My expectations for "Heroes" have been fairly low of late. Like many others, I had hoped that Bryan Fuller's return to the writers' room would provide the jump start necessary to get the show back on track. Initially, it seemed to be happening, but the past few episodes have been uneven and full of the usual plot holes. So coming into the finale, I wasn't expecting much. In fact, given how often the writers for "Heroes" blow the landing each and every volume, lowered expectations seem fairly justified.
So it's not surprising that the writers failed to deliver an on-screen showdown between Nathan, Peter, and Sylar, with powers on display. As soon as the Petrelli brothers rushed in to take down Sylar, I knew those doors would close and we wouldn't see anything substantial, just the aftermath. A lot of pieces of the finale puzzle were missing in the same manner. In a way, there was simply too much story to tell.
Given some of the plot elements in "Caprica" and the most recent episode of "Dollhouse", this episode felt rather timely. If all the memories, experiences, and personality of an individual can be absorbed into someone, if the original dies, does that individual live on? Or is it a shadow of the original person, something that should never be attempted? And what about the original personality, buried and suppressed? There are shades of "Babylon 5" in there as well.
It seems like a bit of a cheat, yet another way to kill a character yet keep them around, but the end of the episode (technically, the beginning of Volume Five) clearly shows that it will be a little more complicated than that. I don't expect Sylar to remain caged for long; the character and actor are too popular for that. After all, Sylar always seems to be the best part of each volume's finale.
The plot twist did allow them to take the most powerful character around and put them under lock and key. In the process, the Company was reborn. With all the familiar characters standing around the pyre of Fake!Sylar, it brought to mind the Twelve and Adam Monroe. The finale makes everything seem happy, as if a major problem was averted, but this all seems like repeating the sins of the past. Matt was right: keeping Sylar alive at all is a terrible risk.
Not all of the plot elements were as interesting or logical. One can understand Angela's decision to use Sylar to keep Nathan around in relation to her recent talk about family and experience with Alice. Hiro's wear and tear from using his ability seems to come out of nowhere, and it feels like the writers just wanted to give Hiro back his ability long enough for it to be available when needed.
It's also a bit too much of a plot convenience for Peter to acquire just the right ability to fool Sylar. At least, that's what Peter made it seem like when he taunted Sylar in the limo. If Peter's drug-induced ability is to absorb another person's ability, only one at a time, wouldn't he have acquired Sylar's core ability? In other words, wouldn't Peter have what he acquired when grabbing Sylar's ability back in the third volume? It didn't quite add up.
The stage is set for the next volume, which may or may not play over the course of a shortened spring 2010 season (ala "Lost" and "24"). Does the title ("Redemption") refer to the characters, the writing staff, the producers, or all of the above? I suppose only time will tell.h