We're back in the pub where Heroes left us off last week -- with Caitlin crying over her dead brother and Peter promising to avenge his murder. They decide to go to Montreal, with Peter resisting taking Caitlin till she points out that she was in the painting too. When she finds Ricky's murderer, she's going to "kill the bitch." OK Caitlin, there's cute spunky, and then there's annoying cliched spunky where you're just saying things that overly-macho men say in movies. We don't see the outcome of their little field trip till we have sat through the rest of this messy, aimless episode.
Claire, in California, tries out for the cheerleading team, and she's good according to a Kristin Kreuk lookalike, but the head cheerleader Debbie has taken a dislike to her. And it's not a democracy, people -- it's a cheerocracy. Unfortunately, the show isn't quite as clever as Bring it On, and I think we can all agree that when you're being compared unfavorably to Bring it On you might want to stop taking yourself so seriously, but oh well. It ends up that Claire doesn't make the team, and she and West gang up on Debbie to stage a fake abduction in which West scoops Claire up into the sky and drops her to the ground. Debbie gets humiliated on top of being traumatized, and the police also discover that she's been drinking. With Debbie suspended and out of the way, Claire gets a spot on the team. West tries to assuage her guilt by saying Debbie deserved it.
Noah brings the Haitian to Russia, where he confronts one of the elders, Ivan. He wants to know about the paintings, but Ivan refuses to tell him until Noah begins erasing his most treasured memories. Finally he breaks, and then Noah calmly says that actually, once the Company sees the memories are gone, they'll know he was here. So unfortunately, he pretty much has to kill Ivan anyhow. Poor Ivan. Noah's pretty damn cold when he shoots him. He and the Haitian go to look at the paintings, one of which shows a blonde woman struggling, one of which shows a man pulling a gun, and one of which is the dead!Noah painting. It's a good scene, one of the few that actually makes you feel like something might happen in the near future. (Clearly a delusion.)
The Longest Road Trip Ever continues with Maya and Alejandro still not over the fucking border. Sylar convinces Maya to use her gift for evil -- to defeat a vigilante border patrol, which is admittedly a bit gratifying, but also incredibly sinister and wrong. Alejandro starts a fistfight with Sylar, since he sees the danger of trusting the guy. But he can't convince Maya to get rid of him: she keeps saying he's a gift from God. Her superpowers don't include super deductive skillz, obviously. So then Sylar takes his first opportunity to corner Alejandro alone and tell the incomprehending Spanish speaker that he plans to kill them both and take their powers back, and also to use Maya as a new toy.
In a plotline completely unrelated to these, we see Mohinder testing Monica in the Company facilities. He basically treats her like a lab rat, even though she's kind of tired and the whole thing feels extremely exploitative. But he balks when Bob asks him to inject Monica with a modified form of The Disease that might stop her abilities. Somehow, this changes Bob's mind, convincing him to stop trying to inject people without their consent and to keep Mohinder around as a sort of ethics expert. (When you're a Company Man, pretty much anyone who can grasp that murder and violence are wrong probably has a much more advanced understanding of morals than you do.) He also assigns a supposedly recovered Niki to join Mohinder as his partner, but Niki is so confident and glinty-eyed that I bet she's Jessica. In the end, Bob drops Monica off at home with an intrusively product-placed iPod on which are loaded all the videos she needs to learn new skillz.
And, Hiro. He and Yaeko and Kensei free Yaeko's dad from the White Beard camp, who reveals that they have to destroy the guns of the White Beards so they can't ruin the way of the samurai. At one point as they try to escape, Hiro just scoops up Yaeko and teleports her out to the fields. She realizes that it was he who had the time-traveling power all along, and he who did the cool cherry-blossom thing, and says "everything I loved in Kensei came from you." So they kiss, but Kensei sees them! Hiro promises it will never happen again, but Kensei betrays Yaeko and her father to the White Beards.
At the end of the episode, Caitlin and Peter find their destination in Montreal and ener a large abandoned building full of old artifacts. Peter finds a note to himself on a mirror, signed from Adam (the same name as a file that Bob gave to Mohinder, BTW), saying that they were right about the Company and the world was in danger. He and Caitlin hug and are magically transported to New York in 2008 -- a totally empty New York with evacuation notices randomly and conveniently floating around the street. "This is next year!" Peter announces helpfully. End of episode.
In a highly self-conscious show, one particular instance of meta-textual commentary stood out for me in "The Line." Ando, in trying to decipher Hiro's scrolls with the help of a lab technician, gushes about how much suspense he's in with regard to Hiro's adventures, and how much he wants to hear every single detail. Rather than reinforcing any hypothetical sense of excitement I had, this scene simply highlighted the difference between the hoped-for response and the apathetic actual response we've all actually had to season 2.
This, like the episodes before it, contained only a few developments sprinkled in a large number of meandering, disconnected or loosely-connected, often pointless plots. The discovery of the note, for example, suggested the larger concrete purpose and project that the season might contain for our heroes: stop the disease from spreading. Fine, but why didn't we see this back in episode 2 or 3? Yaeko falling in love with Hiro all of a sudden doesn't have the ring of truth that it should have after so many minutes of screentime -- it's a simple event, with as little emotional resonance as a seventeenth-century fable has once it's filtered down to our time. Also, Bob's near-instantaneous change of heart is explained by one simple monologue; it's simply ridiculous to have a character so separated from ethics that he wants to infect people with diseases without their consent, and then to have him change his mind just because Mohinder throws stuff and yells a little.
The fact that Maya and Alejandro are still on their roadtrip is ridiculous. It's been six weeks, and the only significant development is that Sylar has joined them: why has Maya been added to the cast when she's barely, if at all, connected to the main story? Not to mention that the culmination of the Alejandro-Sylar conflict, in which Sylar reveals his evil plan to Alejandro in English, is anti-climactic. Even in its unsubtle comic-book style, Heroes should, and I would argue did, show us what Sylar is doing and why he's doing it. Before he said any of it, it was clear that he meant to kill the sibs to take their power, and it was equally clear that he enjoyed manipulating Maya simply as a manipulation, separately from the part where he wants to slice off the top of her head. Having him reveal it to Alejandro was neither chilling nor surprising nor dramatically useful; it was a lazy attempt at sensationalizing a conflict that itself lacks basis in real human emotion or character development.
Meanwhile, the characters who were arguably at or near the center of it all last year, Claire (the object, the person to save) and Peter (the subject, the constant agent, the one who saves), have spun off into their own worlds. Maybe that's the problem: the show is working to connect Matt, Mohinder, Nathan, Niki, and the Company without the benefit of already-established nodes.
Let's not even get started on the dialogue. Actually, okay, let's. West to Claire: "You're a total babe, and you have powers!" (on why she is not ordinary). Caitlin: "Kill the bitch" (already mentioned, but worth resurrecting). Monica comparing Bob to Oprah (because he gives her gifts): seriously? The list goes on, but it's all kind of like this -- forced, cheesy, or just plain nonsensical.
Heroes, I thought you were going to replace Alias in my heart with your cheesy addictiveness, but that show had the most amazing second season ever and right now you are actually worse than the Sydney-Vaughn-Lauren debacle that was season 3. This isn't a slump. This is an emergency. Heal thyself!
In Summary: *whimpers*