''Heroes'' recap: Kristen Bell's shocking debut | EW.com

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''Heroes'' recap: Kristen Bell's shocking debut

Kristen Bell's debut as an electric-powered investigator fails to give the show a needed jolt; meanwhile, Matt Parkman tries to get even with dad

(John Russo)

”Heroes” recap: Kristen Bell’s shocking debut

Hey, gang. Before we get into this evening’s episode, I just want to clear a little something up. Last week, I was kinda rough on Heroes. (As was my colleague, Gillian Flynn.) Now, I’m not going to try and soft-pedal what I said to appease the great many of you who left comments suggesting that I ”hate” Heroes. Or who were lobbying for EW to ”hire someone who actually likes the show.” Heck, I wish they’d ”hire” me — I do this for free. And why do I do it for free, you ask? Because I love this show. My love for this show is on the record. Make no mistake, my feelings for this season’s Heroes episodes can’t be categorized as anything as extreme as hate. Or even its milder cousin, dislike.

I’m disappointed. I know this show is capable of so much more than it’s giving me. And that’s what pisses me off. Notice that I use ”pisses” in the present tense — this week's episode didn’t exactly get us back on track.

For hardcore comic-book fans, Heroes has never been the most original show on the air. So many of the powers, the dynamics between characters, could be found in the funny pages. Sure, 70 years’ worth of superhero fiction will leave very little virgin territory. But this week was the first time I’ve been so struck by how familiar it all seemed.

For example: While I dug the idea that Matt Parkman’s mind-reading powers could ferment over time and become ”something more” — and the power to trap folks inside a mental cage of their own devising is pretty sweet — it just felt like Papa Parkman was Freddy Kruger with slightly better skin. Interesting that Parkman’s fears involve both prison and abandonment. A little obvious, given his pop and his job, but interesting. But why does Nathan feel guilty about destroying a city that didn’t get destroyed? (I also didn’t get why Parkman was suddenly such a wuss about confronting his father. This is a dude who was willing to face down Sylar with a handgun last year. Now he doesn’t want to go talk to his dad?)

Also on the I-could-swear-I’ve-seen-this-before front: Jessica-Niki and her Terminator 2 moment. In the middle of another boring conversation between Bob and Mohinder, Jessica-Niki slammed into the scene — looking exactly like Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Conner, complete with tank top and scrub bottoms — tossed the good Dr. Suresh into a wall, and hoisted Bob up by his neck. There’s an old storytelling maxim: Enter the scene as late as possible; leave it as soon as you can. For the first time, the absence of a character from the main plot for a couple of weeks has worked to Heroes’ benefit. We completely lost track of Micah’s mom, so for her to literally burst onto the scene was a pleasant surprise. If only her dominant personality hadn’t been so neutered.

NEXT: The new kids