Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Killer Penultimate Episodes

SPOILER ALERT: If you are behind on Dexter or Heroes and intend to catch up, stop reading. If you're behind on only one, I'm going Heroes then Dexter.


Oh Heroes. It has become somewhat of a punchline this season as the show everyone stopped watching. But I'm still here, somehow. A good way to tell a season has been sloppy is when it's ending has almost nothing to do with its beginning. That villain break-out from Level 5? The two remainders now just give menacing looks once an episode. Sylar's path to become a hero? He's gone back and forth way too many times for us to care. Even Mohinder's foray into The Fly has been ignored for awhile. I still think there were some good story concepts this season, but the execution has been inarguably awful.

Even with all of that, I actually thought this week's episode was a bit of an improvement. And that's for one reason only: the focus on Hiro and Claire. These were the two breakout characters of Heroes' first season, but since then they've been stuck with a boring boyfriend, a trip to Japan, and acting like a 10 year old. The look at important moments in their pasts was reminiscent of Company Man, the show's best episode. Heroes desperately needs more episodes that focus on select characters, so this seemed like a good first step.

Of course, everything else about the episode was a mess. The whole purpose of Hiro and Claire's journey has to do with The Catalyst, some wacky sci-fi thing that we're led to believe is really important. But even though Hiro's parents hyped it up, in one episode it goes from Claire to Hiro to Arthur to nothing. Much like The Eclipse, which got a two-parter that changed nothing, The Catalyst's story was burned through before you could remember its name. Just goes to show that going through storylines really fast should not necessarily be a source of pride.

In other stories: Matt, Daphne, and Ando do something insignificant (though Daphne's still my fave new character). Sylar follows up his completely pointless killing of Elle with some more pointless killing. And the big news: Big Bad Arthur Petrelli is dead a week before the finale. There's something kind of cool about resolving the big conflict before the finale, hinting at something even bigger to come. But this season has not been leading to a Peter vs. Nathan fight. I don't remember Peter even being onscreen since the third episode, yet now he's reclaimed his role as series lead? While Hiro dangles around in space and does nothing? Well, I guess we can be glad this manic and confusing season will soon be over. Hopefully next year's Fugitives volume will make more sense.


Just like Heroes, Dexter killed his Big Bad the week before the finale, Sopranos style. I'm talking about Miguel Prado, Dexter's sociopathic former BFF. From the second Miguel started killing, you knew the season would end up with Miguel on Dexter's kill table. First the Ice Truck Killer, then Lila, then Miguel. Each got to see the real Dexter and gave him the chance for companionship. And each proved too crazy and unstable to live. I will miss Miguel though for keeping Dexter's third season thrilling without a big important case like the Ice Truck Killer. Jimmy Smits did a masterful job making Miguel extremely charismatic while showing the darkness lurking beneath. Even when strapped to the table, I kind of wanted Dexter to set him free. But more so than Heroes, killing Miguel early makes the finale open-ended. Promos show Ramon going crazy at Dexter's wedding, and we all remember how crazy Ramon can get. I can't wait.

Backing up to the beginning for a minute, I will admit Dexter's kidnapping being for his bachelor party is a bit of a cheat. But I'm willing to forgive the writers as it led Dexter to punch Masuka, thinking it was the Skinner. Very funny. I do hope there is still some reveal left in the Skinner case. The Skinner didn't turn out to be any major character, so nothing too juicy has happened yet. But with his motive for finding Freebo still unknown, I have faith it will pay off. I'd like to say the same for Angel and his cop girlfriend, but I'm guessing that's just to give him something to do. Most intriguing B-storyline from this week was Dexter telling Deb about Harry's affair. With Deb looking into records, it's only a matter of time until she finds out about Laura Mosner. What happens if she learns her killer ex-fiance is Dex's brother? That'll probably have to wait until after the wedding, but it could be something good for season 4. The show has yet to disappoint me.

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