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Review: Heroes - The Fifth Stage

by Jason Hughes, posted Dec 1st 2009 10:55AM
Heroes: The Fifth Stage
(S04E12) One of the comic books that I never expected to enjoy is Marvel's X-Factor. It used to be your typical spandex and fists adventure, but then it changed into a noir detective series, with mutants feature much more subdued powers. One of the best of these is Madrox, also known as Multiple Man. Upon impact of any kind, he splits into two beings, and then his doppelgangers retain this ability.

Why am I talking about a comic book character in a review about Heroes? Well, aside from the obvious connection, we got introduced to a new character this week. With Ray Park's Edgar gone from the Sullivan Bros. circus, Samuel turns to another denizen of the big top to step in and be his right-hand man, or right hands.

We didn't get to see him much, but I've always thought that would be a pretty damned cool power to have; certainly it could come in handy for a lot of things. I would have loved to have it in college. There's just so many cool ways to use it. Too bad Heroes didn't really use any of them.

Unfortunately, this "multiple" man settled for surrounding people and that's about it. There were so many better ways to infiltrate Noah's apartment, but at least Noah and Lauren made it easy for him (them?) to steal away with the files by both running to the bathroom to arm up. I guess they thought the boy(s) were there to kill them.

After 21 hours driving, Claire and Gretchen made it to the circus themselves, where they were met with open arms by Samuel, and more cautiously supportive ones from Lydia. Lydia's an interesting character, not least of all because of the situation going on in "Slow Burn." Now, she knows about what Samuel did to her brother, but she is holding his secret for her daughter's sake. But, she may also be plotting something with Edgar on the outside.

Claire remains one of the most naive people on television, completely falling for the fairy tale Samuel was presenting about family and finding a place she belonged. Gretchen saw right through that, and remained skeptical until the end. Considering they knew that Gretchen may still be in danger from invisible girl, I was a little surprised when Claire decided to stay at the last minute. As it turns out, that may be the last minute for Gretchen as well; as it looks like she picked up an invisible hitchhiker.

First of all, it's kind of a dick move for Claire to announce at the last minute that she's going to stay, subjecting Gretchen to a 21-hour drive by herself. Second of all, how the hell does Claire plan to get back to college, if Gretchen takes the car? Third of all ... how deliciously evil is Samuel? The pan back to reveal the disgruntled customer he "didn't fight back" earlier in the back of a nearby pick-up truck was priceless. And stupid. Man, there are a lot of dumb characters on this show.

Samuel is trying to convince Claire that she can feel like a family at the circus, and he even went so far as to turn the other cheek in front of her so she could see what a great guy he is. So leave the body uncovered in the back of a truck parked near Claire's car? He's lucky she's so short, or she could have easily seen it. Plus, he has the ability to move earth with a thought, you'd think he'd never leave bodies lying around.

But let us move on to the next stupid person. I'll give Peter a pass, even though he has a history of stupidity, because he's in a strange state of grief over Nathan, I figure he knows in his heart of hearts that Nathan is gone, but he holds out hope. Taking the Haitians ability to suppress abilities to confront Sylar was a smart move, but turning it off to allow Nathan to come forth was a huge risk. Possibly stupid even.

As for Nathan, Adrian Pasdar did the best he could to have a "moment" with Peter under the bizarre circumstances of his impending death, but it did seem kind of arbitrary the way he went. Still, why the hell did he try and throw himself off of the building? Was it to protect Peter when Sylar finally did come back, by separating them, or did he think he could kill Sylar this way?

The whole thing came across as kind of stupid to me, and pointless as well. If it is Nathan, he can fly so throwing himself off of a building accomplishes nothing. If it is Sylar, throwing himself off of a building accomplishes nothing because Sylar can heal. The drama was a bit contrived.

I was more intrigued by the scene of Hiro, Ando and Suresh running through the jungle in the montage of what's to come when Heroes comes back in January. All in all, this was a good chapter to go into a hiatus with, it just had a lot of dumb people making dumb decisions in it.

[For a montage of clips and full episodes of Heroes, join our "family" at SlashControl.]

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Watching the episode, it was all I could do to not yell at the screen. I kept repeating these two lines:

"Claire, you're an idiot."
"Peter, you dumbass, kill Sylar."

If Nathan was saying goodbye, he should have told Peter to kill him and Sylar's consciousnesses, and end it, using Renee's powers. Then Sylar becomes a blank slate, and an object of manipulation. Far more interesting to have everyone fighting to control the most powerful empowered person than to have that person be a villain.

Since it did not happen, we're stuck with one-dimensional bogeyman Sylar. For season 5.5, I'd like Claire to finally become the "bad guy" / true believer her future held for her, Peter to meet up with Suresh and gain his full sponge abilities, and Sylar to become more conflicted as the Nathan consciousness merges into his own. I'd also like Hiro to ALSO get some brains, and threaten to strand Samuel in the past/future until he gives up Charlie.

Come on Kring and Co... Treat your characters like thoughtful adults, please.

December 02 2009 at 12:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
cress d

I thought the Petrelli bros. scene on the rooftop was executed nicely. I'm a cynical bastard, but I felt for Peter. I can see why everyone shit on HEROES last year, because it was all over the place with SO many storylines. But this season is quite good.

