Heroes 4.3: "Ink"

After a less than impressive season premiere, the writing staff seems to settle in a bit with this episode. There are essentially four plot threads explored in this installment, and all of them have their point of interest. Some are handled better than others, but unlike the premiere, none of them are completely mishandled.

Claire’s new college life was not a highlight of the premiere, but it slips into a more comfortable niche in this hour. Perhaps this is the result of the choice to focus on Claire’s decision to trust Gretchen with her secret. She goes through a bit of a process to get there, but it seems like her discussion with Noah brought her wants and needs into focus. Claire is looking for someone that she can be open and honest with, and for now, that appears to be Gretchen. Having established Gretchen as being a bit left-of-center also laid the foundation for her to be an outsiders, and therefore someone also looking for a friend, not someone who is likely to spread the news.

Whatever doubts Noah might have had about restoring the Company are now a thing of the past. Claire may have decided that she needs a confidante, but Noah still considers anyone outside of his “circle of trust” to be a potential threat. He might ultimately trust Claire’s judgment on this (though experience and her track record should have advised him otherwise), but it has given him focus on the big picture.

Gretchen’s battle of wills with Claire may have ended well for the moment, but the other two examples of mind games are anything but benevolent. Matt’s struggle with Sylar is very well done, even if it is hard to watch. For just a moment, I was beginning to think that Sylar was going to weasel his way into Matt’s confidence by playing “good cop”. If there was an obvious way to get past Matt’s resistance, that would have been it. Instead, the writers provided crushing evidence that Sylar didn’t have to work past Matt’s resistance, because in all the most important ways, he already had.

I’m not sure where this is going to take Matt, nor am I sure that the writers have thought it through. Hopefully they have, because this is one of those dark consequences that should come out of the ill-advised “solution” to the Sylar problem in the third season finale. They all underestimated Sylar, and now they’re all going to pay for it. The question is how this will intersect with the other driving force for the volume.

Samuel’s decision to manipulate Hiro in the premiere, and Peter in this episode, seems to be based on a need to replace vital members of his own “family”. Samuel’s time-traveler is dying, so Hiro is the most obvious option. Samuel lost his brother, and Peter happens to have a similar ability. Samuel’s entire motivation seems to be built around doing what he feels is necessary to protect his own. In a way, he is a pseudo-Magneto in that respect.

Even though Samuel lies, deceives, and kills as he deems necessary, his motivations make him a more compelling potential villain. Unlike Sylar, his reasons haven’t been muddled by constant retroactive revisions to his story. The writers have the chance to make him a sympathetic villain in the process. I get the feeling that he will be very much like Bester on “Babylon 5”, which gives me hope that he will continue to evolve in a strong and consistent fashion.

While definitely the weakest subplot of the episode, built around questionable notions of disability, Emma’s introduction had its moments. The scene in the park was lovely, and made up somewhat for the notion that a deaf person would be so isolated in the most diverse and active city in the world. The intersection with Peter’s story suggests that she will be drawn into Samuel’s web as well. It should be interesting to see how that plays out, and what function Emma is meant to fill in the story.

It’s a bit unfortunate that the premiere was as weak as it was, because this was one of the better episodes in quite some time, and there’s at least some sense of direction shining through. It should be interesting to see what the ratings look like. If the season is more like this episode and less like the premiere, the season might have a chance of gaining that titular redemption.


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