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Heroes: "Powerless"

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Illustration for article titled Heroes: "Powerless"

Looks like we made it, Heroes fans (and people who hate the show but watch anyway so they can bitch about it). Volume Two is finally closed and we've come to the end of our wild, crazy ride–which, OK, was more like a frustratingly cramped ride over an uneven road with several forced detours to lame tourist destinations. Unfortunately, I know about as much as you do as to whether "Powerless" was meant to, as rumored, stand as a season finale–although my guess is that the tacked-on teaser for Volume Three is a way to hedge their bets–but given that the WGA is apparently no closer to a resolution than they were last week, those intentionally vague "Heroes will be back in 2008" promos are still just wishful thinking at this point. So for all intents and purposes, this was the big send-off meant to wrap the story up for a while, and you have to hand it to them for going out with so many cliffhangers at once. If you've bothered to watch the show for this long, there's just no way curiosity won't get the better of you when the show finally comes back…whenever that may be.

Let's get right to the big turn of events: As promised in last week's promo, two heroes fell, and–despite many of the predictions I read–the show didn't go with safe bets like Maya or Darth Veronica. Much to my own personal glee, Niki apparently met her end while finally doing something heroic (ironically, without her powers) while saving Monica from a fire set by one of the generic thugs from last week. As to whether she's really gone or not, well, the ensuing explosion doesn't look promising, and it would take a lot of backtracking to make any sort of resurrection or escape scenario believable. But then again, this is Heroes, where any death-defying leap of logic is kosher so long as it's properly explained away with a couple of quick flashback scenes and a little bit of expository dialogue. Although if the show really has the guts to kill off one of its major characters–even an unpopular one whose arc stopped being interesting around episode two–then hey, rats off to ya! Here's hoping that (after a brief grieving process, of course) Micah and Monica will become the show's only duo of heroes actively devoted to enjoying their powers. We could definitely use a little fresh blood.

Speaking of which, I firmly do not believe that the show has the stones to make Nathan's shooting anything but a temporary setback, since we've already proved that all anyone needs is a quick fix of Claire's (or KenAdam's) blood to make them right as rain. Furthermore, while Heroes could stand to lose Niki's D.O.A. storyline, getting rid of the show's other top-tier male lead is pretty unthinkable. So I'm going to go out on a limb and say he's only mostly dead, and that once Nathan regains his strength, there's going to be a lot to answer for from Mother Of The Year Angela Petrelli, who not only urged Parkman to put a bullet in Peter's head, she apparently was in on Nathan's assassination attempt. Now that Nathan, Peter, and Parkman have resolved that they're no longer going to put up with any more Company secrets or pay for the sins of their fathers (and one icy bitch of a mother), "Pandora's Box" is officially open. Er, whatever that means.

And who was that spotted striding away from Nathan's assassination? We only saw the back of him from a distance so it's pretty much wild speculatin' time again, but to me it looked an awful lot like Bennet, who agreed to be reinstated to Company service in order to (what else?) keep Claire safe. The reunion scene with/farewell to his family where he explained all that was as rushed and emotionally hollow as we've come to expect from this show, with hardly a word to forgotten son Lyle (seriously, kill this poor kid already) and a nary a hug goodbye, but of course, we've been trained to believe that Bennet is always two steps ahead of everybody else–except, you know, the whole bullet-in-the-eye thing–so it's pretty much a given that we'll see the Bennets reunited before too long. (Although, if it turns out Bennet actually was the guy who shot Claire's biological father, things might get a little awkward.)

As for the other troubled blond girl with daddy issues, this week Darth Veronica found redemption by saving Mohinder, Maya, and Molly from Sylar, and got a little taste of what it feels like to be a hero in the process. (Apparently it feels "cool.") We also got a little more of her backstory–at age seven, her father nearly killed her with his experiments–which didn't do much to explain why she was so eager to make him proud of her. But then again, plenty of women stay in abusive, love/hate relationships…

..unlike Maya, however, who finally got wise after little Molly told her what any rational person would have figured out long ago, namely that Sylar murdered her brother. Unfortunately, she didn't get much time to be a sister scorned before Sylar put a bullet in her. (Between Simone, Isaac, and now Maya, that apartment sure has seen a lot of blood spilled. Good thing it's not carpeted.) But even Heroes knows that killing off the new kids as one of the "fallen" would be a cop-out–besides, she still hasn't used her power to kill "the Devil himself"–so Maya became the umpteenth person to be revived by a hot Claire injection. Now that she's back and righteously pissed, the stage is set for her to seek her revenge in Volume Three, and we can only assume that Mohinder, Molly, and maybe even Darth Veronica will play a role in that.

