Soap Opera Weekly: Night Shift 12/16/08

HEROES wrapped the first half of its season last night, with Sylar in control of the Primatech complex and determined to show HRG, Claire, Meredith and Angela who the real villains are. But the good guys were determined not to go down easy; Claire revealed that her healing power could be negated by sticking something into the back of her brain, and suggested Sylar should have the same vulnerability. HRG/Noah set other bad guys (including the Puppeteer) free from Level 5 to act as chum for Sylar, but ended up trapped in a cell himself alongside Meredith, who was losing control of her fire power (thanks to an adrenaline injection from, of course, Sylar). Meanwhile, Sylar confronted his “mother” Angela, and in an inversion of the classic Marlon Brando line from On the Waterfront, lamented, “I coulda been a nobody, instead of the monster I became.” 

Ando also was not happy with his current state. Wanting to save his friend Hiro, who was trapped 16 years in the past, Ando injected himself with Mohinder’s power serum, hoping that desire would influence the power he would get. My problem was, Ando getting powers completely ruined what was cool about him — namely, that he was “just” human. He was the sidekick who kept the self-styled “master of time and space” Hiro grounded. Ando was the real person, who served as counterweight to the flashy powered people. Ando ended up with the power to supercharge other abilities, but to me he simply got the ability to negate his own uniqueness. “Yatta!” he crowed, while I cringed. One of the reasons HRG is my favorite character is that he knows he’s human but doesn’t let that slow him down. He’s still awesome. He knows what a literal monster Sylar is, yet he doesn’t hesitate to go after him with just his wits and handgun. (At least Claire’s tip gave him something to work with; though I find it remarkable that Noah didn’t know about the “sweet spot” in the back of the brain!) Claire’s Daddy complex was dramatized by her bid to save HRG from the cell, even though she knew it was a trap. (She also wanted to save her biological mother, Meredith, too, just not really as much). And Noah is no dummy, which is why he realized the glass of the cell was bulletproof but not heatproof. (Luckily, they were not locked in Flint’s old cell, which did have heatproof glass). Will Noah’s 29297 code become a cult number, like the ones from LOST

Some random observations:
•Daphne’s quip, “Back in a flash!” was an obvious shout-out to DC Comics’ Flash, the “fastest man alive,” who routinely used his superspeed to travel in time (albeit usually with a “cosmic treadmill”).
•It was great to see the wonderful George Takei back as Kaito, and to learn how the formula got torn to begin with.
•Ando (and Daphne) rescued Hiro, thus bookending the volume – which began with Hiro fearing that Ando would kill him in the future, but ended with Ando saving him in the past.
•Loved Tracy calling Hiro “Pickachu,” and then him punching her out. hated Tracy picking up Mohinder by the side of the road at the end.
•Recognizing that Nathan is in trouble and for some reason not flying away, Peter injected himself with the formula to restore his powers. Like how Nathan pointed out that went against everything Peter was arguing.
•At least we know Sylar is not a Petrelli after all. The house was getting crowded with sudden offspring. 
•Claire should know that removing the glass from the sweet spot will revive Sylar, so she should make sure it stays there. (Unless the exploding Meredith jarred it loose.) 

So what was the final body count?
•Arthur Petrelli (still dead, but is it permanent?).
•Meredith (Death by fire? Really?).
•Knox.
•Puppetmaster.
•Supersoldier.
•Doyle (metal man).
•Echo De Mille (played by GENERAL HOSPITAL vet Kiko Ellsworth).
•Sylar. For now. Until the glass shard is pulled out of his brain.
•Primatech Paper. 

Volume 4: “Fugitives” kicked off right away. Jumping ahead three weeks, Nathan went to the president (played by STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION‘s Michael Dorn), to get government authorization to round up people with abilities and put them in camps. And President Worf actually went for it! The previews of the “new season,” which starts Feb. 2, shows abnormals trussed up in orange jump suits and hoods like prisoners at Gitmo! From “heroes” to dehumanized sheep…. 

Loss of humanity — or, perhaps more accurately, lack of humanity – was a theme on the winter finale to TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES. T:SCC is supposed to be about saving humanity from extinction, but I perceive precious little humanity on the show. Perhaps I don’t watch regularly enough to pick up on the nuances. For instance, Riley’s story is mitigated by Jesse’s cruelty — is Jesse supposed to be an example of becoming what you hate so much? Losing her humanity to protect mankind? Stephanie Chaves-Jacobsen (ex-Kendra, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA) returned as Jesse, who revealed she brought Riley back from the future in order to lure John away from “her.” But is that Cameron or Sarah? Jesse slapped Riley around, which further makes her a monster. When Riley slit her wrists, she was trying to take away her own humanity. See the theme? Ellison was contracted by Catherine to teach the terminator now known as John Henry right from wrong. Ellison knows the toaster is a pitiless killing machine, yet he still engages it? We also got a bit of backstory as Ellison revealed his wife had secretly…er, terminated a pregnancy. 

Sarah pursued a woman with her own secret: Eileen was a woman using the online identity “Abraham” — or was she? Actually, “she” was a man living as a woman to hide from the mysterious forces that wanted to silence her blog. I suppose there could be another message about humanity there, but I think it was just overly complicated. What was important was Eileen’s observation that Sarah cannot feel the fear of almost dying anymore. She’s she mother of the future of mankind, but is she losing her humanity? That’s a question worth pursuing. Sarah followed Eileen’s clues to a warehouse in the desert, where she kills a guy pretending to be an air-conditioning installer, but not before getting herself shot in the leg. (Can I just point out how much I hate the cliché of having two characters wrestle for a gun that then goes off between them, so viewers are supposed to wonder who got shot. Hint: It ain’t the hero!) Anyway, Sarah dragged herself out the front door and looked into the sky to see what appeared to be a prototype of the Hunter-Seekers we see in the nightmare future. The show ended with a poorly edited sequence of Sarah wincing under bright lights for several moments before passing out. Was that supposed to make me want to turn in again come January? It was a disappointing wrap. 

SURVIVOR: GABON — EARTH’S LAST EDEN wrapped Sunday night with Bob, the physics teacher from Portland, Maine, winning the $1 million over Sugar and Susie. This was the first time three finalists pleaded their cases to the jury. Corinne carved a place for herself in SURVIVOR history with a self-consciously mean-spirited, spiteful screed for Sugar, calling into question Sugar’s sincerity about grieving for her late father. Despite Bob’s dominance of the late-game challenges, his win turned out to be a real… well, survivor’s story, because he literally survived an ouster vote. He tied with Matty and so they had a one-on-one fire-making challenge, which Bob won. He then went on to triumph before the particularly venomous jury this season. Not a bad season, but nothing to really set it apart as particularly memorable. Except that it was light-years ahead of SURVIVOR: AFRICA, which was terminally dull.

Oh, yeah? Sez you!

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