(NBC; 1073 minutes)
BY CHRIS ZIMMERMAN
been a show that has had its fair share of fans and detractors. After a
brilliant first season that was widely received as an excellent piece of
television, the writers had quite the task of continuing the trend and keeping
viewers interest. Unfortunately they couldn’t and what resulted was a less than
stellar followup that caused the show to suffer from lackluster plots and
little to no character development. Season three was the chance they needed to
once again aim high and finish strong. Did the show return to the glory
established in its first season? Or did it flounder and continue its downward
trend into mediocrity? Yes and no.
Season three started with yet another alternate future that
threatened to become reality should the heroes fail in whatever struggle the
writers set up for them later down the line. This in itself is one of the
problems the show has had to face. Every season, there has been a different
future and every season, the heroes had to try to prevent that future from
taking place. Sure, every future was different, but the basic plot was the
same: an evil emerged and its actions threatened to bring about the end of the
world; throughout the season, the heroes would endeavor to prevent the evil
from achieving its goals, thus preventing the future that could have been.
Season three’s future had nothing to do with the plot of
season three. In this future, heroes were evil, villains were good, and
civilians had powers – but nowhere in the season did these plot points even
threaten to take place. It was like the writers knew we would be expecting them
to follow up on it and instead took us in a completely different direction. I
assume everyone reading this review knows the characters and their stories so I
will be referring to them by name without explaining who they are.
This season also introduced so many new faces that it was
impossible to keep track of them all, let alone care. They were basically
walking plot devices, powers with faces to associate them with. Not only did
they introduce well over ten characters in the first half of the season, it
killed off the majority of them before transitioning into a new volume (the show
is separated into “volumes,” not seasons).
As if that wasn’t bad enough, characters acted the complete
opposite of what had previously been established in the first two seasons. Why
exactly did Sylar want to be a hero after pretty much stating in season one
that he wanted enough power to destroy everything? The writers tried to explain
it off as his powers involved something known as the “hunger” within him
telling him to feed on other being’s powers, and if he learned to control it,
he was really just a misunderstood guy. Well unfortunately, season two showed
him without powers and he was possibly even more devious, and no, the “hunger”
was never once brought up. This led to the show’s audience who had previously
thought of Sylar as one of the best new villains on TV, turning on him and
begging for the writers to put him out of his misery. This is the most extreme
example of the bipolar nature of the characters this season, but there were
others. Why was Mohinder, the smartest character on the show, suddenly such an
idiot? How did Angela Petrelli turn from a futurist into someone who probably
couldn’t even tell me the meaning of the word?
Let’s go back for a minute to the introduction of new
characters, of which the one that made the most impact was the “evil” for the
first half of the season, Arthur Petrelli (or as fans like to refer to him,
Papa Petrelli). Arthur had previously been thought to be dead; little was known
about him except that he belonged to the previous generation’s heroes. I will
give the writers credit for initially making this character seem like the compelling
force they probably expected him to be. What better way to establish a new
villain than having him destroy the one from the previous season with relative
ease, while at the same time giving him a group of dangerous new villains to
challenge our heroes with.
Unfortunately his charm wore off the moment his plans
started taking shape. Why? Because for the life of me, I couldn’t tell what his
plan was. We saw snippets of it; Returning Nathan to a seat of power within the
government, stealing as many powers as he could, messing with Sylar’s head (and
ours as well). If his plan was to keep the audience guessing, then mission
accomplished because the writers chose to kill him off in an attempt to salvage
Sylar and return him to his former glory.
Let’s move on to the second half of the season before I turn
you away from the show completely (if the writers didn’t do it already). Known
as “Volume 4”, the second half of season three was an improvement over what
came before, but is that really saying much? Volume 4 was a new chance to start
over. The executive producer and part time writer Jeph Loeb were taken off the
show and it was given a new direction.
With the fallout from Volume 3, Nathan decides someone has
to take charge of the growing population of super powered beings, with his
solution being – lock them up and worry about what to do with them later! A new
character named Danko is introduced as a hunter of the heroes. Without any
powers, it would seem like a waste. After all, how could a powerless human pose
a threat to beings with god-like abilities? Luckily the writers learned from
their earlier mistakes and decided to make the character believable rather than
a villain taken out of a Saturday morning cartoon. With a shoot-first/ask-questions-later
mentality and the US
government backing him up, Danko’s threat to the heroes was kept realistic and
enticed viewers into wanting to see how much further he could push the main
Of course, Sylar was still searching for who he was but
rather than trying to be a hero, he was searching for closure to what was
plaguing him in the form of his true father’s identity. Not a great arc but
still better than flip flopping between good and evil.
Volume 4 was full of revelations and betrayals as a key
character was laid to rest, a family was torn asunder, and another was
reunited. However, it was not without its flaws. The introduction of new characters
who got discarded a few episodes later remained an issue. This happened twice
in Sylar’s arc alone, with his father and his apprentice both adding little to
the overall plot. Even with the brilliant John Glover portraying him, Sylar’s
father is mainly forgettable due to little explanation of who he is and what
his goals truly are.
However if there is a selling point to Heroes, it’s the special effects which go above and beyond standard
television; how ironic, that in a show that seems to be driven by such, the
breakout character and arguably the best reason to watch is someone that
requires none. The character of Noah Bennet was, for the bulk of the show, the
lone human in a sea of titans, using only his intelligence and natural talents
to get by. The season saw him continue to grow from a man trying desperately to
maintain order, to losing everything he ever fought to protect, coming out of
the season darker than ever.
With season four looming, Heroes is in a position to start from a clean slate, with a villain
who appears to have been pulled straight from “Carnivale,” a new set of power
players calling the shots, and the main cast determined to live ordinary lives.
Will the show survive its slumping ratings? Hopefully.
As I have stated, it is far from perfect, but if you turn
your brain off for an hour, you may be surprised. It is a soap opera for comic
book readers and sci-fi fans alike. For better or for worse, I would recommend
the show to anyone looking for a bit of escapism and nonsensical drama.
Features: The super powers of Heroes;
deleted scenes; completing the scene Genetics of a scene; the writers’ forum; alternate
stories; Pinehearst commercial; the prop box; Time Sale gallery of screen art; audio
commentaries with cast & crew.