Its been a fair old while since I last made a post on here. Caution to the winds though; the golden afternoons of late Summer are fading and I’ve been driven back inside. Now, to the point. Heroes, that big hit of a US TV Show that even made an impression on the British viewing public, is back for its third season. Following a longer than expected hiatus for the shows creative powers, it returns in the hopes of recovering its dwindling audience, one that followed the first season avidly, yet tapered out with the shows troubled second. Admittedly, the pacing of the second season left a lot to be desired after the octane fuelled conclusion to the first, but after a while the season began to shape up.
Sadly, the Writers Strike ended an ambitious storyline before it had a chance to come to fruition. Tim Kring, creator of the show, acknowledged complaints both from critics and fans about the second season, assuring that when Heroes returned, it would come back with a bang. But here I think is where a potential problem lies. The second season was evidence of their intent to explore the cast of characters deeper, a slowly ticking character drama with excerpts of adrenaline. As a result of the poor reception this noble idea evoked in the audience (and viewing figures!), the patriarch of the series went in the completely opposite direction, citing that if the audience wanted Heroes to be a non-stop adrenaline ride, he would see it so. And so here we have Season 3: Villains.
I think it is here that my problem manifests. The first episode of two, Heroes: Second Coming, is a over-reaching, sometimes disenchanting affair. The Present Day (Time seems to shift nightly when, as enjoyable as some are, plot devices require it to in Heroes) seems to have shifted slightly from the last annals of Powerless, the last episode of Season Two. We are treated to the answer to Powerless’ cliffhanger; the identity of Congressman Nathan Petrelli’s killer almost instantly, rushed through an explaination that really deserves more growth, thrown into an encounter between a demonic serial killer and a cheerleader with again, less of a dynamic than deserved and baffled by the disappearance of the ever-sympathetic policeman Matt Parkman, all in a matter of minutes. Even fans of the show will have to be on the ball to follow the drama as it shifts, more often than not incessantly, between locales and characters.
The first episode moves at the breakneck pace as promised, but the tension, mystery and drama that made the First Season such a compelling watch seems to have evaporated. One however, suspects that the baggage acquired during the First and Second Seasons tenure simply had to be shed in order for the writing staff to open on a clean slate. Mysteries that have eluded us since the First Season are answered without the revelatory direction that the effort made to keep them awarded in the first place. For fans insistent on answers, the tidbits of information revealed of long suspected truths will be rewarding, if not a little sour in delivery. For a series that delivered its mysterious cliffhangers so well in the first, and almost in the second, seasons, it certainly does feel that a greater sacrifice has been made to please impatient fans.
The second episode, entitled Butterfly Effect, is a lot more of a grounded affair, if not still a tad shaky at the hinges. You get the feeling that the rushed execution of the first episode was the wiping of the slate for the writing staff, because that is at least what Butterfly Effect indicates; important moments are handled delicately in contrast to the previous entry, characters are given their dues and we begin to gather a greater sense of the volume, especially considering the omnious titled Villains. A mass breakout of imprisoned “Villains,” including a rather amusingly named Master of Magnestism, “The German,” seems to spark a rounding up of the troops for the Heroes cast, and we seem to have been provided with an obvious goal for our Heroes to unite against. Those who have watched Season Two will have noted that unless provided with a conspicuous impediment to the safety of the world (or the USA it seems), the focus of Heroes seems to waver indefinitely. Like the First Season, obvious antagonism has alerted the Heroes to their respective destinys, and all that boring character-driven nonsense that fans rejected can just be a product of the journey rather than for its own sake. Just like the First Season.
Characters in Heroes have always proven to have an elasticity to them, a moral ambiguity, and thankfully I feel that this second offering hints that many different paths will open for certain characters. As for the treating of individual characters, I caution myself to withhold judgement. For example, those characters in the show without their own CGI-Power budget gaining a CGI-Power budget will be a big turn off for many. Its an obvious path, but if you’ve seen the two episodes you’ll know I’m talking about the Peter Parker lookalike. My revised opnion on the matter, especially concerning the drain the power seems to exert on the character in Butterfly Effect, could lead to an intriguing character arc when he manages to “get rid” of his new perks.