Over the last few weeks I’ve been watching Heroes, a show awaiting it’s revival next year. The show had it’s ups and downs, Mostly downs, and it’s first season’s final episodes picked up the pace from it’s middle, before ending with an anticlimactic first season finale.
Season One, Episodes 18 – 22
The last batch of season ones’ episodes contain some of the best and worst moments from season one. The Linderman big reveal was one of my favorite moments when I was watching live, years ago, but now feels stale and forced in conjunction with the lackluster finale. The chance occurrences that led the characters together, from all over the states, have begun to feel contrived, especially with the foreknowledge that it will continue, for most characters, for several more seasons.
The idea that .07% of the world dying in New York would bring the world together is an intriguing one, but it too grows stale over too many episodes. The flash forward scenes of episode 19, “Five Years Gone,” are arguably the best future-scenes in the show’s run, and the episode is dragged down by the screeching hult of the following three episodes. Had the season gone 22 episodes rather than 23, and utilized the finale as a more impressing, all encompassing spectacle, the show may have been capable of keeping a steady pace in the following season, regardless of any writers’ strikes.
The finale is, put lightly, blah. Each character finishes their business and exits the building outside Kirby Plaza, where Sylar is ready to pick them off one by one and wreck havoc on New York. Literally, one by one, the Heroes attack him in turn, making for a lazy, anticlimactic power show instead of the stunning spectacle it could have been. Had Sylar fought them off all together instead of one by one, the lackluster conclusion could have at least come off as a choreographic masterpiece.
The introduction of the ‘elder’ heroes throughout the last several episodes feels equally as forced as the protagonists’ assembling, yet I love the older generation. Had they introduced a few earlier in the season, it wouldn’t have felt so all at once. Mrs. Petrelli and Mr. Nakamura feel more forced than Mr. Linderman, who is the only of the elders to make sense in season one given his name’s preexisting weight in many of the plots. But no one feels more forced than Charles Deveaux, the deceased father of an unpowered character and Peter’s patient way back in the pilot episode, who Peter visits in a dreamlike time travel.
The scenes of peter’s body, trapped in the now, and his visit with Deveaux in the past leaves questions of the authenticity of the trip and calls back to Molinder’s spirit walk in India, an honestly nice touch for introducing the character as a power player. Derveaux’s rooftop had been used for several important scenes, in flashbacks, current, and paintings and trips to the future, so his existence as an elder hero is less hamfisted than mama Petrelli or Nakumura. For a show with so many intersecting paths, Deveaux as a behind the scenes hero makes the most sense, second only to big baddy Linderman.
One of my favorite scenes on my first watch, years ago, featured Sylar reclaiming his name Gabriel to visit his mother. On this rewatch, it was one of my least favorite moments, if only for what follows. It serves as a large motivation for his acceptance of being the prophesied Exploding Man, unaware of Peter’s preexisting place in the role. Before hand, he is surprisingly – and for as great a villain as he normally is, annoyingly – afraid of hurting so many ‘innocent’ people.
In the world of Heroes, a superpowered individual who doesn’t want or use their abilities are not considered innocent by big-bad Sylar, an idea that conveniently ignores at least three of his murders and even more attempts. Simply having an ability, in Sylar’s eyes, makes you an acceptable target.
Sylar visits his mother, and it’s clear she’s a hoarder and a shut in, who fauns over her son even when it annoys him, going as far as telling a grown man that he could be president if he wanted to, a nice nod to the previous, future-set episode, in which he was, in fact, president. He displays one of the abilities he’s collected, and ends up getting carried away and scaring, scarring, and killing her (all while Hiro and Ando, conveniently, watch from a fire escape window). He tells her dead body that he could in fact become president.
The last few episodes felt like a lot of convenience. Characters end up in close quarters at just the right times, in conflict with the constant but sparing run ins of the rest of the season. A lot of the trite scenes from the middle of the season could have been spent getting people logically to New York, like Claire’s plot, rather than rushing them all there in the end.
I think this blog series is really an exercise in the idea that we criticize the things we love the hardest. The sheer brilliance of the show is in it’s characters, a flame that slowly dims throughout the remaining seasons, and in it’s mythology, which slowly becomes less relevant in the remaining seasons. There is a spirituality to the genetic code of Heroes, in which destiny is a genetically predisposed, fundamental principal in the lives of our protagonists. Watching the characters and the mythology falter in following seasons becomes more and more difficult.
