Apropos to the Halloween season I must’ve been holding a cursed monkey’s paw when I wished that Heroes Reborn would accelerate the plot and get the core of the things.
In other words: Holy crappola, what was THAT?
The first installment of this mid-season two-parter absolutely zooms through its principle mysteries while presenting a series of guest appearances and bombshells that would typically be cause for celebration for any other show. Here, the results are a bit cloudy. There are copious amounts of good and bad and I’m at the point where I can’t tell those two qualifiers apart.
Due to the make-up of one it’s most central characters, time-travel was nearly a motif in the original series and the tradition is carried on here. In the past there have been many a complex, sometimes convoluted episode or event that involved alternate timelines/outcomes and this hour was certainly one of the most successful.
The episode starts with Noah and Hiro transporting back to June 13th, a year from the present day of Heroes Reborn, to try to semi-stop the massacre that caused Erica Kravid’s rise to power and the general bigotry of the Evolved Humans sect. Their real mission is pretty muddled, and that murkiness is addressed in that Hiro is very skeptical about trying to change anything in the past. Dealing with his massive power levels have been a continual challenge for the show’s creators and clearly, from his imprisonment in the digital realm of Evernow to the narrative gymnastics of this episode, that is something that weighed heavily on the minds behind Heroes Reborn. Thus, Hiro encourages HRG only to manipulate small changes in the timeline, and with that they attempt to find soon-to-die Claire who is said to be wandering around somewhere.
At the top of the ep the audience is “treated” to the return of two stalwarts, scientist Mohinder Suresh and prophetic matriarch Angela Petrelli. The two have a fierce discussion outside of Odessa about the plans of Erica and Renautas and the scene-chewing is overt. I don’t know if I expected anything less from two of the more goofy characters from Heroes. Many of the intermediary details are fleshed out. Angela sold Primatech to Erica and was working with her for several years to prevent the incoming fiery apocalypse. Due to her portentous dream power Mama Petrelli both foretold the event, but also offered a solution involving the Evos. Erica rejected that route, content with letting near extinction reboot the entire race.
Somewhere along the line Kravid employed Suresh to conduct research on this theory and he affirmed the findings and wrote a book about it, “Escalating Evolution.” Of course when Angela tells Suresh his team of scientists have been murdered by Kravid he refuses to believe her. His characterization remains consistent: stupidest genius ever.
Thus it is firmly established: Erica is vile and is behind it all. When we follow her to a fortified ranch-style in the Texas burbs we see that she encouraged Phoebe Frady to master her shadow powers by threatening to harm her brother Quentin (who died in the last episode…set in the future).
From there things get rapidly intense. Shortly after Noah and Hiro arrive form the future the present-day Noah arrives at the Unity event to work security or something and is informed that personnel has been instructed by Erica to leave key spots unmanned. This leads to him confronting his Renautas boss while his future self and Hiro listen in. Erica again proves to be a jerk and has Noah-2014 put in a holding facility underground.
Right after this Angela, not aware of any time travel shenanigans, finds Noah-2015 and tells him Claire, her biological granddaughter, has been hospitalized. It’s a bit of a minor surprise given that it’s was assumed Claire died in the June 13th attack which is still a few hours from happening. Noah-2015, Hiro and Angela rush to the hospital to discover Claire has died giving birth to twins… Say what?!
What a strange development, not exactly unwelcome but almost non-sequitur. The children’s identities are important, but before I get to that let me point out why this makes little sense:
Hayden Panettiere, the actress who played Claire Bennett, is not a member of the cast.
To center the episode’s, possibly the series’, entire emotional core around this character is part bold and part foolish. While it’s nearly impossible to properly handle HRG without mentioning his adoptive daughter to make her such a central part of everything while never showing her alive is amusingly frustrating. What’s a bit egregious about that is based on comments from the veteran actors of Heroes, no one seems to have been contacted until well after the teaser trailer premiered during the 2014 Super Bowl. This tells me that this story was at least partially developed before Tim Kring and the rest of the team could verify if they’d have a full toolbox to complete the job. I said before that Heroes Reborn smartly decided to focus on new characters but there’s implication they, perhaps smugly, put the cart waaay ahead of the horse in the regard to Claire. After all, of all the actors, Panettiere might have the most legit post-Heroes career.
Following the twin twist we return to Noah-2014 in an underground holding room. He’s visited by Casper, the guy who can erase minds with a penny, and we find out the two worked together in the vein of the “One of us, one of them” of partnership philosophy employed by Primatech/Renautas. I had completely forgot about that little nugget, but Casper points out the fatal flaw: how the hell can you trust an Evo who hunts their own kind? The Haitian has much to answer for, I guess. Oh wait, he died.
