On GOSSIP GIRL, it was the first day of school at West Beverly — er, I mean, the Constance Billard School for Girls and St. Jude’s School for Boys — and Blair Waldorf was deciding who would live and who would die — er, I mean, who would be accepted into her ruling social clique. Hopeful candidates submitted application packages and submitted to personal interviews. More importantly to viewers, Dan and Serena had to decide how to behave when seeing each other at school. The answer: not well. Dan quickly fell in with transfer student Amanda, whom Blair dubbed “Dan with boobs.” She was a seemingly perfect match for Dan. Too perfect. Turned out Chuck hired Amanda to seduce (at least socially — but this was Chuck) Dan in order to rattle stepsister Serena and shake up Blair’s delicate social hierarchy. Chuck loves it when a plan comes together — and this one sure did — but I’m not exactly sure how he knew that not only would Serena step in and claim Blair’s Queen B crown, but Isabel and Katy would follow her — leaving Blair on the outside looking in.
Poor Blair. She had it rough last night, what with learning that her royal boyfriend, Marcus, was sleeping with his stepmother, the duchess (who was also sleeping with Nate and, apparently, everyone except her husband), thanks to a prying Vanessa’s photographic evidence. Blair icily assured Vanessa that she’d take care of it — and to stay out of it. But when Vanessa spotted Blair with Marcus and assumed they were still canoodling, she spilled the beans to the duke, ruining it for everyone, especially any chance she might have had with Nate.
HEROES kicked off its third season with back-to-back episodes. Sylar resumed his quest to amass as many cool powers as possible, so he set his sights on Claire. The fiend sliced off the top of her head and rooted around in her brain until he absorbed her power. At last, we know precisely what Sylar does with the brains of his victims; he doesn’t eat them, he literally pokes around inside them with his fingers. Then he allowed Claire to heal, noting that she cannot die and is so “special” that he could not kill her if her tried! That skull session sent Claire into a tailspin, as it took away her ability to feel pain — the only thing she believed made her feel halfway human. She resumed trying to kill herself on video to see whether she could feel anything…but was rescued from an oncoming train by FuturePeter.
FuturePeter traveled to the present from a dystopian world four years from now. He planned to avert the events that led to his reality by stopping his brother, Nate, from revealing the exist of Heroes. But the best-laid plans of mice and scarred, brooding would-be superheroes often go awry. Peter’s mucking around in the timestream created a new, uncertain future. Not that the present is any picnic, either. When the season resumed, Nikki/Jessica is calling herself “Tracy” and has freezing powers; Nate decides to accept an appointment to the Senate and is taking advice from Linderman’s ghost; Mohinder is experimenting with his blood (and Maya); Parkman is lost in Africa; Hiro is battling a super-fast young woman for possession of a formula that Kaito insists could end the world. And, the most immediate problem, a dozen superpowered bad guys escaped from Level 5 at the Company, and are in the real world, eager to cause chaos. Oh, well, at least Sylar was caught. Emphasis on was, until futurecasting Rose got involved.
Things I loved:
•Elle returned. Hands-down, the best character from last season was Elle, the electrically charged Daddy’s girl who lived for her father’s approval. The charming Kirsten Bell (ex-Veronica, VERONICA MARS) keeps Elle from appearing cloying and annoying. And she finally got to take down Sylar.
•HRG kicks ass. He doesn’t have any powers — unless you count being fearless as a power. That’s just how he rolls.
Things I didn’t like:
•Mohinder gets powers. It’s vitally important to have human characters not only to keep the stories relatable to us regular folks, but to keep the superpowered characters grounded. What’s cool about Ando is that he’s Hiro’s human sidekick, not his crime-busting equal, and their interplay was fun in the first season. Separating Hiro and Ando was one of the biggest mistakes of season two.
•Powers for all: The idea that everybody has a specific innate power waiting to be activated is interesting on paper; unlocking them is not. Powers are something special that should not be cheapened. If everybody is special, then nobody is.
•Rose is Sylar’s mother. Why does everyone have to be related? It wastes that most precious commodity in a fantasy series: the audience’s willing suspension of disbelief. I’ll accept people with strange abilities far beyond those of mortal men, but not only is Claire secretly Nate’s daughter, Nate has a secret brother? Who’s the distillation of evil?