Review - Heroes: Orientation & Jump, Push, Fall

I'll be the first to admit that my excitement for this season has been somewhat tempered. While I still feel that Heroes is better than a lot of other things on television I haven't been marking off the days till the this season's premiere. The past two seasons have followed the same formula: start strong, drag and swoon in the middle and finish with an intriguing climax. Last season's climax of Sylar being shoved into a newly revived Nathan was very interesting and I'm curious to see how it plays out. Namely the inevitable moment when Sylar realizes he isn't Nathan and turns back into Sylar. After a few months off the wait is finally over. After a summer of shows like True Blood, the network sci-fi itch is about to be scratched again with the return of Heroes. Now in its fourth season the show is struggling to recapture the magic of the lofty expectations set by the first season. Will it deliver? Will the characters manage to both piss us off and excite us within a single monologue? Or will this be the last year for the show that has already seen its episode count cut for this season? Read on for the review of the first two hours of the season. The first twenty minutes or so of Chapter 1 - Orientation essentially wove the upcoming season into a recap of last season. Claire is at college for her freshmen year, Hiro and Ando are running a "Hero for Hire" business, Peter is saving lives as Spider-man and Angela is still pulling the company's strings. So far we're not at character overload, so that bodes well. This volume is titled "Redemption," so expect that to get pushed heavily throughout the season by the stories. Claire's arrival at college is pretty typical of anyone's first day at college. You meet your roommate who is a gross overachiever (and in this case is named Annie). Annie who takes it upon herself to inform Mr. Bennett on Claire's potential. After realizing that she can't handle an exam to get into the super-exclusive Linear Algebra class she bails. Her walk to her room isn't in solitude however, as she is awkwardly and collegiately accosted by Gretchen from Austin, Texas. The same Austin, Texas, that's within earshot of Odessa, Texas and a certain high school cheerleader massacre. Both Gretchen and Annie are at the awesome freshman mixer that apparently boasts Guitar Hero 3 (really guys Guitar Hero...2009 here). While Claire and Gretchen decide to play the game together, Annie is a little perturbed. Claire returns to her room to find Annie's bed empty and the window open and yep, they went there. Annie committed suicide. Or did she? See, a suicide note mysteriously appeared on Annie's pillow that wasn't there before, prompting Claire to believe that Annie was murdered. Claire is the obvious suspect to the detective (even though she doesn't say so) and you've got to think that Gretchen is a prime candidate for wickedness. She watches Claire try the fall, jump, push test to find out what happened to Annie, so now someone at college knows about Claire's power. Hiro and Ando have started their "Heroes for Hire" business and their first client is a cat. A cat trapped on a scaffolding. I couldn't help but think I was watching another incarnation of Bored to Death (great show by the way). Said mission involves the cat not liking strangers and Ando plummeting to what would surely be a nasty fall until Hiro stops time and saves the day. The thing is, when Hiro resumes time he stays frozen. Interesting. He lets Ando know that he's been to a doctor and is slowly dying. I'm glad that they decided not to completely abandon the nosebleed thing from last season and hopefully we'll get more insight into what's going on. That insight would be 14 years ago at a carnival in Tokyo at a fortune teller. Nathan is Sylar in disguise, only he doesn't know that. While Parkman may have convinced Sylar that he's Nathan his powers are still there and begin manifesting themselves. It starts with an inadvertent telekinetic pull of his coffee mug and then playful electricity in his hands. He's slowly losing his mind and unraveling and it's only a matter of time until Sylar rears his head. We even see is face do that little morphing action and cuing up the notion that yes, Sylar will break out. But is he already out? See, Parkman may have retired from doing what he does, but that doesn't mean that his actions don't stay with him. He's also losing it a bit as Sylar has become a part of him. So much so that Parkman's hallucinates Sylar holding his baby (yes, Parkman and his wife are back together). This doesn't sit too well with Parkman and will most likely make him reconsider Angela's request to "upgrade" Sylar/Nathan's predicament so that Sylar doesn't get out. The original "install" was only six weeks ago though, so does this mean that Parkman will have to do this every other month or so? I really like Parkman unraveling as it seems that Sylar is clawing his way back into