Friday, 18 April 2014

Overview: Heroes: Volume Five - Redemption

I'll take you to task and ask you to remember to read this in an Irish accent, as I tell you a tale of a show desperately looking to better itself for the third time in a row. Something clicked with the writing staff and the show began to embrace mature values - too little too late, I'm sad to say. For every well-handled and exceedingly inclusive LGBTQ relationship, there's a painful ending cliffhanger. This would be the end of Heroes whether it was ready or not, although that may have been something of a blessing... Written between 17th and 21st August 2013.
Samuel Sullivan and his Creepy Carnival.
From moviesinsights
Season Four (Volume Five, but I write "season" by default so...) popped up in the Autumn of 2009 and, unlike the previous Volumes, carried on into the new year with a fair 19 episodes' worth to go on. The show entered something of an era of emotional maturity, with a lot of the drama throwing away the superhero ethics and focusing on characterisation in a way that would have been alien to the earlier seasons. There's an overall injection of life and colour into the show which sounds great, but on a week-by-week basis the pace of the plot means that the season only really works as a DVD marathon.
     The season's big schtick is the Carnival, a group of specials who travel around together picking up Specials in need and using their powers to con foolish carnival-goers of their cash, led by the mysterious Samuel, who as it turns out only has his "family" around him because his earth-based powers grow stronger in proportion to the number of specials in his immediate vicinity. Throughout other subplots where Claire is at uni and Noah tries and fails to carry on spying and Hiro gets a tumour and Peter hitches up with a deaf lady, the main cast are guided by Samuel's manipulations towards the Carnival, where they must use their respective powers and character developments to foil Samuel's plot to become uberpowerful and split the world in half.
     I think the biggest focus is on Claire's storyline, at least in my memory. Every single volume has seen Claire in a new social situation, to the point where following her into College is something of a weird parody, especially as we're expected to follow the hijinks of her sorority, a super-powered assassin who wants to hire Claire for the Carnival and the unexpected delight of Gretchen, whose initially creepy character goes on to form a romantic relationship with Claire in what is a remarkably well-done LGBTQ representation, especially for a series where non-heteronormative characters like Zach had their histories conveniently written out in previous volumes. She decides to join the carnival... just cos, I suppose, and then ends the season on a cliffhanger. More on that later.
     More awkward in the extreme is the treatment of the last season's cliffhanger, with Sylar now stuck in the form of Nathan Petrelli and his mind cluttering up Matt Parkman's. This gives the rather odd double role in which Sylar's physical body is walking around (sometimes looking like Nathan, sometimes like Sylar) with no memories of who the hell he is, while Matt is continually haunted by ghostly images of a Sylar who is having the time of his life being a snarky bastard and taking over Matt's body to do a variety of sick and hilarious things. It's a mighty kerfuffle which ends up with Sylar getting a crush on Claire for a few episodes and then deciding to become good in a way which makes every line read from then on pretty ridiculous and I think pretty much ended any possible character development he could have had.
Farewell, sweet cast. From Movieweb
      Which doesn't really matter, of course, as this was the last season. As happened in the previous volumes, it ended in A Brave New World with a teaser of the next volume, in which Claire reveals herself to the world by jumping off of a ferris wheel while the world's press is for some reason ready and waiting. On the one hand, there's a lot to be said for storylines covering the public reception to real-life superheroes and all of the social commentary that goes with it. On the other hand, what a stupid fucking idea. Literally every time that the public has been given a glimpse into the special's world on a mass scale, in Bad Futures or otherwise, it's always led to camps and holocausts and all hell breaking loose upon the world.
     And that's that. Yes, this is a shorter article than the big ones, but like the series itself I'm imbued with an apathy that I didn't possess at the beginning of this mini-project. It's a fair bit of symbolism for the show itself. It hadn't ran out of ideas, but it had certainly run out of the fresh-faced enthusiasm that it used to deliver them with, and a lot of the character beats in this final volume were either confusing, contradictory or simple repeats of things from previous volumes that really weren't needed. I think that a show like Heroes really does have a definite lifespan, and the only thing that I can really fault this final volume on is the fact that it uses that frustrating cliffhanger technique when really I think they should have bitten the bullet and let the show come to a natural and somewhat satisfying end. It didn't. And that's really what Heroes has left us with.


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