I recently wrote some semi-nice things about Heroes. And I stand by them. All of them. Even the things that were nearly immediately contradicted by the show itself. I’m two episodes away from ending the season, and I’m really excited to see the finale. (Sylar’s episode ending “and nothing will ever be the same” gave me goose bumps). And I’m sure I’ll be talking in depth after that about the interesting things I think that Heroes does thematically.
Still, though, I’ve got to say, The episode “1961” (where Angela finds out the full story of the death of her family) could be used as the one and only course material for What’s Wrong With Heroes 101.
Step 1: Introduce a new character and immediately make them essential to the plot, despite our feeling no real relation to the character (in this case, Angela’s sister, Alice). See also: Maya (and her couple of episodes twin brothers), Speedster, Daddy Petrelli, Daddy Parkman.
Step 2: Try to provide a backstory for a character that is really just cheap pathos and sentimentality and doesn’t really add anything significant to the plot, yet devote a whole episode to it. (here, Angela’s guilt over her sister. And sock buying.) See also: Sylar and his mommy/daddy issues, Elle and her Daddy issues, Nathan and his wifey guilt
Step 3: Squander the implied epicness of the storyline. (Here, the whole Coyote Sands thing seemed show changing and awesome, but instead provided little more than a slight impetus for a Petrelli clan reunion and some stupid Angela back story) but see also: Hiro in Japan, the first season finale, Sylar and Elle’s whole relationship.
Step 4: Weigh down the plot with excessive melodrama and monologuing, and completely lose any sense of humor it ever has. (Alice’‘s stormy histrionics, Angela’s weepy monologues, Mohinder’s fear of his dad’s evil, even Peter and Nathan’s dramatic sibling rivalry). See also: Daddy Petrelli, Matt Parkman’s grief, Maya’s evil eyes.
Step 5: Don’t have Sylar on screen all episode. (Yeah… I don’t know if Zachary Quinto was off promoting Star Trek or something, but he was sorely missed, and seeing Adrian Pasdar play Sylar-as-Nathan wasn’t as much fun)