Review: 'Heroes' - 'Brave New World' (season finale)
by Jason Hughes, posted Feb 9th 2010 2:08AM
(S04E19) Volume Five came to a climactic end, and as with past volumes, it was both exciting and a little bit of a letdown. But also in keeping with tradition, it left the door open for exciting possibilities in Volume Six, teased at the end of the episode, despite a fifth season not being a certainty at this point.
I suspect, though, that NBC will in fact bring the show back, despite it's lackluster ratings performance. A reboot, of sorts, to the franchise could revitalize it in the same way 'Chuck' has seen ratings improve this season. Properly handled, 'Heroes' is a show that could go several seasons. "Properly handled" is the key to that phrase, and it has been mismanaged for too long.
The biggest flaws have been the transitions between volumes, the seeming lack of overall continuity, and tired and repetitive character arcs that seemed more repetitive than innovative. This season has been the strongest since the WGA Strike (which killed a second season that showed promise and potential).
Robert Knepper was perfectly cast as the villainous Samuel Sullivan, and he played the role with the same intensity and commitment that he gave to T-Bag across four seasons of 'Prison Break.'
As for his climactic confrontation with Peter (of course) in this week's finale, it was pretty exciting. Peter proved himself actually smart, for once, by tackling Samuel right away so as to gain his powers immediately. Going into a battle with a man who can move the earth and with Matt Parkman's abilities on your side doesn't put you in a very good spot.
It was probably inevitable that Samuel would be depowered by the departure of his carnival of specials, but it still felt a little anti-climactic. It also left the question of how Samuel could be seemingly completely powerless with Peter, Sylar, Doyle and Emma still milling about the tents. Shouldn't that be enough to throw up a little dirt here and there?
Sylar as a good guy is still going to take some getting used to; and it's still hard to believe in completely. It's too easy to imagine that face hiding a truly evil secret agenda. But he seemed genuine and sincere when talking to Peter about how good it felt to help Emma, and how he felt no urge to kill Doyle. After eight years of repenting in that mind-world Matt created for him, his reform could be legitimate. He would certainly make an interesting ally to the side of good. Especially with the way Claire set up the sixth volume.
Hiro's meeting with Charlie was bittersweet and beautifully appropriate. Having her live a full and happy life from the point where Samuel had her dropped (1946) helped Hiro learn that it's not always for the best to go back and "try to make things right." In some cases, things happen for a reason. In this case, Charlie found love and created a family. Hopefully, Hiro has learned to be a bit more considerate and responsible with his powers, now that it appears they are back for good.
Matt, on the other hand, has become a character I could easily do without. He does little more than whine and remain close-minded. He cares only about himself and the welfare of his family, which is all fine and good. But that's not a "hero," and so he has no further purpose on the show, unless someone decides they need his ability.
Tracy and Mohinder, on the other hand, were oddly absent through most of the season. I'm not sure why the writers even kept them in the cast, as they only came and went sparingly. Tracy saved the day with Noah and Claire, but after such a focus on her in the beginning of the season, she got dropped like a bad habit. Suresh they didn't seem to want around at all. Maybe they've got big plans for him in the next volume.
As for that scene under the ground. Why would Noah be passing out from lack of oxygen while Claire is able to still run around and scream and dig with full energy and volume. The air would be the same thinness for the two of them, and Claire's ability doesn't make her not have to breathe. Their weakness should have been at least closer to equal.
With Samuel in custody, Claire set up the next volume, which takes its name from this episode, "Brave New World," by showing the news cameras what she could do. She dropped from the ferris wheel and healed right there in front of the world (or it will be later if they weren't going out live). The secret is out, and I think it's a great move by NBC. If they do want to keep 'Heroes' viable as a franchise, it needed a reboot button. A way to keep the stories simple and yet new and exciting at the same time.
Revealing the existence of abilities to the entire world does just that. Suddenly, there's plenty of new material to explore, and even better, it can be done more with the tone of that first season. Instead of "Ordinary people with extraordinary abilities," it's "What if you discovered the world was filled with ordinary people with extraordinary abilities?" They could thin the "special" cast and throw in some non-powered people, perhaps. Bring back some old favorites, like Micah, and perhaps build a new menace -- that's not Sylar. Please, not Sylar.
How would you build Volume Six from the ashes of the first five?