by Stephen, and sympathy rears itself almost immediately.

But then Sylar and HRG–even the "previously on…" voiceover guy calls him that now–show up, and we're at problem number two with season three: too much arbitrary drama. Stephen freaks out, creates a vortex and walks off like there's not an endless wormhole of emptiness and despair in his living room. HRG yells for his daughter for a while, then some more, then Sylar vanishes, possibly forever. Nah, he grabs Claire's hand just in time, and what a hand grab! It was enough for him to feel the "pain I've caused" by all the near–brain eating and such. And you know he's genuine, because earlier he admitted that he's "trying."

Which brings us to the conclusion and point number three: As Sean's pointed out in the past, the show changes fundamental traits of its characters willy-nilly, to better serve the individual scene they're currently shooting. So here we are, a stand-off at the carousel between Claire, Stephen and HRG, who is begging for the creation of a vortex to suck Sylar into oblivion. (Wait, doesn't he have super hearing? How did he miss that?) Only this time, Claire doesn't want Sylar sucked into a vortex–but wait, didn't she just resent her father a few minutes ago because he was working with such a monster? And this is the catalyst that shakes her to believe HRG doesn't see the heroes as human, because he's willing to go to great lengths to protect his family from bad guys? Remember? His "thing?" Plus, why is Sylar, of all people, able to egg her on? I guess, sure, he cut off her head and massaged her brain with his nuclear hands, but he had the decency to replace her scalp. If this isn't the fastest onset of Stockholm Syndrome ever, I don't know what is.

Of course, as I mentioned before, none of this really matters, because Stephen kills himself. Boo hoo. Was I the only one who thought Royo was trying his darndest to make the lines as real as possible? Better luck next time, I suppose.

But what about everything else? What about Hiro and Ando and all the dictating of their past transgressions, for the benefit of the new viewers Tim Kring is counting on to save his flailing show? What about the fact that Adam Monroe escapes from the grasp of tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum, but only makes it as far as the dumpster out back? What about Nathan wrestling with the fact that he might be a hero, or possibly a villain, maybe even some sort of inbetween hybrid where he seems bad for an episode or two, but then is really good? What about poor-person's Veronica Mars–I mean, fast girl? No, that's it: What about her?

I don't know. I don't even know what to say about the remainder of this episode. Look, show: I'm not asking that you serve up juicy, multicoursed drama; I'm not asking that you stay on the cutting edge of serialized storytelling; hell, I'm not dying for visual effects–heavy hoo-ha every second of every episode. I just want a decent show about people with superpowers, where the characters ring with some semblance of truth and the plot occasionally keeps me guessing. And every once in a while, I want to see Marlo Stanfield punch through someone.

Grade: D+

Stray observations:

- There were a few angels amongst tonight's monsters, though: Nightmare Man is back, as is Señor Petrelli–and he's apparently even better at mind control than anyone we've seen. Wondering if he's like Peter, in that he gets everyone's abilities; it wouldn't be the first time father and son shared a power (read: Parkman). Also, Marionette Guy is really creepy, but I'm doubting much more will come of his appearance than the kind of stuff we saw tonight with Royo.

- Petrelli the elder and John McCain: Separated at birth?

- Hiro stabbing Ando: Another chance for the show to solve a cliffhanger using some crazy Hiro time traveling scenario?

- Adam Monroe calling Hiro a "Japanese Nazi": Attempt at humor?

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