HEROES 4.18: Brave New World or Same Old, Same Old?

Claire and Noah

This is how the world of HEROES ends, not with a bang, but with a whimper.

In this case, it was the literal moan of defeat uttered by Samuel Sullivan. Which is pretty much what’s been wrong with HEROES since the close of Volume One: Things just…peter out. In contrast to the nuclear armageddon and super-battles that climaxed previous seasons, here Claire and HRG convinced a bunch of people to run away from Samuel, and he was rendered powerless, left mewling on the ground.

Um, that was it?

Talk about a waste of potential. Like Noah, I’ve never liked carnivals, and so this was the perfect setting for a creepy bad guy. But the role of Samuel was so underwritten that it was a complete waste of Robert Kneppper’s talents. Oh, sure, Samuel had a grand plan, but his motivation seemed to change every few episodes, and in retrospect most everything he did over the course of the season now makes little sense. He could have teleported the carnival to Central Park and tried to slaughter people on day one. But no, he waited until the 18th episode to make his move. “After tonight, we will be respected,” Samuel claimed, noting that the mundane people of the world should aspire to be like the evolved humans. Which is the point that I have been making all season long: Why should someone who can fly, or regenerate from any wound aspire to become a wage slave laboring in a cubicle? True, nobody should aspire to be a homicidal maniac like Sylar, but it wasn’t really his power that made him a nut. And Samuel would have been feared as a mass-murderer rather than lauded, but I guess you can’t have everything.

Samuel onstage

Without a doubt, the best part of the episode was the big, emotional scene between Claire (Hayden Panettiere) and Noah (Jack Coleman) when they were facing death in the buried trailer. As they realized the plan was for Claire to watch helplessly as her daddy died, the pair used their time thank each other for being in their lives. (This evoked the last time I liked something on the show, when Noah apologized to his daughter back in episode 4.14) I have to admit, it always gets me when HRG calls her “ClaireBear.” The scene reminded me of their goodbye right before Noah had The Haitian wipe all memories of Claire from his mind in the first-season classic “Company Man.”

I am not a fan of reforming Sylar. I don’t buy that for a second. Sylar should either be evil, or killed. I don’t want to see a warm-and-cuddly Sylar on the side of the angels, no matter how popular portrayer Zachary Quinto is. (People are capable of liking an evil character without emulating him, NBC.)

Anyway, after Noah and his pals foiled Samuel’s killing spree, Claire kicked off the next volume, “Brave New World,” by leaping off the Ferris wheel in order to “come out” as an evolved human. In a nod to the series pilot, her stunt replicated her very first appearance, right down to popping her right arm back into its socket. I groaned when Sylar parroted the title by remarking to Peter, “It’s a brave new world.” But I have to ask, by taking this literal leap of faith and exposing herself on camera, doesn’t that sort of make Samuel a winner, since announcing the presence of powered humans was his secondary goal?

It’s probably a moot issue since, to my mind, HEROES probably will not be renewed. Noah told his daughter, “Things change. People don’t.” If HEROES wants to survive for a fifth season, it will have to find a way to change. Or, to put it another way, it has to evolve.

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Oh, yeah? Sez you!

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