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

Heroes: "Upon This Rock"/"Let It Bleed"

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Here's something to chew on: This show exists.

Somebody working on Heroes thought it would be a good idea to never have Hiro be able to use his power. He's just going to try and get it back over four seasons, with hilarious obstacles getting in his way. This time around, somebody—perhaps the VERY SAME PERSON—pitched a storyline that involved Hiro's brain being turned to mush so that he can only communicate via out of context quotes from various fanboy mediums. Not "geek" or "cult", but "fanboy," as in things somebody like Hiro might be interested in following, without going through the effort of making it so that Hiro himself follows it. Multiple conversations will ensue in which Hiro will say things from X-Men, Sherlock Holmes, and Battlestar Galactica (but later he'll just read from 9th Wonders) and other people will act confused, which will force him to talk more. This is an idea that presumably exited the writers' room, a place where ideas go to get better. I can't even imagine what the original germ of a thought was that sprouted into this shit flower from the hands of a dirty homeless man who looks like the personification of those turnips from Super Mario Bros. 2.

But lo, this show exists, if you call a bloated Frankenstein's monster composed of rotting Sprint phones, one-time-but-much-appreciated Houlihan's references, and fortune cookie phrases discarded for being a bit too lofty, an "existence." Apparently, though, it's good enough for NBC; it's good enough to be paired with the superb Chuck next week; it's good enough to mock.

If only Heroes didn't make it so easy. Seriously, every scene in tonight's double header was rife with junior high dialogue and laughably bad special effects (or no effects at all, where there definitely should have been effects). Meanwhile, the overall plot took us all the way back to square one with some characters, found others meandering aimlessly along the paths they've always been down, and made others act so differently than they've done in the past, I hardly believed they were part of the same show. This is an accomplishment for Heroes: failure on both the macro and micro levels.

The first hour focused mostly on the carnival, or rather how it's affecting everyone it touches. There was the Hiro stuff, which, [sound of Sideshow Bob hitting a rake ad infinitum]. Samuel, in his quest to gather more people who are different (ahem, "special", as I correct myself the way Samuel never doesn't do), visits Deaf Girl and reveals, yes, it was him who sent her the cello. And, yes, he sort of speaks sign language in an offensively overenthusiastic way. So buckle up, lady, it's going to be a long and uncomfortable ride to the park, where your cello strings can light up the night Guitar Hero style. Samuel needs her to draw this other guy in, who can make grass grow wherever; he needs the guy to make his carnival's valley overflow with greenery so he can have a home. Why does he need the other people? We still don't know, and with all the fuss he gives this new guy, we're not meant to care. Claire, in the mean time, hunts around the carnival performing menial tasks and running from staring Todd Stashwicks. She's looking for evidence that could take down the carnival and Samuel along with it. She got suspicious, you see, because she saw one box of stuff Samuel had, so there goes all those holier-than-thou talks she gave what's-her-name about her new family at the carnival. (She even wonders at one point about how her relationship with her mom would be different if she was raised here… Claire is always looking forward or to the past; it's a wonder she can put one foot in front of the other.) It's supposed to make sense, I guess, because Claire is a freethinking woman, made evident by her casual Sartre quote after, what, three weeks of college?

Then all of a sudden and apropos of almost nothing, we got the most sobering military funeral I've seen on network TV, and thus endeth hour one.


As for hour two, I'm still not entirely sure I even know what happened. It started with the text on the screen reading, "Heroes continues… NOW!" followed by Peter and Noah talking about how they were going to stage a plane crash to kill Nathan, for the sake of answering people's questions. It's 86 hours in the past, by the way. Then the next scene is back at the carnival, and Sylar is there to "feast" (his words), so I guess the 86 hour thing is over and bit too specific for comfort. Ensuing events involve Claire and Peter hanging out at the wake, Claire discovering a police radio on the roof with Peter gone, the two of them showing up at an office way too quickly where a guy's going McShooterstein, and Peter giving the man a sad story about Nathan in the hopes of talking him down, failing, getting shot, then taking Claire's power so he can heal. Then she and Peter talk back on the roof (it's as bad as The Room's set piece) about something or other, Peter asks Claire to call West, then there's a scene where Peter, alone, just flies away. Whoa, guess we missed West!

Oh yeah, so the Sylar stuff was really messed up. He shows up and gets taken down by a mini dust storm. Samuel sends Lydia (you might remember her from Slow Burn) in to talk to him like she's some "piece of flesh"—not the mental image I'd imagine the writers were going for. They don't so much kiss/grind as their bodies sort of collide like they're seated on top of two conveyor belts facing each other, Sylar gets her power or whatever, then he gets a Claire tattoo (forever?) and heads to her dorm. Bennet, all the while, is really confused. He captures Edgar and takes him to a giant freezer and calls that girl, the one from his past. She shows up, Bennet talks to Edgar, tortures him, gets scolded by torturing by the girl's "liberal agenda" like it's freakin' Jack Bauer, befriends the man, who escapes, and sad trombone. Then Bennet looks at his phone, sees a picture of Claire, puts the phone to his ear, says nothing, and one second later puts it down. He's lost it.


"I'm like you," Samuel says to Sylar near the end of the episode. "I'm not a good guy, but not all bad either." Have the Heroes writers ever seen a TV show before? They've summed up every villain ever, but they've failed in every other regard: 1) They never even established what good and evil mean on the show, 2) They called it out explicitly, killing any sense of discovery, and 3) The exchange is between two characters who I don't care about, who shouldn't care about each other yet somehow do, and it's supposed to be intriguing. I think West had the right idea.

Stray observations (brought to you by this evening's dialogue):

  • "You look… urban."
  • "You, of all people, should understand what it means for a father to protect his family."
  • "It's nice to feel pain."
  • "Won't get fooled again."
  • "Honey tastes sweeter than vinegar"
  • "If I think about it, it's real."
  • "Thanks. I've never tried miso soup before."
  • "I have a love/hate relationship with rooftops."
  • "Burnt bridges can be rebuilt."
  • NON-QUOTES: I'm going to start calling Lydia "Back exposed girl" / I didn't think they could ever neuter the puppet master, but yet they did. / Peter Petrelli is pretty much just a skinny tie and an emo cut, exclusively. / I sure hope every death on this show is as drawn out; the standard has been set!