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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

There can be only... nine, or ten, or maybe a dozen, I dunno...

5/17/2007 -- Now UPDATED with yet more nonsense nobody will read or respond to, at the bottom!

More or less random reactions to last night's Heroes ep:

* Credit where due -- last week, or maybe two weeks ago, I can't remember, Superwife turned to me as we watched this show and said "Linderman is going to use Micah to control the electronic voting machines and throw the election to Nathan."

* More credit where due -- months and months ago I advised that the only way various story elements in this show could ever make sense would be if it turned out that Linderman was part of some conspiracy to track and covertly control superhumans. That's the only way things like Nathan fathering Claire on yet another superhuman, and Nikki and DL getting married and having their own super-child, could feasibly be explained. At least one other, much higher profile than me, blogger pooh-poohed the idea, but, well, here we are.

Mind you, I wanted a 'mind controlling Machiavelli' who was jerking everyone's chains, and it turns out, Linderman simply employs the most old fashioned forms of mind control known to man -- threats and/or bribery.

Nonetheless, I will say this -- I wish Tim Kring would stop stealing ideas from me and just offer me a job. Or, if that's impractical, then at least cut me a check.

* "Is this the only way to get out of the city?" winsome, perky cheerleader Claire asks her Uncle Peter as they find themselves stuck in Manhattan gridlock.

"No, but it's the fastest," Peter says, grimly. (Peter says nearly everything grimly. I guess that's what happens when your hot black fuck buddy gets shot by her junkie ex boyfriend while you're leaping invisibly around the room taunting him.)

Well, here's a thought -- when you're trying to get somewhere FAST, and you have the ability to fly at supersonic velocities while carrying someone else --

But, no. Best dawdle. Otherwise, you might not be around when the seemingly inevitable nuclear blast that you know is coming Real Soon Now renders the entire city around you into radioactive goo.

* The big cliffhanger -- Will Sylar Blow Up New York City, Now That He Has Ted's Powers? After 2.7 picoseconds of thought, I realized: Well, no, because he still hasn't managed to get Claire's ability to regenerate himself, which would mean he won't survive any nuclear explosion he initiates.

* Not that I believe anyone, even with Claire's powers, can actually regenerate after being at the center of a nuclear explosion.

* Nathan is down by 5 percent in the exit polls, and suddenly takes 64% of the vote? You'd think a control freak like Linderman would have given Micah and/or Princess Projectra more intelligent, explicit instructions than this.

* There is a tremendous lapse of internal logic in the presumption that nobody can prevent one particular event that hasn't occurred yet, but once that event DOES occur, a wise elite can then exert near total control over how the future unfolds from that point on. I'm not saying Linderman wouldn't argue this way, because he's a a douchebag and it's expected of him, but someone as intelligent as Nathan should see through this dumbass scam in a heartbeat.

* So Princess Projectra (Candice) is really very fat? I understand that fat people can be very bitter about how the world treats them, but honestly, I think this motivation for her behavior is childishly oversimplified.

* I enjoyed the opening, where all the various diverse 'heroes' found themselves coming together for the first time in one place, to meet and interact and form alliances. It's a classic vibe from superhero comics, reminiscent of, say, the Avengers and Defenders getting together to talk through their differences in Defenders #10, or all those fabulous Avengers/JLA social gatherings we saw in JLA/Avengers #3 (which now, presumably, never actually happened, if 'actually happened' means anything in fictional metaverses).

* It occurs to me that Season One of Heroes could, essentially, be seen as a very protracted, 22 chapter long origin sequence for whatever more 'organized' heroic force or structured superhuman 'society' will emerge sometime in Season 2. Foundation stones seem to be being laid for this in Claire's brief conversation with Peter about 'when all this is finished, I may go on patrol... jumping in front of bullets, hauling people out of burning buildings', in response to which, Peter scoffs at the notion of wearing a cape, or zipping around with his underwear on over his pants.

* Rene Sofer really deserves a bigger part in a better show than this. Or, barring that, some super powers of her own.

