This season of âHeroesâ has been uneven, but in many respects, success or failure has been dependent on the treatment of Samuel Sullivan. That character has done more for this season than almost any other element, and as such, one would expect the same would be true for this episode (and the season as a whole).
So it is a bit unfortunate that the time has finally come for Samuelâs motivations to become clear. As much as it was necessary for the good of the season arc, since it begins to answer some of the pressing questions about Samuel and his activities since the season premiere, it also feels a bit too simple. It renders Samuel a less compelling villain to have him searching for more and more power.
Essentially, Samuel has an ability that is somehow amplified by the presence of other metahumans. This makes him tremendously dangerous. The fact that he was basically the brother with more ambition than wisdom makes it very clear that his temper would be an issue. Tying Samuelâs story into the revelations about Coyote Sands was a nice touch, and it does explain where Mohinder has been all this time.
Iâve liked the slow and measured pace of the plot, if only because it gives the writers more time to delve into the characters. But I now have to wonder if Sylar was trapped within âNathanâ and Mattâs mind for so long because the writers needed to pace out the revelations about Samuel first. With Samuelâs amplified ability now revealed, I get the feeling that his time is short.
After all, Sylar is sure to get his body back sooner rather than later, and he will very likely retain some knowledge of the carnival. He will want to get back to it, and since Peter has a compass, that seems the most likely means. If Sylar discovers the true nature of Samuelâs ability, right down to how it can be amplified, thereâs little doubt that he would want that power for himself. It would be like the ultimate fix.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. If this is going to be the final season, then it would make sense to have Sylar take control of the carnival (right down to killing Samuel and taking on his appearance, for example), and forcing the familiar heroes to band together to take him down, once and for all. Maybe, if the series comes to an end, the writers will finally have the excuse to deliver a fitting bloodbath of an ending.
For now, the trick is getting the characters in place for whatever climax the writers do have in mind. I can only assume that is the point of the subplot with Tracy and Claire. As much as I bought Claire in her pseudo-Buffy role at college, I have little interest in her latest angst. For that matter, Tracy has been all over the map this season, and I never liked her anyway. Itâs clear theyâre meant to go to the carnival before long.
Iâm glad that they gave âNathanâ a little more screen time, since I think the actor deserves a better sendoff. I was expecting his inevitable exit to come in this episode, but I suppose the writers intend to drag it out a bit longer. That said, it should be interesting to see how Peter handles the truth about âNathanâ, as well as how Matt intends to get out of the mess that Sylar has made of his life. Could Mattâs apparent sacrifice have been foreshadowing?
Perhaps the most egregious element of the episode, however, had to be Hiroâs decision to place Mohinder in a mental institution. Never mind how that was supposed to work exactly; the writers fudged a number of details to ensure that Mohinder would be out of play until they needed him. Itâs the fact that Hiroâs solution to his own problem was no better than Samuelâs decision to trap Charlie in some unknown time and place. Hiroâs character arc has been horrid this season, and thatâs taking into account how much of the characterâs development had been erased by the third season.
Despite some of the flaws of this episode, the story is still holding my attention. Iâm not happy that Samuel seems to be shifting into a typically villainous role, concerned only with the accumulation of his own power, when something a bit more nuanced might have been more satisfying in the end. That said, the story is still moving forward at a deliberate pace, and this season is still solid. This episode just didnât quite hit the mark.