Strange things are afoot at the Circle H ranch, folks, and they’re only getting stranger. You have to hand it to series creator Tim Kring: not much may happen in the starter episodes of Heroes, but there is always a real sense of pay-off waiting to happen. So, despite the fact that half of last season’s surviving supers have yet to make even their first appearance (or at least appearances of any substance other than alcohol, Nathan), there’s still story going on. Will wonders never cease?
Even more impressive: the main stories share the spotlight equally between the supers and the norms. This is less easy than it sounds, given the premise of the show, the expectations of the nerd-core audience, and the fact that even the normal folks in the series are pretty super-obsessed. The balance is struck at the expense of the supers, I’m afraid; the best character, enigmatic yet sympathetically transparent, would be Mr. Bennet. And his super-foil is an adoptive daughter with a jonesing for some practice amputations. Then again, any super comes off better next to Mohinder (except physically), so maybe it’s more give-and-take than I’ve given credit for.
The title for the episode refers to the regenerative powers of certain cold-blooded “reptiles.” Forget that “reptiles” do not represent a monophyletic clade or that lack of thermostasis does not cold-blooded an animal make or that newts are actually amphibians (for real, there are actual lizards that regrow their tails, and they picked newts. Charles H. Darwin!). It is to “lizards” that this episode turns its eye. Because, just like noble newts, Claire can regenerate her flesh, muscles, blood, and bone. So it’s only natural for her to wonder whether that extends to full limbs. The answer is: duh, Claire. If you’re able to regenerate all the major tissue components of your arms, legs, fingers, and toes, it stands to reason you can grow them back, too. But, by all means, go ahead and test this theory. Oops, Mr. Bennet is not pleased with this plan, as it pretty much fulfills his worst nightmares of having his baby girl turned into a live version of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey. We’ll have to wait a bit before Claire can try this new trick at home.
(Note: limb regrowth is not always complete regeneration; frequently, lizards that lose and regrow their tails do not have bones in the new tail. The regenerative potential is better documented in the paraphyletic “invertebrates,” notably the sea star, sea urchin and other echinoderms. Fun fact: Echinodermata is the only animal phylum to have pentaradial symmetry! Okay, enough with the zoology, I promise).
I’m rather annoyed that the title refers not only incorrectly to the process of tissue repair and limb regrowth that is being examined, but that there’s no shout-out—in a show ostensibly about the survival of new and differentiating organisms—to the so-called “lizard brain” that controls the automatic reactions (fight or flight, sex drive, et al.). Given that Sylar has a conscious connection to the needs of his lizard brain (or a psychotic delusion that he does, same thing, right? And where is he, damnit?), this concept has real potential as a gateway into better science and exploratory theories therein.
But who needs better science when Mohinder is around? Continuing to show the same disrespect to all fields of science as he does to genetics, Mohinder the Company lackey jets off to Haiti to find a super who has contracted the super virus. Holy Haitian—it’s the Haitian! Sir “Memory Doesn’t Remain,” Mr. Bennet’s former colleague in the Company who jumped ship so Bennet could stay behind to absorb the furor over Claire’s escape. Well, that worked out great, didn’t it?
Still, the Haitian-as-infected totally took me by surprise. I should have known from the second they were headed to Port-au-Prince, since the Haitian has been shown to speak fluent French. Port-au-Prince is the only thing I know is in Haiti, thanks to middle school French class. When you learn a new language, the second thing they teach after teaching you how to say your name is how to say where you’re from. Since there are two countries outside of Africa that speak French, it is a sure thing that some one or another of the dillweeds in your beginner’s French textbook is going to have a picture next to his head saying, “Hello, I’m Jacques. I live in Port-au-Prince.” It’s supposed to convince you that people actually speak French in places that aren’t France. Not surprisingly, it doesn’t work.
