Everyone's Got Daddy Issues


Last episode of Heroes, Trust and Blood, was all about build-up for the rest of the season. Motivations surfaced, sides were chosen, and speeches were given to repeatedly drive home how important, deadly, and enormous the impending battle between the Petrelli Bros. and their related allies is going to be. Trust and Blood in one sense refers to these two opposing armies, who see each other dangerous, unpredictable, and wholly untrustworthy-and, as consequence, a lot of blood will be shed as Nathan's powerful government force hunts Peter's band of super-powered fugitives, who have plenty of force of their own.


But during the episode, another just-as-important theme came out of the building storylines in the Fugitives arc, one that I'm sure the writers were just as conscious of when they chose the episode name Trust and Blood-the issue of fatherhood.


This episode, Sylar continued searching for his real father; a quest that has him torturing and murdering his way towards the truth about why he feels compelled to torture and murder. In the process, he inadvertently takes on a sidekick, Luke, who has his own deadly powers and daddy issues. They bond over feeling disconnected and monstrous, and understand each other's anger, which they mutually tie back to the one who spawned them and spurned them: dear old deadbeat dad. There's an implicit suggestion that the human microwave (best nickname I've seen so far: LukeWarm) and Sylar share the same taxidermy-happy dad, which would be a warm and fuzzy revelation, in a serial killer sort of way. But even if they don't share a dad, they do share the idea that blood thirst has something to do with blood ties, and identity isn't just who you are, but whom you came from.


And they're certainly not alone on that front. There's Claire, who's been battling her own daddy demons with H.R.G. and Nathan for years, but saw them come to a head this episode. The man who brought her up and the man who produced her now stand against her in the war on the heroes, each professing to doing their best to protect her when the last thing she wants is protection. It's always been a quite literal irony on Heroes that the one character incapable of being hurt is the one who is most often shielded from the action. So far in Fugitives, Claire is still a helpless daughter, getting captured, escorted, and locked away over and over. But she's not been silent about which side she's on, and I predict that this season we will finally see Claire get beyond the hemming and hawing of an angsty teenager and see her do some real rebelling against her two dads.


From the beginning, Heroes has always been interested daddy issues. Elle, Parkman, Hiro, and Mohinder have all dealt with their own controlling and dangerous dads. Most recently, in the last arc, Nathan and Peter's evil patriarch, Arthur Petrelli, resurfaced and wreaked havoc on the world. It's a sort of requisite theme: stories about fathers against sons and daughters are older than the English language, and nearly every heroic narrative (from mythology to comic books) has some sort of absent, powerful, or ruthless father thread throughout the yarn.


In a show about good, evil, power, and the genetic distribution of these three, it's just sort of a given that dads are a big deal.


But something feels different about the daddy issues beginning in Fugitives. It's not a sub-plot anymore, but a major arc, one that seems poised to play into the impending brotherly battle. Or maybe because it's about Sylar, and we know that his confrontation with dad will not end with a hug and pat on the back. Whatever it is, for the first time in a while, I'm anxious to find out what's next.


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