I know a lot of you out there have given up on Heroes, and frankly I can't blame you. Last season was a horrible shadow of its former self, and this fall's "Villains" arc -- well, the less said about that the better. But this fourth volume, aka "Fugitives," is a marked improvement. Now I'm not going to say it is perfect, as I still have some complaints from my list of things that were wrong with the show, but it is moving in the right direction and shockingly, I'm actually looking forward to episodes again. So while I haven't seen tonight's ep yet, I feel somewhat confident in advising you Heroes deserters to come back for a second look. Because if it actually gets back to its first season glory by the end of this year (which it seems like it is at least attempting to do) you are going to be kicking yourself for not hopping back in sooner.
First, let me catch you up quickly if you haven't been watching. After Papa Petrelli died and there was a big old showdown at the lab, Nathan got all evil and teamed up with the president (and a badass enforcer played by Zeljko Ivanek) to capture all known superpowered humans and put them in this show's version of Guantanamo Bay. HRG seems to be helping Nathan's cause in exchange for keeping Claire out of custody so she can go to college or whatever. But when Peter (who can now only absorb one power at a time), Tracy, Hiro, Matt and Mohinder were all rounded up and put on a plane, Claire helped them bust loose. The plane crashed and now Peter, Parkman and Mohinder are a little crime-fighting team who have taken HRG hostage. Hiro connected with Ando to try to get his powers back. Tracy got recaptured by Nathan and is sweating it out. And Claire went and told her mommy what her daddy had been up to. And Sylar? He's off on his own little storyline trying to find his father with the help of a teen who might be his brother, lover or apprentice. Got it all?
Here are some more reasons to help convince you to tune in.
No Time Travel!
If you got disgusted with the way they were all jumping through history making each and every scenario and tense moment irrelevant (as they could always go back and fix things and or change outcomes), well, that's gone (at least momentarily).Yatta! Hiro has lost his abilities, and while this made him more whiny (though he's thankfully not an insufferable little kid anymore) at least he's not jumping from here to there willy nilly and just generally wreaking havoc. Now you just have to deal with him complaining all the time about how he's stuck being a sidekick for Ando (who now has the ability to super-charge heroes' abilities). While you are going to want to smack one or the both of them watching any given episode, Hiro not being able to blink out all the time is remarkably refreshing thing indeed.
People Stay Dead... or At Least Seem To
While we lament the loss of Kristen Bell, her departure did help the bloated cast problem that this show was suffering. Nathan and Peter's daddy dearest also seems to be remaining dead, as does Takeo Kensi/Adam Monroe. Daphne seems to be gone, though they didn't really give her a fitting exit, and it is possible that she's working as the as-of-yet-unseen "Rebel." In fact, the only dead person that seems to be popping up is Usutu, but since he is a spirit guide and all, that can be forgiven.
Less Focus on New Characters
There are new people popping up -- that's the inevitable nature of this show. Some get killed off, new heroes are discovered, etc., but so far, they haven't been too annoying. The best part is that their storylines are intertwined with the regulars, so they aren't random stand-alones (Maya, I'm looking directly into your blackened eyes for this one). Alex is a comic book staffer whom Claire is hiding/helping. He can breathe underwater, but we've yet to see this Aquaman in action. Instead, it is more about the whole fugitive aspect and the government really chasing everyone down and all the Big Brother cameras that are following everyone around. And Luke, Sylar's new little pet, is a bit much, but at least he kind of jokes with Sylar, which is creepy and amusing at the same time. It's like those women who are oddly attracted to serial killers in prison. It would be nice if they moved this one along a bit quicker, but it's interesting seeing this conflicted daddy-issue filled Sylar.
"Fugitives" Actually Means Fugitives
"Villains" didn't mean what they thought it meant, and instead was more like, "we're just going to make pretend that everyone is evil and then at the end really show that everyone's personality and purpose can change every week." "Generations" just meant that they were going to make everyone somehow related. "Fugitives" actually has people on the run. And while some of them conveniently live oblivious to the fact that they are being tracked, and others keep miraculously finding clothing and clues that fit them while they sit out in the open to have their visions (Parkman!), there are actually a group of people on the run from the government and Moira Kelly and her toepick, too.
They Got the Band Back Together
While the last few seasons scattershot everyone so we went weeks without seeing certain characters, they have smartly grouped them together in this arc, so that pretty much everyone gets a bit of screen time each week. It's a refreshing change of pace for sure, and Parkman and Mohinder are far less annoying together than they are on their own -- it's like they somehow cancel each other out. I don't know how that works scientifically, but I'm not going to question it.
There Are Some Scenes With Emotional Resonance
At least when it comes to Claire Bear and her pops. Good old HRG got us good last week with his teary-eyed speech to Claire about how he was just trying to protect her (this week seems to promise more). Frankly, the whole little Bennet family dynamic is worth tuning in for. They are certainly dysfunctional, but they are true entertainment and I actually care about what happens to them.
It Just Generally Sucks Less
Aside from some quibbles, I don't leave every single episode asking myself why on earth I'm still watching this show. I don't yell at the TV on a weekly basis as something entirely ridiculous happens. It is sort of refreshing. The scripts seem to be improved, the powers that be seem aware of what the fans are vocally hating on, and while there is still a long way to go, it's almost -- dare I say it -- fun.
So if you haven't been watching, I say to give it another shot soon. If you have, do you agree that it has made some vast improvements in this winter season?
You can watch last week's episode below:
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