The next post should contain a few episodes from Season 2, perhaps the first half. I was originally planning on covering all of Season 2 at once, but the idea of doing that is difficult. Season 2 was cut short by the Writer’s Strike of 2007-2008, and contains only eleven episodes. We’ll see.
I’ve been working on this for two days and like usual it’s not the best, but I don’t think it’s terrible. I’d say it’s nothing to write home about, but I’m literally writing about it right now. The sad part is that I really can code and make things look pretty. I just have a hard time proving it… There’s a lot of areas where I cut corners. I plan on updating this theme every now and then, so tiny changes should start popping up here and there. I still need to work on the comment area and post formatting. Also, a mobile version. Oops. Cool.
Other useless tidbits: I really need to start using Gust when posting, it’s so nice and pretty but I always go straight for the regular wp editor.
I’m working on Heroes Revisited, Vol. 4 for next week. This week’s installment, Vol. 3, has already been queued. Like the rest of the series, both will appear on their prospective Fridays.
If anyone actually sees this, tell me if you think I should make the text bigger/ smaller or keep it the same, also any thoughts you have on the design and how I should polish it up. I miss the old days of High School when I ate this shit up and was always on my design game. I need to find the motivation to get back into it, especially with all the new trends and things.
I just purchased bc for another year, so it’ll be my moniker at least for a few more months. If I do change it, it’ll be for a whole new ‘branding’ thing. Again, effort, motivation.
I also really, really want to start a podcast but I don’t even know where to start, aah! I don’t know anyone who is truly willing to help or has any experience, and it’s not like I’ve got tons of fans or anything to listen to it. Who knows.
This blog needs a niche. Probably television. I’ll work on that.
Thanks for reading /
When I began to re-watch the first season of Heroes, I didn’t think I’d be able to feel enraptured as I did when I watched it live in 2006. On previous re-watches, the show’s eventual decline loomed over me, and I generally only made it half way through the first season before switching to thoroughly better shows.
I remember re-watching the seasons several times when it was still on air. Heroes has a sense of wonder, of mystery, of shock value. It’s pulpy at times, and grandiose at others. The acting talent isn’t perfect, but it’s not necessarily bad, however it is occasionally phoned in. The show is entertaining, but it always straddles the fence between logical and absurd, especially when juggling multiple story arcs across the continent.
Season One, Episodes 10 – 17
According to the all-knowing internet, the first season was meant to be split into two ‘Volumes’ (like season three), letting each arc contain a general, closed plot with the approximate length of a cable series, with a network budget. Personally, I think you can tell part way into season one.
Like I mentioned in the last post, the series spends a lot of time making characters backtrack or go through side plots, and often these are where the characters’ paths intersect. I wonder, if Heroes had taken the original plan of two, closed volumes, these needless distractions would have been less apparent, and therefor more meaningful to character development.
In episode 15, ‘Run!’, a character starts out in Las Vegas with the sun already out, travels 5 hours to LA, locates and fights another character, and is back in time to trail another fellow protagonist in that day, still under the sun. That third character is from New York, and just happens to be given an entire backstory, previously nonexistent, in order to get him to Las Vegas – another five hour flight, by the way. It’s things like this I expect from ok television, but not from great television. Ok television has characters move for the plot; Great television has characters move the plot.
Did I mention this show had devoted three/four episodes dedicated to finding a sword, yet only one episode on what I mentioned previously? Also – guess where the sword is. I’ll give you a hint. It’s Las Vegas. The second part of the first series feels more convoluted than the first half.
I’m doing a lot of nitpicking, and it’s because I really do love this show. I was fifteen when it first aired, and I was there from the beginning. Watching week to week in the standard television model, these ‘issues’ that I have with the show are less cause for begrudging. But in the modern day binge watch, which I must say I heralded before the days of online streaming, they’re incredibly distracting from the main plot. An even half of the show could probably be reworked or completely cut to allow a more cohesive arc. This is a problem with most 23-episode seasons, though.
With the constant flow of characters, though, the B plots are entertaining in the moment. It’s only after I’ve finished the episode that I realize an entire plot was entirely pointless or otherwise distracting. The second half of the season revolves the characters more chaotically. I don’t even remember the last time I saw DL or Micah, though to be fair they’ve both been mentioned. I’m sure this is due to being little more than supporting cast members for a single character in a ensemble already brimming with characters.
