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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

‘Heroes’ blogging: “I Am Become Death”

(previous: Chapter Three: “One of Us, One of Them”)

I can’t stand to fly
I’m not that naive
I’m just out to find
The better part of me

I’m more than a bird…i’m more than a plane
More than some pretty face beside a train
It’s not easy to be me

Everyone thinks superheroes got it made. Not so.

[spoiler-laden commentary on tonight’s Heroes after the jump!]
Just last night, when I was catching up with last week’s episode, I was worried that Heroes had jumped the shark already this season: but now I’m excited again. I like how the writers are not letting themselves tread water with their concept — which felt like what was going on last season — but keep expanding it, keep showing us more possibilities for their universe. Oo, and they keep showing us how insidious those in charge (or who believe they’re in charge) have been: not only is the future expanding before our eyes, so is the past.

Like this: Some of the “heroes” were born, but some were created. We thought it was only Mohinder in the present who was developing a way to give everyone superpowers, but obviously someone decades ago was fooling around with this, too. Dr. Zimmerman wouldn’t say whom he was working for when he augmented Tracy, Nikki, and Barbara, but surely it’s got to be that Group of folks including Linderman, Mrs. Petrelli, and Hiro’s father, right? And surely Zimmerman was lying about the “triplets,” right? Wasn’t Nikki’s evil alter ego Jessica supposedly a kind of avatar of a twin sister she lost in childhood? Or am I remembering that wrong?

Whatever: I’m thinking Zimmerman’s work was more along the lines of test-tube babies — maybe an endless supply of identical pretty blond girls — he experimented on, perhaps even tinkered with on a genetic level. Simply having fallen into the luck of identical triplets whose mother died in childbirth is too preposterous to accept. And Tracy shouldn’t have. Who knows: maybe she didn’t.

But even better than the mere plot details worming their way into the story is the sense that we cannot be sure of whatever moral ground we think we’ve taken with these characters. Maybe scar-faced not-Peter isn’t a villain after all, and maybe Mohinder is, for making the serum? Could villainy be simply a matter of perspective? This could get interesting…

Sylar’s gone domestic! and nuclear! Oo, so has Matt! (Well, Matt’s gone domestic again, anyway.) Nathan’s gone to the White House! Claire has gone from wanting to kill Sylar to wanting to kill Peter! And it all could change next week as the future changes! It remains to be seen whether that becomes annoying and feels like the writers are cheating, or whether it will be all deliciously wibbly-wobbly, timey-whimey.

Oh, and we knew Takezo Kensei would be back, didn’t we?

Who’s goin’ evil? I just can’t tell anymore.

(Watch full episodes at NBC’s official site for the show.)

(next: Chapter Five: “Angels and Monsters”)

MPAA: rated TV14-V

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