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Sunday, October 4, 2015

Hero overload can be... a good thing! #HeroesReborn #3WeekRoundUp #PremiereWeek

Hero overload can be... a good thing! #HeroesReborn #3WeekRoundUp #PremiereWeek

All pictures courtesy of NBC 

Coming to you once again with another new show’s review and recap of the first three episodes, today I present NBC’s Heroes Reborn (#Heroes Reborn). Again, that three week round up post is coming soon on why I do the first three episodes all as one, but until then just know that I have my reasons and you won’t be too far behind if you haven’t yet watched it.

To start, we ask why the heck these Heroes need rebirthing in the first place. Good question. For more on why and why I was originally intrigued by this show click on #PremiereWeek up top and scroll down to the NBC section. But for a quick overview, Heroes was an NBC show from five years ago (that was it’s final season. It premiered in 2006 I believe). It was the first attempt to bring superheroes to TV in non-comedic fashion a la 1960s Batman or Lois and Clark or the first incarnation of the Flash. While audiences loved the first two seasons, by the third most fans thought it had petered out, turning from its original glory and group storytelling akin to Lost, and replacing that instead with story-lines that went nowhere, produced more questions than answers and just plan old sucked. So they rushed toward the series finale and the cheerleader everyone was trying to save actually got saved (not by Jesus but by revealing her powers to the world). NBC axed the show and it was never heard from again... until now (don’t act like you didn’t see me writing that cheesy line).

Now, NBC brings a revival/sequel to the original series that is supposed to be a limited run/miniseries 13-episode event. What does that mean? Brace yourselves past Lost fans because it means you’re supposed to get actual answers to pretty much all of your questions by the time it has a finale sometime in January I believe. Yeah! A series that’s actually got answers to its big questions. That’s, like... inconceivable, right? Right? Anyway, it also means you can treat this like a one-off, enjoy the entire season and not have to worry about shifting your schedule around in the future to see where the characters have gone. While the show does have a to-series option for more seasons and NBC is eyeing those ratings very closely to see if they’d want to invest in more of the show, both the creators and TV execs have made it clear that this is supposed to stay an island to itself (man, I am full of the Lost references today, aren’t I). With all that out of the way, let’s get to plot deets.

First it should be noted that while this is a sequel/continuing series of Heroes, the story is told in a way which requires very little background for the viewer. For Heroes virgins you don’t need to know about every aspect of the show and all its characters to watch and enjoy this show. In fact, I was not a huge fan of the original show and dropped it after I did my 3 episode judgment. What you do need to know is why these people are like this. There was a strange eclipse event (Super Blood Moon, where are you?) that awakened a strange mutated gene inside a bunch of people at random giving them superpowers. Humans being the creatures we are, some of the non-effected people start hating those termed as Evos, short for Evolveds. This fear is both irrational and perfectly reasonable as not every person given powers is on their way to sainthood, and some even enjoy killing other Evos. However, some people believe these Evos were given powers for a higher calling, a higher purpose, and that they are here to save the world.

That’s it. That’s about all the background you need, and the thrust of both shows. What they’re here to save the world from and how they’ll do that is currently unknown and was, to my understanding, muddied in the original Heroes. However, Heroes Reborn does provide us with a strange Aurora Boealis mystery that seems to be controlled or manipulated by a young girl way up in the arctic somewhere, who talks to her invisible friend. No, really. It looks cooler than I make it sound.

The story focuses on five main groups or people. The first is Mr. Noah Bennet. A holdover from the original series, he is a man who wears glasses. That may be a character-defining trait or not. All I do know is that there was a semi-big deal made about him putting the glasses back on after visiting an old friend. The man with the shiftiest of intentions, his journey starts when the unity fair for Evos and Humans to live in peace is bombed and his daughter (the cheerleader and protagonist from the original series) is killed in the blast. A year later, he not only misses his daughter but is getting married again and works as a car salesman. His life his flipped upside down when he runs into a conspiracy theorist who insists the bombing didn’t happen like the news reports.

Suddenly, Noah embarks on an odyssey that reunites him with an old friend with the power to wipe his mind that he subsequently kills, learns that his memories of what actually happened that day don’t align with mounting evidence of the opposite, revisits a facility that used to experiment and manipulate the Evos for their own gain and has the conspiracy nut tag along with him. What’s interesting is that he appears to have no powers on his own but is at the center of the Heroes mythos. While long-standing fans will know of his background and true intentions, newcomers are treated with a very ambiguous mystery surrounding whether he is a good or bad guy. For now, he’s just a man trying to figure out life.

Then there’s Tommy. A young high school boy, he has the power of teleportation and, like all adolescents, is still figuring out himself including how to use his powers. Son to a single mother, his mom has kept them nomadic sense his powers began to manifest. He currently finds himself in Illinois seeking help in controlling his gifts from a secret support group of Evos. One of the lucky ones, he is called away just before a rampaging, Evo-killing couple massacres the others in the group.Outside of a brief reintroduction to the couple and them plotting to kill him before he transports them to a secret facility down in Texas where Evos used to be experimented on (the same company Bennet once worked for), he deals with the basic teen problems: school bullies, first loves, first jobs, angst, parents that just don’t understand, etc. (didn’t think I’d fit in a Will Smith reference today, did you? Did you know he has new music out? He’s on a remix of fiesta. Yeah. New music. Craziness!).

