It was a while ago when I last mentioned Heroes on the blog. Since then, the shows recieved its lowest ratings to date and the ‘critical reponse’* has been consistently downbeat. There were a lot of people who expected NBC to off load the show and not renew it for a fourth season, but alas, they did renew so expect this to be more of a general overview rather than a post-mortem of the show.
As always, when I see Heroes, I want to look for the best in the show rather than the worst. In this sense, Heroes: Fugitives, the fourth ‘volume,’ is a disappointing ‘come-back’ thus far. However it would be wrong to dismiss the whole when considering the occasional moments where the show and its characters do indeed shine. Yet like always, the show is a thing of disappointment. For starters, it must be said that Fugitives has a great premise. Not an original one – for Heroes has never had any points for originality – but a solid one different from what we’ve already encountered: Nathan Petrelli calling the shots on a Government backed containment plan for controlling superpowered individuals.
Now that’s a strong approach. But its execution for the most part has been a bore and while a lot of it is due to clunky dialogue meaning the dilemma’s facing Nathan are not really explored, there are also larger elements that fail to hit the right notes. Nathan’s antagonistic second in command, the ruthless Danko with his ‘stick’ to acquiring Heroes, is an interesting character but one who really hasn’t come to fruition yet. Similarly, the effect of the containment plan has not been seen on a scale wider than that of Claire Bennet’s dating options. The show shows promise but fails to deliver.
And let us not forget Luke, the other half of the Superpowered Psycho Buddy double act. His partner in crime is of course Sylar on an Oedipal search for his father. I pine for a time where Sylar’s psychology revoles around things a little more complex than these daddy issues. Of course, Luke, a walking microwave with cringeworthy teen attitude in abundance, becomes Sylar’s personal psychologist during their road trip, giving us a cross-examination that Season One’s overused baddy not only willingly listens to, but one that actually affects him.
Not all is bad news however. For example, the latest episode, Shades of Grey, had some nice moments where the show genuinely looked confident, with Christen Rose’ matriach Angela Petrelli relishing her dialogue to a degree where I have half the mind to declare her two lines of performance the best of the season so far. The power play of running the bagging-and-tagging service between Danko, Nathan and Noah Bennet (yeah, he’s back again) becomes interesting once Danko suspects Nathan himself has an ability*.
The idea that Nathan’s commitment to the plot is compromised because of personal involvement is a strong one, but the notion that the operation will be removed from Nathan’s grasp has already been criminally glossed over in an earlier episode, when Nathan appeases a foxy government advisor within one episode, rather than a drawn out relationship that would better the volume as a whole. Nathan’s position as a young, determined Senator is another factor underused in the show. The man attends to no duties other than his little programme of mutant hunting and it would be nice to see the inner machinations of his office a little more. After all, Adrian Pasdar remains one of the best parts of the show.
As always, Heroes has the ideas and potential, but it never comes to fruition. There are moments when you nod your head, expecting a masterstroke from the writing staff, but instead you find the situation turning away into something ill-concieved or – and this word is used too frequently and without meaning – rushed. The pacing of Fugitives is a lot better than that of Villains, but it still cannot deliver upon its promise.
*Read Robert Canning’s reviews of the show at IGN.com to enjoy his amateur journalism and/or the comments for his reviews, which are almost universally hysterical in their disagreement.
*I’m starting to loathe the overuse of ‘abilities’ in much of the dialogue. The idea of calling them ‘abilities’ demystifies the entire concept of these powers and the way in which the show first showed themselves in the characters. Some of the worst dialogue of the season yet has occured when Zachary Quinto (Sylar) reflects on the ‘abilities’ he has stolen. The show needs to step back and defamiliarise itself with superpowers.