Episode 17, the last of the season one episodes I’ll be mentioning in this post, feels like a natural end for many of the character’s plots at this point in the season, as did episode 9. If I remember correctly, these are where the shows’ hiatuses lived when watching live.
Knowing all that most of what comes in the later seasons, watching season one is a double edged sword. Fervent fans may notice just how much future volumes of Heroes broke continuity with their strongest season. As this isn’t meant to be a spoilerific series of posts, I’ll leave this as a slight mention.
Overall, the second part of season one is more hectic than the first half, though still thoroughly enjoyable in the moment. It’s definitely a show that, due to it’s format, can be enjoyed in quick succession or evenly spaced out – though both methods are bound to come with their own caveats. Binging this show makes it’s side plots more apparently disjointed from the season arc, while it’s serialized nature will leave others confused.
Next time, I’ll be covering the last five episodes of season one, including the finale.
Thanks to the news of Heroes Reborn, I decided to start a re-watch of the original series. Back in 2006, Heroes was my favorite show. I stuck with it through the anti climatic series finale, the writers strike of season two, and even enjoyed, to the best of my ability, what season three had provided us.
But season four had become something even I couldn’t handle. The series I fell in love with had mystery and heart, but had become a fumbling mess. I stopped watching halfway through, and only ever looked back to re-watch the first few seasons begrudgingly.
The news of Heroes Reborn has awoken a memory of what the show first gave me: happiness, wonder, excitement. My TV addiction is kind of sad. TV was the only thing that inspired me as a teenager. Heroes was one of the first, and as with Supernatural, it was one of the few that truly disappointed me.
It’s fitting, then, that I’m writing this while watching the season one episode Six Months Ago. The episode looks back at a simpler time in the characters’ lives, before they knew all that was to happen up to this point in the series. It’s an origin story more telling than even the pilot, an origin story written with all of the knowledge of what’s to come so far.
Just like this blog post, to an extent.
Every few episodes, I plan on writing my thoughts on the characters and their arcs. For those of you who haven’t seen it, avert your eyes. For those who have, let’s be in pain together.
Season One, Episodes 1-9
I’ve just finished Episode 10, the previously mentioned Six Months Ago. But before discussing this episode on it’s own merit, I want to go over what’s happened so far.
The first nine episodes deal with introducing the main characters, various people across the United States who discover their latent super powers. They begin as various stereotypes: the blonde cheerleader, the empathetic male nurse, the selfish congressional candidate, the single mom who is just trying to make ends meet, and various others, but within the first three episodes they’re given room to breath.
I remember watching the pilot the night it first aired, and I’d been instantly in love. The first few episodes round out additional members of the cast, including dropping the first mention of the seasons’ Big Bad (more on him later). It isn’t until all of the characters, their locations, and their powers are introduced that we start to learn more about the season’s main story arc.
Over the first few episodes, Peter Petrelli, the hospice nurse with great expectations and dreams of flying, soon discovers that his ability is to imitate the abilities of those around him, which quickly becomes one of the devices used by the show to slow his arc down and let other characters catch up. When Peter’s not doing much, it’s because he can’t.
Another hero with a similar device, the not ironically named Hiro, is a time and space traveling Japanese tourist. Over the first few episodes, his arc is slowed down by his learning how to control his gift. Soon, though, he and his average-human friend Ando make their way to America, as this is an American show. Once in America, in order to keep the pace, Hiro and Ando spend more than enough time using Hiro’s gift to game casinos before Hiro gets knocked out a few too many times. At one point, the story is stalled by separating the two friends for a single episode.
The thing I like about the first season of Heroes is that there is too much happening to find the constant stalling too annoying. Hiro is one of the warmest, charmingly adorable characters on the show (and on TV, period), yet he’s also the most over-powered, so it’s understandable, and smart, to make much of Hiro’s early story centered on being humorous at best. The rest of the cast gets some room to grow without Hiro becoming too strong in his abilities too quickly.
With a cast as large as Heroes, this constant stalling by plot device is used often, but is barely as noticeable as with shows with smaller casts. Whenever someone’s progression is being set back, someone else is going at full speed.
