For a good portion of Monday's "Heroes" season finale, the story chugged along more or less as you'd expect, playing a couple of smart beats and proceeding fairly logically based on events from previous episodes.
Around the time Claire got thrown through that hotel-suite door, though, I got pretty annoyed. And then the preposterous-even-for-"Heroes" ending unfolded, and that may be the last straw. "Heroes" will almost certainly be back next season, but I'm not sure I will.
The source of this huge frustration is the incredibly silly way the finale dealt with the death of Nathan Petrelli, whom Sylar killed with a throat slash (rather than the usual forehead cut) after his big, off-camera fight (more on that in a bit) with both Nathan and Peter. After offing Nathan and then dispatching and morphing into the president's chief of staff, he made his way to the POTUS himself.
Except it's not the POTUS himself — it's Peter, who in the course of their fight must have touched Sylar and absorbed his abilities. Chances are you saw that coming, but the handshake, Sylar's surprise at being duped and Peter's "I bet you didn't think I took that one from you" was actually kind of cool. So far, so good.
But then Angela Petrelli, in her grief over the son she's only loved sometimes and her steadfast stance that every one of her future-foretelling dreams must come true, decides that her dream that Parkman saves Nathan has to come true too. Angela and Noah insist that Matt has to work his mind-control mojo to — wait for it — convince Sylar that he IS Nathan, because otherwise … well, what, exactly? People with abilities would still be forced to go underground? Noah wouldn't know what to do with himself if he weren't lying to Claire? It would mean letting a cast regular go because his character actually, no foolin', fingers uncrossed, died?
The turn-Sylar-into-Nathan solution seemed just about the most complicated way to resolve that story, and it seemed complicated solely for the purpose of setting up next season. I'm sorry — Angela and Noah's argument to Matt that it was the only way to keep his son from a life on the run just didn't hold with me — I'm thinking killing Sylar (burning him, cutting him up into little pieces, putting his brain through a wood chipper, whatever) and then coming clean about everything might be the way to go.
But no — "Heroes" chose the hard way, and then within two minutes of setting up the next volume, reminded us what it had just done by having Sylar-as-Nathan show a hint of his other self by noticing how a clock in his office is off. OK — we get it. Nathan Is Not Really Nathan. (And I don't even want to think about how Parkman's mind game got Sylar to shape-shift himself.)
Volume five will be called "Redemption," and all of you who called the fact that frozen Tracy blinking meant she wasn't really dead can congratulate yourselves, because apparently Tracy is sort of like Zan from the Wonder Twins, able to assume all sorts of water-based forms. And also? She's mad — understandably so, I suppose, and knocking off the Building 26 agents who detained her.
Had that been the capper to the season, without all the Nathan-Sylar nonsense, that might have been kinda fun. But that was not much more than an afterthought, and it's looking for me like "Heroes" will be too from here on out.
Other thoughts from "An Invisible Thread":
– In 50-plus previous episodes of "Heroes," it's been barely hinted that a super's use of abilities could be detrimental to his or her health. Consequently I don't quite know why the show decided to have Suresh diagnose Hiro as having that problem tonight — particularly given all the unflattering comparisons to "Lost" it will no doubt invite. (Like this one.) The show's on-the-fly tendency to bring up things like this without laying any groundwork has always bugged me, even when I otherwise liked it.
– I'm setting the over-under at four episodes into next season for when Claire finds out her dad and grandmother have been lying about Sylar being dead.
– Remember back at the end of season one when we were all geeked up for a Sylar-Peter smackdown, and we never got it, and we were all like, hey, what's with that? That's how I felt again when all we saw of the Sylar-Petrellis brawl were some flashes of light and Claire's surprised eye looking through the crack in the door. I get that a TV production schedule wouldn't necessarily allow for a huge, computer-enhanced blowout of a fight scene, but couldn't we get a little something more than Nathan being tossed over a piano in the aftermath?
- Carping aside, I like the emboldened Claire we've seen the past few weeks. I think the show has started figuring out how to handle Claire, and her journey has been one of the more consistently believable and enjoyable ones over the second half of the season.
– With a reconstituted Company now taking over the monitoring (but not imprisonment — you know, unless they're bad) of people with powers, does that mean Danko's dead? I suppose getting a syringe full of elephant tranquilizer directly into your neck could kill a guy (especially a guest star), but the episode sort of left things hanging.
So that's it for the season. Will you be back when "Heroes" returns next season? What did you think of the ending, Parkman's action and the insistence that this was the only way to go?