Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Hooper Reviews Heroes: Fugitives - Episode 1

If you haven't watched the previous two and a half seasons of Heroes, I can catch you up right quick.

Concept! Heroes walk among us, ordinary people with powers far beyond those of mortal Man. Some want to be left alone, others want to help the world while yet more desire power, control and to be feared. Periodically, they clash. Rarely do they stay dead.

Ok? Now to the first episode of the second half of Season 3 (also called vol. 4. Whew!):


I will be breaking the reviews up into four parts: the episode summary, main characters development/activity, my thoughts, and questions for next week. Please use the comments section to add your wild theories, because we all know you have them.

Heroes Season 3
Volume Four: Fugitives

Episode One: "A Clear and Present Danger"

What Happened:

When we left our heroes, they had scattered after taking down Arthur Petrelli's "villains" and destroying Pinehurst, a front company in reality founded to artificially develop "powers."

Several months pass.

Nathan, using his post, is planning on rounding up all those with abilities to protect the regular citizens. He starts the episode giving an interview that vaguely refers to his plans to help protect America. What he will do - remove their powers, imprison them, force them to train and work with the US gov't - is up in the air. As the episode progresses, we see his black-clad squads capture Tracy, Suresh, Hiro, Parkman, Claire and Peter. The only one they have trouble with is Sylar, now on the hunt for his biological father. After he seeks out "Martin Gray," his adoptive watchmaker deadbeat dad, he gets the address of the main Martin claims is his real dad. While there, the goons attempt - and spectacularly fail - to capture him. Then he starts "asking" some questions....

Taken to an airport hanger with other captured heroes, blindfolded and manacled, our protagonists are led onto a plane bound for parts unknown. Except for Claire. Nathan, her biological father, packs her away in a car and tells her to forget all of this. Of course, she doesn't. Instead, she knocks out the driver and sneaks aboard the plane.

In mid-flight, Claire unhooks the imprisoned heroes from some chemical nose-plug thing that obviously inhibits powers. Peter awakens, sees the situation, absorbs Suresh's strength and begins to fight the guards. Pandemonium ensues, causing him to get Tracy's cold touch, which he unfortunately uses on the tail end of the a gaping hole sucking out nameless people we don't care about. Claire goes to the cockpit and sees her father, HRG. "Claire?!" She looks stunned. The ground rushes up through the cockpit as they lose cabin pressure and control. The episode ends.


In character development...:

Here's what they did before they got on that plane (no, this isn't about LOST).

Peter & Nathan Petrelli
Peter Petrelli is an EMT now, his brother Nathan a powerful Senator on the Homeland Security committee; the death of their deranged father is behind them. Peter had his abilities stripped from him partway through the "Villains" arc but, using Suresh's super-serum, got them back...or did he? Unable to save the life of an accident victim, he laments to his co-worker that he could've saved him, if he had more power. Throughout the episode he runs into Claire, who warns him of Nathan, and Suresh; they just catch up before reminding each other to be careful. He also seeks out Nathan after Claire's warning, and confronts him not once, but twice (though, the second time, Nathan is in his apartment, waiting). The greater good is brought up, and each has clearly different views of what that really means. Nathan asks Peter, when they first meet at their mother's mansion, what powers he currently has. Flight, Peter replies, as he hasn't seen any of the other heroes since Pinehurst. When Nathan surprises Peter at the apartment, he maneuvers him into a trap and captures him with his chief "hunter's" help.

While Peter struggles to be a hero, Nathan has bullied his way into a very powerful post. He's giving interviews, talking about the greater good, the larger struggles against unseen threats. We know he means "heroes," but the average American can just think he's after terrorists. Good cover, because regular citizens would flip if they knew he was masterminding a program to round up all those with powers and shuttle them off to an undisclosed facility...for everyone's own good, of course. He defends himself and reiterates to his mother that Claire is to be kept away from the others and in the dark. There is a small part of him that cares for his daughter, even if he's never really been a father to her. When everyone is aboard the plane and it taxis for take-off and flies in to the night sky, he stares after it...regretting? Scheming? Mentally rubbing his hands together in evil glee? Or is it resignation, as he knows what he's done to these people is a violation of our freedoms, but in his "greater good" mentality these actions remain the best course to keep the country from ruin? Hm....