Often, the show adds to it’s mythology in these finely-tuned moments. (I believe this is unique to the first season, and explains much about why the show went down hill in later seasons). A reoccurring symbol, for instance, pops up in various characters’ scenes, becoming more prominent as the series progresses. Characters crisscross each other’s lives unknowingly, hinting to the viewer the importance of each character to a greater arc.
It makes sense when watching this first season that these were meant to be standalone seasons featuring entirely unique casts. Season Three would later split the season into two different arcs, but the damage had been done at the end of season one when the characters’ popularity trumped the intended cast switches.
In these early episodes, characters intersect at chance, hinting at a larger mythology that is close knit. When Isaac Mendez, a meth addicted painter, prophecies a bomb destroying New York City, Hiro has already seen said future, and Isaac and Peter share the love of their lives and increasingly find themselves connected. Hiro also runs into Peter’s brother Nathan, the congressional candidate who can fly, while briefly separated by Ando, who himself meets one of the other characters.
It’s these moments that tie the characters together when even their plots don’t. For most of the cast, they won’t have any relevance to the major plot arc until much later in the season, offering stand alone arcs that only briefly intersect with other characters in standalone and largely throwaway scenes.
The first instance of two plot arcs colliding is when Hiro from the future, speaking perfect English and equipped with a Samurai sword, travels to Peter and freezes time to tell him: Save the Cheerleader, Save the World, a phrase which would grow to encompass the show’s popularity. It was the first instance of bringing the various threads of the plot together.
Episode nine felt like a natural end, and was probably followed by a hiatus. It’s an intense episode that brings many of the characters together, and introduces Sylar – lovely, evil Sylar – face to face with the core characters for the first time.
I’ll be writing more about episodes 10-17 in the next installment.
I’ve decided to begin making my way into freelance writing. Working dead-end retail jobs that refuse to give me the hours I need to survive is no longer cutting it. I want to go back to school, move, and be an adult on my own terms, and I’m not being given what I need to succeed – so I need to take it — legally, of course.
Freelancing takes a lot of work to get into. It’s not an easy field, especially for writers. If I wanted to get into programming or design, that would be one thing – but these are fields that I see myself as an amateur, whereas writing is something I know I will be doing for the rest of my life. Creatively, it’s something I’ve always been interested in a majority of it’s forms. Wether I’m writing a report, a book, or a blog post, I can get satisfaction out of my work.
Most fields I’ve been interested in have left me with a narrow field of interest. Design and programming, again, are the biggest examples of these. I’m very particular about them to the point where they rarely interest me anymore.
So this brings me to freelancing – doing the thing I love and making money off of it. While of course the end game is to be a published author, I still need to make money in the mean time. It’ll take months to get a solid footing, but I believe in myself enough to know that I can do it, it just takes the right amount of effort. Where I can put off writing my books, I can’t put off working for a client.
Consistently writing is going to make a big difference in my creative life, too. I’ve seen it before; when I can afford school and I’m in an English course, doing the coursework sets a creative fire. Essentially, it’s the phrase along the lines of, “Write every day, even if it’s just a sentence,” at work.
I’m really excited. I’ve signed up for several websites and avoided any through-and-through content mills. I was thinking about trying my hand at the Yahoo contributor network, but they’re shutting it down.
The next step is getting my portfolio filled. The biggest struggle I’ve come across in my writing is my own self doubt. I’m a self defeatist at heart. That’s not going to fly anymore.
I was thinking of looking for internships as well, but my choppy education makes me nervous about getting any. Additionally, I was thinking of having some fun with secret shopping. There are a bunch of things I could be doing to make a bit of side money, and I need to get myself in line. I’ve always romanticized the ‘hustle,’ and it’s at the point where I need to throw myself into the life of the struggling writer, making ends meet.
Additionally, I really, really am toying with the idea of starting a podcast. I think I’ve got a good personality, and all that’s holding me back is not having the right materials, wanting a partner, and getting the format down. But I’m flirting with it, so we’ll see.
I also really, really need to get published. I need to start writing short stories and get out of the novel mindset. I’d love to be in a literary magazine, I just need to do it and get out there.
The whole point of this post is to point out that a few weeks ago, I was passively accepting that my jobs were screwing me over. A few days ago, I was actively bummed at the turn of events. Now, I’m seeing it as an opportunity to get out of my comfort zone and become the full-fledged writer I’ve always been meant to be.