Recurring Cast: Milo Ventimiglia, Masi Oka, Jack Coleman, Hayden Panettiere, Sendhil Ramamurthy, Greg Grunberg, Adrian Pasdar, David Anders, Ali Larter, Dania Ramirez, Dana Davis, Stephen Tobolowski
Season Two of Heroes takes up four months after the explosive finale of the last season. The same council that Linderman was in charge of, which still include Hiro’s father and Peter Petrelli’s mother, are threatened with strange symbols. As the man dealing out the threats begins killing them off one by one, they begin to claw to stay alive. Noah uproots his family and moves from Odessa, in order to escape the Company. While he encourages Claire to try and stay normal, he and Mohinder go undercover to bring down the Company, who are experimenting with a virus that could be used to rob people of their powers. Hiro is stuck in 1671, where he meets his childhood hero, Taketo Kensei, a man who doesn’t precisely live up to the legends. Accidentally changing history, Hiro realises he is trapped in the past, until he can revert the course of time back to its rightful place. Meanwhile, in a shipping container in Dublin, a man wakes up with no memory of how he got there or why he has several abilities, like mind-reading and firing electricity from his hands. He doesn’t realise that he is Peter Petrelli, who somehow managed to survive the nuclear explosion that nearly wiped out New York.
On one hand, Heroes hasn’t changed a bit. The first episode introduces all of these strands of storylines and we are only ever given half of the pieces. Right off the bat, we are just as hungry for answers as we ever were. How did certain characters manage to survive the last season? What is the Company up to? Who is the Nightmare Man? It is this need to find out what is going on that drives the fan base of Heroes. Each episode ends demanding you to start watching the next one right away. The mystery at hand doesn’t even feel anti-climatic; the answers are just as good as the question. There is always a flashback episode in Heroes, which is usually the part of any show I hate, but I actually look forward to them with Heroes. Here, this is where most of our answers get sorted out and new players enter the game. It is interesting jumping four months before the second season and re-watching events that have been talked about, but never seen. The Company’s motives are laid out in better detail. We catch up with Nikki and what happened to her family. I thought it was clever how all of the characters ended up on various sides of the fight. Heroes might have a massive cast, but they rarely meet up, meaning that the heroes are always kept separate. It does add to the excitement when Peter and Matt Parkman end up meeting up and fighting, unaware that they are after the same thing. This is Heroes’ strong point and Season Two, in fairness, does this just as well as it did last time around. The reveals are always breath-taking as well. Major characters are killed off when the build-up hits the breaking point. The unveiling of this season’s true villain is one of the best twists I have seen on TV in quite some time. I didn’t see it coming and it led to some fantastic showdowns in the finale.
However, the second season of Heroes suffers a very problematic flaw. It is only eleven episodes long. This might seem like an odd thing to complain about, but it does hold the story back from embracing the spark that made the original so ground-breaking. Certain storylines never really get the chance to get going. The two new heroes here are Maya, a Mexican desperate to cross the border so she can get rid of her power to infect everyone around her with a fatal illness, and Monica, a normal girl who realises she has the power to copy anything she sees. These two are great characters. Monica is full of the whimsical excitement any kid who wants superpowers can relate to and Maya adds a massive amount of drama and emotion to the proceedings, especially when their paths intertwine with one of the best characters the show gave us last season. The problem is that there is no time to explore them well enough. We are given a glimpse into their lives, but then we are racing off to see what Hiro is up to. Other moments and twists are very undercooked. This show has you waiting with anticipation to see what happens when a character finally bumps into another character, but there is no time to celebrate the moment, so it comes across as rushed. It is hard to invest in a storyline, when the writers are too busy focusing on the next scene to do the current one justice. It also hurts the ending to the season. Sure, we have the big finale where the mysterious Adam Monroe takes on Hiro, Nathan and Matt in the Primatech Paper Facility, but there are other smaller plot points to tie up. They are the ones that suffer. No one has time to properly focus on Maya’s conclusion or what happens to Micah and Monica. In all honesty, no one cares about Monica’s character by the time the bigger characters get to the ending of their arcs. The final episode has too many things to focus on and as a result, not one climax is done as well as it could have been. This could have been avoided if the season was just a few episodes longer.
As a result, everything feels a little ‘will this do?’ It doesn’t help that a lot of the storylines feel reworked. Claire is back at another high school, trying to blend in. It has new themes and it does help that the entire family is now in the know, but you cannot escape the idea that it is a little too familiar to Claire’s arc last time around. Peter Petrelli conveniently loses his memory, so he is discovering himself yet again. The memory loss plot device does make for some interesting developments nearer the end of the season, but for the start, you will get frustrated that you are watching the same story that you did last season. The first episode is exciting, but it doesn’t happen as naturally as it did last time around. It is hard to put a finger on why it feels so rigid, but I guess the writers are trying a little too hard to recapture the spark of the last season. It puts all of its chess pieces into motion (an assassin, the Nightmare Man, the Company being back up to no good), with the clear intention of dragging us back into the mystery. Sure, it works, but we are aware that the show is dragging us along, rather than letting us find our own way into the story. Maybe that is why Hiro’s side of the season became my favourite thing this time around. Exploring the fantasy of 1671 Japan was so different to anything else on offer here that is a welcome change of pace.
Final Verdict: Not bad, but it tries too hard and too many storylines are undercooked. The slow fall of Heroes begins here.