Thursday, October 25, 2007

Heroes Review -- 2x05, "Fight or Flight"

All right, it's been the Week Of No Sleep over here in the monotony that is my senior year of college and, now that my thoughts on cyclic subgroups and Elizabeth Bennett's sexual awareness have been committed to paper and handed in to their respective teachers, I am going to start catching up on posts I've been wanting to write. First, the moment we've all been waiting for: Kristen Bell's first appearance on Heroes!


Previously, Matt was a jerk who made Molly confront her "nightmare man" and sent her into what appears to be a coma. Because of that, we open on Molly, still unconscious, with Matt and Mohinder hovering over her and arguing over what to do with their baby. Matt wants to find a hospital, but Mohinder points out that since Matt's dad got Molly into this, possibly Matt's dad, you know, holds the key to the problem. Matt starts quoting lines apparently ripped off from movies he's been watching on the Hallmark channel, saying that he hasn't seen his father in decades and he's scared to find him again, blah blah blah. Matt, your father is actually THE BOOGEYMAN. Who cares about the fact that he abandoned you? He kills people for fun. Eventually he goes, however, and Mohinder brings Molly to the Company to help. Bad idea, Suresh.

So Matt's trying to interrogate Angela when Nathan, looking clean-shaven but sporting a shaggy haircut that's very Milo season 1, protests. Matt tells Nathan the whole story, and Nathan insists on coming with him. "We can probably get there faster, you know, cuz you can...," Matt agrees. "I'm not a cargo jet," Nathan mutters (heh). So they go break into the boogeyman's apartment (after a short hesitation while Matt goes into his daddy complex again), and he pulls a very convincing doddering-dad act, even showing them a photo of himself with the Red Helix of Death drawn on it. Then he lures Matt into the back room to "show him something," like, Matt, that's the line every pedophile has used since the beginning of time. Matt immediately goes into a nightmare about being locked into a jail cell, while Nathan, following him soon after, dreams himself onto the rooftop in New York from which he can see the city burning. A baby appears in Matt's cell and Matt, amusingly, starts yelling for a guard to come get the baby as if he were actually in jail and people were going to respond normally to his requests. Meanwhile, Nathan is confronted by the burned version of himself. So Matt fights the guard who shows up, Nathan fights burned guy, and after a lot of pretty cool intercutting we finally realize that it's the same fight. They wake up and realize that Matt can defeat his father's brainwashing. ("I knew it was a con," he says, like, THEN WHY DID YOU FALL FOR IT?)

Meanwhile, a tiny blonde girl shows up on the docks looking for Peter Petrelli. It is none other than the long-awaited "Elle," played by Kristen Bell, and turns out her superpower is a pretty sweet shooting-electricity-from-her-fingertips deal. When she does find the Wandering Rocks pub where Peter's holed up, Ricky, trying to protect Peter after having found the guy making out with his sister, lies to her and gets himself fried. Unaware, Peter is in Caitlin's apartment, opening The Box. After all the hype, it turns out to contain a passport, a few crumpled dollar bills, and a plane ticket to Montreal. So all he knows, really, is his legal name.

Elle calls someone to report on her progress, trying to downplay what happened until she finally exclaims, "All right, I killed him, okay? What is the big deal?!" The unseen person on the other end of the line, whom Elle has referred to as "Dad," sends her home, the very image of a pouty daughter. Peter has just finished demonstrating his mad weird-eyed painting skillz to a somewhat frightened Caitlin with a painting of a church in Montreal when they get the news of her brother's death. Arriving at the pub, she collapses into very real tears, while Peter sort of goes into self-sacrificing hero mode and, instead of comforting the girl, starts blaming himself and planning revenge.

While keeping watch over Molly, Mohinder is nearly attacked by Niki, who's gone into Evil Twin mode trying to escape her "treatment." Once Mohinder uses the Taser conveniently introduced seconds before her arrival, she calms down and explains to him that she wants to be cured. The Company sends Mohinder out on an errand with his Taser to fetch someone similarly out of control, who turns out to be... well, Monica, who's discovered Micah's secret and revealed to him her own, pontificating about the meaning of life as a muscle-mimicking superhero along the way.

Meanwhile back at the Farm of Totally Unrelated Storylines, Ando gets some expert help in deciphering another scroll from Hiro about his adventures with Kensei. Hiro is on the eve of an attack, along with Kensei and Yaeko, against a large army called the White Beard.


Kristen Bell's introduction was much better than Maya's earlier in the season. Partly because she's awesome, partly because she's a villain, but partly because she wasn't shoved in our faces like we were supposed to care on the first shot. Instead, she saunters onscreen emanating pure perky mischief and shoots some bolts from her fingertips. I think she's playing it a bit too similar to Veronica Mars -- not to mention that the first half of the episode had her playing detective to find Peter, which was just too close for comfort. But her phone call to her father was hilarious: her contrition for killing Ricky was about on the level of a teenager who stayed out past curfew.

As a threat, she's not on the same level of evil as Matt's dad or Sylar; she's like Eden, cute and wicked. The sexy villainess thing is fun, but I do think Heroes tends to devolve way too easily into that kind of gender divide in its characterizations -- men protecting women and taking the burden of the world on their shoulders, on the good side, and on the bad side, evil male masterminds bossing around Charlie's-Angels-esque twenty-somethings.

One of the biggest strengths of this episode was that it took big leaps towards tying all the storylines together. Ando and Hiro are still rotting in their irrelevant, boring subplot, and Maya, Sylar, and Claire weren't even there, but we now have Micah and Monica about to get to know Mohinder, who's married to Matt, who's now teamed up with Nathan. So that's an improvement. It sucked to have everyone moving in such separate spheres. Nevertheless, as I've said before, if several regulars have to be cut from each episode in order for said episode to have any kind of coherence, then maybe, just maybe, there are too many regulars on the show. I know that's a revolutionary idea.

The other highlight was the Matt/Nathan/burned!Nathan fight. Great editing and concept there, and Nathan's nightmare, in particular, was quite creepy. Interesting to see Matt's interaction with Janice in his nightmare, too. I think it's possible that it is simply the most nightmarish thing Matt's head can come up with to make him a father when his life has made him so afraid of fatherhood, but more likely that on some level he already knows he's got a kid out there somewhere, and has gotten so attached to Molly in part as a surrogate.

That said, I'm really still not feeling this season. Nothing's happening! I know a couple people died and Peter did the creepy painting thing and there are always hints that shit is about to hit the fan, but it just isn't happening, and rather than creating suspense the overlong build-up is just creating boredom.

In Summary: Part of the upward trend in episodes for the past few weeks, but nowhere near first-season quality.


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