Heroes (S03E05): “Angels and Monsters”

Grade: C

A few weeks ago, I made the resolution to lower my expectations for Heroes, hoping it would help me to better enjoy the show from a standpoint of pure fun with no analytical strings attached. Four weeks and five long hours later, though, and I’m forcing myself to sit through an entire hour’s worth of eye rolling, stifled yawns, and the repeated reminder that this show, for me, will probably never return to being the Heroes I used to enjoy so much. “Angels and Monsters” offers a few noteworthy moments, but those continue to be lost in the rubble of a rapidly crumbling foundation, barely held up by the many broken characters and an annoying habit of using plot twists as a replacement for good storytelling.

The theme of the season is villains, and Heroes really wants to let everyone know it, and essentially everyone gets to act a little bit evil in “Angels and Monsters”, even when it makes little to no sense. Peter tries to slice open his mom’s head, Sylar style, and gives a fine example of overacting when he shouts in her face “Tell me all your secrets!, Claire decides to enact taser justice on the escaped criminals of Level 5, Suresh is killing drug dealers and cocooning people, including Maya, on the walls of his apartment, and even Hiro has an unexpected evil itch to scratch. I appreciate the concept of an overarching theme that ties stories together under a cozy umbrella, but this just feels suffocating.

The biggest offender might be the whole Mohinder story, where a boring character has been taken and made evil with the hope that would, in turn, make him more interesting. Not so much. His character has taken a 180 degree turn, killing people, making animal love to women, and performing strange experiments with people held captive in larva looking pods, but it’s all just a little too weird and hard to swallow. My suggestion would have been to write the character out, but making him a hybrid of The Lizard, The Beast, and The Fly was probably not the right way to make this character more likable amongst fans.

On the flip side, Sylar is being pushed a little too far too quickly into being a reformed serial killer. He’s bought into mommy’s love and is playing super nice. The goal is obvious: To show that heroes we thought to be good can be bad and that villains we thought to be irredeemable are not past saving, but this episode brings it all together a little too densely and without much subtlety. At first, there seemed to be hope for the unlikely pairing of Sylar and HRG, but by the end of this hour there doesn’t seem to be much to like. HRG is being made to seem like the worse of the two for the moment and though he gives his tired old reasons–he’s doing it all for Claire–she isn’t buying it and I’m definitely not either. He’s lying to her now, breaking promises and coming across as a general jerk rather than the complex and multi-faceted character first introduced.

Claire’s vigilante quest for justice was good up until her father and Sylar coincidentally showed up at the house of the escapee she had chosen to visit. She realizes that not all so-called villains are bad when the vortex creating man she visits reveals he never meant to hurt anyone, and all he wants to do is see his family again. She ends up trying to help with his reunion, but is interrupted by daddy’s arrival on the scene. It’s one of the few subdued moments of the episode–where the line between hero and villain truly is nicely blurred–but it doesn’t last long or end in a satisfying way. Thanks to HRG, who says he’ll pardon the man if he’ll suck Sylar into a vortex, the man ends his own life rather than kill again.

I do love David Anders and his Adam Monroe character, who is dripping with an equal amount of sarcasm and sex-appeal as his beloved Mr. Sark was from his days on Alias. Hiro, Ando and Adam seemed to be a fun motley crew while they lasted, where  a scheming bad guy was teamed with the two most squeaky clean of the whole cast, but again the story was cut short in favor of one I’m digging far less. Hiro has made a point every episode, to an almost annoying degree, that he has a destiny and a mission, which is to be the world’s saving light. To be…a hero! So when Heroes decides the episode needs another twist, Hiro’s “nemeshis” Daphne shows up with Knox wanting his help, but to prove himself he must kill Ando. He barely hesitates before apologizing in advance and driving a sword through his best friend’s chest, and presumably his heart.

This is where the show stretches too far for me to reach. So Hiro, the purest of pure characters, also has the potential to become a villain, or so we’re led to believe. But it seems all too evident that this will be a twist presented purely for shock value that will be explained away soon enough, by some combination of Hiro’s powers over time and space, I assume. The rivalry being setup between Hiro and Ando was one thing, but this shoves it into a whole other realm of nonsense. With Heroe’s reputation, I can’t help but to feel that this move wasn’t made based on where the story needed to go, but for the purpose of dropping jaws.

It’s the same principle employed several times over in the last ten minutes: With Hiro, then with Mama Petrelli, who finds Tracy and her two sons dead, but only in a vision meant to fool us all for a few seconds. And finally with the reveal that Mr. Petrelli is alive (though not too well–hooked up like a computer to a tangle of wires and machines) and plotting very bad things. The in-head Linderman is explained away as well in a truly unexciting way: Father Parkman with his mind powers has been making both Nathan and Daphne see him in order to advance Mr. Petrelli’s agenda. So many places they could have gone there, but they chose the simple route of a hero using a power, all written in for the convenience of the story.

This episode did manage to give us the creepiest scene ever on the show and one of the few highlights of the hour when Claire’s birth mother goes out looking for her and somehow ends up in the lair of a creepy clown man with the powers of manipulation. The way he shuts her jaw like she’s a puppet and then we pan out to see  a living room that looks like a demented, one man circus is all pretty chilling. Enough to make this episode worth watching? Hardly.

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