December 01 2009 at 11:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I took the Nathan dying scene a lot different. I just assumed Sylar was tricking Peter the whole time into thinking that Nathan had regained control. He played Peter into dropping him off roof. This way Sylar could get far enough away so the Haitian's power wouldn't work anymore. That's why when Sylar took over the body again he gave Peter that sly smile when he was falling.

Nathan "dying" in this episode was really only the other characters acceptance of his death from 2 months ago. Hence the title "The Fifth Stage", being acceptance.

December 01 2009 at 11:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I thought the guy in the back of the truck was the "puppetmaster" guy. I might be wrong.

December 01 2009 at 10:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Only a so-so episode.

Claire's just not the sharpest hammer in the toolbox. But, that's okay. There's plenty of stupid people in the real world, why not on TV?

Claire schleps them hundreds of miles and then decides dragging her new gal pal into the lion's den might not be such a good idea five feet from the door. Smooth move Claire Bear.

But then it had occurred to me even before this episode that Gretchen might in fact have some power, might even be very powerful, and that the stalker girl routine could just be to test Claire to see if she would accept and trust Gretchen for herself. Samuel intently watching Gretchen drive off and telling Lydia that Claire was not the one he was after adds weight to that theory for me. I wonder if we might see Gretchen come riding to Claire's rescue and a show down between a powered up Samuel and Gretchen carrying a big power stick no one knew she had?

Peter had his turn with the idiot ball too. I'm not sure what his plan really was. Make Sylar "promise" to go away and never come back? O.K. That's a plan with a lot of promise. And Sylar has beat mental manipulation by someone with a lot more experience than Peter, so no reason to hope there. Sylar has even overcome completely losing his powers. And Peter choosing to take Nathan to the roof of the building when he was so clearly talking about dying, well, that's the idiot ball for you.

(By the way, they were fighting in an area of the hospital where there was construction going on, note the bare metal studs and plastic tarps all over the place; that's why the nail gun was lying there.)

Nathan seemed to be saying that he just wasn't strong enough to contain Sylar's psyche anymore and maintain his own presence. Nathan jumping seemed to be prompted by Sylar starting to already take control back, this time permanently, so jumping may have been a last ditch effort to kill the body Sylar was in before he reemerged and at least get him away from Peter.

Let's just hope this was a blip on the radar and things will be back on track when things pick-up again in January.

December 01 2009 at 9:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I take the whole "Claire's not the one I'm after" bit to mean either Noah or Gretchen. I understand why he might want Noah, but Gretchen's was the first name that popped into my head after Samuel said it. Maybe she'll manifest with some strange power.

I wasn't really expecting to feel all that sad about Nathan dying (I've been hoping for it since the first season) but I was a little moved by it all. It was sweet. I found the whole slow motion fall kinda lame though. Yeah, Nathan forgot to mention Heidi and Simon and Monty (his wife and kids.) Maybe they died too.

When the eclipse happened in the third season, Sylar wasn't able to fight worth a crap against H.R.G. I'm glad to see he was able to hold his own (sorta) against Peter. I had my hand over my mouth that entire scene. And a nail gun just happened to be right there? In the basement of a hospital? And nobody heard them? I found it funny that Peter was still wearing his paramedics shirt while beating up Sylar, though.

Not the best episode, but I look forward to see everyone else's reaction to Noah and Angela's deceit.

December 01 2009 at 6:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to bonbon99's comment

Just wondering if I heard correctly when Samuel calls Gretchen "Divina" or something similiar. I thought I had heard that name uttered by Samuel before in a previous episode at the carnival. Just curious.

December 19 2009 at 7:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I thought Nathan did say to Peter just before his drop off the building to take care of his wife(forgot the name)& sons? I've stayed loyal to Heroes from the start & will until the end but this wasn't one of their best episodes that's for sure.I'm intrigued though by Samuel's comment to Lydia about Claire not being the one he wants.

December 01 2009 at 4:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think the death was more metaphorical, he was 'letting go' of control by physically letting go. Heroes has many things like that.

December 01 2009 at 3:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Hey, I'm as cynical as the next person, but I thought the Nathan Peter scene was excellently handled. In fact the whole Peter/Nathan/Sylar part of the episode was the best bit out of maybe the entire episode and here's why.

We got to see Peter thoroughly kick Sylar's ass. I've been waiting to see that since the beginning of the show, though this was still surprising because there were NO powers. For once Peter came on top, through sheer force of will alone. I liked it because although Sylar is a great character (that carries the show for a couple of seasons) for once he was left without his powers, and when he doesn't have his powers, he's just a man and a weaker man than Peter in fact.

Second of all, I appreciated that for all the times Nathan died so far, and there have been a few, this is the one time he got to say goodbye properly to his brother (even though it wasn't REALLY Nathan). I liked the struggle he was going through to stay Nathan.

And I don't think he was trying to sacrifice himself by jumping of the roof. I took it to be a symbollical fall. Nathan's power was to fly. Well Peter just has to let his brother fall. Let him go, let him fall, let him disappear.

That's how I understood it anyway.

December 01 2009 at 3:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I kinda figured Nathan was the one that was going to die, but kept thinking that maybe Sylar's consciousness would win out and Sylar/Nathan would push Peter off the building. Peter doesn't have the flying skills anymore and would have died. But then I remembered that this wasn't season 1 of Heroes and thus would be very predictable.

December 01 2009 at 3:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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