Heroes and Goats

Topic the first: Doug Wilson seems to be waffling a bit on what to do about his team’s embarrassing exit from the post season. At least he’s not all sunshine and roses over Ron Wilson’s performance, so that’s one good thing. But I was serious in my rant against Ron: I think he’s got to shoulder the responsibility for not lighting the fire in the Detroit series. People kind of overlooked his role in the loss to Edmonton last year but it was quite clear that this roster wasn’t missing much in the way of talent and depth so if a team like that slides pitifully from the playoffs you have no choice but to look at the coaching staff and say, “Dude. What happened?”

The second topic is Heroes, so if you don’t wish to be spoiled as to the show or, more specifically, the season finale then you may want to quit reading now.

So, some people hated the finale. I didn’t hate it exactly, but I understand part of the sentiment. It’s tough to really express why the last episode was such a let down when almost everything leading up to it was so very good. But I knew there was trouble when they took a commercial break at 8:50 pm and they still hadn’t gotten to the climactic confrontation we all knew was coming.

I think the main problem was that for the first time I felt like the writers cheated, and they did so in what should have been the most pivotal scene in the whole season. TVAddict mentions the implausibility of how the fight with Sylar went down and those gripes are very valid. Sylar and Peter both seemed to conveniently find and lose powers as suited the writers which is a good way to annoy a loyal audience. I’m not trying to make this as inflammatory as it may sound, but this is part of why Lost is suffering from backlash: Because they conveniently ignore plot elements that they introduced whenever it suits them. Episodic shows demand that their writers not be lazy and resort to copping out of inconvenient story elements just because they don’t suit what they’re trying to do presently.

I do think the TVAddict was flat wrong with a lot of complaints, and was taken appropriately to task in the comments on that post. But the main points that didn’t sit well with me were as follows:

  • Peter can fly. We’ve already established plainly that he actually possesses the powers he absorbs and requires no proximity, so Nathan’s last-minute heroics should have been unnecessary. Some have suggested that Peter can’t use more than one power at a time and Ted’s radioactive surge was taking up his “power slot.” That’s a fairly flimsy explanation since he seemed to be both invisible and heal himself when Claude threw him off the roof earlier, at least that’s what Isaac’s painting indicated but we can’t really tell because the show used the device of actually showing the invisible characters for the benefit of the audience so it’s not really clear (hurr…) one way or the other. In any case, it wasn’t explained and without some kind of clarification Nathan’s heroics came across as kind of idiotic instead, undermining what I gathered was supposed to be a key moment for the character.
  • All of which is kind of moot when you consider that it was never explained why Peter was occasionally able to control Ted’s powers. And I don’t mean it wasn’t adequately explained, I mean that unless I missed a key scene (there was about two minutes at the beginning of Chapter 22 that I missed due to a TiVo mishap, I suppose it could have been there but I doubt it) it was never explained at all. Especially since none of the other powers he absorbed went wildly out of his control like that; Peter’s ability seemed in fact to be far superior to Sylar’s in that he didn’t need an understanding of a power’s function in order to utilize it. He certainly didn’t consciously work to figure out how to use Claire’s healing ability nor did he have any problem un-invisible-izing when he wanted. That Ted’s power seemed so volatile—and only to Peter as well; note that Sylar never seemed to struggle with it—was lazy work on the part of the writers.
  • Nathan’s change of heart was terribly executed. I recognize that it probably seemed more dramatic on paper to have him show up out of the blue like that, but it did several things: It made him seem like an inconsistent character. Pardon my geek, but if this were a scenario in a Heroes role-playing session and I was acting as GM, I’d dock the player controlling Nathan experience points for acting out of character. What, up until that very moment, suggested that he would a) Turn his back on The Plan at the last moment, b) Leave behind his wife and kids, c) Sacrifice himself hours after having achieved his dream of being elected to congress? Especially when—and I could be wrong about this, I’d have to watch it again to know for sure—I think that he was operating under the impression that Sylar was the bomb, not Peter. He would have had no reason to get involved or even show up in the plaza.
  • I recognize this is a comic book-esque show so you can’t take these things for granted but I assume we’re to believe Peter and Nathan are dead. This poses a problem with the show going forward in that we’ve seen how their mother is involved in the machinations but she’s not a very good character by herself and was only mostly tolerable as kind of the devil on Nathan’s shoulder to Peter’s angel. The familial connection is now limited to Claire and I don’t see Claire spending any more time with her since she’s been reunited with Bennett. Her presence on the show has the potential to be unwelcome next season. What I’m getting at is that I sure hope one of them survived. Fortunately, if the alternate future episode is any indication, Peter can live through the blast.
  • While we’re on the topic of living and dying, I’m wishing that Sylar would have just kicked the bucket. They nicely set up next season’s villain so I’m not sure why they need him around. Also, DL has worn out his welcome and I’m a bit disappointed that he seemed to pull through.
  • They wasted too much time with Hiro’s training. And even with all of that, it still felt forced and weak.
  • The scene with Peter’s flashback/dream/whatever that included the old man from earlier in the season was… clumsy to say the least. What exactly was happening there? Why was it significant? Why the whole John Lennon vibe? And why oh why can’t there be at least one character on the show who is not either a superhero or somehow tangled up in the conspiracy? Isn’t anyone in this world just normal? I guess the only ones were Simone and Ando, but she’s dead now and he seems to have been kind of written out. Figures.

But, I’m not all disappointment and angst. There were some good parts to the finale:

  • The foreshadowing of the next bad guy I mentioned was fantastic and appropriately creepy. Granted, that little girl is kind of creepy anyway with her big gums and freakishly small teeth, but it was a well-written scene that worked on every level.
  • I guess Niki and Jessica merged finally? At any rate Niki used the super strength and they seem to be coming to a sort of balance. It makes her character less annoying.
  • Some people (like TVAddict) disliked the reveal for HRG’s first name. Not me, I thought it was wonderfully done and a somehow appropriate name. The problem with leaving it mysterious is that stuff like that ends up getting really awkward the longer the character remains an integral part of the show. Look at some of the scenes with the Cigarette Smoking Man in the X-Files once he’s become a major character and you’ll see what I mean.

So the end result is a phenomenal season of TV with a sort of disappointing climax. I guess that makes the entire first season “pretty good”? I dunno, I still like the show and I’ll definitely be back in the fall, but I kind of hope they get a lot of flak for how they handled this important piece of the puzzle so they know next year that a great set up with a lame payoff equals grouchy fans.

Perhaps on the upside, I’m not that excited about the “Generations” premise to season two so maybe it will have just an okay set up but a really spectacular climax. Would I like that better? Hm. I don’t know. Why can’t the whole thing be awesome?

Stupid TV.

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