It was a depressingly mundane hour of Heroes this week, as the show’s massive fluctuations of quality week-to-week continued. As usual, it helps which characters you’re dealt in a certain episode: for example, there was far too much of the black oil misery twins Maya (Dania Ramirez) and Alejandro (Shalim Ortiz), with barely any sign of Noah Bennet (Jack Coleman) or Hiro Nakamura (Masi Oka). It wasn’t just the characters that were wrong with “Truth and Consequences”, though. Considering how late in the game things are (next week’s episode concludes the second ’volume’ of the show and reportedly will serve as a season finale in this strike-shortened year), the various accelerating plots of the season slowed to a depressing crawl, content with providing a little bit of background info and setup for future episodes rather than actually telling a complete story.
Last week’s “Cautionary Tales” framed each of its strands around a different parent-child conflict, and the results were interesting, especially for a show this pulpy. “Truth and Consequences”, on the other hand, felt entirely aimless, to the point of confusion—a promising new character sprang up, but was killed by the end of the episode. Another recurring character’s death was barely noticed, and the internal logic systems of almost everyone involved seemed highly out of whack. Mohinder (Sendhil Ramamurthy) being one of the best examples—his sudden undying belief in the Company, which he was trying to destroy from within only a few episodes ago, is based entirely on hearsay and some very inconsequential evidence from the impressively shady and ambiguous Bob (Steven Tobolowsky). Indeed, Mohinder seems untroubled by the fact that he shot Noah Bennet in the head only an episode ago (he revived his former partner not long after). Dr. Suresh has never been the smartest genetics professor in the world, but his abandonment of his moral compass on such shaky grounds is bizarre even by his standards. His brief scene with Noah, where he rejects Bennet’s information on the Company as ’paranoid ramblings’, was infuriating because of how pointless the whole storyline feels.
Equally stupid this week was Maya, who is now completely under the thrall of serial killer Sylar (Zachary Quinto) despite the frequent protestations of her doomed brother Alejandro. This week’s story, where Alejandro found out that Sylar was wanted for murdering his own mother in America, was a little less infuriating, because Maya has been doe-eyed and moronically gullible since her introduction to the show. Even then, I cocked an eyebrow when Sylar murdered Alejandro in his motel room and then whisked Maya off to New York. True, the twins had argued with each other over Sylar teaching Maya to control her powers, but I find it hard to believe Maya wouldn’t ask where exactly her brother was before zipping into the city with her new best friend. The larger fault here, though, is that Maya and Alejandro have been a disastrous addition to the show—indeed, they’re two of the most boring and tiresome characters on any TV show right now. This week, Sylar taught Maya how to control her death power, but the relevance of this skill escapes me entirely. I get the impression the writers were trying to convey, through Maya’s powers, the paranoia and fear illegal immigrants are greeted with when they try to cross the border. Needless to say, they failed: any sympathy I might have for the twins has been vanished by week upon week of the exact same storyline, each go-round as terminally boring as the last. I’m sure Sylar and Maya will play some part in the next episode’s denouement, but it won’t have been worth it.
Peter Petrelli (Milo Ventimiglia) is yet another character currently being mentored by a lunatic, although I similarly forgive his seduction by the immortal Adam Monroe (David Anders): for one, Anders is at giving a relatively charming performance, and for two, Peter’s never been too clever either. Still, all these alliances between heroes and villains, leading to infighting among the heroes themselves, has mostly proven tiresome. I’ve already mentioned Mohinder’s extremely weak motives for betraying Noah to the Company; at the end of “Truth and Consequences,” Hiro charged at Peter brandishing a samurai sword because Adam Monroe killed his father. It was a pointless cliffhanger (we the audience are well aware that Peter and Hiro are in no danger of being killed off anytime soon), and it was just as abrupt and unconvincing as Mohinder’s betrayal. Both Peter and Hiro’s plots this week centered on the Company’s origins, and the creation of the Shanti Virus. Hiro traveled to the past to see his father Kaito (played by a younger man doing an awful George Takei impression) lock Monroe up for planning to release the Shanti virus worldwide. Meanwhile, Peter and Adam interrogated Victoria Pratt, the final living founder of the Company, played by Joanna Cassidy, who has exiled herself to Maine. Cassidy is an able actress, and could be a nice contrast to Cristine Rose, who plays the Petrelli matriarch (and is Heroes’ current grande dame). Irritatingly, however, Adam shot and killed Victoria at the end of the episode, and while this does not write her off for good, it seems the writers had no interest in getting any dramatic mileage out of Cassidy. Both storylines were confused and uninteresting: we learned little that we did not already know, and all we were left with was the aforementioned unsatisfying cliffhanger.
The other two threads of “Truth and Consequences” were less bothersome, but they were (pardon the pun) fairly inconsequential, not even enough to prop up a C-story. Claire’s (Hayden Panettiere) emotional goodbye to her presumed-dead father was competently acted but a total bore for the viewers, seeing as we all know he’s alive and well. Had the reveal of Noah’s survival been left until the end of this episode, it might have been vaguely interesting, but I have a feeling the writers knew that would be too big a cheat. Over in New Orleans, Micah (Noah Gray-Cabey) was reunited with his virus-plagued mother (Ali Larter), which aroused the sympathy of Monica (Dana Davis) enough for her to don a costume to try and get some missing comics of his back. This moment was mostly overlooked save for a line from Micah, but it is a watershed for Heroes: Monica’s cape thingy was the first time a hero has gotten costumed up to fight crime. Could this be the shape of things to come, or is it just a throwaway homage? Time will tell, I suppose.
All told, I’m still excited for the upcoming ’finale’ of sorts, even though I’m sure the writers won’t be able to tie up half the dangling plots they’ve set up over the last few weeks. Despite Heroes’ inconsistency, it’s been compelling enough in the past few weeks to merit some enthusiasm. Nielsen ratings and critical buzz might suggest a major second season slump, but I’m hopeful that the show will find its groove again and has learned from the many mistakes it’s made recently. The second season has not been entirely without good ideas—Monica and Monroe are strong characters, and former duds like Matt are coming into their own—and even episodes as tepid as “Truth and Consequences” have shown moments of visual flair. Forgetting anything else, one can at least hope for an improvement on last year’s finale.
London-based writer David Sims is a contributor to South Dakota Dark.