We then move back to Noah-2015 who is still all bent up over Claire’s death, particularly how the hell it’s possible her amazing healing factor has failed to kick in. Hiro advises him to go find his daughter while he tries to stop the bombs. Noah does so, and in a soulful moment he seems to finally process his daughter’s passing, something we’ve seen him emotionally block out in the first half of the season.
Meanwhile, Hiro gets rowdy when he finds that the bombs are strapped to the torsos of Harris clones. Along with Mohinder, now convinced Erica is bad news, Hiro slices Harris up, only to find two more waiting for him. Let me take an aside and say that the Harris character is starting to irk me in his blandness and ubiquity. He’s criminally one-dimensional, simply a lackey with a cool voice, and seems to be merely a cheap, semi-creative way to produce an army of henchmen. Most of all, I find it plainly absurd that when Hiro killed one of the clones the subsequent replicates somehow each have a full set of bombs. How?! Explain thyself, show!
Mohinder has one cool moment when he punches one of the clones with his super strength, a faux power acquired when he turned himself into a fly many Volumes back (If you forgot sorry I had to remind you). Harris explains there’s no way to stop the bombs because all the clones have them and apparently, as we just saw, they are fucking subject to cloning too.
Concurrently, Erica again visits Pheobe who now has like 10,000% more mastery of her powers. Remember, earlier in the episode, which was like a couple hours previous, she was struggled with creating even a small plume of shadow? Now she has enough motivation to blot out the friggin’ sun.
This eclipse depowers Evos with the apparent purpose of culling as many possible. Noah-2014 quickly realizes something tragic is about to happen and begins unloading a clip into the air to scatter the crowd. It’s a fortuitous thing there was no Good Guy With a Gun around to stop this apparent madman.
Hiro reconvenes with Noah-2015 and advises that stopping the bombs is impossible due to “too many butterflies,” a nod to the commonplace concept of the Butterfly Effect, and also maybe to the butterfly imagery associated with Malina, or maybe that underrated Ashton Kutcher movie. Essentially, it’s impossible to stop the disaster of June 13th without creating a more severe consequence. A little convenient and elusive, but you can’t deny that concept has been well established in the mythology of this series. When the two try to return to their present Hiro is unable to blink himself to 2015 due to Pheobe’s manufactured eclipse
The Harris bombs go off and the facility housing the Unity event is destroyed along with the lives of thousands of people. After the smoke clears Noah-2014, Casper and Molly Walker find each other and head to the hospital as HRG is all jacked up.
Noah-2015 and Hiro return to Angela in the maternity ward. She states that she’s had dreams about her great-grandchild saving the world but not much else is clear. HRG comes to his conclusion that he must’ve submitted himself to mind self-erasure due to this development (I don’t get that, but OK), and hatches the plan that puts many of the series pieces back together.
Using his renewed partnership by the temporally unrestricted Hiro, HRG determines the best way to ensure the safety of the twins to send them back to 1999 so that by 2014/2015 they will have reached puberty and their powers will come to surface and ripe to combat Erica Kravid and the looming solar/magnetic/magic event. Hiro reluctantly agrees, but not before the children are named. Welcome to this wacky world, Nathan and Malina.
Oh wait, we’ve already met. Yes, the awkward teleporter Tommy Clarke, who was called Nathan by his “mother” (who shows up as a nurse), and Malina, the enigmatic girl with a vague powerset, are siblings and the apparent salvation for all. Jeebus, help us.
When Noah-2015 sees Erica on TV speaking harshly on the evil perpetrators of the Odessa attack (essentially trashing herself) the typically level-headed HRG forgoes every time-travel movie coda and plans to squash the biggest butterfly of them all. Things get interesting when Noah-2014 notices his doppelganger sulking around the hospital halls, setting up a nifty confrontation for Part 2.
Whew. An ambitious episode, and probably one of the most complex and intense in the history of the program. There was A LOT going on in this block, so much so that I didn’t even touch on the Luke and Joanne Collins subplot that showed the circumstance of the apparent death of their son, Dennis. (It was cool for context, but non-essential.) I also didn’t get to the first real appearance of Miko’s father, Hachiro Otomo, who approaches the 2014 version of Hiro, head of Yamagato Industries, about helping Kravid save the world. When he refuses Hachiro transports him into Evernow, but later, after the bombing, Hachiro seems confused that Hiro is reported dead. (This seems to lead into Miko’s origin, but we’ll see.)
“June 13th Part 1” was… let’s say good. The patience and care with the time travel plot outshines the small flubs that typically mar the show’s quality. Again, I give the writers credit for doing this at the midpoint and not at the end. One of the best compliments a critic can give to serialized TV is that they don’t know what’s coming next. I’m gravely interested, Heroes Reborn, for the first time in a while. Do me proud.