Tuesday, September 23, 2008

How Many Angels Can Dance on the Head of a Pin?

After a second season bogged down in too many characters and boring storylines, last night's third season premiere of Heroes was quite the return to form. The second season was forgotten after quickly identifying Nathan's shooter, putting the focus back on what was right about season 1. Of course, the premiere featured a lot of Heroes' trademark silliness in the pursuit of profundity (see post title above for my favorite line of dialogue, courtesy of Sylar), but that's been there from the start. Heroes has never been a great show, but last night showed it could go back to being a good one.

I'll go through the recap by character, starting with Future Peter. I've always found regular Peter kind of annoying, so badass Future Peter is a nice change of pace. After dodging Future Claire's bullet to put a few in Nathan, Peter goes on a quest to change the future. His quest brings him in contact with most of the regulars, uniting the cast and giving the season a focus the earlier ones lacked.

Hiro & Ando were back to their usual dynamic until Hiro saw a super-powered Future Ando kill him. Even with that development, they still keep things light, using Batman and Catwoman as a model to catch the Speedster, a new character who intrigues without taking over the story. They continue to prove a show about superheroes shouldn't be so angsty.

As opposed to Nathan, who had some of the best and worst from the episode. On the one hand, his return to politics puts him back on track, and it was fun to see Nathan go all Hurley playing chess with dead Linderman. But Nathan's talk of religion and angels is the type of thing Heroes does worst, and was no less laughable this time around. As for Ali Larter's attempt to repent for the always-annoying Nikki, Tracy does show vast improvement with a real power included. We'll see if she holds up or goes back to being someone to fast forward through.

Which is why I'm grateful the writers have paired up dull Mohinder and the universally hated Majjjja, to keep the worst characters contained. I'm still not sure which was sillier: Super Strengh Suresh throwing muggers in the air or coming on to Majjja by referring to "that extraordinary body of yours." Their scenes are a reminder of why it is always good to DVR Heroes.

Sylar, a character who has already oustayed his welcome by a season, finally got Claire's immortality, which I suppose means we're stuck with him. But it was nice to finally have an answer to how he gets other people's powers, when Claire asks if he is going to eat her brain. "Claire, that's disgusting." Almost as funny as the "deep" questions he sees there.

As for the rest: We finally find out Mama Petrelli's power as she yells "The Butterfly Effect!" every few minutes. Parkman talks to a turtle. Noah plays catch. Big Bob dies (so long). And in a nice Veronica Mars reunion, Elle's electric meltdown gets Weevil/Jesse/Peter out of jail.

With a potion that creates heroes, new villains on the loose, and an ever-changing future, there's plenty of good new stories to keep things interesting. Does that justify ending the first hour with a recitation of Yeats' The Second Coming? No. Creator Tim Kring needs to remember this is a comic book show, not The Sopranos. But when Heroes stops philosophizing and sticks to what it knows, it's actually enjoyable to watch again. So I'm taking it off probation and back on the season pass. For now.

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