HEROES: S02 E04 – “The Kindness of Strangers”
Good grief. Was I imagining it, or did something actually happen this episode?
Let’s not get too excited, though. Heroes remains a massively flawed proposition that seems to rely strongly on the belief that you can never have too many coincidences, but the fourth episode of the sluggish second season showed signs that there might be some half-way interesting plot twists on the way. Not completely surprising that the first episode to show genuine traction steered clear of Hiro’s increasingly uninteresting Samurai adventures or Peter’s dull shennanigans in Fake Ireland, but nice to see Nathan (a) shaving and (b) actually doing something as a character, considering he spent massive stretches of season one playing the morally compromised Manchurian Candidate card. The romance between Claire and creepy peeping tom West continues to be every shade of wrong, while– as pointed out on another message board– you’d think Claire would at least want a little background on West before getting involved, considering how keen her similarly powered father was on prowling the countryside and sowing his wild oats. Instead, we’re getting another retread of last season, with Claire and Claire’s dad creeping around each other, and I’m certainly hoping that West turns out to be either evil, or to have an incredibly short life expectancy.
Mohinder and Matt Parkman continue to bicker like a married couple this episode – and just as a sign of Heroes’ complete abandonment of anything resembling reality, is there any way in hell that a divorced unstable cop and an Indian professor happy to travel the world and spout speeches about superpowers would be apparently allowed to adopt parentless Molly within four months of the events in the season finale? I think not, and while the revelation that Matt Parkman’s dad may be the ‘big bad’ Nightmare Man was certainly out of left-field (although I strongly suspect it’s actually a red herring, or the Nightmare Man doing a spot of possession), it didn’t quite pack the necessary punch, especially as I strongly suspect the real ‘big bad’ is going to have a very firm connection to the Hiro 17th century Japan plotline. Although if Molly’s mind has been officially stolen, at least it means we may be spared a few episodes of her being quite so nightmarishly pleased to see everyone, while maybe Matt has learned the lesson that considering they had the appartment building and the goddamned floor number, they could have possibly worked out which appartment it was themselves (what with Matt being a policeman and all)… The Matt’s Dad revelation does, however, show that Heroes is running out of interesting spins– after the incestuous interconnectedness of the characters in Season 1, it’d be a major surprise if a character didn’t turn out to have bizarre unexpected family connections, while the introduction of new characters (as in Micah’s super-tv-learning cousin) is rapidly turning it into a comic book equivalent of Casualty, as we sit back and play ‘guess-the-superpower’. With trips to Philadelphia and Odessa in the offing, there may be some interesting stuff to come, and this was remarkable for being a Tim Kring-scripted episode that featured very little dialogue that was genuinely wince-worthy, but I can’t help feeling that Heroes’ days of serving up major surprises may be long gone. I’d be more than happy to be proved wrong, of course…