Heroes isn’t completely terrible, even if it is the worst show on television. Parts of the show are still practically genius. There were three things I liked about last night:
1) Peter Petrelli, who’s still an intriguing protagonist. Every time he uses his new healing powers, it hurts him. But there are always people to save, and to Peter, not using his power is the same as killing someone. Sure, this complex internal struggle is just like Kurt Busiek’s Samaritan, but Heroes was always enjoyable when it was “paying homage” to the best. (Season 1 is basically Days of Future Past with no costumes and no Kitty Pryde.)
2) When Sylar walked through the airport metal detector (in Parkman’s body, remember), we saw Parkman match his movements on a security screen in the same shot. That’s an awesome visual, right out of The Manchurian Candidate (Sinatra, not Denzel.)
3) The Sylar/Parkman Brain Battle finally got mildly unboring. Even though Sylar controlled Parkman’s body, Parkman still controlled his telepathy (Why? Don’t ask questions!). Advantage Parkman… until Sylar used Parkman’s surprising upper body strength to murderize a helpful tire-changing passerby. “The world is my hostage,” purred Sylar. Despite all the amnesias and power drains and fake parents, Zachary Quinto still makes you believe that Sylar is a bad enough dude to really mean it.
The problem with Heroes is that these few good things are drowning in a sea of terrific badness. The main problems:
1) Everything of consequence that happens will be erased by a resurrection or by the Haitian. At the start of the episode, two other sorority girls had just seen Claire get impaled. Claire convinced them that they were just tripping on accidental sorority acid, because everyone knows that’s how acid works: you see one crazy hallucination, and otherwise you’re totally fine. (The next morning, Uncle Haitian paid them a visit and took the bad memories away.) Later in the episode, Parkman pulled a murder-suicide on himself, with some help from the Texas PD. Exactly twenty billion bullets went through Sylar/Parkman’s chest… so naturally, he was alive in the ambulance at the end of the show. (Spoiler alert: He’s not gonna die!)
2) The villains make no sense. Samuel Sullivan has the amazing ability to come around any corner in America for a good shock before a commercial break. He’ll talk to whichever character he saw on Tattoo Lady’s back about the importance of family. He might do something cool with his terrakinesis, which is a word you should never say out loud unless you want to sound racist. Then he’ll disappear, and leave everyone wondering just what the hell that was all about. He’s basically the Great Gazoo. The really depressing thing is that, without him…
3) The different plot strands no longer have anything to do with each other. Hiro doesn’t care about Claire’s college troubles, Peter has no idea there’s two Sylars running wild across middle America, Tracy Strauss hasn’t been invited to Ando’s wedding, and the Haitian is actively trying to forget all of these people. The running bummer of season 4 is that these characters no longer really seem to have anything to do with each other; if Samuel didn’t keep randomly teleporting into their lives, Heroes would basically be 10 different soap operas, none of them watchable.
I know there are some people who still think this show is good, or watchable. I think you’re wrong (especially since, as Michael Ausiello noted, one of the best reasons to watch the show will soon be no more.) Just because there are a few cool things left from the salad days doesn’t mean Heroes isn’t a mess. Listen, we all loved Old Yeller, but remember what happened when he got rabies? I’ll give you a hint: the cure did not involve Mohinder Suresh.