Coming off of last week's rousing return to form and being the last stop before the final episode (of Volume 2 and–should the writers' strike linger into '08–possibly the season), "Truth And Consequences" couldn't help but be a bit of a letdown. After all, it was more of a means to an end: Its sole purpose was to up the stakes for the finale, and on that note it more or less succeeded. Once again though, in its rush to the finish line, Heroes handled things with all of the tenderness and loving care of a priapic 15-year-old boy. I don't ask much from my TV shows–I don't always need a lover with a slow hand, you dig–but would it kill you to take a breath and pace yourself a little, Heroes? Why do I always feel like you're panting over me, about to make a mess in my hair?
For example, tonight we finally met Victoria Pratt–played by the esteemed Joanna Cassidy, a.k.a. the fabulously self-absorbed Margaret Chenowith from Six Feet Under (and yes, fanboy, she was also in Blade Runner)–and before she had time to so much as toss a withering one-liner in Peter's direction, she was gone, disposed of by KenAdam with a shotgun blast to the head. In their haste to hurry up and blow their load, the writers used her as a cheap piece of plot advancement meat and tossed her away when they were done; let's hope Cassidy got considerably more than scale for her pitiful amount of screen time. In fact, Victoria's most important scenes actually took place in 1977–and were thus played by a different actress–when a time-traveling Hiro happened upon the exact moment that she and his father were helpfully recounting the events that led to KenAdam's incarceration. So as much as I like Cassidy, I have to ask: Was Victoria's character even necessary? Aside from her unsuccessful murder attempt on KenAdam, she didn't really do much besides accidentally give up the location of the virus (which conveniently happens to be one of the main Heroes playsets from last season). She could have at least tossed us a couple of bones and told us what Angela or Kaito's powers were. Oh well. So much for that last mysterious Company founder. Here's hoping Cassidy will pop up in a flashback.
In fact, all that tangent really did was further illustrate how unbelievably fucking gullible Peter is, a trait (inherited from Mohinder) that's plagued his character all season. I'm really beginning to wonder if, when the producers first mapped out this volume, their notes read something like, "Peter: How can we make people hate him?" so blatantly have they squandered his once banked-upon likeability. Between his frustrating refusal to leave Ireland, his migraine-inducing fascination with Betsy O'Barmaid, and his newly acquired superpower of being manipulated faster than a Giuliani supporter, Peter hasn't made a good decision yet–much to Heroes' detriment. Obviously we're being set up for a final showdown with KenAdam, where Peter realizes what an asshole he's been all along for trusting him, but will that be enough? Can he ever go back to being the show's empathetic center after all this? I'm not so sure. As of now, I certainly wouldn't mind seeing Hiro run him through with his sword next week.
Elsewhere we got a look at the fallout from Bennet's supposed death, with Claire threatening to magically summon the Haitian (I'm pretty sure he can only see those wind chimes when he's in town, Claire) to come and wipe away the memories of her father–until Captain Emo steps in with a few words of well, whatever. I sort of tuned out, as I have resolved to do with Captain Emo from now on, until they finally come around and make him evil. Anyway, Bennet's not really dead–as we saw last week, he's been revived by a big bag of Type O-Claire being tended to by an unrepentant Mohinder–although Company Bob cruelly plays along, turning up with an urn full of fake ashes and making promises to leave the family alone while simultaneously placing Darth Veronica on "cheerleader watch." I have to admit, I'm having trouble trying to parse Bob's motivations on this one (Why all the mincing around? Why not just grab her and be done with it?), so I'll just leave it alone until Bennet's "surprise" return next week, when I assume it will make more sense.
Speaking of returns, Niki's own homecoming was considerably less dramatic, and was immediately overshadowed by a lame subplot involving Micah's cousin stealing his backpack–and with it, D.L.'s medal–only to lose it to a group of generic thugs. Oh well. At least it gave Monica and Micah an excuse to use their powers to right a wrong, embracing them in a way many viewers probably wish all the heroes would. Too bad Monica's handy video iPod apparently didn't have a rewind function, so she couldn't figure out how to get out of the house the way she came in. Now we have a less-than-compelling "Monica is kidnapped!" thread to rush through during next week's allotted ten minutes. Will Niki come to the rescue with some clobberin'? Will Micah see his dream of being the Fantastic Four fulfilled? How cloying is that whole "I talk to streetlights!" thing anyway?
As always, the most satisfying storyline of the evening belonged to Sylar, who did us all a favor by finally doing away with Alejandro, who died as he lived: hissing his disapproval. (A moment of silence, please, for my Toxic Twins sobriquet.) Having schooled Maya in the art of controlling her power (which, from what I can tell, just involves thinking about it real hard) and bonded with her over their both being murderers (this is just like an eHarmony commercial!), Sylar somehow convinced Maya to leave behind her twin brother–you know, the one she'd spent her whole life attached to–aided by the hypnotic powers of his hairy chest. (Eat that, Milo.) Then they both somehow found their way into Mohinder's apartment (that's some babysitter you hired, Parkman) where we left them, with Sylar watching over a sleeping Molly while Maya makes goo-goo eyes at him. Anyone want to bet that the soothsayer's foreshadowing of how Maya has the power to "kill the Devil himself" is getting ready to play itself out? Here's a bigger question: Anybody thinking of bailing if Sylar dies?
And so there you have it: The stage is set for a showdown between Hiro, Peter, and KenAdam in Odessa; Mohinder has no choice but to walk into Sylar's trap; Claire is threatening to go public with her powers to make the Company look bad (not sure how that's supposed to work); Monica has been kidnapped; and we're only one episode away from the end of Volume Two, with the likelihood of a hastily added alternate ending to make it a season finale looking to be all but a certainty. As a precursor to the real action, "Truth And Consequences" was serviceable, but–and this is the last time I'll say it (at least for this week)–had we not wasted so much time in early part of the season, it could have been so much more. Expertly done, after all, foreplay can sometimes be the best part. Unfortunately, this felt more like a desperate dry hump.
- Next week two heroes will die. Yee-ha! Let's get to wildly speculatin'!
- Niki: "Being a hero is what got your dad killed." Yeah, we're just going to pretend "Four Months Ago" never happened too.
- I got through this entire review without commenting on the Kristen Bell/Hayden Panettiere catfight. Well, except for that but it's meta, so it's okay.
- I'm pretty sure Molly has spent 75% of her screen time asleep.
- So Sylar still has Mohinder's number memorized? That's kind of sweet, actually. Maybe someone out there could make a nice YouTube montage of that scene set to Todd Rundgren's "Hello It's Me"? C'mon. You're about to have lots of free time on your hands.
- Speaking of which, let's say next week does turn out to be the season finale, and it's another year before new episodes reappear. Will you come back?