* Kirby Plaza? A swordmaker named Claremont? Cute stuff. They should have named Linderman 'Mr. Byrne'.

* Hiro's father is a superhero! His codename should have 'Dragon' in it somewhere.

* It's worth noting that nobody can have any clear idea just how long Hiro actually spent being trained by his father in that classic cinematic empowerment montage. Hiro's dad advises that Hiro has 'come a long way in a short time', but in point of fact, we've seen Hiro's control of time occur without him being consciously aware of it prior to this (when he saved his life by shoving a bullet back into a gun without being aware he'd done so). Hiro's subconscious might very well have created a bubble of distorted entropy around himself and his father, and they might have been in there months, or even years, especially if their own metabolic processes were somehow effected by Hiro's powers as well. In the intensely focused state both of them were in, they would have had no conscious awareness of the passage of time.

* Hiro's confrontation with Nathan is as good a set up as I've ever seen for Nathan to have a last minute change of heart leading to a heroic redemption of himself. Someone on some blog somewhere predicted that Nathan would grab whatever it was that was about to explode and carry it off at supersonic speed, which would be as good a heroic note to end the first season on as any.

* Where did Ando get thousands of dollars to buy a functional samurai sword with? And wouldn't it have been smarter for him to buy a gun?

* It's absolutely beautiful that Nathan's campaign theme song is Roxy Music's "All Right Now". One presumes that whoever djs for him has specific instructions to only ever play the chorus, and never let the crowd hear the rest of the lyrics, which detail how a slick hustler works his seductive wiles on an initially wary but later compliant target: I took her home to my place/watching every move on her face / she said Look, what's your game? / Are you trying to put me in shame? / I said Slow! Don't go so fast! Don't you think that love can last? / She said Love? Lord above! Now he's tryin to trick me with love!

* Was it good for you when Horned Rimmed Glasses guy blew Eric Roberts' head off? "What am I thinking now, Parkman?" "Your last thought --" BLAM-BLAM! Fuck, that rocked. But I'm left wondering -- Roberts knew Parkman was there with H.R.G., and presumably, he knew which one of them was the most dangerous. You know all that, and you turn a corner and you don't see the really dangerous one, how smart are you to get right up close to the one who can read your mind? When you could just shoot him from thirty feet down the hall and then continue searching for the other guy? I suppose I can see making that kind of mistake -- I mean, I sure would -- but I'm not a veteran spook who supposedly sees every angle, either.

* I straight out don't believe Linderman was ever going to let Micah go. That kid is waaaaaaay too useful. And with Princess Projectra under his thumb, he could pretty much make Micah believe anything, anyway.

* If Linderman can heal himself, he could also heal DL. I can't see any reason why he'd do the latter, but I merely point out, the potential is there, so I wouldn't necessarily write off either of them just yet. Linderman is much too good a long range villain to just drop him, unless Malcolm MacDowell doesn't want to continue with the part.

* People may not believe in miracles, but they would certainly believe that Nathan's wife had been arduously pursuing rigorous physical therapy in private for the last several months and they had waited until the night of his election to announce her full recovery. There's no way she has to stay in that wheelchair.

* I'm disappointed that Parkman didn't recognize the little girl he rescued from Sylar -- not that he had a lot of chance to, before Mohinder knocked him out. Still, I was looking forward to that scene, where the two of them saw each other for the second time ever.

I'm also somewhat annoyed that Parkman's powers only work when the plot requires them to -- he can hear Eric Roberts planning to shoot H.R.G., but he can't hear Mohinder hiding behind a door with a lug wrench. But that's been such a thing in this show to date that at this point, I merely shrug and say it's no longer a problem, it's a feature.

Update, 5/17/07

From a comment thread at Jim Henley's blog, selectively edited, of course, to make myself look as good as possible:


#

Comment by Doc Nebula —
May 15, 2007 @ 2:27 pm

For what little they’re worth (exactly zero, by the latest market reports, actually) my rather disjointed comments on this latest episode are here.[there was a link buried there back to this very blog entry -- wow! confusing time dilation stuff!]

