Ever since the writer’s strike, I’ve been waiting for this night, for the return of “Heroes.” I set the DVR as a back up over a week ago, and had blocked off the three-hour slot needed to fully indulge the start of volume three, dubbed “Villians.”
Don’t worry. I’ll still watch “Heroes” tonight before my head hits the pillow, and before I get online and stumble across countless spoilers. In the meantime, here’s a review from The New York Times, which reports that my favorite show appeals to both supernatural powers and Gen-Y problems:
“Heroes” gives its fans cathartic validation: You inherited a screwed-up world, and it’s not your fault.
These heroes are not driven to mistakes or misdeeds by their own personality flaws and weaknesses. When paranormal protagonists like Peter Petrelli (Milo Ventimiglia) get hurt, harm innocent people or put the fate of the planet at risk, it’s because they were deceived by evildoers who pretend to be on their side in order to betray and destroy them (credit card companies). They are vulnerable to strange, often biologically engineered strains of viruses; one could wipe out all humanity, another strips people with supernatural abilities of their power.
And Generation Y has more special abilities than any previous one: these are people who came of age taking the Internet, BlackBerries, cash machines, Facebook and iPods for granted. They also take the taking for granted. They are the most coddled, indulged and overprotected generation ever. Swaddled in safety and self-esteem, they have all been assured that they are special. They don’t rebel against their parents or even seek independence; they welcome an electronic umbilical cord that stretches through high school and college and even the post-graduate return to the empty nest. On “Heroes” those filial bonds stretch beyond the grave: even after his father is dead, Hiro (Masi Oka) still receives his fatherly advice via prerecorded DVD.
That ambivalence between fealty and resentment is woven throughout “Heroes.” The children must battle an evil organization known as the Company that was created by the previous generation, including Peter’s scheming mother, Angela (Cristine Rose), who in her salad days seems to have been something of a power-flower, a groupie in an idealistic cult that later turned monstrous. Yet even after learning of Angela’s culpability, Peter remains a loyal if somewhat surly son.
Oedipal issues do surface on “Heroes,” at least among the wicked: the evil Sylar (Zachary Quinto), who keeps acquiring new and more daunting supernatural abilities, temporarily loses his powers when he visits his mother. And yet he does visit.
Some of the most likeable characters are stuck mopping up their parents’ mistakes. In Season 2, after Peter manages to wrest back the vial containing the world-threatening virus and destroy it, his fellow hero Matt (Greg Grunberg), whose father was also one of the founders of the Company, is less relieved than disgusted. “Your mother, my father, God knows what else they’ve done,” Matt says bitterly. “How much longer are we going to have to clean up their mess?”
It could be a while. “Villains” picks up where last season left off: An assassin shoots Peter’s brother, Nathan (Adrian Pasdar), a politician, at the very moment he is holding a press conference to expose the evil conspiracy, and the special gifts he and others have, to the world. Sylar has some but not all of his powers back and hunts down another one of the heroes, Claire (Hayden Panettiere), to try to take her regenerative ability. And Peter returns from a time-travel trip to the future to try to alter the present, which is on a headlong course to Armageddon.
The above trailer, which references evolution and God—could supernatural powers be the product of both?—looks a lot darker than the first two seasons. The final clip is particularly troubling for those who know that, at least in the beginning, Peter was told “Save the cheerleader, save the world.”