Fiction by Paolo Bacigalupi

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Posted on Apr 23, 2007 in watching | 8 comments


So, thanks to my tech-savvy neighbor, I’m all caught up with Heroes. It’s definitely enjoyable and quite addictive. As I’m not watching it on network tv, I’m continually amazed at how scary, creepy, violent and risque it is. It doesn’t feel like network television (though, weeding commercials out of anything really changes the dynamic of watching).

The other thing that I find extraordinary is the writer’s willingness to dispose of plot points. I’m used to a certain rhythm of revealed information in television series. Used to information being dribbled out in bits and pieces, snitters and norbits. Heroes charges ahead full-throttle, and that’s appreciated. Thank god we aren’t going to sit around like X-Files hoping that the truth, will, eventually, you know, sometime next season if you’re lucky, fukker, be out there.

That said, I’m wondering how long it will be before the wheels come off.

There are a couple coincidences that have me squirming: Hiro’s father as a part of a dark cabal? Petrelli’s mom running interference for her granddaughter cheerleader? Eh. Things like this give a transient frisson of excitement that there are still more dark mysteries to be revealed, but it also feels annoyingly inward-turning.

Also, I’m pretty much ready for the Syler storyline to close out. Mohinder not killing off the monster that was killing everyone including dad struck me as the writers squirming out of a tight spot so they could continue to utilize the Syler character. It’s a rare moment where they blinked when they had a chance to keep the story line charging forward. And it stands out like a sore thumb as the sort of dumb story telling that regular network tv and melodramatic movies always indulge in. Lazy writing.

Maybe the writers will sell this successfully as we close out the season, but there’s a whiff of soap opera in the air that makes me nervous.


  1. Syler and Peter are the two most potentially powerful individuals on the show, as each are capable of absorbing powers, though only one is parasitic about it. Obviously, we are building to a show down there. I agree they need to lose Syler at the close of this season though.

    I had the opposite reaction to Hiro’s father you did. I thought on his first appearance it was just an excuse to shoehorn George Takei in, and maybe introduce a charcter they could come back to in a later season if they could get him again. So when he reappeared, I was surprised, adn pleasantly so, since it justified what I thought was the extranneous nature of his original spot.

  2. The “coincidences” didn’t bother me so much. I think there was a definite map of where the storyline needed to go and who the players were on all levels, from Takei as Hiro’s father to Peter’s mother playing a part behind the scenes. It’s only coincidence when that particular puzzle piece doesn’t fit with the whole. Hiro’s gravitation to the future, where the “bomb” explodes in New York, makes sense in retrospect when you consider he was at the building before in the past. So he stumbles across the comic book, whose artist lives in that building.

    (Sorry I’m off with everyone’s names.) So … the comic book artist lives in the building because Hiro was there and events happened there. His aiblity draws him toward that wellspring of past events, like a compass pointing north.

  3. Last night, for the first time, I watched Heroes with somebody else. Wow! Being able to pause the show (it was TiVo’d) and discuss as we watched was fabulous. Bickering about the few stupid points, like why Mohinder didn’t just cut off Sylar’s head when he was knocked out, was pure nerdcore fun.

    I’m interested to know just why Sylar’s crankypants are so tight. I bet he pulled the wings off of flies when he was a kid, and burned ants with a magnifying glass. Maybe the hot chicks teased him for being a comic book geek…? On the one hand I want to know, and on the other I don’t want an entire episode wasted on Sylar’s rotten childhood. *sigh*

    Have you read the graphic novel on the website? It’s at NBC.com under Heroes. Be forewarned – it’s a bandwidth hog.

  4. Heroes definitely has more forward momentum than most other serial dramas on TV, which obscures the fact that the characters aren’t sharing all the information they have. Mr. Bennet could explain more than he has; Mama Petrelli has a lot of information that she ought to be telling her sons. I think the writers have admitted that they didn’t plan out the season beforehand, but their improvisations are entertaining enough that it doesn’t really matter.

    This most recent episode was the second anticlimactic encounter between Peter and Sylar. I was ready for a big blowout when the two first met in the “Homecoming” episode, but almost nothing happened; Peter didn’t actually do anything that Claire couldn’t have done herself. This time, Peter needing to be saved by Mohinder of all people was really weak.

  5. The producers have said that each season will be its own story arc – there will be resolution (although perhaps not for all threads). Some characters will return, some will be gone, new ones will arrive. An answer to the LOST problems.

    What thrilled me about last night was Linderman telling Peter that he had been a part of an EARLIER group of heroes. And then to see Peter and Nathan’s mother dropping big hints with Claire, I find myself thinking that she was one of those earlier heroes. She knows so much, and I suspect it’s for deeper reasons than just being a control freak. Whatever she ends up being, a whole new universe opened up with that one line.


  6. I’m runnning one episode behind I guess, so I just watched the Syler-Petrelli non-showdown. I agree with Ted, there. Grrr. I actually felt a little manipulated by this episode. Not sure if it’s because I saw it on its own without being able to speed onto the next episode right afterward, but it somehow felt like the entire episode was setup and not much actual movement.

    Also, I was deeply peeved by the fact that Mohinder knocked out Syler, but then *didn’t kill him*. Really irritated. It doesn’t make sense. If you’ve got enough time and energy to drag Petrelli’s dead body out of a room (no easy task), you’ve got enough time and energy to cut the unconscious bad guy’s throat with one of those handy pieces of glass that are lying everywhere.

    Double grrrr.

  7. I started to get twitchy about the coincidences, too, but not after we find out Linderman engineered DL and Niki’s relationship. The earlier group of heroes doesn’t just pop in at random, they bred the new group. Did Nathan just happen to run across a firestarter and produce Claire? I don’t think so. They created Hiro, Zach, Nathan, Peter, Claire, at the least.

    I’m glad to finally see Sylar use his other powers. For a while there he was just a teke who liked brains. Now finally he’s using his super hearing and freezing stuff.

    A lot of the action scenes we want to see are probably too expensive for a network show’s budget. I notice they usually go offscreen when special effects are called for.

    Who else thinks Candace is really fat and unattractive?

  8. Great critical observations, Paolo. One of the show’s strengths is the rapid-fire pace of cliffhangers and revelations, each one of which weaves a more intricately tangled plot web.

    Ultimately the writers weren’t able to deliver on the promise of all those tantalizing plot shockers. The wheels sort of gradually slid off over the final 4-5 episodes as more and more plot lines were simply glossed over or ignored. In the end only a small fraction of the plot points were resolved, and most in relatively anticlimactic ways.

    I guess the writers could argue that a finale of anticlimax was in keeping with the premise of the show (chronicles of ordinary people with extraordinary powers). But I don’t buy that.

    It was a suspenseful run for a while, but ultimately they couldn’t pull it off.