Monday, October 13, 2008

I figured out what bothered me so much about last week's HEROES...

Rereading what I wrote about the season so far and reading other people's comments elsewhere, I find myself remarkably alone in thinking that making Sylar into a heroic figure is a Very Bad Thing.

That is not to say that I didn't appreciate all the cool moments this season where Sylar expertly pulls a Bavarian Fire Drill with the cops at Knox's bank robbery, plays a very effective Boogyman as he goes after Claire and yes - even the bit in the future where he is an annoyingly perky Mister Rogers. But there's a world of difference between a character "being cool" and "being heroic".

There are certain characters who - by their nature - cannot be heroic even if they do heroic things. Doctor Doom, for instance, has a definitive sense of style that is unrivaled for sheer coolness. And has saved the world on numerous occasions. But while he has a devout fandom and is undoubtedly admired for being a worthy menace with a silver tongue... he is far from a heroic figure in any classical sense because of the many ethical lines he has crossed in his life.

I think Sylar is in the same mold. He is an unmitigated bad guy who you love to hate. He is, to use the wrestling term, a heel. And as any wrestling fan will tell you, there is nothing that can ruin a heel's popularity like pulling a heel-turn. That is, having a bad guy suddenly turn good.

I think that's a part of it. Because Sylar has done too much bad to be written off as just being a confused young man who just needs a strong mother figure to guide him onto the path of good.

And to have Sylar actually turn around and be redeemed in the way they did it - by saying that all of the murders he committed weren't really his fault because his power made him do it - is to cheapen the death of every single person who died trying to stop him.

Take Isaac, for instance. Now, I'll admit to a bias here because Isaac was my favorite character in the first season. And part of me has held out hope that - because he listed "stop the bomb" and "stop you" as separate goals just before Sylar killed him - Isaac had another whammy in play. I'd hoped that Sylar would eventually find his comeuppance due to a prophecy Isaac foresaw and hid away where it would be found at the proper time. Writing Sylar's serial-killer tendencies off as "the devil made me do it" cheapens Isaac's sacrifice, to say nothing of the countless people he killed before.

And while I'm thinking about Isaac... am I the only one disturbed by the implications that - despite a number of people with mental problems brought on by their powers - the only ones who have been shown to have a chance at a normal life are men? Including the male serial killer?

Think about it: Niki's life was ruined by her multiple-personality disorder, which lead to her husband's death trying to save her and her being manipulated by two branches of The Company until her death. Elle was driven to sadism and sociopathic tendencies by her manipulative father's abuse and was forced out of the only life she ever knew. And Claire is apparently destined to become an emotionless killer and sadistic torturer thanks to Sylar's messing with her head as well as Peter AND Noah refusing to give her the guidance she wants/needs.

I can only think of two male parallels who have been shown to have an obvious mental problem - Isaac (who eventually overcame his drug addiction in order to save the world) and Sylar (who is... you know... a psychopathic killer!)

And the whole idea of "Knowing How Things Work" comes with "The Hunger" doesn't make sense on the face of it since - when Sylar was powerless for all of Season Two - he was STILL being compelled to kill people and try and take their powers!

*sighs* The season isn't over, of course, so there's a chance that we're getting faked out here and that Justice Is Coming. In fact, considering the season so far... and the basic underlying theme... I'm sure of it. But that is a whole other article.


  1. I can't say I can argue with the majority of what you've written. I'm not a fan of Sylar becoming a "good guy" in light of all he's done. It's like a face-turn for Venom, which I never liked, even though I bought up a lot of his mini-series at the time.
    However, I do want to constructively argue about "the hunger" aspect. When we saw Sylar before he became "Sylar", he was a meek watchmaker who was trying so very hard for approval and wanting to be "special". He was socially inept, maybe, but he wasn't entirely dangerous. It wasn't until he met up with the telekinetic guy and heard the ticking for the first time that he went nuts.
    So, because of that of that, I can kind of buy into "the hunger" bit.
    Also, I heartily agree with the treatment of women in the show. It's almost becoming a "fridge" problem.

  2. Re: The Hunger. I could maybe buy that The Hunger didn't kick in until he confronted his first powered person... except they said that it caused a person to want to understand everything and what we saw of Gabriel didn't suggest that he was... oh, say... reading everything he could get his hands or obsessing over anything EXCEPT watches.
    As for the treatment of women... well the fridging problem has been noted before and not just by me in some of my earlier work.
    *sighs* Perhaps it is time for a quick third article...