Heroes 3.17: "Cold Wars"

I’m not sure why this episode required three writers. On the face of it, the structure and content is about as simple as it gets, and a lot less complicated than most of the episodes this season. Somehow, despite the very focused nature of the narrative, the writers managed to incorporate two elements that undermine the notion that they're trying to avoid needless repetition.

It feels like the writers sat down and tried to figure out how to bring the story back to the glories of the first season, and remembered that one of the best episodes happened to be "Company Man". "Heroes" had taken a page from the "Lost" playbook and focused on its most morally grey character, Noah Bennett, and explored his true motivations and history. It's still probably the best episode of the series, and it's obvious why the writers would want to invoke the same strengths.

The main story was actually not bad. It was interesting seeing the dynamic between Peter, Matt, and Mohinder. Matt denies that losing Daphne has led to some serious instability, but that's clearly not the case. He's more than happy to torture Noah to get information he wants, and he turns on Mohinder with barely any provocation. He wants someone to blame and punish.

Mohinder, on the other hand, seems about as confused about himself as the audience. His character motivations have been so diverse since the beginning of the third season that it's hard to know if Matt really is stepping over the line. Logically, however, Noah said nothing that would have led Mohinder to do much of anything, since it was all so vague, and he could have said that. But then, he and Matt wouldn't have had a reason to fight, would they?

This would have been a good time for Peter to step up to the plate as the resistance leader. While his actions prove that he has the ability and some of the will, he really should have tried to rein in the Matt/Mohinder angst. One big problem with every season of "Heroes" has been the lack of a unifying figure for the "good guys". Peter has been the obvious candidate in nearly every case, and yet, the writers still keep his character idling in third gear.

In terms of Noah's memories, most of them explain what was already rather obvious. Danko is a zealot with a desire to eliminate the threat of the metahumans (probably because someone was killed by one, the usual drill), and Bennett is working within the system to try to find a way to bring him down. Danko is inching ever closer to his goal of pushing Nathan out of the driver's seat so he can get his personal crusade underway. It's all something we already knew; Noah's interrogation did more to benefit the characters than the audience.

The end of the episode does suggest that Angela Petrelli is "Rebel", but it's not confirmed, and all we really know is that Bennett and Angela are both trying to contain the damage that Nathan has caused. They both see Danko as the threat, and they're working together. The net effect is a minor advancement of the story; Mohinder's capture is more significant.

As noted above, none of this would have amounted to much annoyance, except for the fact that the writers chose two overdone story elements for their big reveals. First, there's Daphne. Her death was a big shock, and helped to elevate the stakes right from the start of the new volume. Having her survive is a lot less interesting, and continues the trend of bringing back characters that were better off dead. (Unless, of course, the writers can give Daphne a reason to exist beyond her function in Matt's psychology.)

The second problem, and a much bigger one, was the final reveal. It's bad enough that the writers have repurposed Matt into "prophecy guy", because they can't stop returning to the Isaac well again and again. But it's much worse to return to the "one of the heroes is going to destroy a city" plot device. How many times are the writers going to repeat themselves?

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