Tracy (triplet the second)
She's getting back in with the Governor of NY, or at least still has her political contacts to fall back on after being on the losing side in the PrimaTech heroes vs. the Pinehurst villains fight. The episode - in general - starts with Nathan giving an interview/stump speech about protecting America; Tracy watches while assuring NY's governor that she has no leash on him anymore, that he's climbing the ladder under his own steam. And then she gets taken. She is the first to be kidnapped, and here her attackers show their preparedness. As we know, she can freeze things by touch, and tries to do so when the first attacker closes in on her, grasping his arm and icing it up...but it thaws. Yes, they have built in to their uniforms some measure of "power repellent" against some of the easier-to-block abilities. She is still taken after they use a powerful taser device against her.

Mohinder Suresh
Suresh drives a cab again. After chatting with Peter, a gaunt man gets into his backseat, pulls a gun and tells him to drive. We see his face and it's Nathan's chief black-clad hunter. Driving to the top floor of a parking garage, Suresh stops the cab and finds himself facing a ring of goons with rifles and a waiting fan to whisk him away. The hunter tells him to get out, and he does...but he doesn't go quietly. Gripping his open door, he pulls it off the hinges and batters the chief hunter away (so they have armor on those suits; otherwise, he'd be pudding). He uses the door as a shield against the goons, who fire taser rounds (about the size of sidewalk chalk) ineffectively and with stormtrooper-quality aim, until reaching the downward ramp. Sprinting around the spiral ramp, he stops as...Noah Bennett (HRG) pulls up in his stylish black crossover SUV, urging him to get in now! To save himself! He does, foolishly (why does Suresh always make the wrong choices? He knows Bennett has frequently worked at odds to the heroes, both good and evil, to keep humanity safe from super-humanity). Bennett asks if he's been in contact with any other heroes, Bennett skids to a halt as gaunt hunter appears, Suresh gets confused and apologizing, Bennett tasers and delivers him to the goon squad.

Claire Bennett
Struggling with the mundane real world, Claire wants the action back. Something to keep her from being just another kid. Her biological grandmother, Angela Petrelli, pushes her to choose a college and therefore a normal life. Claire wants to hunt down Sylar, knowing that the "trips" her dad is always away at are related to special people. They have to be, in her mind. Angela tolerates her, at best, saying that Sylar is dead. End of discussion. Later, Claire picks up the phone and hears an agitated Angela talking to Nathan about the future abductions of Peter and Matt Parkman. Nathan tells Angela to keep Claire away from them. It is then that Angela looks up...and sees Claire on an extension.

So later, Claire tracks down Peter and warns him that Nathan's coming to get him. Being who he is, Peter believes her right away and goes off to confront Nathan. Claire, meanwhile, heads to Parkman's apartment. She knocks and they talk, but Matt's more interested in these drawings he's made (see below) that show he and Claire...looking at the drawings. Another shows something sticking out of Matt's neck. What is that, Claire asks. And then Matt is shot with an electro-tranq dart, commandos burst into the room and she's taken.

Hiro & Ando
Hiro, now without his powers since Arthur Petrelli stole/blocked them, is trying to make Ando (who still retains his artificially granted ability to augment others' power) a hero and instill in him a sense of responsibility. This...isn't working so well. Hiro has bought an old firehouse and has converted it to a sort of Ando-cave for his superheroing. To keep tabs on each other, he injects Ando with a GPS tracking device, saying he did the same to himself. Hiro even got an "Ando-cycle," complete with two-way communications to base. Ando is skeptical and views this as Hiro's attempt to live through Ando now that he's powerless. He leaves.

