If this is the last Heroes we’re going to see for a good while, then well done: I’m going to care whenever the show does make its return.
Does it make up for the all the puttering around at the start of the season, for West and Maya and Alejandro’s Amazing Race and Peter’s four-episode idiot plot? No, not entirely. But it was a pretty strong effort, maybe the best the show has put forth this season — and yeah, the bar isn’t as high as it was, but the end of volume two felt much more in keeping with the show’s first season.
(Oh yeah, we’ll be spoiling.)
The action was concentrated primarily on two fronts: The efforts to stop Adam from releasing the virus, and Sylar’s quest to regain his abilities. Rather than going for big action, the show smartly opted for a hearts-and-minds sort of battle, as first Hiro, then Parkman, and finally Nathan all tried to convince Peter that Adam was on the wrong side of things.
Adam, having had 300-plus years to perfect his manipulative skills, doesn’t make it easy. Between what he’s told Peter and what Peter has seen for himself, it’s a pretty compelling case: See, these people are afraid of our abilities, they want to keep us bottled up. I had to kill Hiro’s father — he didn’t destroy the virus, so he might have used it, right? You know it gets out somehow.
Ultimately, as it did in last season’s finale, the power of the brotherly bond between the Petrelli boys is what saves the day. Not the most original way to go, but at least this time the moment felt appropriate to the situation, or at least more in line with our expectations. Hiro blinks Adam away, Peter uses his powers to stop the virus from getting out, and Nathan, Peter and Parkman decide to go public with all the dirt on their parents and the Company.
(Side questions: How, exactly, did Hiro get Adam into a coffin? Are his teleporting powers that finely honed? And what happened to the other body that Adam presumably replaced?)
And, even if you had paid attention to all the NBC promos and were watching the clock, what happened next still carried a little bit of shock value. Just as he’s about to reveal that he and the two guys flanking him have superpowers, he takes two bullets in the chest. The wide shot of the ensuing chaos showed one person walking away, and though the assassin wasn’t clearly shown, the smart money is probably on HRG.
The recently deceased, then resurrected, Noah Bennet made a Faustian deal with Bob to go back to work for Primatech in order to keep Claire and his family safe, he hopes for good. Killing Nathan would seem to be just the kind of assignment Bob would want HRG to perform in order to prove his commitment to the new arrangement. (Possible caveat: The press conference seemed like it was arranged pretty hastily. If it happened the same day as the rest of the finale’s events, it would have been pretty tough for HRG to get from Southern California to West Texas that quickly.)
The episode’s other apparent casualty was the virus-afflicted Niki, who died saving Monica from a fire. She goes out a regular, mere-mortal kind of hero, doing the same thing her husband had done before he got plugged a few episodes back. Both deaths felt earned, and Niki’s story especially felt as though it had run its course. The show might miss Adrian Pasdar a little more, if only because he was one of the strongest actors in the Heroes ensemble. Dramatically, though, it probably opens up a good number of storytelling possibilities for the future, setting Peter on a crusade against the Company (and, incidentally, his own mother, who was pretty remorseless about her elder son’s death).
While all that was going on, Sylar and his very large gun were forcing Suresh to give him the cure for the virus. Molly and Maya are in tow, and when Molly informs her that her brother "isn’t anywhere," all the black goo finally clears from Maya’s eyes and she sees Sylar for what he is. For a second, anyway, until Sylar shoots her.
No dummy, Sylar then forces Suresh to give Maya an injection of Claire’s blood, which works just as Elle shows up in an effort to win her daddy’s confidence back (man, are there a lot of layers to unpeel on Kristen Bell’s character. Here’s hoping, whenever the show comes back, that we get an episode devoted to her back story). In the chaos that follows, Sylar grabs the syringe of Claire’s blood and takes off, surviving a blast from Elle to make his getaway.
Which brings us to the final scene. Sylar is on the street, shooting up like a junkie, watching his wounds heal and rediscovering his telekinesis. A sinister "I’m back," and we fade to black. I don’t quite get why NBC chose to label this as the opening of the next volume, given that there’s no certainty the show will return anytime soon (the NBC announcer intoned over the closing credits that Heroes will be back "in 2008," but that’s a pretty wide window). But as a way to bring the show’s Big Bad back, it was pretty good.
So a bumpy ride of a half-season is over, and I won’t bother to remember a lot of the first part of it. But Heroes pulled itself together fairly well by the end, which gives me hope that future episodes — whenever those might come — will return to the standard that made us all like the show in the first place.
How’d you feel about the finale? Did Heroes save itself enough in the end to make you come back for more?