Heroes Reborn, Season 1, Episode 9, “Sundae, Bloody Sundae”
Written by Marisha Mukerjee and Sharon Hoffman
Directed by Gideon Raff
Airs Thursdays at 8pm (ET) on NBC
Where is Erica’s cane?
Seriously, what happened to it? These Heroes Reborn reviews tend to divulge into just listing mistakes. That’s a bit cheap and it’s a bit unfair to the show; this is supposed to be a critical space, not a dog pile. But the show should meet the review space halfway, at least. Tired of reading a list of dumb mistakes your show makes, theoretical Heroes Reborn producer? Then stop making dumb mistakes for reviewers to pick up on. If you give a character that didn’t have a cane before a cane halfway through the season and then show that character using her new cane in the “Previously on” clips , that character has to have a cane for the rest of the season, or at least until some time later, when she is healed of the malady that requires her to have a cane. Don’t, say, have the second scene involving the character in a post-cane world be her walking around her house and shooting a deer. Why go through all the trouble of getting the props department to find a cane for Erica if you’re only going to use it for one scene? And it’s a smart use of cane too! The timeline has diverged from what was introduced at the beginning of the season, so having Erica walk around with a cane is a nice but obvious visual indicator of the butterflies that were stepped on.
The cane is just a tangible detail. It’s easy to articulate that Heroes Reborn is not good TV because it does stuff like give Erica a cane for only one scene, or has Code Lyoko-level animation for its video game sequences. But the cane and the animation aren’t the key problem with the show; they’re merely symptoms. No, the key problem with Heroes Reborn is that it has no idea who its characters are. Some characters have been stuck in one spot of development for roughly the entire season, others are mere manifestations of plot, others still seem to have no defined characteristics.
Luke has suffered the worst. Introduced as a cold-blooded killer, Luke has been stuck in second gear since basically episode two. He’s sad he wasn’t able to save his kid and that his wife has lost her mind, but he also has sun powers that are basically never commented upon. What is the purpose of this character? Is it to have someone with a struggle to emphasize with? Well, the show already has Quentin and his relationship with his sister, as well as the few times Carlos’ relationship with his nephew has worked. It initially appeared as if Luke was going to be a human character, giving the audience a familiar perspective in a strange world, but then it was revealed that Luke is an evo, and Joanne and Emily and Quentin serve this purpose. Maybe the show wanted to give the perspective of evos who are trying to pass their own POV character, but Luke’s powers are rarely commented on, and the only time he’s ever been directly asked about the history of his powers has been tonight, with his response being, “Don’t worry about it.”
Of course, if it were just Luke, his segments could be overlooked each week and the show could be still be enjoyable. But it’s not just Luke: Carlos’ motivation seems to change every week. HRG basically just runs around and watches people die or get kidnapped now, Tommy is moving along the arcs of two completely different characters, and Joanne is crazy, except when she’s paranoid, except when she’s suffering some kind of post-traumatic stress. Erica has suddenly become a Bond villain after simply being a no-nonsense CEO; Erica’s daughter is wearing a wig and only exists to serve as a redemptive arc for Erica. Miko is the only character who has had a consistent journey—from princess trapped in her castle to martyr for the cause–but she only shows up in the last scene of tonight’s episode.
This almost flagrant use of half-formed characters only serves to distract from the few moments that are at least visually interesting. When Tommy stops time for the first time post-memory wipe, the camera speeds around in the center of a Mexican standoff, freezing on a table of fire and bullets and Emily in mid-air, the show finding the kind of visual energy that should be the bread and butter of a genre show. Yet it’s aggravating to look at such a cool moment be wasted on paper-thin people who act inconsistently and dumb. Or the reveal of Parkman as the director of Sunstone Manor: Parkman is framed with his head cut off to preserve the mystery, and it stands out because Heroes Reborn typically stages dialogue scenes rather blandly, except this is the first week the audience has been to the Manor, so why would they care about who the director of this place is, and Parkman was already revealed last week, so what’s the point of the subterfuge in concealing a character viewers have already been introduced to, and who viewers know is working for the bad guys?
Nothing has impact on Heroes Reborn because no one acts like a real person, and the show seems indifferent about how these unreal people interact with each other. What’s the point of caring if the world burns if it’s only sketches of people that are going to die in the great fire? Simply saying something bad is going to happen and freezing time occasionally does not a show make, though Heroes Reborn doesn’t seem to have received that bit of wisdom.