In the course of the last six days, I watched all 23 episodes composing the first season of Heroes. It was a perfect application of the DVD medium: uninterrupted, commercial-free broadcast of a continuous narrative with no waiting. It was difficult for me to ever turn the television off, as the story never disengaged its audience long enough to warrant such a break.
It's true that perhaps this series about ordinary people who discover they can do extraordinary things may be unoriginal; in comic book format, we've see similar powers in the X-Men, and on television, it's been done by The 4400. I'm not familiar enough with those efforts to say how Heroes stacks up, but I definitely enjoyed this particular take. I appreciated that it was set in a modern, everyday world, free of aliens and mysticism, while still incorporating the staples of science fiction, such as genetics, time travel, and samurai.
Having engorged myself on a half-year of story in less than a week, it's almost dizzying all the details and character development I've witnessed. (I usually hate it when bad guys turn good, as it leaves me with undirected angst — but they handled this one well.) Though I didn't find the depth and breadth hard to follow, I did think it unlikely that all these disparate threads would weave together. I'm willing to chalk it up to the "destiny" they were always talking about — even if all the secrets and misunderstandings between the characters sometimes made it seem like a soap opera.
There were so many characters that I felt their specialness was diminished by the frequency with which they met people like them; what are the odds that everyone in the Petrelli and Sanders families would empowered? (Must be genetic.) Yet I'll contradict myself by saying Mohinder was the least interesting character. Except as "guardian of the list", I don't feel he played a very important role in bringing the characters together or providing them with vital information. Though an interesting person, he was, in more ways than one, underpowered.
The tapestry of which he was a part was a rich one, and anyone looking to further explore its mythos need not look far. Many of the show's key people and places have their own Web sites, most notably Hiro's father documenting the legend of Tazeko Kensei. NBC has also produced nearly five dozen short comic books detailing the background and side events of the show, available for download as free PDFs. (Or pick them up as a single $30 hardcover this November 7th) I'll be consuming these shortly, as it probably won't be until this time next August that I'll get to watch season 2. That gives me a full year to contemplate the many questions with which the final episode left me:
- Sylar's final battle with two foes was anticlimatic on both fronts. All of Peter's powers are ignored in favor of plain old fisticuffs? After all the training Hiro received from Sulu, and all the swords Sylar snapped, ultimately Sylar simply stands there and is run through? How could he allow that; is it because Peter had weakened him?
- Why did Peter explode? He was able to control Ted's powers before; why not this time? The only reason I can think of is that he also absorbed all of Sylar's powers, and that many abilities all at once was too much for him to handle. If that's the case, it wasn't demonstrated. Also, was it just Ted's power he couldn't control, or all of them? If the former, I imagine he could've flown himself, without needing Nathan.
- Future Hiro worked to prevent Sylar from exploding — but it was Peter who was the bomb man. How then could Future Hiro's actions have had an effect?
- We also observe from Mohinder's recollections that this future stems from a past in which Future Hiro has already gone back to deliver a message to Peter. Something else must've happened to derail Future Hiro's timeline. What was it?
- More important, Future Hiro thought that Sylar survived impalement because of his power of regeneration, and that saving the cheerleader would keep that power from Sylar's hands. But then we see Claire alive and well in that post-apocalyptic world. In what way was she not saved in Future Hiro's timeline? And how could saving her in this one have had any impact? Except maybe how she demonstrated to Nathan the value of family, prompting him to save New York…
- From what we've seen of Hiro both six months in the past and four hundred years (and Future Hiro five years), it seems that, even if the future isn't written in stone, history is. And all of Isaac's other paintings came to pass. What happened to make the explosion he'd seen be untrue?
Finally, the cliffhanger in which Hiro found himself was predictable, IMHO. Perhaps it comes from my having read too many comic books, but when the legend of Tazeko Kensei was first detailed mid-season, I thought it sounded too similar to Hiro's quest to be a coincidence. Ah, well — I hope they play it out quickly and get him back to Ando. Those two roll well together.