(Note: This review covers the second half of the two-hour fourth season premiere event. A previous review covered the first half.)
âHeroesâ has certainly seen better days. Once a ratings powerhouse, the fourth season premiere averages about 6 million viewers. To put this in perspective, the series premiere of âThe Vampire Diariesâ achieved better ratings. With a start like this, the producers might want to plan for a potential series finale at the end of the season.
Episodes like this one donât help particularly much. Unlike past seasons, where the launch of a new âHeroesâ volume was a heralded event, I suspect the doubling-up of episodes was more of an overall scheduling concern. There certainly didnât seem to be much of a reason for these two episodes to be aired at the same time. This particular hour was mostly standard fare, following up on a few items from the premiere with little fanfare.
As with the first hour, the most interesting subplot concerns Samuelâs carnie folk and whatever motivations they might have for their activities. As with so many previous villains, Samuel seems to have a long past with elements of the âHeroesâ world, just waiting to be revealed. If the writers tie this into the already-strained continuity of the Twelve again, it will be a fatal mistake. Moving on means letting go of the patterns of the past.
Already, though, we have Samuel interacting with Hiro roughly fourteen years in the past, and presumably altering something vital in the âpresentâ pertaining to these compasses and whatever endgame might be in mind. It plays Hiro as something of a fool again, which I dislike to no end. I do not want Hiro running around through time righting supposed wrongs. The timeline has been adjusted enough already!
Claireâs college adventure was made a bit more interesting by the death of her initial roommate and the character of Gretchen. Gretchen has the kind of unusual socialization issues that make for a well-represented geek, and it doesnât hurt that she has a semi-goth appreciation for the morbid. Sheâs well-designed as a potential confidante for Claire, so it only remains to be seen if and how the writers will manage to botch that up.
Itâs clear that the writers took a great deal of pleasure in the scenes between Matt and Sylar. They were very well done, and one could tell that Zachery Quinto appreciated the chance to play. This could have been little more than an excuse to keep Quinto busy enough to justify keeping him until his inevitable return in full later in the season, but it works as a story element for now. It will likely serve as the catalyst for driving Matt back to the Company.
As far as the Company is concerned, I find it hard to believe that Noah and Tracy would already have something of a comfortable relationship within hours of her attempt to kill him. Itâs true that Noah is trying to turn over a new leaf, but one would assume he would have to do more than tell the truth once to be trusted. Peterâs involvement was nice, as it provided some insight into his current abilities and mindset, but once again, they push too hard to tell us heâs redeeming himself, rather than just showing it.
The main problem with the episode is that it just seemed to be missing much of a spark. The fight scene with Peter and the knife-wielding carnie was not done well at all (perhaps justifying all the times that the writers have whiffed on every major battle theyâve ever promised). There was too much of what weâve seen a dozen times before. There seemed to be a distinct lack of inspiration in the total product. And perhaps worst of all, it still feels like the writers are trying to figure out where they want to go, which is not a good sign this early in the season.