Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Heroes Report: "Building 26"

After a long break in which I literally did not touch a computer in five days (probably my longest stretch in six months), the first thing I did when I returned to the electronic civilization today was visit NBC.com to watch last night's episode of "Heroes."

Actually, the first thing I did was visit resignedgamer.com to check what yesterday's "Motivational Monday" post was, but then I went to NBC.com.

And while the highlight of the show may have been the "Chili's to go" bowl of chili I was eating while watching (It may be cliche, but Chili's does make great Chili), for the second straight week, I was able to watch a full episode of "Heroes" without getting a continuity- or logic-based headache.

I think the highest compliment I can pay the writers is that I did not even notice the absence of Peter, Parkman or Suresh until they (SPOILER ALERT) showed up in the final 20 seconds. After months and months and years and years of force-feeding these characters (Peter in particular) into every episode, "Building 26" shows there is enough going on in the "Heroes" universe to afford us a break from Peter & Pals.

That's not to say we didn't still see familiar faces, though. The four storylines we followed in this episode were anchored by four main characters. And while some worked better than others, the episode still advanced the overarching story to where it needs to be in every case.

Out in Costa Verde, Claire decided to play Freedom Fighter by warning a targeted special of his captors. In doing so, she draws the attention of the government (again), her father (again) and decides to throw another little tantrum by telling her Mom about HRG's new job.

But what I liked about this storyline was that while Claire was doing her same dumb-teenager bit, the writers didn't try to take this down the same old (poor every time they try it) path of making Claire hate HRG. On the contrary, I got the feeling that both characters wish they could just agree on everything, but their own personal compunctions are not allowing that. Frankly, I felt their scene in Claire's bedroom was the most touching of any Bennett Family moments since Season one.

Oh, and by the way, Claire is, apparently, trying to restart the Underground Railroad in her house. Smart girl.

In Washington ("Building 26?"), Homeland Security threatens to shut Nathan's project down, until "The Hunter" (honestly, the bald schmuck needs a name) secretly lets Tracy loose in order to have the Homeland Security Rep watch her freeze and kill a man.

More than any other storyline this episode, I was encouraged the most here. As soon as Homeland Security stepped in threatening to shut down the program, I remembered the mess that Volume III was and how many storylines it set up only to be quickly abandoned. I envisioned Nathan's project getting shut down, only to have "The Hunter" lead a secret, no-holds barred, operation of his own without the government's consent, and Nathan would become one of the hunted. But, to my surprise, the writers actually were able to keep a storyline going for a change. Let's have three cheers for basic plot development!

Believe it or not, I also enjoyed Sylar's roadtrip. Now, personally, I find this search for Daddy Sylar contrived and weak. It's like the writers don't know what to do with such a powerful character, so they're taking him off the board for a while. Which means, I also didn't care much for Zachary Quinto's heartfelt little speech about his wittle wed wagon (honestly, do people actually think he's a good actor, or do women just find him hot?). Further, if you're hunting Sylar, and you get a gun to the back of his head, pull the bleepity-bleeping trigger! Such horrible writing!

All that said, watching Sylar walk out of that van, dressed in full-commando black gear, with the laptop in one hand and the boy over his shoulder, I had a vision of just what kind of fantastic anti-hero Sylar can be in this storyline. He could be the hero hunting the hunters. He has their information, he knows he can take large groups of them as long as he doesn't get caught off-guard -- Sylar may become the Frank Castle of this storyline, and that would be the first truly great use of this character.

And oh, by the way, Hiro and Ando were in this episode, with Hiro deciding that by stopping a wedding, he became a hero again. That makes a lot of sense. So every redneck best man who sleeps with the bride the night before the wedding is a hero now?

Anyway, I'd have to say this was another good effort overall, and a good table-setter for the next phase of this storyline. Now the biggest questions are 1) What will HRG do for Peter/Suresh/Parkman; 2) What will Claire do with Aquaman in the closet (get it?); 3) What will the government do about Claire?

I guess we find out in six days. My interest in this show is slowly making a comeback, how about you?

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