As I’ve pointed out there, not only can Sylar not shapeshift yet, but he also can’t regenerate yet, so I really doubt that he’s going to blow up New York City prior to stealing Claire’s brain.

#

Comment by Alex Knapp —
May 15, 2007 @ 3:16 pm

As I’ve pointed out there, not only can Sylar not shapeshift yet, but he also can’t regenerate yet, so I really doubt that he’s going to blow up New York City prior to stealing Claire’s brain.

Well, I’m still not convinced that he NEEDS to regenerate. Ted seemed to be able to handle the effects of his powers without any side effects to himself, so it’s not completely unbelievable that he could set off “the bomb” without any harm to himself. Remember, what sets Sylar apart from Peter is that Sylar seems to instantly understand other people’s powers and how they work.

#

Comment by Gary Farber —
May 15, 2007 @ 8:21 pm


“As I’ve pointed out there, not only can Sylar not shapeshift yet, but he also can’t regenerate yet, so I really doubt that he’s going to blow up New York City prior to stealing Claire’s brain.”

I wasn’t entirely clear that he wasn’t now psycho enough to care whether it was suicide or not, but again, maybe that’s just an error on my part.

“Ted seemed to be able to handle the effects of his powers without any side effects to himself, so it’s not completely unbelievable that he could set off ‘the bomb’ without any harm to himself.”

That, too.
#

Comment by Doc Nebula —
May 16, 2007 @ 3:07 pm

Um… well… er… okay, my presumption had been that Sylar would need to have some power that would allow him to survive being at ground zero of a 10 meg nuclear explosion, before the explosion took place.

But, no, that’s silly. While it’s ridiculous that ANY power short of Silver Age Superman style invulnerability would let anyone survive an atomic detonation they set off themselves millimeters from their fingertips, this show is nothing if not ridiculous.

Certainly, the audience to date has demonstrated no inability to swallow nonsense; presumably, should NYC blow sky high, and then Sylar should stroll out of the ruins whistling cheerfully with his hands in his pockets, the script won’t even have to provide an explanation, because endless viewers will be perfectly ready to step up and opine weightily on how Ted seemed to be able to handle the effects of his powers without any side effects to himself, so it’s not completely unbelievable that somehow or another Sylar can not only blithely shrug off the heat and secondary radiation of a nuclear blast, but can just as casually ignore the kinetic energy that should have rendered him into goo and spread him in a thin film across several hundred square miles of irradiated terrain.

So, yeah, I concur… they’ve established enough mindbending stupidity in this series in the past that they could go for this one, too.

I’d been thinking that Sylar needed to have other pieces of the Dark Future in place before he detonates, too… like possessing DL’s phasing abilities, and Candice’s illusion projection / shapeshifting… but I guess it’s not necessary that he have those powers prior to blowing up New York, he could get them afterwards, as well… and if not from DL and Candice, then from other superhumans we don’t necessarily ever have to see onscreen.

And I’d also been assuming that Sylar would replace Nathan very soon after the bomb went off, but that’s not necessary, either. He might not kill Nathan and take his place until years later, after Nathan has become President.

My prediction, for what it’s worth — the ‘Heroes’ will prevent the detonation, and therefore, the Dark Future itself, and the second season of this show will follow the formation of a hyperrealistic, grim n’ gritty superhero tv show equivalent of a superhero team. No melodramatic codenames (for team or ‘heroes’) and no costumes, but Claire, Peter, Parkman, and Hiro, at the very least, will form some kind of cohesive unit that, backed by either the government or a wealthy individual, will exist to deal with threats like Sylar.

I can see DL and Micah being team members, too. Nikki/Jessica doesn’t strike me as a character well suited to a team, but I could be wrong. Nathan I have pegged for a heroic sacrifice/redemption next episode. And then in addition we’ll have whatever new character emerges from the ORIGINS spin off six parter this summer.

