Heroes: Five Years Gone
(S01E20) This episode is listed as "String Theory" on my PVR and some places online, but on NBC's site and the screen itself it says "Five Years Gone" so that's what I went with.
"What if?" stories are fun. They allow the creators to play around with characters and show them in unexpected new lights. This isn't a purely "what if?" story, however. What happens here determines "our" Hiro's (younger Hiro's) ability to return to the present and change history in the coming episodes -- or fail to.
It's evident that, though Linderman's destruction of New York succeeded, his stated goals for this odd plan failed. Instead of the unified peaceful-world scenario Linderman laid out to entice Nathan to hitch himself to the wagon, this post-blast America is a fascist state, run by a chief executive with strongly-centralized powers enforced by a homeland security department reporting directly to himself. The "specials" go underground to survive, while the President directs his advisor Mohinder to implement a "final solution."
In this episode, I found Mohinder much more compelling as a character than usual. Maybe because, here, he actually knows most of the other characters and knows what is going on. He's better able to interact. Though you have to wonder how Sylar could disguise his twisted personality for up to five years from someone who has certainly learned about Sylar the hard way. Hm. They can always say Sylar picked up a insanity-cloaker or maybe a super-charisma power along the way if that argument ever comes up.
In Isaac's loft, Mohinder thinks he finds a way around the President's genocide plot: get Hiro to go back and fix the past. Easy. Chillingly, Fake-Nathan says "that doesn't work for me." Nathan is really Sylar we soon find out, who has absorbed Candice's shape-shifting. Genocide is what Sylar wants.
But another question is whether Sylar hatched this plan alone or took over what Nathan and Linderman were already planning? Nuking New York may have been only stage one for the billionaire. Stage two could have been to unite the world through xenophobia, fear of the Other, all along, which would make Liderman and Nathan betrayers of their own kind.
In his final confrontation with Sylar, Peter says Sylar will pay for "what he did" to Nathan. "What I did?" sneers Sylar. "When he died he had already turned against his own kind." Meaning, I think, that Nathan had already decided to wipe out, or at least control, anyone with abilities when Sylar killed him. Peter calls Sylar a liar, but that still remains to be seen. I think that back in the present timeline Nathan is still on this fence, though leaning hard toward the direction that puts him in power.
There are similarities to a lot different superhero universes here. Not only The X-Men (in both print and film) and The Watchmen, but also Marvel's own post-9/11 "Civil Wars" storyline, with its Mutant Registration Act, which pits a chunk of Marvel's pantheon against another chunk. None of which bothers me. Comic book sagas borrow from each other all the time. It really comes down to interesting characters and It gets called "borrowing," "stealing," or "homage," depending on how you feel about the results.
Anyway. One of the most fun things for me tonight was seeing many of the characters paired up in new unexpected ways. The Haitian and Matt Parkman as partners. Peter and Niki as a couple. Couple of what though, I don't know exactly. Jessica comes out on stage to ride the pole. But it is really Niki just using the other name for the stage. Jessica died with D.L. and Micah in New York. Which means that one mirror twin can survive without the other one, I guess. This supports the theory that Jessica and Niki both have their own bodies. Either that or will get them real soon, or Niki would have died in New York too?
The post-nuke years have turned Matt Parkman into one cold bastard. One of the most sympathetic of the series regulars, and one always struggling the fit in in the normal timeline, here he has found his confidence but lost much of his humanity. He even breaks a secret alliance with Bennet who had helped rescue Matt's wife and their son, Matthew Jr., who has inherited abilities of his own.
Bennet runs an underground railroad, creating new identities for specials on the run. HRG no longer! Here as he has traded his horn-rims for a softer look sometime after separating from the Company.
Eric Roberts' character, and all the "golden age" characters: Mama Petrelli, Linderman, Mr. Nakamura were left out of this episode. Possibly Sylar disposed of them all sometime after he met the most-handy Candice; it would have been easy enough for him to do. Or maybe some of these folks are still behind everything, pulling the strings, even in this possible future.
Isaac really did get to be a hero; Mohinder finds his final issue of 9th Wonders. It's the only clue Hiro has to use in the past to change the timeline, after future Hiro's sudden demise. Younger Hiro is stunned by the death of his future self, and it's Ando who snaps him out of it, and gets Hiro to jump back to the present. Ando's more vital than ever now -- thanks to Peter's revelation. Future Hiro was reluctant to reveal Ando's own death in the explosion to him, but Peter's beyond sparing anyone's feelings at that point. Good thing too, because now Ando knows he has an important role to play in Hiro's life.
Throughout the series it's been made clear that Peter is the guy who goes nuclear and destroys New York. Tonight the future world's been led to believe that it was Sylar who exploded -- and that he also died in the explosion. The truth is that it IS going Peter as we always thought and he survived in tonight's timeline (via Claire's ability I presume). But seeing Peter tonight with his teleporting, time-stopping, and various fighting powers ... well the way he keeps picking abilities up makes just about every other hero redundant, which would change the show a lot. It will be tough to keep coming up with stories if Peter can just do every damn thing. For that reason, I think it Peter is likely die in the season finale, or will find himself with reduced powers or no powers at all.
On TV Squad's recently implemented 1-7 scale I say seven.