Heroes 3.23: "1961"

I've gotten used to the notion that "Heroes" will disappoint whenever they try to mine the past again. Too often, the existing continuity is changed or tweaked to allow for whatever story they want to tell. By now, it should be easy enough to move forward with the history that already exists.

So I was surprised to find that I actually liked this episode quite a bit, and I was willing to forgive whatever minor retcons were involved along the way. We got to see the beginning of Chandra Suresh's study into the emergence of metahumans, which eventually led to his method for identifying those with abilities. That tied into a nice bit of Mohinder's character arc, as revelations about his father drove him to seek redemption for his own mistakes. It doesn't repair the damage done during the third volume, but it certainly helps.

It also answered a question that I had back in the second season: what drove the Twelve to form the Company in the first place? We don't see the Twelve here, only a handful of them that had been at Coyote Sands. But it does explain where the genesis of the Company and its philosophy emerged. In fact, one can imagine that Adam Munroe came along, not long after their escape, and twisted their ideals even more.

I'm still torn on the overall importance of Angela's mission to find Alice. She seemed to be sure that they all had to be there for a reason, but it seemed a lot more personal. I suppose it was more a matter of proving to everyone why it was important for the family to stick together, which it accomplished, and showing them how they had to make up for their many manifest mistakes.

Considering that I've been waiting for the heroes to come together under some banner or another since the first season, this is a promising development. The forgiveness between Nathan and Peter might have been a bit too quick and easy, but with the story rapidly coming to a head, I wasn't surprised by that fact. (Maybe I'm just getting used to how the writers on "Heroes" tend to fast-forward through these matters.)

But for all those possible issues, I thought the overall presentation of the episode was top-notch, and the ending was the logical progression of the story. Sylar's decision to mimic Nathan has been a recurring theme, stretching back to the first season, and harkening back to that was a great idea. It's unlikely to play out as it did then, but it still works as an effective way to draw Nathan and rest of his clan out of the woodwork.

The resolution of this volume still feels like it could be a retread of the familiar: the same heroes banding against Sylar and whatever other villains happen to be working with or around him at the time. That only provides the writers with another opportunity for a proper throwdown against Sylar, something that still has yet to happen after the writers blew it in the first season finale.

This volume has had its shaky moments, and the addition of Bryan Fuller to the writing staff has not been the magical panacea that many had hoped it would be. But I do think that his arrival has been a good thing, and that the return to character-based storytelling is a great sign for the fourth season. For now, I just want this season to end on a strong run, and this episode feels like a part of that.


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