Heroes: "Thanksgiving"
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Heroes: "Thanksgiving"

Nothing advances the story in Heroes like the time between episodes—at least it feels that way, especially when the characters begin each one by explaining what's gone down in the interim and what's about to happen next. It must be amazing to be someone who's just tuning in to Heroes after so much time away, or dare I even imagine for the first time ever. (Run!) They must see those first few minutes and think, hey, I can do this. I'm all caught up, it sounds like some great stuff is about to go down. And oh, what fun it must be to watch their eagerness get sucked dry at each successive commercial break, like staring into the undead visage of notable dementor Angela Petrelli. In fact, we might all be better off just watching the first few minutes of an episode and the preview for next week, figuring out what went down in an angry recap… or guessing (which is probably just as accurate). Because when I find that, yet again, one of the only moments worth sticking around for is a guy levitating a pebble and hurling it towards another guy, it's time to rethink how I'm spending my time.

Heroes goes out of its way to ensure that as little action as possible occurs in each episode—which, for a show ostensibly about superheroes, is a feat unto itself. Instead, like tonight, it focuses on weaving what it imagines to be tangled personal webs between a) characters that already know each other, or b) characters that probably have no business ever getting to know each other. And what better way to plunge the depths of the emotional kiddie pool than Thanksgiving, the holiday that involves sitting, talking, and eating. Because Heroes needs more of that.

The three meals take place in three of the drabbest rooms/open areas the show can muster up, which is to say they take place on Heroes' finest setpieces of gold, silver, and dreams. Angela Petrelli surprises her sons with two Chippendale dancers and an unnatural insistence that they sit down, pour their wine glasses, and wait a few hours before she answer questions about how Nathan might, you know, actually be dead. When they finally get to talking, she tells the boys that the body was a fake, then admits that it's real and Nathan's mind is in Sylar's body. Why did she try this quick tactic then so quickly abandon it? She must have had a dream or something. Later, Sylar pops up from inside Nathan and demands Peter and Angela sit there next to him while he eats an entire pie. When it's time for dessert (brains), he goes after Angela only to have Nathan reemerge and fly away. We waited all episode for a glimpse of Sylar, got him for a bit kissing Angela's falcon-face, then he's gone; meanwhile, Adrian Pasdar gets to play a bunch of scenes like he's as constipated as the show can safely show a US Senator without offending anyone's delicate sensibilities. I swear, there's absolutely no way to make this whole "Sylar's in us all… especially here, little Timmy [touches little boy's heart]" plot compelling.

Bennet is doing his own Thanksgiving this year with Claire, his ex Sandra, her new beau and dog breeding enthusiast Doug, and Lauren—who he tracks down at a grocery store many years after she got Haitianed (excuse me, René-ed) and picks up with a smooth line about being a "yam man". It had been so many weeks since she inexplicably showed up on this show, I had almost forgotten which eye liner-less whatever blond lady she was, but then I remembered her many qualities, like "likes Bennet"—and what's not to like? Anyone who invites you to Thanksgiving dinner with his ex-wife "to catch up" is clearly a keeper; him and his "modern family" values! The dinner is, quite simply, stupid. Bennet and Sandra bicker, Claire says she wants to drop out of school, Doug speaks with a cadence reserved for those who have not yet mastered the language known as English, then it's over. René me, sweet fate, and I wouldn't know the difference. The show never quite figured out how to use Claire other than as something that just sort of happens off to the side—something to "save"—and this entire scene is more than enough of a reason to either find a reason to do away with her Ando-style for the time being, or throw her into the fold. Or just make her a lesbian, because if there's anything this show needs, it's more sucking.

The real curiosity tonight is the Thanksgiving thrown by the carnies, and what it says about the show's time travel rules. Namely, that clearly there are none. Hiro and the tattoo girl join forces/expose each other's side boobs, traveling back eight weeks to when Joseph was killed. They witness Samuel cast the stone that kills the man, struggle to time travel back, then finally do. Couple-a things. Hiro can travel to the exact moment when Samuel and Joseph go off into the weeds, but he can't travel 10 minutes before Charlie was taken? Hiro can't return to the exact moment he left, and thus Samuel gets suspicious of his absence? What happened to the tumor that was keeping Hiro from traveling without the wicked nose bleed? Why does he suddenly care at all about this woman and her buddy Knifey McDaphnes-a-lot? And what was that at the end where the other guy grabs Hiro's head, he mutters some quotes from Star Trek, and vanishes? I sure hope he's six years old again.

I think it's like Peter says at the end: "The only thing I can count on is that anything is possible." And I'll add: "… and that nothing much will happen."

Stray observations:

  • The show's really diversifying its shopping mart, with that girl in the wheelchair. Thank you, Heroes.
  • "This will truly be a Thanksgiving to remember." Let's just stop using such sweeping phrases, okay? Do the show well, then we can talk like that.
  • Sorry I had to go. Keep fighting. Goodbye, Edgar.

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