Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Heroes Reborn stumbles through the motions

Illustration for article titled Heroes Reborn stumbles through the motions

After a refreshing uptick in energy and creativity in “June 13th – Part One,” the follow-up returns to the doldrums of earlier episodes with an installment utterly lacking in both. While it manages to come up with a good answer to a question many wondered if it would even address, what caused Claire’s ability to malfunction and let her die, the rest of “June 13th – Part Two” features one scene after another of exposition and place-setting, retreading familiar ground in the hopes of preserving audience engagement once Noah returns to the present. The series wants to have its cake and eat it, maintaining most of the disparate storylines from the first part of the season while significantly (and sloppily) altering Noah’s. The result is an hour of mostly filler that commits the cardinal sin of moment-based storytelling: It’s boring.

Whereas part one had Phoebe struggling with her ability, Harris clone bombers, and Hiro generally being awesome, part two has Joanne and Luke killing their first evo (as previously described by Luke), Otomo creating Miko with the wave (make that pulse) of his pixelated hand, and Noah standing around arguing with himself. Matt Parkman pops up for little discernable reason—and that’s coming from a Parkman fan—and Malina plays in a garden while Angela and Hiro exposition ominously at each other without actually saying much of anything. It’s almost always a good idea to show, rather than tell, but most of what’s shown in this episode has already been told. With the exceptions of Quentin and Molly, pains are taken throughout to tie this entry directly to the action of the first half of the season, down to Noah meeting his future fiancée moments after coming to in the rubble—the fiancée he’s so invested in he hasn’t mentioned her once since the premiere—and Nathan/Tommy posing for the picture of him Malina will eventually see. The writers spend lots of time connecting dots, and almost none making those dots interesting.

The problems extend beyond the writing. Two supposedly pivotal relationships are introduced and neither features even a flash of chemistry. Carlos and Farah’s scenes may be utterly extraneous and a needless distraction from the rest of the action—or they would be, if the rest of the episode were engaging—but at least that chemistry-free couple gets an attempted kiss. Hiro and Anne are supposedly a long-term couple who have co-parented Nathan/Tommy and built a happy home together, yet Hiro abandons his partner and adopted son, what, so he can rematch Harris? It’s ridiculous for many reasons, and the heart-felt platonic hug goodbye between Hiro and Anne is only one of them. Then there’s the big twist of the episode, which sees the trying-for-lovable Quentin decide mass bombings are cool after a brief chat with his sister, joining Erica on the Dark Side. Quentin has previously been shown to be clear-eyed, rational, and dedicated to exposing Renautas. Given how much time we’ve spent with him, this is the one place this episode that the audience needs a little more hand-holding. At the very least, a crazy-eyed gleam from Henry Zebrowski as Quentin chats with Erica would help sell the shift, but alas, viewers are asked to accept this massive character departure, no questions asked.

This isn’t the only underwhelming moment of performance. While worse examples do exist—congratulations, The Good Wife—the split-screen work for Noah’s conversations with himself are far from the gold standard of Orphan Black. Jack Coleman can be very good as Noah, but between performance, direction, and editing, these scenes come off as stiff. More disappointing is Robbie Kay’s turn here as Nathan. Whereas in “The Needs Of The Many” Kay was a standout, giving a more restrained, affecting performance, here he’s one-note, a bland Chosen One. Kay and the show took care to flesh out Tommy and make him feel human; apparently they didn’t bother with the soon-to-be-memory-wiped Nathan.

“June 13th – Part One” was exciting, a fresh start for the series that promised better, more creative stories to come, and the squandering of that opportunity in part two makes this episode all the more disappointing. Hopefully now that the show has gone through the motions of filling in Noah’s missing time and connecting the two halves of the season, we’ll finally be done treading water and the plot can move forward; based on its track record however, holding onto optimism about Heroes Reborn is becoming increasingly difficult.

Stray observations

  • Nathan is fully prepared, an expert with his abilities, and ready to save the world, but rather than teleport a year into the future, they decide to live as fugitives and have Caspar erase all of Hiro’s training? With plans that brilliant, they deserve to lose to Erica.
  • Speaking of, not gonna pretend I didn’t chuckle when Erica got shot in the butt.
  • “He’s a Petrelli!” And she isn’t? Heroes showed similar abilities cropping up in some relatives, but not in many others; it was more random than that. Having one or two evo parents appears to predispose children to abilities, but specific powers aren’t necessarily handed down genetic lines. At least until now. Maybe it’s a fourth generation thing. Either way, let’s not exclude baby Malina from the Petrelli line.
  • Apparently we’re not supposed to feel too bad about Luke killing people for a year because the first kill was somewhat in self-defense and his wife really wanted to keep doing it. You’re right, show, that makes it all better.
  • Miko’s back! Or, more accurately, is created. The scenes with Miko and Otomo threaten to be fun, but the episode makes Miko far too dependent on Otomo—she doesn’t even know what hunger is!—to have her believably survive a year alone after being left to fend for herself with only a few hours’ conversation to go off of.
  • Maybe Hiro and Anne aren’t romantically involved, and that would make their parting much easier to swallow, but then why shoe-horn in a, “you fell in love?”
  • Noah is careful to change the timeline to prevent René’s death (apparently this is a totally expendable butterfly), but he gives no thought to saving Molly, whose self-sacrifice is eye-rollingly foreshadowed. Sorry, Molly! Though as she was only caught by Renautas because she fled Noah due to a horrible thing he’s now never done, it’s possible the series intends to undo all three major character deaths from the first part of the season. Either approach is disappointing; it’s hard to say which would be worse.