And finally, the most important development of the episode was that Peter accomplished his goal–in the most ass-backwards way possible–of destroying the virus. After a time-freezing stand-off with Hiro and a pretty fun powers-of-suggestion-off with Parkman, Peter finally came to his senses about KenAdam–and whaddayaknow, all it took was Nathan telling him he loved him. (Jesus, how is it that Parkman is the only one who can't manipulate Peter?) If we can take solace in anything tonight, it's that Peter's quest to save Betsy O'Barmaid has finally come to an end–at least, I fucking hope so–and he seems to have realized what an utterly gullible ass he's been for the last three months. As for KenAdam, he's buried (for now) in a grave near the elder Nakamuras, while a grim-faced Hiro is back in the office with Ando (I guess having your father die is enough to overlook the months of no-shows?). Of course, we already know that David Anders signed on for a full season, so we're contractually bound to be seeing him again. Wonder if he and the newly reenergized Sylar will be friends or foes in the "Villains" part of Volume Three?

Questions for another day, I'm afraid, one with a rosier outlook on Heroes' creative future than I can offer at present. Pondering whether Niki or Nathan will live, whether Bennet shot Nathan, how KenAdam will escape, whether Peter and Hiro will ever make up, when Maya will get her revenge on Sylar, whether Darth Veronica will become a force for good, how Claire and her family will fare without Bennet to boss them around, or if there's an all-out war brewing between the Company and the heroes–these are things you'll just have to kick around on your own for a while. I have to admit, I spent most of this season being disappointed, but this episode really turned it around…just in time for it to be over. Anyway, I've done enough bitching about Heroes for the last several months, and I think we (the charitable among us) can all agree that season two has been a pretty middling affair at best. Maybe the forced hiatus and mediocre critical reception thus far is just what the show needs? Perhaps when we meet again, we'll be talking about what a difference a writers' strike can make, and wondering aloud at how we ever thought of giving up.

And if not, well, I'll be here to make more snotty comments. See you then.

Grade: A-

Stray observations:

- Please let that be the last we'll ever see of Captain Emo. Unless it turns out he was the one who shot Nathan, or there's going to be a scene where Sylar eats his brains, there's just no reason for him to come back.

- You'd think that Mohinder might password protect all of that crucial information on the virus and Claire's blood, or at least put it in a folder where Sylar couldn't just stumble across it. Has the man never hidden a porn cache?

- I liked how Nathan called his mother on the fact that she supposedly stopped believing in KenAdam's "kill the world to save it" bullshit, yet fully embraced Linderman's very similar "blow up the world to save it" bullshit. Tonight–combined with being complicit in murder attempts on her sons–pretty much erased all notions that Angela is a good person. We can start hoping she dies now, right?

- The ever-astute Darth Veronica on Claire: "She was just so weepy and earnest." God I love this girl.

- The Primatech scenes where Peter and KenAdam casually take out various security guards may have been one of the coolest action set-pieces this show has ever done; why can't every episode have a scene like that? It would go a long way towards making up for all the other crap we have to sit through, such as the scene where Micah explains the awesome GPS feature on his Sprint phone.

- All of you slash-fic fans hoping for a little Parkman-on-Nathan action got your wish tonight.

- We finally found out how Sylar lost his powers: He was injected with the same strain of the virus as Niki. So does this mean that the Company rescued him only to keep him around as a guinea pig while they observed what the virus would do to him? If that's the case, shouldn't they maybe have kept him under closer watch and assigned more than just Candice to him? What do you think the chances are that this stuff is ever going to be properly explained?

- Here's some freeze-frame fun to ponder over the break: What was all of that stuff in the Primatech vault? A fanned-out deck of cards? Hitler's brain? Anything else interesting?

- So how will you spend your Heroes vacation?


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