Hiro: “My hero’s journey has come to an end. I have no more quests.”
Brace yourselves, folks. This is going to be a long one. I’m irrationally fond of season finales that can double as series conclusions. As a general rule, they leave me with a gooier feeling because, along with providing closure, they have to leave the protagonists ready for the next great adventure. Really isn’t that how we all want to remember our heroes, be it for the summer or until the inevitable movie revival twenty years down the line starring Will Ferrel as the moron version of our favorite character?
“Brave New World” is a great example of the makeshift ending. Well, okay, the dialogue is on the nose, the staging feels awkward, and the frantic pace undercuts every scene’s emotional resonance, but it’s Heroes: if you can’t get passed those things, you might as well give up on the show, post a thoughtful apology, and then let some pushy self-promoting dolt review the remaining episodes in your stead. My point is it’s a fitting conclusion to a season or series with grand ideas if somewhat problematic execution.
Now, since this may be the end of Heroes, I thought I’d take a quick look at where the series left each character, in no particular order:
Hiro a.k.a. The Time Traveler’s Ex Boyfriend (or the Japanese Ashton Kutcher)
Hiro doesn’t get to participate in the big fight, which is too bad, seeing as Samuel’s scheme this season was more damaging to him than to Peter. However, his thread does wrap up the Charlie mystery in a lovely manner. It turns out Arnold the Dying Time Traveler hid the girl in 1944, a crime Hiro can’t bring himself to undo because she led a happy life. K. Callan is fantastic as the elderly Charlie.
It occurs to me every Hiro arc so far has dealt with loss. First, he witnessed his father’s murder; then he traveled to the past and said goodbye to his dying mother; and now he’s lost the love of his life. In essence, Hiro’s four-year journey has been about leaving one’s childhood behind (his parents, his first love, and even his fairytale hero), and I get a strong sense of closure from this coda. It’s my hope that, if the show gets renewed, we’ll get to see him welcome adulthood at last.
Ando a.k.a. The Not-So-Japanese Jiminy Cricket
In case you’re wondering about the heading, James Kyson Lee is Korean and speaks Japanese with a very thick Korean accent. Anyway, Ando is my favorite character, so I really wanted to give him his own section since it may be my last opportunity. As Hiro’s relentless conscience, the character hasn’t grown much in the last four years, but this chapter shows him at his best: wise, patient, and always looking to the future. There’s something really touching about the way he just nudges Hiro toward the right conclusions, trusting his friend to figure things out on his own.
My only qualm with Ando’s subplot comes at the end when he tells Hiro he’s going to supercharge him so they can teleport every “special” out of Central Park, which, by the way, looks nothing like Central Park. Wouldn’t it have been more effective to have the character just do it instead of dishing out the awkward exposition? Maybe the writers felt they needed to remind us of his true powers after spending countless episodes confusing the matter.
Noah a.k.a. Mid-Life Crisis Batman
Noah is the man with the plan. His plan this season: whine for eighteen episodes straight and then cry like a little girl. Actually, it isn’t that bad this time around, partly because I really thought he was going to die in that buried trailer, so his wanting to clear the air with his daughter made perfect sense to me. Also, halfway into the conversation, he stops talking about himself and starts discussing his aspirations for Claire.
That’s the thing, isn’t it? Noah’s complete devotion to a child he never wanted is what makes him compelling, so all those diversions about redemption and finding purpose were missing the point just a bit. I’m glad the writers figured out what makes the character work before the end of the volume. I would have liked more “man with the plan” action, but I’ll settle for a satisfying conclusion to a four-year emotional arc. As far as I’m concerned, Noah has the single best line in the entire series this week. More on that in the quotes section.
Lauren a.k.a. Tracy Lite
Lauren, whose only contribution to the plot consists of calling a helicopter, turns out pretty insignificant as a whole, and I can’t help the feeling Elizabeth Rhöm was only brought in to replace Ali Larter as Noah’s new love interest. Still, the Heroes Powers That Be now have a charismatic actress playing this blank slate, so I wouldn’t mind learning more about the character, should we get a fifth season.
Tracy a.k.a. The Real McCoy
Wonder Twins activate: form of deus ex machina! As some of you may remember from the previous chapter, before calling that helicopter, Lauren also called Tracy, who now has the same power as Zan from the Super Friends (minus the floating silver bucket), allowing her to save Claire and Noah by, uh, doing something watery.
As much as I like Ali Larter (she’s purty), Tracy’s intervention doesn’t make an ounce of sense in terms of plot construction. I don’t question the internal logic: she and Noah seemed like they were bonding at the beginning of the season, so why wouldn’t she help out a friend? By the same token, we all know Lauren is utterly useless, so she might as well acknowledge it herself and ask someone else to do the work. However, having a random character come out of nowhere to save the day and then leave again for no apparent reason does not good drama make.
Emma a.k.a. Oscar the Grouch
This week, Emma is unhappy because Doyle the Creepy Puppet Master is forcing her to play the cello and lure thousands of innocent people to their deaths. There are some good bits in the thread, such as Samuel’s nonchalant shrug when she confronts him, but I wish the character was given more to do in this final chapter, or in the volume as a whole, for that matter. When you think about it, she’s little more than a damsel in distress.
Perhaps the problem is her arc this season, which just sort of takes up space without ever achieving anything. Emma goes from being unhappy for no good reason to being unhappy for legitimate albeit supernatural reasons. That’s it. I’m not sure the Heroes Powers That Be are using Deanne Bray’s full range as an actress. In fairness, she does seem relieved when Sylar comes to save her, but now I’m getting ahead of myself.
Matt a.k.a. Samuel Staziak (Go ahead, Google it)
Though he’s more of an obstacle this time around, refusing to let Sylar play hero with Peter, Matt has become quite the badass, standing his ground even after Eli the Multiple Man broke his leg and then “pushing” the henchman into betraying Samuel. I can also see his point regarding Sylar, who’s proven time and again he’s an unstable lunatic. The idea, I think, is to show Matt has finally learnt to stand up for himself. It’s a simple but effective way to bring closure to his four years of abuse. Seriously, the man couldn’t catch a break.
Incidentally, he’s shown getting food out of the refrigerator when Eli pops up. That means he saw Peter enter Sylar’s mind, resumed working on his brick wall, and then, when he finished, looked at his friend’s unconscious body lying on the floor and thought, “I need me some snackage!” Matt is so hardcore.