Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Think, McFly! Think!

Heroes: Trust and Blood
Season 3, Episode 15

While tonight's second episode of Volume 4 actually starts the fugitive lifestyle for many characters on Heroes, it's all still moving too haphazardly to carry any dramatic weight. The main problem in the show (and this episode, "Trust and Blood," is wonderfully indicative of it) is the lack of maturity in every single character and a determination not to think about their actions or reasoning. If this show was animated and on Saturday mornings it would still be borderline impractical in the execution of its plot and development of characters. In prime time, it has become a disappointing joke. Read below the cut if you enjoy carnage.

A show that continually impressed me throughout season one, the wheels seemed to come undone so utterly and completely for everything since that I now look forward to the day they just pull the plug. It's like watching a disease eat away at a beloved relative and you know all the quality of life is gone, so the best you can hope for is an ending.

And it's not that the third season has been a progressive decline. After they finished the one big plot they had decided on before the shoe even debuted, the writers' flaws couldn't be covered anymore and ever since then, the only change in opinion has been the every increasing acceptance that it will never get any better again. This show exemplifies one of my favorite movie quotes... in the words of editor extraordinaire Kurt Longjohn, "It is what it is."

Of course this show has always been rife with coincidences and writing problems. Even in season one, Hiro just happened to take his sword for repair at the one place Kaito was waiting for him. Mohinder knew Sylar was tricking him because he just happened to see an obituary from a man who died thousands of miles away. Peter just happens to run into Bennet's old invisible partner, who tutors him.

But at least the creators knew where they were going and that they had to draw things out for the entire season under that premise. In the first episode, they show what could happen in the finale, New York being destroyed. Having that one goal drawn out first saved the season, they could take time to introduce and develop characters and their powers and come up with other objectives to be resolved to fill the time(save Claire, get). It saved them from their biggest mistake since... using the characters powers as a shortcut to writing the plot.

As I mentioned last week the show has committed no greater crime than continuing to paint the future. And that same cheap deus ex machina of an excuse is utilized again this week. Because why have the characters struggle with what they have to do, or be confused about the right course of action or take any proactive step towards determining their fate, if you can completely determine where they go and what they do by having Matt draw it? Let's go to India! Why? Matt drew it! I mentioned this last week and will continue to do so as long as they abuse this power as the primary decision-making and plot-moving force... This Is Cheating!

In the most hyperbolic dialogue possible Peter talks about how their lives have changed forever and life as they know it is different. But Peter always talks in a toned down version of the Narrator, explaining the most simple truths with almost no depth or personal insight, summarizing the plot or themes of a particular episode. Just like Hiro continues to promote the "destiny" angle of being a hero. Masi Oka is 34 years old and the childish approach to their powers and responsibilities rings more and more false every time he says it (only made worse by it compromising 60% of the total dialogue he has). These characters never speak except to summarize plot, restate the most juvenile tenants of the show and explain the next step in the plot... they don't sound like real people. Examples include "Cheerleader!" I mean come on Hiro, you've met her before. Her name is Claire, people will call her Claire, especially people who don't even know her as a cheerleader, which she hasn't been in nearly a year of the show's timeline.

As for the Sylar storyline, I have to at least commend them from keeping him out of the first storyline on his own tangent for the time being. But here's another problem this show bashes into on a regular basis, toying with the audience's awareness. Sylar just coincidentally (yeah, seriously again with the coincidence) takes the government agent to the home of a child with powers, who coincidentally knows not only who Sylar is, but where his father is located, why Sylar is looking for him and he also just happens to be antisocial enough to abandon his mother and kill a man. Good thing Sylar doesn't bother to question him and decides to just start the road trip.

Another problem shown in this scene is The Wasted Moment, the example to prove this show's direction continues to live down to its writing. The boy's mother does love him, Sylar is the one lying. We know this because Sylar's jingle bell doesn't go off when she says this. Where is the pause and smirk, so the audience can catch up to that revelation in real time instead of a minute later when it is repeated. If they made it clear the first time (wait a few seconds and have Sylar's lie detector go off when HE lies) that way the second time it happens isn't the confirmation that yes, if you were paying very close attention you did indeed catch it. Instead it could have the emotional weight of, "wow, this woman loves her son, but he just won't listen to her."

And of course the stupidity of the characters. Daphne just decides to stand up while everyone else is hiding and talk for 15 seconds before running away. Not that I am at all sad to see her go, but why didn't Matt mention that he came back because he loved her and saw that she would be shot? That's kind of an important bit of information. And what was Peter's plan exactly when cornering Nathan in the woods, "Hey Traci, you go talk to him for awhile. I'll hang out behind that tree with my gun and wonder what you two are talking about. Then without looking around or confirming he did come alone, I'll jump out and ask what the hell you two are talking about? Ready, break!"

At least with the air strike and the murder of Daphne, a bit of the threat of the government agent "the Hunter" is established. But really, why isn't he just called Agent Henry Jones or something? Does he need a nickname? The idea of hiding a character's name was done best a decade ago and has been played out uselessly and repetitively ever since. For humor's sake alone I can only hope Peter corners him some day and calls him a "huntering son of a bitch," kind of like when Mulder sneaked into CSM's hotel room, only less well written, directed and acted.

But every week, it seems the audience needs to have a few masochistic tendencies like myself or turn a blind eye to how poorly every episode is done on virtually every measure of performance (acting, writing, directing, effects). What hope that could be taken from the first season has long since faded for all but the most devoted cult memb... er, fans. The rather pathetic excuses I have clung to (they have superpowers, Sylar could be a cool bad guy, remember how bad ass HRG used to be?)are wearing thin, especially in weeks like these when they march out so many of the things that annoy me: the painting, Hiro acting like a child, Nathan being conflicted (AGAIN), Sylar continuing to float indecisively between bad and good.

Final score: .25 stars out of 5

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Billy said...

Just wait till they reveal the Hunter's name in a throwaway line like they did with HRG. And considering how awesome it was that HRG's long hidden name ended up being NOAH...Hunter will probably end up as BOB!

Jim said...

Remember, they already had a Bob. If they call the Hunter, Bob, I will wager a billion dollars he's Bob Jr., son of the Midas Man.

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