existence through Parkman. An epic storyline could be unfolding if Sylar takes over Parkman and gets mind control powers. Mr. Bennett was being stalked by Tracy who is alive and kicking. When she floods him in what has to be his rental car, Danko shows up to save him by firing a bullet through the car window. Slight problem here. Bennett is in the driver's seat and Danko fires a bullet through the driver side window. Bennett is semi-floating in the water. But the bullet doesn't hit him? Maybe I'm being a little nitpicky here but he could've shot out the rear window and the water still would've drained. He's safe though and Danko fails to heed Bennett's warning to back of Tracy. So Bennett takes it upon himself to wipe Danko's mind (via the Haitian) of everything Tracy, giving both individuals a chance to live their newly redeemed lives. Tracy pays Danko a visit and realizes that Noah did what he promised in wiping his mind. As she's leaving Ray Park shows up as Edgar and flashes some serious knife skills that kill Danko and cause Tracy to bleed water. In his haste he fails to look for what the object he killed Danko for, leaving Noah and Tracy to find it afterwards. Tracy all of sudden completely trusts Noah and calls him over to investigate with him and Noah finds a safety deposit box key in Danko's stomach? Noah knows that if he goes to the box that Edgar will be waiting for him so he gets some help from Spider-man. I mean Peter Parker. Dammit. I mean Peter Petrelli. Peter has taken it upon himself to save the lives of innocent civilians as a means of atoning for the sins of his family. He has an entire wall in his apartment devoted to news clippings of those that he's saved and he's intrigued by Noah's proposition of accompanying him to the safe deposit box. Peter wants Edgar's speed power because it can help him save even more people. Judging by his thanking Mohinder for giving him the super strength it appears that Peter is still absorbing the most recent power near him. I doubt this has evolved, and it at least pays off because Peter goes toe to toe with Ray freaking Park and actually wins the fight. The prize? A compass that only mutants can activate. Shades of Jack Sparrow there but sure. The two of them part their ways and Noah gets jacked up. The compass is stolen and the season begins. I should probably mention the reason for the compass. The episode begins with a mutant named Samuel who is essentially Magneto. He's rallying other mutants to fight back against humans in what I can only imagine is his ideal vision of the world where the human oppressors are humbled and the mutants reign supreme. His power isn't completely clear. At first he moves dirt by waving his hands to bury his brother Joseph, but then the rest of the episode he uses ink on his girlfriend (?) Lydia to answer questions of his. She tells him about Hiro at the carnival, Danko with the key and the three mutants they have to convince to fight for them: Claire, Peter and Sylar. The season is officially set up. Samuel is seeking the compasses for some reason to mount his cause. Parkman and Nathan are both unraveling because of Sylar and Peter is fighting the good fight. Claire is at college, Noah is nearly killed and Tracy might be the "one of them." Danko is dead, Hiro is dying, Ando is happy and Angela wants the company to live on in some way shape or form. My favorite thing so far has to be Sylar/Parkman/Nathan. These three are connected forever because of Parkman's actions and I'm really intrigued by the thought of where Sylar will decide to completely manifest himself. Like a drug addict Parkman is struggling internally to not use his mind reading power until the end when he convinces the water boy to stop coming by and flirting with his wife. Sylar likes that Parkman is becoming more like him. The two hours weren't nearly as riveting as the first episodes of the previous season. And I think that's fine. The writers aren't setting the bar too high so that if the middle of the season does swoon the backlash won't be so great. There are tons of potentially awesome storylines here, such as Hiro's freezing himself, Parkman's (and Nathan's) insanity, Peter's empathy and spectre of Sylar looming over them all. Throw in another possible villain in Samuel and there's the potential for some great battles and Sylar choosing a side. What we saw was a solid (maybe decent is a better word) if not spectacular start to the season and I think it's got some promise. Whether or not the writing and story live up to that promise is something we'll have to wait and see. But I think "Redemption" may be truer in more than ways than one as a title of this season because it could be make or break for the show. I'll keep watching this season beyond a sense of closure (for now at least). The writers have to realize however that there really isn't much goodwill left with the audience so they better bring their A-Game this year. Overall score: 70 out of 100