Monday, October 19, 2009

Heroes: Season 4 - Episode 5: Tabula Rasa

Tabula Rasa = blank slate in Latin. A reference to Sylar, certainly, but usually each episode title has a double meaning - what else is getting blanked or starting over?

Hiro/Emma - After teleporting to Peter last time and collapsing, Hiro is rushed to the hospital. Peter takes Hiro's power and teleports away, asking Emma - who is looking for more answers regarding her power, to keep an eye on Hiro while suggesting he talk to him about power.

Hiro attempts to offer what little advice he can (i.e. Powers are awesome!) and makes a pain of himself by doing a magic show to cheer up the other patients, using his powers. He also allows Emma to see what her power is like with time stopped and apparently she can touch sound waves, as she moves the colors around while they are stopped. This sounds much more interesting than it is, but it does explain a lot. Anyway, Emma is apparently inspired by this as well as Hiro's refusal to despair in the face of death. Shout Out to Season One: Hiro mentions Charlie, who was just as brave in the face of her death.

Hiro teleports away before Peter can get back, leaving behind an envelope containing part of his Bucket List. The envelope says "Save Charlie". We close on Hiro, still in a hospital gown, walking into the Burnt Toast Diner in Odessa, the day Charlie is supposed to die.

Peter/Noah - Peter teleports to Noah, figuring that Noah probably knows someone with a healing power that can save Hiro. Noah does - a boy he "bagged-and-tagged" several years earlier.

Claire, who is there doing laundry, asks why she just can't use her healing potion blood to help Hiro and Noah gives an answer that I think is total BS... but hey, give the writers credit for actually trying to give an answer. For those who care, the explanation is something about Claire's blood only causing the disease to spread faster... which I guess might make sense if Hiro had some form of cancer and Claire's ability made those cells grow faster as well. But since they never actually defined what Hiro has exactly, we don't know for sure.

Anyway, Peter and Noah jump gto the kid's house and find that the plants, animals and people inside are quite dead. The kid tries to blow Noah away with a shot gun but Noah tries to talk him down. It seems that the kid's power is such that he can control the flow of life energy, enabling him to heal or hurt others with a touch and he's trying to keep everyone away for fear of killing again.

At this point, Peter chooses this moment to teleport in front of the kid and freeze time as he is raising his gun to shoot Noah. Peter does stop time - but not before he takes a shotgun blast to the chest himself.

In what may be the most anti-climactic commercial break of the show's run, Noah figures out what happened as time restarts and gets the kid to get it together so he can heal Peter. Peter takes the kid's power, Noah calls in a favor to get Peter a personal plane to NYC and Noah stays to help the kid get things together.

Sylar/Carnies - Samuel, the Carnie leader, figures out that Sylar doesn't have any memories. Further consultation with Lydia the Empath (yes, according to HeroesWiki her power is sensing others' emotions) confirms that it's like there's two people warring inside Sylar. More, as they start trying to get him to remember things, the memories that come back sound more and more like Nathan Petrelli's.

Desperate times calling for desperate measures, Samuel hands "Sylar" over to a carnie who has some power that can restore memories: we'll call him The Jamaican since he has dreadlocks, doesn't speak much and his power seems to be the reverse of The Haitian's. Sylar has a bad LSD trip amongst some green screens masquerading as a Hall of Mirrors and begins freaking out as he sees every single person he killed.

Samuel, being a dick, invited the head cop and his family to the carnival. He goes to the freaked out Sylar, says the cops are there and that if he gets discovered, it could doom all the people who have been treating Sylar nice all this time. A confrontation is forced in the Hall of Mirrors and if the show still had a decent effects budget, the mirrors would all break and cut Ernie Hudson to ribbons. But they don't, so they don't. The job is left to super-speedster knife-freak Ray Park, who proves himself a cut above (ha-ha) after Sylar electrocutes the heck out of Ernie Hudson but cannot kill him outright.

The scene ends with Sylar being adopted into the Carnie Family - with a Baptism no less - and Sylar wandering off with Lydia to her trailer while speedster Ray Park look son and glowers because everyone likes Sylar better than him and now Sylar is making it with his would-be girlfriend.

