Heroes Reborn First Impressions
In the lead up to the release of Heroes Reborn, I often questioned what the point of reviving the series was. As someone who watched the full four seasons of the original program, I feel confident in saying that Heroes was a show that collapsed under the weight of its own ambitions and complexity. Furthermore, it’s only real hook was “Wouldn’t it be cool it there was a show about superheroes?” The problem is that it has been nearly 10 years since the pilot aired and it has been nearly that long since that idea alone was sufficient to serve as the hook for a television series. Since then both DC and Marvel have produced a slew of comic based series, and even NBC tried to implement their own superhero show in The Cape. The point I’m making is, in order to try and revive Heroes in a way that it could survive in the current entertainment landscape, the creators would need to do two things. The first would be to find a hook or element that helped the series stand out from the rest, and the second would be for the show to cut down on its characters and narrative complexity. Unfortunately, Heroes Reborn does neither of these things. Instead, what we get is a whirlwind of characters, both old and new, as they deal with an array of bizarre issues related to powers. It’s even messier than it sounds.
There are a multitude of stories going on in this opening two-parter so this might get a bit difficult to follow. If that turns out to be the case, then I can relax content in the knowledge that I was able to capture and relay a modicum of the irritation that I felt while watching this episode. The obvious place to start would be with Noah Bennett. He is easily the most prominent of the returning faces, but his plotline was also one of the most infuriating. It starts off with him attending an event targeted at promoting unity between powered and unpowered individuals. As you may or may not remember, the original series ended with his daughter, Claire Bennett, revealing her powers to the world by breaking her neck on national television. The unity event is the subject of a terrorist bombing which apparently kills Claire, though elements of this are called into doubt later on. Given that she was practically immortal, I’m not entirely sure how Noah even came to the conclusion she was dead, and we don’t really get the opportunity to dwell on that since it immediately jumps to a fistful of other characters. By the time it returns to Bennett, it has been a year since the June 13th bombing, and he is living under an assumed alias. He ends up getting approached by a conspiracy theorist named Quentin Frady whose questions lead Noah to look into what happened back on June 13th. He ends up encountering the Haitian who tries to kill him, but, in the exceptionally clichéd struggle that takes place, Noah ends up shooting him. Then he concludes that he and Henry should find Molly Walker, who had the power to locate people.
Apparently, Mohinder is being blamed for the bombing, but, outside of a classic Heroes voiceover, he doesn’t make an appearance in the episode. Meanwhile, a young boy named Tommy narrowly avoids being caught up in the slaughter of an underground chapter of empowered individuals. They are killed by Luke and Joanne Collins, a couple that lost their child in the June 13th bombing, and have been going around killing evos, powered individuals. Luke is played by Zachary Levi, and he is easily one of the best things about this two-parter. Luke Collins is a very different character for Levi to play, and I found that his scenes were amongst the few that I felt worked rather well. After killing the people at the meeting, they attempt to track down Tommy, but he uses his power to teleport objects in order to send them away, though he doesn’t know to where. He appears to be followed by a man who is erasing or manipulating people’s memories, and it would seem that he is doing it with the intention of protecting Tommy. Meanwhile, two Japanese characters named Miko and Ren are trying to track down Miko’s father by using her power to enter into a video game by drawing a sword that looks like Hiro’s sword. I could try going into greater detail with their characters, but I will just cut to the chase. I hate them. The scenes of Ren gaming hit so many of my pet peeves regarding how gaming is presented in popular culture, and outdated Leeroy Jenkins references don’t help in the slightest. I’m not even going to pretend to understand what was going on in that plotline, but it infuriated me nonetheless. Also, a woman tries to rob a man who was using telekinesis to cheat at a craps table, but things don’t work out the way she intends. …If I was going to review this on a weekly basis, I would need a FUCKING FLOWCHART! I mean, my favorite show is The Wire. I’m no stranger to dense storylines with a multitude of characters, but this is just obnoxious. …Oh, and I forgot about the Hispanic vigilante who is helping smuggle evos.
As you may potentially have been able to extrapolate from that huge ball of plot, Heroes Reborn has pretty much picked up where Heroes left off. Numerous characters are engaged in numerous plotlines, and it has already turned into a huge jumble. I was actually shocked by how confusing it seemed to be, despite the fact that I had stuck with the original series all the way through. I can’t imagine what it would be like to watch this without this prior knowledge. The reliance on characters like the Haitian, Mohinder, and Molly Walker to drive the plot forward only serves to further complicate a narrative that was already feeling like a superpowered version of Magnolia after it dropped off of its ADHD meds.
Before I wrap up, a few Notes and Nitpicks:
- Since Adair Tishler has, at least temporarily, retired from acting, the show has had to recast the role of Molly Walker. I won’t list the actress here, since the show apparently intends for it to be a bit of a surprise, but… by the time the episode got to that point I really didn’t care.
- This isn’t really the show’s fault, but when Noah Bennett first mentioned Molly Walker, my mind jumped to Molly Hayes. I spent the next few minutes feeling depressed because I could be rereading Runaways instead of watching this… like any of the scenes where she kicks Wolverine’s ass.
- No members of the Petrelli family actually make proper appearances in this two-parter, and only Angela Petrelli is credited for the series. This is a bit bizarre, since Peter and Nathan were major characters since the first episode. Likewise, there is absolutely no mention of Sylar.
- I was actually thankful that Hiro Nakamura didn’t make an appearance yet. I found him to be a horribly written character due to the fact that he was constantly learning to take things seriously throughout each season, but would then forget all those lessons right before the next season began.
- I really feel like I should compliment Jack Coleman and Zachary Levi for trying to salvage this with their performances, but I’m afraid that those efforts ultimately fall in the “Lost Cause,” category.
- Here is a show about a superpowered character that I’m actually looking forward to. I let out a squee when I saw that. I haven’t done that in a while.
I didn’t really have any expectations for this show. This isn’t like Firefly where the show was killed off before its time. Heroes had a shot and it blew it. It took all the continuity problems that modern comics have and converted those issues to television in a manner that I could only call impeccable. It died a slow death, and I don’t understand why NBC really wanted to revive it. However, despite the fact that I wasn’t actually looking forward to this show or expecting anything out of it, it still managed to surprise me with its astounding lack of quality. If there is anyone out there who is hoping that this miniseries will turn into a full revival for Heroes, then I suspect that they will be disappointed… but, seriously, fuck this shit.
How is it that, after all these years, Heroes still hasn't learned from any of its mistakes? It's the same old messy song and dance.