May 22, 2007 | Comments ()

By Seth Freilich | TV | May 22, 2007 |


(This column will be discussing last night’s season finale of “Heroes,” so consider this your spoiler warning if you haven’t watched it yet.)

I have plenty of nitpicks about last night’s finale, and I’ll get to those in a moment. But if all I had were nitpicks, I probably wouldn’t have bothered with this column — there are plenty of places on the internets where I have no doubt the hardcore nerd-types will raise each of my nits, and probably many others. However, I decided to write this column because of another problem I had with last night’s finale, which goes beyond the little nitpicks. Look — “Heroes” has never been a perfect show. I’ve said before that they need to get some real dialogue writers on board. And all season long, there have been plot-threads that were relative duds (Parkman’s relationship with his pregnant wife, most of the early Nikki stuff, etc.). Plus, no matter how many times you try to convince me otherwise, Milo Ventimiglia is just a terrible actor (at least within the context of this show — I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen him in anything else). However, I was easily able to look the other way because of the show’s strengths. While its story is relatively derivative, it has still played out well. Most of the characters have been interesting, and it’s been fun watching them learn how to use their powers.

And then we had last week’s penultimate episode. It had exactly what you would expect from the end of a season. There was this underlying thread of energy to the whole episode, and while the hour wasn’t frenetic, there was a consistent build-up as things started to fall into place, culminating with well-executed one-two punch of the deaths of Eric Robert’s Thompson and Malcolm McDowell’s Linderman. I mean, I was about as excited as could be for this week’s finale. And I should’ve known I was in for a huge letdown last night right from the start, when the episode began with more of that bloody Mohinder voice-over (seriously — my number one request for next season is to drop that shit permanently). And things didn’t get any better from there — all of the stuff that started simmering last week didn’t boil over, it just evaporated. The finale wasn’t just off on the story, but on its overall tone, energy and pacing.

Throughout the hour, I kept looking at my clock and asking myself, “OK, so when are things going to start punching up? We’re running out of time here, people.” And of course, things didn’t punch up. Instead, we were given a well-played-out demonstration of what “anti-climactic” really means. Right in the middle of an hour that should have been building up like Peter’s imminent explosion, the writers decide to grind everything to a screeching halt with Peter’s “flashback” (and we don’t know what the hell it actually was — if it was a Hiro-power actual trip back in time, he wouldn’t have still been passed out when Mr. Bennet [Noah?] found him, which suggests it was just a dream, except stuff happened that he wouldn’t actually know about, like the conversation between his Moms and Richard Roundtree). And then, to make matters worse, this stupid expository scene is all about … love?

“Your heart has the power to love unconditionally.”

What. The. Fuck. Was. That?

I feel like every bit of faith I had put into the show was stomped on by this one scene. Not to mention — putting aside the thick-as-molasses cheese of it all — how about the fact that it’s not even Peter who ends up saving the day. Rather, it’s Nathan! I mean … I just don’t get what the hell happened here.

Of course, we then get to our big showdown between Peter and Sylar and here comes our payoff! And that payoff is … a parking meter? These two warehouses of super powers should’ve had an epic battle — the kind of thing hinted at behind the closed door in the five-years-in-the-future episode. The kind of thing hinted at all season long. Instead, we get … well, we didn’t really get anything did we? Sylar pulled a Neo and stopped some bullets, and he pulled a Darth Vader and choked Peter from afar, and then he got stabbed and that was that. And here’s a nitpick for you — his reflexes and powers are quick enough that he can spin around and stop bullets, but he can’t turn around to stop a little Asian dude from charging at him with a sword?

So with Sylar “dead,” the episode turns back to Peter’s imminent explosion, and was there anything satisfying about how this played out? Look, I didn’t really expect da bomb to go off in NYC, but there were just too many problems with this particular resolution. We know Peter can fly, for example, so why did he need Nathan to fly him out? Sure, maybe he couldn’t fly himself out because he was so focused on not blowing up. But if that’s the case, give us some exposition on the point. And there’s never been any hint or suggestion that he can’t use two powers at exactly the same time, so there was no groundwork laid out for that being the excuse either. And why not let Claire just shoot him in the head? That would stop him from blowing up, and then they could’ve just popped the bullet out later and he would’ve regenerated, just like both he and Claire did from their previous brain stem injuries. I mean, it was all just basically a convenient way to allow Nathan to redeem himself (and I’m not entirely sure that I bought his sudden return to “good,” but since I similarly never quite bought his sudden turn to “evil,” I’m willing to let that one go).

And then, just to put the icing on the cake, Sylar gets away. I’m totally fine with the idea that he’s not dead — I like the character and, of course, villains not really being dead is a well-established comic/Hollywood convention. But, again, the problem is with the execution. We’re really to believe that with all these heroes in one place, not a one of them bothered to keep an eye on Sylar? Even Noah HRG, who’s always got a plan and is always on top of his shit? It just flies in the face of the established reality of the show.

I think Dustin summed it up perfectly to me earlier today: “It was a total dud.”

(And one last nitpick — you know that chick, whose name I don’t know, who can make the illusions and was guarding Micah? When Nikki knocked her ass out, her powers obviously turned off, since she turned back into the cute brunette and the Micah illusion on the floor disappeared. But if her powers turned off, shouldn’t she have actually turned into a great big fat girl, instead of the cute brunette, since they spent so much of last week making it clear that the “cute brunette” was just another illusion?)

Now all that being said, I am glad that, for better or worse, they did follow through with their promise to wrap up the story within the context of one season. And I’ll still be watching come next fall (although the beginning of Volume Two, with Hiro in ancient Japan, was just one final letdown for me, as I just didn’t find that or the eclipse particularly interesting). But I’ll be watching with my expectations seriously tempered.

Discuss amongst yourselves.


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Seth “the Orangutan” Freilich is Pajiba’s television columnist. He knows that Peter probably isn’t dead for real, although Nathan surely is, and that may be the biggest disappointment of all.

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