Later, Hiro tracks down Ando and calls him, demanding to know why he isn't saving the world or being a hero. But I am, Ando says. Then why are you in a strip club, Hiro replies. Ah, Ando. As they continue to bicker, Ando hears sounds of a struggle on Hiro's end and we see our pudgy protagonist carted off, unconscious, by the Hunter's commando squad. Ando races back to the firehouse and is able to track the US.

Matt Parkman and Daphne
They are trying to live normal lives, if their powers (and Daphne's impulsiveness) can let them. She's working and he's a security guard, but neither is really happy. But better being normal than in danger. It's while arguing about what they should be doing that Matt gets a vision of Usutu, the dead African seer. Daphne agrees to be normal, and heads out. Matt's turtle later escapes and in putting in back, he sees Usutu again who tells him he'll be a great prophet and gain the ability to draw/paint the future (like Isaac Mendez). And sure enough, his eyes get all cloudy and he begins to draw. And several hours later, Claire appears, they talk, get taken, etc. You've read that before.

HRG (Noah Bennett)

... is, as always, an enigma. He's working for Nathan, co-leading the round-up of heroes and yet...I don't believe it. See Suresh and Claire for his part in this episode.

Gabriel "Sylar" Gray
Oh, and Sylar, thought dead in the fiery demise of Pinehurst, is healed up and back in the game, searching for his biological father. Sylar tracks down his adoptive father, the watchmaker Martin Gray. At the watch repair shop, Martin pulls a shotgun on Sylar before realizing who he is. To our great surprise, he doesn't lie to Sylar and admits that he wasn't a good father and walked out because he couldn't stand Virginia, the snow globe collector; they should never have had a child together (small lie). No, Sylar's father is the watchmaker's brother, Martin explains after light (verbal) pressuring. The brother, Samson Gray (named later), needed money and gave his child to Martin and Virginia who wanted a kid but couldn't have one. Martin gives Sylar the address; there is no violence between these two, just some regret and resentment.

Going to the address given him, a taxidermy shop, Sylar enters and pokes around. A small picture of a young boy with black hair and glasses (little Gabriel "Sylar" Gray...?) is seen, as is a snow globe and a smoldering cigarette. Suddenly, one of the better action scenes of the series starts. The black-clad commando squad attempts to capture Sylar, shooting electro-darts in him, noosing his head and arms with those contraptions animal tamers use (metal noose at the end of a pole). To no avail. Using his telekinesis, he literally moves the house he's in, shaking everything, throwing his attackers all over the place (with a little electrical assist) until they're down for the count. One remains conscious. Shaking off the restraints, Sylar levitates him off the ground and informs him there will be a Q & A session following this beat-down.


*Sylar returned too early; I was hoping he'd sit out most of the season and come in towards the end as a repentant savior figure. Following his end-of-the-episode appearance, the next ep would detail where he'd been all season, what he'd learned, done, etc. But that was my fantasy version of the story. As is, I look forward to John Glover giving his impression of Father Knows Best to a bratty superpowered psychochild.

*I want HRG to be good. I think, at the core, he is. But to side with Nathan? Eh...I hope there are wheels within wheels.

*Suresh's super-strength in demonstration was terrific. In fact, the use of powers, the crack detainment squads, the action in general - big fan of all of that.

*I think the direction is better now than it was before. It's not as...average. The producers have realized this show needs a visual flair to match the storytelling and whoever is in the director's chair agrees. Technically superior to the last two "volumes."

*I don't know how Nathan would know about Ando having powers, as they weren't part of the same plot group at any point last "volume." So unless he shows himself off, I think he's clear to act.

*Forcing Peter to touch heroes to get their ability adds a degree of vulnerability to his character, instead of just passively absorbing them through proximity. That was a cop-out to make him this God-like hero.

Looking ahead:

*Looking forward to the plane crash and how they survive.
*Will HRG emerge more heroic after his fellow commandos/goons are knocked out in the crash?
*Where's Daphne? Did she dodge capture?
*Is Angela a plotter, maybe with something on the side with HRG?
*Do we meet John Glover/Samson Gray next episode? They can't get him in soon enough.

Until next week!


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