I’m presuming this because HEROES is a huge success as it is, and as it is, it’s a show set in our world, but with covert superhumans existing among us. If they let the bomb go off and the Dark Future take shape, this turns into a science fiction show set in a very different reality than ours, and as such, a very different series than it has been to date.

That might not be bad, but I find it wildly unlikely that any network bigwig anywhere would renew a hit show if that show was going to abruptly deviate so much from the proven formula in its second season.


To all this, I would only add belatedly that I can easily envision Candice, the woman with the illusion powers, being a member of the second season super-team, as well. And, if he actually does regenerate himself, I could even see Linderman backing such a team... although it would have to be for his own shadowy reasons.

Yes, of course I realize no one is reading this, or, at the very least, offering much in the way of comments on it, but, hey, if that stopped me from ranting and raving at great and tedious length, the Internet would be short several million words of ranting and raving right now.




5 Comments:

At 4:28 PM , Blogger AaA said...

All good stuff here. Nothing to say, but it's ok, good morning, good morning.

 
At 7:57 AM , Blogger SuperWife said...

I can certainly never get too far ahead of the writers. This is one show that consistently keeps me in the dark and guessing. I really gotta give it to them for that!

 
At 10:02 AM , Anonymous Always Esteemed Scott said...

Well, here's a thought -- when you're trying to get somewhere FAST, and you have the ability to fly at supersonic velocities while carrying someone else --

We were just watching this ep last night, and as soon as Peter said that, my wife turns to me and says "wait - can't he fly?".

Well, no, because he still hasn't managed to get Claire's ability to regenerate himself

I admit I hadn't thought about the implications of Sylar setting off a nuclear explosion without Claire's ability. However, this does bring up my major problem with the entire "5 Years in the Future" episode - the entire future hinges on Sylar taking Claire's ability so that he survives Hiro's attack, not so he survives a nuclear explosion (which was not actually initiated by him, but by Peter). Hiro as much as says that right near the beginning - that's the whole reason for his "save the cheerleader, save the world" message to Peter in the subway.

But then we see that Claire has, in fact, survived. So how can Sylar have her ability?

That implies that the future is fixed, and cannot be changed (in other word, Peter did save the cheerleader and it didn't change the future at all).
Well, that, or the writers are too lazy to think through the implications of their plotting.

Nathan is down by 5 percent in the exit polls, and suddenly takes 64% of the vote?

Sigh. Yeah. Has Tim Kring not been paying attention at all? That sort of thing is going to attract attention. Maybe Linderman figures it doesn't matter all that much, as the city is going to be blown up in a matter of days anyway.

It's worth noting that nobody can have any clear idea just how long Hiro actually spent being trained by his father in that classic cinematic empowerment montage.

That was something I'd thought of too, although I think that the writers really don't have the faintest clue what to do with this guy. I don't understand why Hiro is so down about "failing" to kill Sylar. Dude - you can *travel in time*. If you're so down about not killing Sylar that one time - go back and do it again.

And I'm not sure why the Future Hiro, instead of going back and leaving a cryptic message for Peter in a subway car, couldn't have just gone back to Claire's highschool himself and killed Sylar and saved Claire.
The possibilities are essentially limitless when you've got that kind of power. Unless the future can't be changed.

Stories involving time travel are very hard to do well - I can think of maybe three (The Terminator and 12 Monkeys, Primer) that manage to avoid obvious contradictions and inconsistencies.

* Was it good for you when Horned Rimmed Glasses guy blew Eric Roberts' head off? "What am I thinking now, Parkman?" "Your last thought --" BLAM-BLAM! Fuck, that rocked.

Uh, I actually thought it was a little bloodthirsy - but I still have this quaint idea that good guys aren't supposed to kill in cold blood.

But that scene bothered me more because, well, how in the hell does Eric Roberts sneak up on a mind reader? Parkman had already overheard his thoughts right before that, from a distance, when he wasn't expecting to - but when the guy is sneaking up behind him, probably rehearsing his smart ass comment, he doesn't pick up anything?

If they let the bomb go off and the Dark Future take shape, this turns into a science fiction show set in a very different reality than ours, and as such, a very different series than it has been to date.