The Final Verdict: I'm feeling a bit mixed. It's probably the best episode all season, but that's damning with faint praise if ever there was such a thing. The performances are top-notch and the writing has apparently been done by someone who watched Season One.

Masi Oka shines in all the scenes with Hiro and seeing the sweet, gentle geek who wasn't a complete idiot (well, he IS putting on a magic show despite being under doctor's orders to stay in bed) made me nostalgic in a good way. And when we see that Hiro's goals for things to put right before dying include "Save Charlie", you awwwww before you realize that's actually what he's gone to do.

Incidentally, I know nothing will come of this... but the hope that Hiro might somehow screw the timeline up and cause the last three seasons to have not happened by stopping Sylar before he kills Charlie is all the reason I need to tune in next week. Which means there will probably be nothing done with Hiro's story next time.

Jack Coleman also gets some nice moments here, playing Noah Bennet as we have never seen him before: vulnerable and actually wanting to help people rather than protect them. It's an important distinction and one he has just now woken up to. Pity the angry teen he's playing against isn't able to keep up.

Unfortunately, all of the good acting and character moments belay the fact that the writers are deliberately drawing out the drama for the sake of drama and while individual characters are written well, there are moments of stupidity that shatter the great character moments and remind you good and god damn well that you are watching something scripted.

For instance...

1. Why does Peter take the healer kid's power? Why doesn't Peter just teleport himself and the healer kid back to the hospital? Faster than waiting for a car to take him to a plane and then spending several hours in the air. Especially when Peter knows Hiro is loosing control of his power!

2. Granting that I am happy someone thought to explain why Claire couldn't do a healing-blood transfusion to save Hiro, I am severely annoyed that they brought this up NOW after ignoring it at the end of Chapter 4 when Nathan was freshly dead and they needed a live Nathan to convince The President that illegally imprisoning the superpowered was a Very Bad Idea. So bringing this up now just makes Noah look like a jerk/idiot because he should have known better.

3. Why in the bloody hell does Samuel seem to think that restoring Sylar's memories would be a good thing, given that Sylar = amoral psychotic genius who specializes in killing other people with powers?

Still, five episodes in - and no Mohinder!


  1. I'm glad to hear Hiro is still hoping to find a way to save Charlie. Unlike Peter who STILL hasn't done anything for his Irish girlfriend he dumped in Plague Future...

  2. Dumped is it a bit harsh. Peter didn't exactly have a lot of control about his sudden departure.
    The thing is, I actually had three justifications for this which would have explained why Peter didn't go back for her, at least up until the point Jeph Loeb came out and said "No, he never tried to go back for her. Why would he? Who cares about her at this point?"
    So here's my idea.
    There was a period after Peter came back to the present and met Adam again during which we see Peter using his mom's dream vision power to try and get clues about what to do next. It's not too big a jump to suggest that during the off-camera time, Peter might also try to go back to where he was to save Caitlin.
    As a nurse, Peter would be well familiar with the base concept of how a plague spreads. Peter may have decided - since he was dead of the plague in the alternate future - that it was too risky for him to jump to a plague-infected Ireland to get Caitlin once she was deported, since that would risk him AND her being infected. More worryingly, coming back to the present at that point would release the plague early in addition to creating one whopping big paradox.
    So he decides to work to stop the virus from being released in the present so he can go back to the future and save Caitlin then. No fuss, no muss plan. Unfortunately, there's several ways this can go wrong...
    1. Peter has a vision of himself dying if he tries to move forward to save Caitlin.
    2. Peter has a vision of Caitlin already being dead no matter what.
    3. Peter's stopping the plague from being released closes off that alternative future forever, effectively erasing Caitlin from the universe.
    4. Peter never gets a chance to go back to the future to save her, being thrown into the plot with Nathan getting shot by his future self before he has a chance to TRY and save her and loosing his time-travel powers before he has a chance to go back.
    5. Peter asks his future self about trying to save Caitlin and his future self tells him off-camera that it didn't work.
    ALL of this might work as an explanation but the writers during Season 3 were determined NOT to mention her at all. Maybe now Peter will say something about trying to find a way to save her but it not working because the timeline was so jacked up...