Heroes 3.8: "Villains"

It would appear that the fans are not the only ones concerned with the lack of originality and character development on "Heroes". Following the previous episode, two prominent members of the writing staff were fired and Tim Kring resumed control of show-running responsibilities. To be honest, I think this is a case of scapegoating. The problems come right from the top, and Kring's inability to make good on his promises (both to the fans and within the story).


This is yet another episode that takes us back to a time just before or concurrent with the first season, retroactively changing the context of certain scenes and choices. When this was first done, it was impressive and clever. Now that it's been done several times, and almost always to adjust the continuity to explain away contradictions caused by more recent plot twists.


Take, for example, the decision to recast Sylar as a man driven less by psychological need for power, acceptance, and recognition than a "hunger" that drives him to accumulate those things. This was already in flat contradiction to the first season. Instead of trying to find a way to reconcile the discrepancies in the "present", the writers chose to use this episode to shoehorn the new "reality" into past events.


The problem is that it doesn't fit. Elle wasn't working for Noah during that time; the first season clearly shows him working constantly with the Haitian. Also, it ignores the established aspect of Sylar's ability that allows him to recognize when someone has a power. He does not recognize that Elle has an ability, and he trusts her far too quickly to be believable. It's just an attempt to reform Sylar from total villain to misunderstood hero. Far better to have killed him off in the first season finale.


The Arthur/Angela story was better, if only because it actually clarified a few things, even if it was just as much a retcon as the Sylar plot thread. I don't like the idea of Angela being mind-warped for so long, and I don't buy Linderman's decision to open her eyes to the truth. But it does remind us that Angela is just as capable of real evil as Arthur ever was, but she draws the line at harming her own children. (Which continues to suggest, in my book, that the "solution" to this conflict will be Peter, Nathan, and Gabriel charting their own independent course.)


At least the first two plot threads seemed to connect to the rest of the ongoing arc. Meredith's plot thread seemed to suggest a lot more importance than the character currently deserves. I'm not sure there's anything about Meredith that inspires enough interest to justify the time spent on her. It's entirely possible that she'll factor into the end of the current arc, thus explaining her prominence here, but I think it's equally likely that the writers just needed a way to fill out the episode. Where the other plot threads had an obvious relevance to the arc, this one felt unusually isolated.


And then, there's the end of the episode. It seems ludicrous that the precognitive Magical African Man would be killed so easily, even by someone with Arthur's power. It's possible, however, that precognition in the "Heroes" universe sometimes follows the same rules as seen in the "Dune" mythos: those with prescience of equal power tend to cancel each other out. Even so, it felt contrived, and with so many other plot elements looking equally questionable of late, that's exactly how it will be taken by disaffected fans.


The bottom line is that this episode wanted to be special, and instead, it came across as desperate for attention. So do the changes to the writing staff and the promises for a tighter plot and deeper character development. The fans have heard it all before, and they're no longer giving Kring credit before the deed is done.

Comments

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Nov 11, 2008 11:51PM EST

That has to be the greatest analysis of an episode that I have ever seen, I completely missed some of the points you caught and am glad you pointed them out. I found it very hard to believe that Meredith was once an agent and that HRM was responsible for setting Sylar loose. It seemed to me that all Meredith's part was for was to prove how every single one of these people is practically related by blood and how they seemingly pass each other on a regular basis as familiar strangers.

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Nov 12, 2008 11:57AM EST

honestly i disaagree with what the review.First of all the episode was not like that because the writer's were changed. it was shot a long time ago and the writers were just fired recently. personally i still enjoy the show and i think its a great show. this is actually the best season eva.
Secondly you talk about sylar's character being changed. actually this episode show us how he became what he became in the first season. even in season 1 episode 22 the hard part i think. Sylar tried to change. he went home to his mom and told her he wantd to stay there with her maybe then he could stop. his mother pushed him further along his dark path. Sylar is just unfortunate with the people he meets in his life.
Next is how arthur kills osutsu. arthur is like the most powerful person we know in heroes and even sylar was able to kill isaac mendez easily. Secondly i dont think a precog can change the future he sees. maybe someone can do it other than the precog. this is so because even as osutsu knew hiro was coming he drew the pictures of him hitting hiro on the head exactly as it happened.
Honestly i really enjoy heroes and i think the writers have plans for the show. its just that people are nt patient enough to complete the story arcs before complaining.