*Of course* they're going to prevent the explosion. The Dark Future (aside from the problems I mentioned earlier) was kinda interesting (although why are people still wandering around a city which should still be radioactive?), but way too dark.

I am actually hoping that they do something like what you describe in the second season, with an actual super team, doing the actual superhero stuff that Claire described.

And the show needs smarter writers - send in your resume, Highlander.

 
At 6:11 PM , Blogger The Bunnyman said...

We were just watching this ep last night, and as soon as Peter said that, my wife turns to me and says "wait - can't he fly?".

"Not unless the plot requires it, hon."

I admit I hadn't thought about the implications of Sylar setting off a nuclear explosion without Claire's ability. However, this does bring up my major problem with the entire "5 Years in the Future" episode - the entire future hinges on Sylar taking Claire's ability so that he survives Hiro's attack, not so he survives a nuclear explosion (which was not actually initiated by him, but by Peter). Hiro as much as says that right near the beginning - that's the whole reason for his "save the cheerleader, save the world" message to Peter in the subway.

But then we see that Claire has, in fact, survived. So how can Sylar have her ability?


In the very first episode, Parkman shot Sylar several times point blank. Sylar went down, and then, a minute or so later, sat up again, very much like Michael Myers. He certainly seems to have SOME kind of super-healing ability already. But the writing on this show has always been sloppy, and I myself wonder just how much was known about Sylar and his abilities when the show began. It's possible that the character concept of Sylar evolved from one episode to the next... although I grant you, the fact that he was stealing paranormal brains from the beginning would argue the writers had some clue what was up with him. (Still, his watchmaker background could indicate that he was planning to use those brains to build some intricate biological mechanism, not to somehow give himself the powers of each 'hero' he killed.)

That implies that the future is fixed, and cannot be changed (in other word, Peter did save the cheerleader and it didn't change the future at all).
Well, that, or the writers are too lazy to think through the implications of their plotting.


I'd vote for (b). But bad time travel sf is ALWAYS about changing the future/past; it makes for better cheap melodrama. It's much harder to write good sf where you CAN'T change the horrible past/future, and, for that matter, much harder to write intelligent fiction when you can.

Sigh. Yeah. Has Tim Kring not been paying attention at all? That sort of thing is going to attract attention. Maybe Linderman figures it doesn't matter all that much, as the city is going to be blown up in a matter of days anyway.

I suspect Linderman simply forgot to tell his pawns "don't steal the election by too much". But it doesn't seem like a detail he'd overlook.

That was something I'd thought of too, although I think that the writers really don't have the faintest clue what to do with this guy. I don't understand why Hiro is so down about "failing" to kill Sylar. Dude - you can *travel in time*. If you're so down about not killing Sylar that one time - go back and do it again.

I suspect Hiro is just scared shitless of Sylar. God knows I am.

And I'm not sure why the Future Hiro, instead of going back and leaving a cryptic message for Peter in a subway car, couldn't have just gone back to Claire's highschool himself and killed Sylar and saved Claire.

Well, me, neither, but if I were going to do that, I'd use a gun, not a frickin' sword.

The possibilities are essentially limitless when you've got that kind of power. Unless the future can't be changed.

In those specific cases, Hiro would be attempting to change the past, not the future, and he may well have already internalized that the past cannot be changed, from his experience trying and failing to save Charli. Trying to change the future, which to him has not happened yet, may seem like an entirely different thing... and given that he's probably read every bad Claremont/Byrne/Edelman/whoever X-MEN story where yet another horrible future was narrowly averted by someone from that future traveling back into the past and joining up with the X-Men to change history, it would make sense that he'd see it that way.

Stories involving time travel are very hard to do well - I can think of maybe three (The Terminator and 12 Monkeys, Primer) that manage to avoid obvious contradictions and inconsistencies.

