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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Heroes: "Strange Attractors"

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It's been clear for quite some time that Heroes doesn't know the basic rules of storytelling. Well, the rule, really, which is… don't give away the ending. Take tonight's little story-ettes as examples: Claire and her roommate are kidnapped and taken to a slaughterhouse for "hell week" (forget the fact that hell week usually happens at the end of pledge periods, right before initiation; KNOWLEDGE). Bennet and Tracy try to get Tim Riggins Jr., aka Jeremy, out of prison. Parkman battles with Sylar in his head some more. Within the first few minutes of each storyline, it was pretty clear that the sorority stuff was just an excuse to put invisible girl into the mix, that Jeremy wasn't going anywhere, and neither was Sylar. Yet Heroes soldiered on, like the lemmings from that game Lemmings with all the lemmings in it—they didn't see the ledge, but oh boy, did we ever see the ledge.

This has happened before. Every week. And as a matter of fact, Heroes has been doing this on a macro level—the very first scene of the season involves Samuel lamenting the loss of that carny, and making it clear that the group won't rest till he's replaced. This isn't Lost; Heroes has concluded that we need to know where things are going. Therefore, this isn't a show about the destination, this is a show about the journey.


And ain't that a shame. Because if tonight is any indication (and oh, it always is), the journey is going to be more of a clunker than Claire's indestructible hymen.

Every litte thing that happened tonight is a waste of time. Claire and her ladyfriend confront each other at 4:40am to talk about the ill-fated, albeit completely unexpected kiss. Grethen says, "Hey, it happened, and you're probably disgusted." And Claire's all like, "Well, at least you're a good kisser, and who knows, maybe I liked it, I don't know, BEING A TEENAGER IS HARD SOMETIMES AND ALSO I WANT TO START A NEW LIFE." First of all, I remember that kiss (not in like an "Oh, baby!" way), and from what I can recall, Claire was mouth agape, in utter shock over the whole thing. If there's a better way to determine someone's a good kisser other than starting with that pose, I don't know what it is. Second of all, there has been absolutely zero indication of Claire's lesbianic tendencies during the entire run of the show. Should that stop the writers from going there? Clearly, no. And they do, over and over, sexually. Claire and Gretchen wander around that slaughterhouse, and kibitz about the kiss some more, and how Claire's a virgin, which clearly means she's a lesbian. All virgins are lesbians (and all dogs go to Houlihan's—see what I did there?).

That's it. Claire and Gretchen get to know each other a little better over some dripping meat hooks and fake blood squirting from lockers. I'm so glad this exists as a thing in the world. Oh yeah, and invisible girl/black Katie Holmes is exposed, in the three second scene that defined a generation.

Daddy Bennet is down in Georgia with Jeremy, who is currently in the police station awaiting some sort of decision about what happened to his parents. Bennet tried to make it look like an accident, but the cops aren't biting. So he calls Tracy in to pretend to be Jeremy's aunt, hoping the cops will release him into her custody. But the boy's all upset, and doesn't want to leave. So Tracy tries to console him and talk to him about his power the only way she knows how: by speaking to him as if he was a mop she was about to dance with. Then, finally, success! (This after Tracy's visited by Samuel and the magical moving carnival, and is told to bring Jeremy to him.) Only while Jeremy is working the red carpet press line, he grabs a guy and kills him. This sets one of the two city cops off, and he chains Jeremy to the back of his car and drives away. (To learn more, visit NBC.com/responsibility, and together we can stop these outdated Southern stereotypes.)


What the hell happened? Bennet is now upset that he failed this kid, Tracy doesn't want to talk to Bennet again and is joining the carnies, and… that's it. This couldn't have been only a few minutes long?

Meanwhile, Parkman and his wife start off mid-coitus. Hoo baby, nothin' like some fireside, shirted sex to set my Sprint phone aflutter. But one person's not shirted, and that's Sylar (the only covering he's wearing are those two big eye-sweaters up there), spinning Parkman's wife around like the hands on Peter's compass tattoo. He does it through Parkman—which is actually the title of the really uncomfortable follow-up to Being John Malkovich. Anyways, Parkman tells his wife that he has to deal with these demons, she leaves, and he proceeds to take sips of beer in the hopes that he'll hurt Sylar by getting him drunk. It seems to work; the man apparently has the tolerance of little Matty, and each sip has him reeling back in pain and newfound surliness. Then Parkman switches to the shots, and Sylar's done for, fading into the couch. But, just kidding! It was all a ruse, and now Sylar's actually in the driver's seat of Parkman's body. That was a nice twist that I didn't see coming. Why, exactly, did it take Heroes all this time to get to? Anyone remember all the struggling Parkman had before, how terrible those episodes were? Me neither—I've blacked out all the bad Heroes memories, meaning I can't wait for them to resolve that really thrilling Isaac Mendes cliffhanger from last week.


Parkman is the worst character. He's shrill, self-righteous, and not at all sympathetic. Every time he's on screen, I chalk his scene up to a waste of time, even by Heroes standards. The writers keep thinking of cool shit they can do with him, then give up halfway through, and I feel like he's not the only one. The carnies have some sinister plan, but we see nothing about it. Sylar wants to make Parkman do terrible things, but it takes months to get him to finally act on it. The deaf girl has this awesome potential to be amazing. (Kidding about that last one.) But it seems Heroes is holding out on us, teasing little tidbits each week and wasting our time until the finale comes.

So here's my advice, Heroes: Pretend every episode is the finale. If it's going to take 22 episodes to do something, I'm guessing if that thing happens instead in, say, episode 2, no one's going to notice. They might even think it's really great writing. Episode 1 should set things up, episode 2 should move the plot forward A LOT. Then episode 3 should be the same way. And so on, and so on. How great would this show be, if it put story first and the forward momentum of its characters second? Heroes talks all the time about making a fresh start; it should start with the end—because in Heroes terms, it's just the beginning.


Stray observations:

  • "You're making me declare, like it's my major or something." Clearly, Gretchen subscribes to the sliding scale of sexuality theory.
  • Samuel destroying the police office at the end was great. More destruction!
  • Man, I can't wait to find out what happens on the next episode of "Slow Burn". You think that person's going to start in the middle of an intense conversation again?

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