Ahem. Back to the Haitian. Somehow, he’s caught Molly Walker Disease. Or Suresh Syndrome. I like blaming all the problems I have with the basic premise of this show—blame it on the DNA!—on the Suresh family, so that’s what it is: the dreaded SS of a new era. Oh noes, he is going to…get better in twenty-four hours despite the fact that viral loads—with or without vaccines—never clear that fast, let alone when a patient is near unto death. He makes a beautiful after-photo, should Mohinder ever want to market his wonder blood on late-night cable TV. Mohinder is all excited to take back his findings to the Company and control the “outbreak” when he wakes up to being yelled at by his Company stooge connection. The Haitian’s made his run for it, leaving Mohinder’s head even emptier than he found it. It’s okay: it’s part of a plan to let Mohinder know what swiss-cheesing the brain is like and to get the Haitian away to Mr. Bennet (awww). At least the viral contamination is contained.
Wait a minute.
Excuse me, this is the third victim since before Suresh was born? That’s three in (let’s be generous) thirty years? And Mohinder was sounding the trumpets of plague and destruction in the first episode over this? More people died of SARS, and that was mostly made up to scare people into hating Canadians and the Chinese. Granted, his concern is for what he believes to be the future of humanity, but even so. In addition to not being required to know genetics to get his PhD in genetics, Mohinder apparently never heard of this “math” subject. Three out of—count ‘em—twenty-plus supers? Not bad odds. And that’s just counting the twenty or so we’ve known about since the show started. I haven’t even begun to speculate on the ranks of supers from the previous generation.
Who are falling—to their deaths—like flies. Except without the flying. Mrs. Petrelli is being questioned for her connection to Kaito Nakamura’s death. Unbeknownst to her interrogators but knownst to us, she’s also been marked with the squiggly symbol that counts down the hours until her death. Which is also the logo for her husband’s old law firm. Which is also a Japanese kanji. Which is also on Chandra Suresh’s book. Which is also tattooed on Jessica (but not Niki). Which is also now hanging around Peter Petrelli’s lovely neck. This is Mr. Petrelli Sr.’s professional logo and no one thought to mention it at all until now? Hunh. I guess it only ever came out if it was being used a death omen. It is the logo–the logo of doom! I wonder if Bill Gates stamps the Windows logo on all his victims?
Mrs. Petrelli holds her own in the two-front interrogation, awesomely smacking down Matt “Hears-a-Who” Parkman for trying to peep in her head. I punched the air when she mentally screamed at the dip$h!t to mind his own beeswax. Because, Matt? You are so obvious. I have not forgiven the acting choice to have Matt throw his ears at people when he wants to hear their thoughts. It was okay when he didn’t know he wasn’t hearing. I’d think that, months and months later, he’d have gotten the hang of that. Alas, no. So, yeah Mrs. P! Toast that swivel-necked moron! Makes her losing her cool that much scarier when the boogeyman comes for her right in the middle of the police station. However, even the boogeyman is frightened off by the dead mole clinging to Nathan’s chin, so Mrs. P is safe for a while.
Long enough to find out that her youngest is still alive? He’ll have to figure that out for himself, first. Peter’s still in Cork, Ireland. He’s upgraded from bound and mind-wiped to being clueless and beaten. So, not much of an upgrade then. At least there’s one person running around him who sounds like she’s ever set foot on the Emerald Isle. That would be the barkeep sister to Peter’s biggest problem. Didn’t catch her name, but her brother so strongly resembles the guy from Fight Club who started the “His name is Robert Paulson” chant, so I’m calling her Marla until I hear otherwise. IMDB says there’s a Martha, but I can’t tell if it’s her. Marla it is.
Marla discovers Peter’s regenerative abilities, and Peter runs with it from there. Where and how he picked up D.L.’s decorporealization ability is neither important nor necessary. Honestly, Peter’s the Dirt Devil of superpowers—he couldn’t switch from suck to blow and burn through the ropes or horribly dislocate his joints and knit them back together? The answer is no. He concentrates and somehow exercises a power he should not have. Great. Continuity? What’s a continuity? I more readily forgive his exemplary strength (stolen from one of the other missing Saunderses: Niki and/or Jessica) when he smacks down a couple of thugs set to rough up Marla in her brother’s absence. While we, the viewers, benefit for seeing a shirtless Milo Ventimiglia (who seems to have won the Heroes “Spend Your Summer in…” raffle with the draw “…in a gym”), it seems you cannot displace an equal weight of Peter Petrelli for the iPods that Robert Paulson was going to sell. If Peter wants to know more about himself than that he’s super and that his name is Peter, he has to dance to Paulson’s larcenous tune. No one buys Peter signing onto this adventure when there are, again, thirteen different powers—and at least three that he knows of despite the memory loss—he could use to steal the information. Nevertheless, Peter’s onboard for some mischief abroad.