The couple who chased after him is led by Zachary Levi and some black woman who are married and lost their son in the unity festival explosion a year prior. Why do I point out they’re a married couple? Because so far they have very little chemistry. I understand they’re going through a grieving period and from how the
show plays out the only thing still keeping them together in holy matrimony is their desire to kill as many Evos as possible—they blame them for their son’s death—but they just don’t fit. Also, I’m going to say a controversial thing because I think the actress is beautiful, however, the kinky afro puffs she has on the show I don’t think do her any service in the way of appearance. In fact, they make her look overly lanky and oddly shaped, not to mention accentuate her sunken eyes. Maybe that’s the look the art department is going for in order to enhance her aura as a “villain” but if not, it just doesn’t look good (one of the few black women I’ve ever said doesn’t look good with natural hair).

Anyway, their story is simple. They get transported to a room and have to break out, succeeding and gaining tons of details on cataloged Evos. And so their cross country trip begins. But the twist from the previous episode? Zachary Levi’s character is turning into a flame Evo himself. How his wife will handle that will be interesting to see play out through the rest of the season.

Next, Molly Walker who has the power to locate any Evo just by thinking about them. Bennet is looking for her as he knows her power will be used to locate, capture and kill as many Evos as possible by a new company taking over his old company’s work. Her story hasn’t been explored much yet as it will undoubtedly intertwine more with Bennet’s but she’ll clearly be important in uniting all the main characters at some point.

There is Carlos Gutierrez who lives in LA and was hailed as a war hero after saving some of his squad buddies in battle. His brother was a masked hero of the city who helped Evos escape on an underground railroad to Canada as well as helped normal people from becoming victims to horrible crimes. Carlos’ brother is killed in the first episode urging him to don the costume and find his brother’s crooked-cop killers. What’s unclear so far is if he has powers. I haven’t been able to tell but he does know a priest that can turn into a mist/cloud/smoke thing, so... there’s that.

And finally there’s the Asian video game girl Miko. Staying true to her plot, she speaks Japanese (they supply the subtitles big enough and long-lasting enough to read). Probably the strangest, most discard-able part of the story so far, she has a power(?) brought on by a sword left to her by her father.
Very Tron-like, when she unsheathes the sword she digitizes into one of the most popular online RPG video games in Japan entitled Evernow. Her mission: rescue her father from a supreme overlord in a giant tower. What’s interesting about her story is that when she re-sheathes the sword she winds up in a real life place, the headquarters of a global conglomerate—the same company taking over the work of Bennet’s old firm. While little is understood about her story or how it connects to everything else, I’m interested to see how she will connect to the Americans and if she is actually an Evo as she seems to know absolutely nothing and only has had meaningful contact with a famous Japanese gamer.

My grade for the series so far? I give it a solid B+. Remember, this is network TV so you’re not getting Breaking Bad or something like that. This is fun mystery and moderately deep character study. Rather than the costumed comedy of things like The Flash, Supergirl, almost anything Marvel and ABC are doing, this is closer to Gotham or the Netflix version of Daredevil, or even M. Night’s Unbreakable. These are people struggling to figure out how to live with their powers, why they have them, and what it means to even be a hero let alone if they want to be one.

Should you be watching? If you go for the multiple stories across multiple times motif such as in the Walking Dead, Lost and 24, and if you enjoy superheroes but need a break from the well-established save-the-world-at-any-cost heroism of Marvel and DC, and if you enjoy a good but simple mystery that gets you involved enough to want to know more, I say that you should definitely tune in to Heroes Reborn. Again, you don’t have to know much about the story but if you do you’ll be treated to plenty of Easter eggs placed in it for past Heroes fans. While I think the video game samurai girl’s story is still lacking and possibly the weakest part of the show, I think the writers’ handling of the Noah Bennet character is genius for newcomers as it is left open for the viewer to decide his true intentions as human hero or villain. As I said before, right now he’s just a man trying to find answers. Luckily for the viewer, the show supplies you with a few each week while continuing to pose new questions for the coming episode.

What do you think? Have you been watching Heroes Reborn as a newcomer or a long fan? If neither, do you think you’ll tune in and give it the three episode try? What mystery intrigues you the most: what really happened during the bombing, what’s going on with the Aurora Borealis or how does Miko’s story align with everything else? And who the hell is that penny guy? I’d pay a penny for your thoughts down below (hint: click the no comments section to comment).

As always, check out my books on Amazon (if you’re looking for Halloween scares check  #AFuriousWind, #DARKER#BrandNewHome or #ThePowerOfTen). For those interested in something a little more dramatic, check out #TheWriter. The final episode of season one of The Writer is OUT NOW. Ahh! That’s right, all 15 episodes are out now available exclusively on Amazon. Join us on Goodreads to talk about books and TV, and subscribe to and follow my blog with that Google+ button to the right side.

Until next time, “we gotta go back, Kate. We gotta go back! ”

P.S. I know, some of you longtime fans are freaking and saying, “this is nothing like Lost.” That may be true but looking at the facts: there are lots of questions that still need to be answered, the original Heroes had a terrible ending, there are two Asians that actually speak their native language, there is a guy made of some kind of smoke/mist thing and this is five years after the original. Think about it.

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