Baseball Toaster Screen Jam
The Final Battle of Heroes: Good vs. Mediocre
2007-05-22 07:22
by Jon Weisman

Extensive reviews of the Heroes season finale appear at and Western Homes - one negative, one positive.

Every thread at Screen Jam is an open chat thread.

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 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.

* * *

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?

2007-05-22 07:57:16
1.   Penarol1916
I liked your description of Heroes as alternating coolness and flatness, I actually kind of like that about the show and also felt that the showdown was a bit anticlimactic. Your relationship with Heroes, though reminds me of mine with Lost, alternating between enjoyment and frustration with the show.
2007-05-22 08:32:10
2.   Mark T.R. Donohue
I have been bagging on "Lost" as much as anybody recently, and I have been too distracted by other things lately to agree in writing with the assessment of the SF Chronicle's Tim Goodman: the show has done a terrific job of responding to fan concerns, righting the ship, and producing a recent run of episodes that might be their best ever.

2007-05-22 09:45:58
3.   weatherman
Heroes is very similar to the Matrix Trilogy in this sense. On the one hand, I cannot speak ill of it because of how much I enjoy the good parts. On the other hand, there is too much disappointment for me to be in love with it.
2007-05-22 09:52:53
4.   Jon Weisman
I plan to write more about Lost this week. I think it's been great. If you get a chance, watch ABC's interview special with Damon Lindelhof and Carleton Cuse. You really realize, despite all the criticism that the story never moves forward, how much of a web they have laid out and how much, not how little, has been going on. And for all the criticism that others have that the show is too flashback heavy, you really feel the benefit of the rich pasts of the characters informing their present.

It'll be easy to kill time until Heroes returns, but I have a feeling I'll be counting the weeks until Lost is back next year.

2007-05-22 09:53:16
5.   Benaiah
I am going to repost this since I didn't see that there was a post up top:

26 - Hobbes (and Locke) talked about a social construct that all people are born into. Hobbes believed that the natural state of man was so terrible (nasty, brutish and short) that even living under a tyrant was preferable to living outside of society.

The mobsters are people who live in society, but are not a part of the social construct. I don't believe that people need to follow the laws in order to be compliant to the social construct. However, if a person is no longer accountable to the consequences of breaking the laws, then they are living outside of society. Mobsters kill and intimidate to forestall punishment, which makes them parasites and cancers on everyone around. They are wild, rabid animals in the zoo.

2007-05-22 10:29:23
6.   Penarol1916
4. I watched the special and didn't really care for it. I've really enjoyed the last run of shows, and I think that I've pinpointed why. I really dislike the characters of Jack and Kate and the recent bunch of episodes has focused on them much less and when they are involved the characters are much less hesitant to call them on their idiocy. The fall part of this season was awful, mostly because it focused on them too much for my tastes.
2007-05-22 10:39:51
7.   Inside Baseball
4 The criticism Lost faced early on this season has always bugged me. It seemed to seep into the collective consciousness until everyone was just conceding it as fact. I believe the show had proven enough over the first two seasons for me to trust where it was going. I think the "buried alive" episode really should have been the clue that everything ties together (at some point) on this show. A seemingly innocuous flushing of a toilet in a prior episode being shown much more relevant later on...this show is done with painstaking detail and care.

Further example, a friend of mine has guest-starred on the show as Sun's (what's the word for a male-mistress) love-interest in Korea. He allowed me to read his copy of the second episode he shot (early season 2) after it aired. In it, it detailed in a flashback an extra "diner" in the background of a Korean hotel reading a copy of the Washington Post with the headline, "Meteorite Hits Los Angeles." I rewatched the episode with script in hand. That shot never aired on that episode, but later in the season a meteorite struck Hurley's restaurant in LA (I think).

2007-05-22 11:59:44
8.   Blackfish
I'm a little surprised you found yourself frustrated with the "Heroes'" pacing, Jon. I think it's the one thing the show did extremely well. One major problem with any medium designed around a planned story arc, is that they tend to lose their momentum halfway through. They have a beginning and an endpoint but often lack the content to fill the middle. While Heroes certainly has a couple of less-than-thrilling episodes (and one boring storyline), it manages to spread them out well enough to retain viewers. I think its planning and pacing are the two things I admire most about the show. I'm sure a lot of it has to do with the fact that I watched large blocks of the show consecutively, but I still find it impressive.

I definitely understand your qualms with the characterization. It's a purely plot-driven show, which is unfortunate because the characters can be compelling; there are moments when the characters really have the stage. I found Episode 17 ("Homecoming") to be phenomenal character-driven TV due to its complete focus on Bennett's conflict between his job and his adopted daughter. Also there were times where I found myself genuinely loving several interactions (but not necessarily individuals): Ando/Hiro, Charlie/Hiro, Eden/Saresh, Candace/Micah, Peter/Nathan. The rest of 'em really didn't do anything for me. With the exception of two pairings, they were all too temporary. And that's my major dilemma with the show: not that it's plot-driven, but that they had the foundation and talent to make it more character-oriented.

2007-05-22 12:30:56
9.   Jon Weisman
8 - I'm not talking about pacing for the season. I'm talking about how many episodes had boring scenes.

Over the course of the season, Heroes always did enough for me to keep me watching, but episodes individually had their dead spots.

2007-05-22 14:23:49
10.   Hythloday
5 - Locke didn't believe that you were born into the commonwealth. He believed that you had the right to consent. He would just assert that many of us implicitly assent to the commonwealth by doing things like signing up for selective service or paying taxes. One read of the Sopranos that fits with Andrew's point is that the mafia has implicitly rejected the state of peace offered by membership in the commonwealth. They have rejected the rule of law and have not given up their right to judge others (a prerequisite for being in the commonwealth). In such a state they are not merely criminals, but exist in a state of war with our commonwealth. As such we need not grant them any rights that one might expect of the commonwealth. Here Locke and Hobbes would be in agreement, IMO, that mafiosos would lack any fundamental rights.

Can you be a normal functioning adult and totally reject the comforts of society? Maybe. I think Tony is a sociopath regardless of his respect for the common rules. If you can resort to violence without empathy for the victim then your other moral quandaries seem irrelevant to me. Seeing Tony deal with those quandaries makes for compelling television, but he is a repugnant character.

2007-05-22 14:34:43
11.   Jon Weisman
New post up top.
2007-05-22 14:58:08
12.   trainwreck
I was not a fan of the Heroes finale at all. Nothing really surprising at all and it seemed like it was not planned from the get go. It felt pointless for a lot of the characters to be there and in the end they solved the problem so easily.

Comment status: comments have been closed. Baseball Toaster is now out of business.