Tuesday, May 01, 2007

HEROES: String Theory

The writers of Heroes have done something very, very smart. All this season, the coming nuclear blast in New York City has been the focal point of the show, and the various heroes' motivations. By flinging Hiro and Ando five years into the future, after the blast and the subsequent aftermath, the show has successfully raised the stakes tenfold while maintaining the urgency of the nuclear deadline. With the introduction of Malcolm McDowell as Linderman, an Ozymandias character if ever there was one, the show came perilously close to aping The Watchmen. But the bleak "mutant hysteria" of this possible future moves the storyline into a dark interpretation of Marvel comics themes, whereas up until this point I feel (rightly or wrongly) that the overall narrative was more driven by DC themes. It's no longer a Watchmen ripoff, and the season can successfully close out this storyline (a graphic novel analog in DVD boxed set form) while sewing the seeds for a larger, more urgent storyline in season two.

There were many comic conventions in this episode. Future Hiro and current Hiro had some interesting interactions, although the fact that future Hiro doesn't speak with much of an accent was distracting. And future Hiro is a bit dull, personality wise, although they did a good--is expected--job of explaining why. Showing all the possible future versions of the various characters was a fun, if somewhat timeworn approach. Sylar's big reveal was a classic super villain moment, and the fact that there was actual super-hero ass-kicking going on was very, very fun. I find it more than a little flawed in the logic department that Sylar would opt for concentration camp-style extermination of these meta-humans rather than absorb their abilities into himself, but that's a relatively minor quibble. All in all, quite the good episode.

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  1. One question - you've gone with the title "String Theory," but the title as shown at the start of the episode was "Five Years Gone." When did they change the title?

    I don't consider this to be a "ripoff" of either Watchmen or Days of Future Past; they're just riffing on the same themes, with similar cool results.

  2. You're right--the title at the beginning of the episode was "Five Years Gone" now that you mention it. I couldn't remember, so I went to the Heroes website and that's where I got "String Theory."

    The Watchmen overtones got very, very strong with the introduction of Linderman, and his "destroy New York to unite the world" plan. They've veered away from that direct path now, so I'm willing to wait and see what's happening next.

    The thing is, Kring has bragged about not knowing much about comics, and some of that showed through in the series early on. But they've since added staff writers who are apparently *very* steeped in comics lore, and I believe they're intentionally referencing elements of classic Marvel and DC 1) because they love the material and 2) to mess around with us fanboys. IMHO, the latter half of Heroes' first season has had much stronger episodes overall.