Heroes Reborn, Season 1, Episode 4, “The Needs of the Many”
Written by Joey Falco
Directed by Jeff Woolnough
Airs on Thursdays at 8pm (ET) on NBC
Heroes Reborn is a dumb show. It’s a dumb show full of cliches and paper-thin characters and every bad green screen effect NBC felt appropriate to budget. Whatever promise or signs of improvement the show has displayed up to this point were completely demolished with tonight’s episode. If the whole point of bringing Heroes back to TV was to give a starving public the kind of unique television experience that only Heroes can offer, then apparently that public has been starved of shows that just refuse to try.
At no point in “The Needs of the Many” is it ever suggested that the characters of the Heroverse occupy any kind of existence outside of the needs of the show. Whenever Joanne isn’t murdering innocent people and Luke isn’t sulking about it, they simply cease to function, shutting down until the story requires their participation again. HRG and Fan-Boy Man and Evil CEO’s Daughter apparently just live at Renautas now, while various stooges give them crumbs of information so that their scenes have some kind of purpose. “But the stories this season are so mission-oriented that it doesn’t matter that this is all the audience is given!” laments the one guy out there that insists Heroes Reborn has merit. Even if that were true, the show doesn’t shade the characters in any way to suggest they’re people, evo or otherwise.
The entirety of Zachary Levi’s dialogue thus far has been about how broken he feels about killing innocent people; he’s had an entire show’s worth of scenes and literally every line has been some various of “Joanne, please let’s stop this because it is rotting me from the inside out.” Joanne at one point this episode literally calls out Luke for having sun powers by comparing his fever to the sun. Miko seems only to exist at a plot device to find her dad who we’ve only seen as a gooey blob of Hype Williams computer graphics. Who the hell knows what is going on with the various kids that are scattered around this show, and Carlos apparently can just create some kind of bionic suit because he’s good with hydraulics or technology of something, but he has a computer with graphics of the suit spinning around, so clearly he has some kind of talent that has heretofore been unaddressed.
Because these characters are only pawns and not fully actualized fictional entities, watching Heroes Reborn is almost a one-to-one experience with reading the notecards the writers broke the story on. NBC should have just put copies of those notecards online instead of producing the show, because the demo it decided was clamoring for a fresh set of Heroes tales would get just as much enjoyment reading the plot lines themselves, rather than watching actors pointedly speak episode synopses at each other, and it would have been so much cheaper.
It really is impressive how quickly the show stopped having any enjoyable qualities to it at all. The powers don’t even look good or feel conceptually exciting. Luke’s sun powers is just a version of a person filled with incredible energy that the show did at least once a season in its original run, Jose’s ability to pass through objects looks like a previz, and Malina can just, like, create life, it seems. And whatever that Big Bad in the sky is decides to show itself to EVERY CHARACTER ACROSS THE GLOBE SIMULTANEOUSLY; a nurse at one point sees an aura borealis in Illinois and opines, “Isn’t nature beautiful?”
Heroes is a dumb show that assumes that its audience will accept a person in not-the-Arctic seeing the well-documented phenomenon of the Northern Lights appearing outside of its usual context as something that is totally normal. If Heroes Reborn is a practical joke that plays like a massive game of “Spot What’s Wrong Here”, then it is wholly successful and honestly one of the best constructed games of 2015. But it is not. It is, instead, a real TV show that expects to be taken seriously, and that thinks that what it is putting on our screens every week is an acceptable effort. It’s hard to imagine what another nine hours of this show is going to look like, simply because everything that has been put forth so far has been so vague that, even with all the characters snared in the show’s world, it’s impossible to envision the characters doing anything other than spinning their wheels for no less than eight of those hours. Watching Heroes Reborn has transitioned from following a flawed show with promise to an exercise in seeing how little a show can develop itself and still be considered TV.