Extensive reviews of the Heroes season finale appear at EW.com and Western Homes - one negative, one positive.
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Heroes has been a weird animal for me. I've watched every episode. Just as I'm about to give it up out of boredom or dissatisfaction, it does something cool. Just as I'm about to concede its greatness, it disappoints. Except for Nikki/Jessica (I resolve to fast-forward through every Nikki/Jessica exchange that occurs in season 2 - I just can't take them any more), the characters are not a turnoff, but I can't seem to fall in love with them. I still feel they are more ciphers than characters - though they are not without dimension, they all talk the same way, and their emotional range is narrow.
So I'm left to contemplate a season finale that I couldn't not watch but didn't look forward to with any great excitement. And it was exactly the way the show has been all season: coolness alternating with flatness. It's as if these are the two forces really fighting in the world.
Ultimately, I side more with Gilbert Cruz's is-that-all-there-is review on EW.com. I watched the good scenes mix with the boring ones; I watched real tension mixed with invented tension (let's go into Issac Mendez's loft and stare at the pictures without watching our backs again, shall we?)
And then, feeling in my gut that showrunner Tim Kring wasn't actually going to blow up New York - though I certainly bought into the characters believing the threat - I hoped that there would be a jaw-dropping twist at the end. And my hopes rose as the characters came together for what might have been a battle royale. Instead, all we're left with is a somewhat inspid fight - I mean, Peter punching Sylar was like watching Robert Conrad in a 40-year-old Wild Wild West rerun - and the apparently grand gesture of Nathan saving Claire from having to pull the trigger on Peter. (By the way, Claire - when the gun is bigger than you are, you might want to hold it with two hands.)
Now, stupid me, I spent the next two minutes wondering aloud what was so great about having Nathan give up his life to let Peter explode and die, rather than just having Claire kill Peter. I didn't put together that Nathan could fly away as the Peter exploded, Peter regenerates, and everyone lives. So that's on me.
But still, I'm unimpressed by the grand gesture. The show didn't need to tell me once more (although Sendhil Ramamurthy's voiceover sure felt the need) that love matters. They had already showed it in almost every character. And Nathan always had it in him, even when he was under the influence of his Manchurian Candidate mother.
So again, nothing transcendent, nothing terrible. Heroes is a good show, but it's almost like going to an amusement park - a fun place to visit with some thrills, but not the greatest show on earth.
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Update: Way back in the fall, I recall reading that the creators of Heroes and Lost were compadres, and that there was the possibility that the two shows existed in the same universe, or something like that. So, are the simultaneous appearances of Peters and Hiros traveling through time and/or space, and the speculation that Jacob is another incarnation of Locke, just coincidences?