And if you didn't become annoyed with the constant redirection of character motivation, you could find fault in the lazy storytelling. Besides the fact that things were sped up to a fault, the same repetitive plot devices were used again and again and again. It didn't take long for visions of the world's future destruction to come into play. You know, like they did in both seasons prior. And since Isaac was no longer around to paint the future, we were introduced to a new character that could do the same. And when that character died, the same power was given to Parkman. Because, apparently, the Heroes writers don't know how to tell a story that doesn't involve some glimpse into the future. The writers also seemed happy to ignore the established mythology of the series as it spent several episodes trying to convince us the solar eclipse had something to do with these powers, even though we know certain characters had powers before the Season 1 eclipse that kicked off the series.
Still, there were some entertaining and even moving moments throughout all the clutter. The Puppetmaster episode ("Dying of the Light") had a fantastically tense Russian roulette showdown that had Sandra Bennet shooting her daughter Claire. Hiro's time with his dying mother in "Our Father" actually connected and had me choking up. And Volume Four started off with great potential as The Hunter was introduced and heroes were put on the defensive. But for all the good, there was much more bad. Like Mohinder turning into the Fly, or Sylar road tripping with a teenage microwave, or Arthur Petrelli having no real plan, or the lack of action-packed fights, or unnecessary excursions to Haiti or breaking up weddings in India. Remember that wedding in India? What the hell?
But then Bryan Fuller returned. After the excellent and imaginative Pushing Daisies was cancelled, the writer of "Company Man" came back to Heroes in hopes of righting the ship. And it started to happen in "Cold Snap." In that episode, he gracefully killed off Daphne and stunningly killed (we think) Tracy. In the episodes that followed, he brought a focus to the storytelling and actually gave the last few episodes a sense of purpose that didn't rely on visions of the future or rewriting the history of the characters. In fact, he pulled from our characters' past to add layers and make their choices much more believable - See Angela and her stolen socks, and Sylar returning to his Season 1 issues with Mom.
This was a tough season to sit through and enjoy. For all the fun superhero actions and ideas, there were five or more "Why is this happening?" moments. "Villains" rewrote the history of the series while reusing plot devices, while "Fugitives" started well, sank fast, but was rejuvenated with the return of a favorite Season 1 writer. Having officially been renewed by NBC, Heroes is in a position to truly redeem itself with Volume Five, aptly titled "Redemption." Let's hope it happens.