I don't believe time travel stories are any more difficult to do well than any other kind of story -- or, well, not enough to make a difference. What I DO believe is that good, intelligent sf in general, and time travel sf stories in specific, require a prioritization of certain specific plot elements over everything else, and most producers feel that plot elements are ALWAYS subordinate to other factors. The vast majority of people would never ever list 'intelligent, internally consistent plotting' as an element in a movie or TV show they want to watch. Good action sequences, good acting, good special effects, interesting and exciting characterization... these are the things that put asses in seats. Those of us who even notice lapses in internal logic are very rare; and out of that small number, many many of us are willing to forgive such lapses if other elements of the artifact make up for it (Jim Henley is a fabulous example of this).

For me, and maybe for you, if the plot ultimately doesn't make any sense, it's almost impossible for me to really respect a movie or TV show, or really enjoy it fully. But most people won't even notice (and will deeply resent it when someone points it out to them) and a significant percentage of the very small number of us who notice such things, still don't really care. So, it's not going to be a priority to anyone who gets entrusted with several million dollars to make a major movie, either.

* Was it good for you when Horned Rimmed Glasses guy blew Eric Roberts' head off? "What am I thinking now, Parkman?" "Your last thought --" BLAM-BLAM! Fuck, that rocked.

Uh, I actually thought it was a little bloodthirsy - but I still have this quaint idea that good guys aren't supposed to kill in cold blood.

As the currently running HEROES marathon makes clear, despite recent whitewashings (mostly consisting of the character repeatedly whining "I was doing it for my family! For my daughter!"), Claire's father is NOT a hero. He has some good points, and he's certainly a likable sonofabitch, but he is, nonetheless, basically a vicious sociopath, and NOT a hero at all. Given that, while I was startled by his execution of his former boss, it wasn't because it conflicted with his characterization.

But that scene bothered me more because, well, how in the hell does Eric Roberts sneak up on a mind reader? Parkman had already overheard his thoughts right before that, from a distance, when he wasn't expecting to - but when the guy is sneaking up behind him, probably rehearsing his smart ass comment, he doesn't pick up anything?

Parkman is perhaps the single character in this show who most clearly and consistently displays the creative laziness of virtually every plot. His powers only ever work when it would be helpful to the plot for them to work.

And the show needs smarter writers - send in your resume, Highlander.

Intelligence is far from a requirement when writing for big media, and in fact, I suspect it's often regarded as a detriment.

 
At 7:42 AM , Blogger AaA said...

As to being able to sneak up on Parkman, I offer this (and not because I wish to champion the shitty writing, but only because this may be an example where they actually HAVE put some thought into what they are doing, and I want to give credit where credit is due):

Parkman almost universally adopts an affectation of straining to listen for something when he is trying to read a mind. I'm postulating, therefore, that his ability is focussed in a particular direction (possibly a narrow arc in front of him or along his focussed area of search, like a radar sweep). If that is the case, then someone outside his 'arc' would be able to sneak up on him.

Look back at previous episodes: when he is not concentrating on his ability, it seems to have a very short range, and only powerful thoughts are detected; when he is actively using it, it seems to be 'aimed' in a specific direction. In the scene where WhatsHisFace gets his grey matter ventilated by HRG Guy (Who IS a Villain, plain and simple. Even Batman and Joker had to team up once or twice against other foes. Cripes, you guys COLLECT these things and I need to remind you of this?!?), Parkman is clearly focussing on the location where he heard him from.

And yeah, Peter not flying them out of town just made me physically ill. I mean seriously, WTF? Well, wait a minute. We've never seen Nathan carry anyone in flight (unless I missed that episode?), and Peter hasn't absorbed any super-strength that I'm aware of... *sigh* is it possible that he simply can't carry three people and fly?

And, last (and probably least), in addition to Hiro's won ability to manipulate space-time, we have no idea what his father's power or powers are. He could be possessed of the mutant power to rapidly train others to perform any task he can do. (That's just a little joke.) (Although, I can see where something like that would be handy... "Oh Sally!! Have you ever been to a Hiro's Dad Seminar? I've never managed to learn anything so Quickly!! He's a genius, Hiro's Dad is!!")

 

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