Heroes: "Building 26"

Over the break between Volume 3 (let's all shed a tear) and Volume 4, it became quite clear that Sean O'Neal didn't want to return to Heroes any time soon. So Josh suggested that he and I alternate weeks. We would both be watching anyways, so why not get more opinions into the mix? He called it "hate vs. tolerance" in an email earlier today—and I don't know about you guys, but when he said "hate," I think he was talking about me. I'm not quite sure how I feel about that label, but so be it. He and I have both been fans of the show at one point, and both remain hopeful that someday—in our wildest fantasies, or next week—Heroes will shine once more. I just feel a lot more betrayed, on a personal level, than Modell. Sure, call it hate.

Josh was kind enough to fill in for me last week, but I have to take issue with his episode assessment. (Here we go, with the hate.) Where he found freshness, I saw the show, once again, spinning its wheels into oblivion. It's no surprise that Tracy and Peter tried to connive Nathan, only no one was sure whose side Tracy was on, only no one cared. And Ando, Parkman, Hiro, and Daphne puttered around for a while, only to come right back to the plane? I don't care how many "visions" Parkman sketched on the back of that Denny's place setting, but they needed to get away from that, post haste. Then, in ultimate desperation, Heroes introduced this mysterious texter. Yep, a person sending textual messages. It's the year 2009 after all.

But lo! The show has improved this time around! Of course, we're talking Heroes here, so when I say improved, what I mean is that this episode had at least one or two interesting moments—as opposed to, in my opinion, zero last time.

Most of "Building 26" centered not on the titular building, but on Claire Bennett. She has returned from her time over in Arkansas, only her mom thinks she was off visiting colleges with her dad. (That's "colleges"; now that the advertising revenue stream has run dry, no more naming names.) They lie to her face, which is something Claire just can't stand this time. So she runs up to her room, where her dad deftly intercepts her for yet another talk. Only this time, it's Claire who interjects, "Now is the time you say that everything you do is to protect me." Ho ho, zing, young padawan!

She decides to take Rebel's advice and head over to the local comics shop, so the Heroes  designers could recycle the set they used last volume. Her mission: Capture young Jeff Goldblum and force him to quit the swim team. But who's there getting in the way with all his forcible glasses? Dad! Gawd, he's such a loooooser!

Later, Noah apologizes and decides to leave the house, and heads to [insert name of local bar where a decidedly date rapey vibe hangs in the air]. Surprisingly, he is drugged and dragged off by bargoers (/actors who want to get paid for being in this episode) Peter Petrelli, Mohinder Suresh, and Sir Matthew Quintas Parkman the Third, ESQ, JP. That about does it for roughly 75 percent of the episode.

Back in BLDG26, Nathan is staring at the least attractive pictures of the heroes anyone could find trolling Facebook, and desperately trying to double the funding for his little program. Enter Abby Collins: Homeland Security seductress. She's all like, "Heeeeeey, these people use magic." And Nathan's all, "I'll show you magic, in my pants… which is what I call the hallway, then opening a door and entering a steamy, hot room where a woman is chillin'. I now insert parenthetically that she is actually an ice beast, so chillin' is referencing that, as well as her casual demeanor. I totally tapped that, and her twin sister—who is now dead." Then Collins sees it, and decides to cut all the funding. Tracy escapes, though, and totally ices this other anonymous dude who can now put the vaunted Heroes on his acting resume. Funding, on! It's a good thing Tracy escaped, and totally randomly.

Or, was it?

See, someone probably did it on purpose—loosened the chain, left the door unlocked—but only one person knows, and it's a new guy I haven't to learned the name of yet. And therein we find a fairly interesting discovery: Nathan, really, is in the thick of things, being forced to do whatever it takes to keep these guys at bay. I smell madness a brewin', and I like it.

Meanwhile, Sylar and Aliens In America kid are hittin' the road—not for pie or milkshakes, but for tracking down Sylar's father, and reminiscing about wagons. Only, they stop for pie and milkshakes, giving the government a chance to surround Sylar and aim a gun at his "sweet spot" for the bajillionth time. AIA boy helps Sylar escape, and is captured in the process. But, in a strange turn of events, Sylar actually cares about this kid—he doesn't need him anymore, since he got the address already—and returns to set him free. Ugh, mini-Sylar. Why is it that the evil protegé storyline always feels so lazy? We don't even really know what Sylar believes to begin with, let alone what he'd pass on to someone else.

The worst, though, has to be the Hiro/Ando plot line, which can be summed up thusly, totally seriously. Hiro and Ando travel to India to stop a wedding; Ando corners the girl, and flashes his red hands for her. This is all the proof she needs to call the wedding off. Later, Hiro is upset, and the girl is cornered by the angry husband-to-be. He beats Ando with a pot, then takes him away. Hiro then goes to the wedding and announces it is over; the girl backs him up, and tells her father she isn't happy—the father immediately concedes defeat. The man runs off. Hiro throws his hands up.

Heroes needs another reboot, badly. I haven't seen anything so far this volume that sets it apart from the junk we had to wade through last time. There's still far too much happening at once—and without enough screen time allocated to each character, the dialogue has to carry almost all the expository weight, with only enough time left to, well, narrate what just happened. I would love, just once, to see an episode about one or two characters, over 42 minutes. I dunno, just something radically different than what we've seen for quite some time. But at this point, do you think they'll honestly ever give the show what it needs?

Grade: C-

Stray observations:

  • This has nothing to do with anything, but why is it that whenever there is a coffee cup on a TV screen, no one takes the time to fill it? Not even with coffee, with water, whatever. It's always so obvious when someone picks up an empty coffee cup and sips from it—they don't do much to disguise how little weight the cup is holding.
  • Don't worry, guys: If you didn't get enough, you can always text message with the heroes, or so a commercial told me. Just. Like. Claire.
  • Sylar's discussion about how emotions cloud his judgment sounded an awful lot like The Force to me.

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