I’m really in a bit of a fanboyish swoon about this episode, so let me get this out of the way and then try to discuss things a little more clearly:
Dude! HRG and Claude! And Hiro’s dad, and little Hiro, sweet! And Ted went boom, kinda! And the double-crossing — whoa.
Sorry. Just had to get that out of my system.
The episode, "Company Man," walked a pretty fine line between revealing big stuff about HRG and the people he works for and keeping at least some air of mystery about him. And I think it worked for the most part — we have a pretty good sense of why he’s been so protective of Claire, for instance, but there’s still a lot left in the dark about the activities at Primatech Paper (although, would anyone at this point be too shocked to find out that Primatech is a subsidiary of the Linderman Group, or whatever?).
In the present, as we first saw last week, Parkman and Radioactive Ted have broken into the Bennet home, with Ted especially believing that HRG is somehow responsible for their strange abilities (Parkman should know better, since he started hearing people’s thoughts before he was bagged and tagged). While the standoff in the Bennet home had a nice, tense air about it, the real meat of the episode was in the flashback to HRG’s career with Primatech.
It began 15 years ago, with a not-yet-bespectacled Mr. Bennet meeting creepy Eric Roberts (does no one at this company have names?) and being extremely enthusiastic about his new job locating and tracking people with some extra genetic juice. Roberts explains that he’ll be working with such a person as his partner — and it’s Claude (cool!).
Cut to: a year later, with Bennet and Claude meeting Roberts on the roof of the Deveaux building in New York, where they’re discussing the recent fire that left baby Claire a supposed orphan. Oh, and Hiro’s dad is there too, working with Roberts (awesome!) and telling Bennet that he will adopt the baby — "it’s not a request" — but that he will only be her "surrogate father. She belongs to us."
Ladies and gentlemen, I think we now understand why Mr. Bennet has been so eager to keep his family in the dark about Claire’s true nature, and to keep her sheltered from the outside world. He may be an overprotective dad, but he has better reason than most.
Early on, Roberts makes reference to the company working in a "gray area," but some of the stuff that’s alluded to sounds charcoal, at best. Claude mentions vivisection in his car ride to nowhere with HRG, not long before HRG shoots him for "acting against the interests of the company." Yipe. Guess we know now why Claude is so bitter, if not how he survived getting plugged four times.
One thing I’m a little unclear on: The Haitian tells Bennet that he answers to someone above Bennet when it comes to Claire. I was assuming he meant Roberts, but given how the two of them collaborated to wipe HRG’s memory of Claire at episode’s end, I’m now not entirely sure. If they were working a con on Roberts, why would they make a show of their argument about it just for Parkman’s sake? Anyone want to chime in on that?
A few other bits from this standout episode:
- Liked how Claire tried to cover when Parkman first read her mind, as if she was afraid her dad would find out her memory wasn’t wiped. Justifiably angry as she was with her dad at that point, she’s still his girl.
- Claire’s mom’s explanation of her faith was interesting too. Heroes hasn’t dealt much with that aspect of things, but it’s certainly a ripe topic in this context: Are these genetic advances a gift from God, proof of evolution, both?
- How cute was young Hiro, banging away at his video game?
- Who do we figure Claude was protecting when he took HRG’s bullets?
- Nice FX work on the Ted-hulking-out sequence, and Matthew John Armstrong got to act out a classically tragic arc for his character. I almost feel bad for Ted that Claire managed to sedate him, because whatever’s in store for him cannot be pleasant.
For all that, though, there are still some substantial questions about the nature of HRG’s work — not least, why does the company do what it does? — which is as it should be for a show this early in its life. The show and HRG need an air of mystery, and given the writers’ willingness to pay off things from time to time, I’m willing to ride with it for a while.
Your thoughts on tonight’s Heroes? Sweet flashbacks, huh?