'Heroes' recap: A brief history of villainy | EW.com

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'Heroes' recap: A brief history of villainy

Hiro's spirit walk gives us some insight into the history of Arthur Petrelli, Sylar, and Agent Thompson


‘Heroes’ recap: A brief history of villainy

Buenos días, everybody. Hope you had a nice Heroes-less week off. I almost didn’t know what to do with myself: I dug into an ever-threatening tower of unread comics, played with my kids, and finished by pre-election rewatching of The West Wing’s first two seasons.

I’d forgotten just how good that show was, especially in Aaron Sorkin’s hands. How deft it was at handling such a large ensemble cast — in any given episode, you never felt like anyone was slighted in favor of someone else, and the personal stories of the characters were only as present as the story required them to be. Those people — President Bartlet, Leo McGarry, Josh Lyman, Toby Ziegler, C.J. Craig, Charlie Young, Sam Seaborn, Donna Moss, dear sweet Mrs. Landingham — were their jobs, so you never felt cheated by not knowing who their significant others were, or what their hobbies were. And when The West Wing flashed back to reveal how everyone got involved with the Bartlet presidency to begin with, it was a sharply focused affair.

I bring this up because while you can say many things about this week’s flashback hour, focused isn’t necessarily one of them. Neither, come to think of it, is necessary.

Our way into the past is through Hiro, who gets all spirit-walky in Africa and gets some one-year-ago history on three different characters: Claire’s hot mom, Meredith; Sylar; and Arthur Petrelli. Let’s take ‘em one story at a time, shall we?

We met Meredith and her brother, Flint — I wonder why her name wasn’t something equally flammable, like Tinder or Blaze — in the middle of knocking over a convenience store. They’ve also got très cute red-and-blue fire patterns. Flint, apparently, is stupid, leaving Meredith to be the brains of the operation — which means that there aren’t much brains in the operation. They were interrupted by Thompson (Eric Roberts), a Company man, who wanted to train Meredith to be an agent. They rolled together on a training assignment to a shanty town to nab a shaggy colossus, which Meredith did quite handily. From there, we detoured through the Company hoosegow to find that Flint’s been locked up — but only until Meredith sprung him and they hopped a freight train heading south. Naturally, Thomson was on that train.

Now, follow me here: Meredith set a train car on fire, then the train crashed, but didn’t kill Meredith or Eric Roberts, and then he asked her why she hates the Company so much, so she could tell him about her daughter that was killed 14 years ago. He felt a pang of guilt, so he let her go…just before little Claire — all growed up and invulnerable — ran into the train wreck, cheerleader-style. And that’s about when I called bulls—. I call it the Serendipity Syndrome: When things line up too damned perfectly to be believable, all to achieve a resonance that comes solely from familiarity. Like in that John Cusack-Kate Beckinsale romcom.

And what did we learn from this flashback? That Meredith once had a petty crime past and Flint’s her brother (and Claire’s uncle). And that Thompson isn’t such a bad guy. And that the best offensive weaponry the Company has to offer is tasers. In other words, nothing important.

NEXT: Gabriel’s love of a not-so-good woman