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Nov 12, 2008 3:47PM EST

I completely agree with this review. I'm an avid LOST fan, I decided to watch heroes here on sidereel for a comparative value and to see what the hub-bub was about. It seems like some of the tricks, like you said, are being reused over and over, and the fans are beginning to notice. In the beginning of this season when Peter went to the future, my jaw dropped when I saw them going back to that well. And then when they introduced another precognitive painter, I couldn't believe it.
I've said from the beginning that, 'How To Stop an Exploding Man' could've been one of the greatest episodes I've ever seen, along with the ones leading up to it, if we didn't know the future they had shown us.
In LOST, they show brief blips of the past and future, but the future shots are completely without context, just singular isolated conversations or events, which just get your gears turning. I believe that works a lot better.
Now with "Villians" particularly, I thought some of the plot twists were added to placate the viewers who were grumbling at the end of last season. Peter Petrelli and Claire Bennet are the golden boy and girl of the show, everyone knows that. But Sylar and Elle are the bad-boy and girl that everyone secretly, or not so secretly, adores. I thought their relationship was completely phony and forced, as well as, Elle working with HRG, when we've been further in Noah's past and seen that his partner has long been the Haitian, all the way up through the entirety of season one.
Lastly, the useless, pointless, meaningless, coincedental meetings of characters before or during the events of the first few episodes seems like another rip off of LOST, HRG getting into Mohinder's cab right after Peter steps out (?). In LOST, characters often crossed paths in their previous lives, but it was pivotal and spurned some event that dramatically change the others' life, or they met a mutual friend and somehow began divulging stories to the stranger about the same person. This season is just all over the place, many new characters, many new relationships, we haven't heard about 'The Formula' in a few episodes now. They need to find a path to follow to the climax of this story before everyone loses interest. I'll continue watching Heroes, solely because of Arthur Petrelli, and his mysteriously evil ways, but the predictability of the moves being made better improve.

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Nov 13, 2008 3:37PM EST

This is not the greatest analysis ever...in fact it is quite misinformed. Psychologically speaking, Sylar's character has no discontinuity. The "psychological desire" you were speaking of is a relation to say...I don't know...an addiction. The "craving" of an addiction is often times referred to, by the patient, as a sensation of hunger. Therefore, there is no discontinuity in this aspect of the show. Also, if you disagree with the fact that Sylar was addicted to his power...watch the first season again and pay close attention to the way his character acts. Ever seen a drug addict on withdrawal? If not a serious drug addict...how bout a nicotine addict who isn't allowed any? Sylar's character reflects the actions that a craving addict takes...hence his insatiable "hunger." In terms of the reformation of Sylar, it is very possible that he escapes...once. As the newest episode implies, Noah will find Sylar or vice versa...it's basic foreshadowing. The first season never even eludes to Sylar before he contacts Mohinder. It is therefore plausible that Sylar was caught again, and his memory or even his power was stripped from him.
What happens when two precogs come in contact with an ever-changing future? That's right ever-changing. To see the future is to change it, if both characters bore witness to the same future and one wished to alter it, both would see new futures; however, eventually branches of futures would HAVE to occur seeing as before an action occurs both would see it and change it. Eventually, the trauma would have to be enough to cause one to give up. The idea is almost unimaginable.
The episode had no more intention than to provide character development for Arthur and can be thought of as a transient episode in the season. You are not meant to think this was an awe aspiring episode, it is merely to provide information and then to disappear.

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Nov 13, 2008 5:25PM EST

I have to agree with abrink2 on this. Sylar does show to be an addict and everything so far seems plausible enough. At times it does look like they try to fix loopholes by literally changing the past and giving us insights to explain certain decisions. I read a long time ago that Heroes had over 5 seasons planned out ahead of time and thats one of the reasons I decided to watch it. Heroes makes things tie together really well and a show like that can't really be judged until its over because we don't know how they planned everything out. Lost, however, appears as though there are a group of guys sitting in a room saying "wouldn't it be cool if..." and making every episode up as they go. This episode did some good in explaining how we got to where we did. It was a transitionary episode and gave us more insight into our characters. As far as some of the discrepencies are concerned. It is possible that HRG interchanged partners regularly and could have been working with the haitian during his stint with Meredith and the invisible man Claude. We have seen that the company often switched pairs a lot. In Sylars defense I don't know why you think he is supposed to know when people have powers. Even when he first met those awful characters Maya and her Brother in mexico, he didn't know they had powers until they said so. Also in his defense, he was just learning about his new powers and could have easily not known what he was feeling when elle was around and just not understood it yet. The only thing I do agree on is why Lindamen had his change of heart, and also why the company let Meredith just go. But I absolutely love heroes and think they are doing a great job.

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Nov 14, 2008 12:24AM EST

Why couldn't Arthur get Linderman to fix him from his paralysis? Also from what I got from this episode, Arthur could force thoughts into people's head and change their way of thinking. Why wouldn't he do that to his son and tell him to drop the Linderman case? I enjoyed watching the first season because it actually had a point. Now it's just all over the place with no real point to any of the episodes other than revealing new things. Hopefully all these new things tie together and turn out great. That's pretty much the only reason I continue to watch it.

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Nov 14, 2008 7:14AM EST

atl373: arthur being on paralyzed was a secret and besides, how could you let a traitor heal you?(he might have known..) maybe, he has not gotten the powers of forcing thoughts into people's head and change their minds that time yet,, i think all these things will tie together and turn out great eventually and all you''ll ever need is patience

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Nov 14, 2008 11:50AM EST

its funny, arthur, sylar and peter can obsorbe other peoples powers. arthur does it by taking them away from the person, peter does it by being near them, but the other person gets to keep their powers, and sylar does it by taking a look in there brain. but why cant nathan do it too? i get that people have different powers just like meredith and claire, they are related. Just that father and 2 sons have the same power but still different it amazes me.

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