Heroes Reborn, Season 1, Episode 7, “June 13th Part One”
Written by Adam Lash & Cori Uchida
Directed by Allan Arkush
Airs on Thursdays at 8pm (ET) on NBC
Why the hell are we just now getting here?
Seriously, what was gained by having us wait until episode seven to get to the primo drama that has been running the engine of this show? Sure, the series opened with Odessa exploding, but why force us to deal with all the tedium of grief boats and HRG running around in circles when the show has HARRIS BOMBS under its sleeves. Harris bombs! That’s so cool. You want to hook viewers into watching the continuation of a show that didn’t end on the best of notes, open with clone bombs, not some aurora borealis nonsense.
Appropriate for an episode that deals with the past, “June 13th – Part One” showcases why the best parts of this extension of Heroes are those that have the strongest links to the show’s history. Investing in new characters is hard, especially when those characters live in a universe the viewer is (theoretically) familiar with. Want to care about HRG? The groundwork has already been laid, the show just has to push a few buttons, like killing off an established character he cares about offscreen, and it becomes easy to jump right back into caring. Want to care about Luke? The show has to kill off a kid that it doesn’t spend any time developing until episode seven, and that makes it hard to know if this new thing is worth paying attention to.
Much of the new material that precedes tonight’s episode has been floundering next to the stories that draw from Heroes‘ initial run. Just look at Carlos: His has been the most underdeveloped arc, the most disconnected from the rest of the story, and its absence tonight is a big part of what makes “June 13th – Part One” enjoyable. And while there’s a structural argument to be made for placing tonight’s episode in the middle of the run—it’s the natural high point of the story! This is the point of no return!—if everything that happened tonight were spelled out at the beginning of the show, it would have been much easier to care about what is happening with the newbies. Tommy and Malina aren’t just annoying kids, they’re Claire’s annoying twin kids who were separated after their mother died in childbirth, one to be raised in isolation, one to be raised with a family, because the fate of the world depends on them. (Heroes is not subtle, but especially so when cribbing from its nerdy inspirations). Erica isn’t just a vaguely evil CEO, she’s a blatantly evil CEO who tries to murder Suresh and is seen plotting and scheming rather than just talking about plots and schemes. Miko is no longer trying to save a father we’re unfamiliar with, she’s trying to save a father who’s imprisoned Hiro.
But, as Hiro says so often tonight, fate is not something to be tempted and only so much speculation can be had surrounding what-ifs. Instead, the show now has a clear focus going into its back half, and that is something to celebrate. Sure, it is kind of silly watching HRG mourn over what could just as easily be a blonde wig on a basketball in place of Claire, but having him follow himself around is good for some laughs and some intrigue. Not to mention HRG decides he’s had enough of this protecting the timeline BS and goes into full-on rampage mode to try to kill Erica, though not if his past self has anything to say about it!
Like the Harris bombs, this is a cool moment. The kind of moment that the show has been desperately lacking, but has in spades tonight. Suresh and Angela Petrelli arguing about the ethics of saving the world is another cool moment, if a nostalgic one. Hiro stabbing a Harris bomb with two swords at once after cutting off both of his arms is a cool moment. By going back to the past, Heroes Reborn has remembered it’s a silly show about people with superpowers and that it shouldn’t take itself so seriously. There’s remnants of that dourness—Luke, who has sun powers, has a son who’s allergic to…the sun!—but there’s enough focus on prompting an, “Oh, that’s neat” reaction that it’s easy to forget that this show once devoted a whole scene to an Evos Anonymous meeting.
It should be said that everything here is still being graded on the Heroes/Heroes Reborn curve; the best scene here would be, like, the fourth best scene in The Flash. And this is a “Part One”, so everything could unravel next week and burn off all the goodwill that the show just stockpiled. Knowing this show, it’ll be an all-Carlos episode next week. But progress has been made and progress is good. As long as the show doesn’t blow up the metaphorical Human/Evo Unity Summit next week, there’s hope that the future may be a little brighter than initially projected. And right now, a hopeful future is all we’ve got.