As are Maya and Alejandro. Maya is a walking repository of that X-Files black oil ooze, only without the aliens (or so we think). Since absolutely no makeup is used on this show, they had to CGI in the ooze. It looked better on The X-Files. Ten years ago. En route to Mexico, which seems to have the same problem at its southern borders as it does with its northern ones, Maya freaks out a healer (and possible psychic?) with her ooze aura and almost kills her guide with the same ability. Luckily, this time at least, Alejandro sweeps in and saves the day. His power contains Maya’s, and their little-closer-than-siblings-should-comfortably-be rapport gets freakier still. Hey, Heroes: Joss Whedon called. He wants you to know that Hispanic Simon and River Tam are still his creative property. Anyway, the black ooze is sucked out of Maya’s eyes and into Alejandro’s; everyone is happy; kittens stay kittens forever; wars and poverty are things of the past; and the siblings continue on towards their final goal: America! Even though the healer, with her freaky super-er-than-thou ability, assured them both that Maya’s a lost cause. And possibly a tool of Satan. Hail, Satan!
The healer’s an interesting find on the show, too. She makes the third character with a repetitious power (either she’s a mind-reader like Parkman, or she has some healing ability akin to the late Mr. Linderman’s) to have shown up in only the first two episodes of this season. The first we met last week in the form a lanky, handsome tweener emo boy named West. The second is—surprise?—Takezo Kensei! That’s right. The greasy white terror of ancient Japan, who sends a Star Trek fan to fight his battles (or would if he were sober), finally sees some action. It does not agree with him. Turns out Kensei was wise to avoid fighting himself as he has a propensity to attract arrows to the chest. Luckily for him and for Hiro, who hasn’t cottoned on that all of Kensei’s good deeds were actually his (a nightmare loop of causality worthy of Doctor Who), the wounds close up and Kensei gasps back to life just like a certain cheerleader and her power-grabbing uncle. All is well! He can continue to bungle Hiro’s quest to create the mythic hero out of mannish dungheap.
And what about that West kid? Claire finally calls him on his judgmental shtick, to which he mysteriously does not reply, “Duh, that’s being an independent loner means. It means finding fault with all the people who don’t like me anyway and pretending it’s them not me.” Instead, he tries to recruit her into the paranormal cult of Chandra Suresh. Claire can at least tow the normality-is-my-friend line and brush him off for giving her a case of the wigging. Until she cuts off her toe—as you do when you’re a teenager, experimenting and what not—and West sees a non-polished pinkie sprout back to replace the perky-pink one that had been there (what a waste of polish. And she’s using the OPI brand. That junk is not cheap!). He leaves behind his book when he, presumably, zooms off into space. It’s the super version of that “We need to talk” passive-aggressive thing your S.O. does when you’ve had a fight.
Will he come back? Does he dare attend class with Claire when assigned seating has made them mandatory bench-mates? Only Mr. Muggles knows for sure. Not that anyone asks him. Stupid humans.
Next week: I will not make dirty jokes about Peter’s “box.” I will not make dirty jokes about Peter’s “box.” I will not make dirty jokes…
About TrinityVixen: There’s an asterisk on TrinityVixen’s college transcript that assures anyone who reads it that, though there is no specific major, degree, or certificate for it, she did, in fact, complete some kind of creative writing program as an undergrad. Armed with that symbol of irrelevant experience, she has polluted the internet with her opinions and horrible fanworks ever since (and for quite a long while before). Living poor in New York until she finds a means to become independently wealthy, she must subsist on the juicy meat of fandom. Fandom and noodles. And instant soup.
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