Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Heroes - 'Collision' (1x04)

The second best series on TV delivers another really strong episode. Sometimes I wonder if this show isn't just thinking of everything that will make the 'geek' audience like it and then just throwing it in, but hey, if it's a moment as cool as the end of this, stick with it. This episode also resolves one of the major issues the series has had so far, namely the hard to manage number of storylines. With more of the people crossing over, we can delve a bit deeper into each of the characters' lives.

In crossing everyone over, it would be easy to have them just create alliances and become a superhero team. I prefer this approach, which continues the series' use of Altmanesque structure. Mohinder and Peter have a fairly standard meetup, and actually get to know each other, but other characters just pass each other by, like Hiro and Niki, or the way Claire and Isaac sort of cross over.

The most interesting meeting is Niki and Nathan's encounter. Just last week, I called them the weakest characters on the show, but in combining, they become much more interesting. This is the first episode that lets Niki react to what's happening on an emotional level, rather than as part of a more convoluted scheme. Her storyline at first puts her in the role of a victim, powerless to control her own destiny. I love the moment where her son reveals an understanding of what it is that his mom does for a living, and is able to see through the fake identity she constructed to show him down to the person she really is.

In her interactions with Nathan, we see yet another mask, this time she slips into her 'character,' but, apparently feeling some actual affection for Nathan, is unable to go through with her mission. The scene in the elevator is great, clarifying the division between the two Nikis. Her alter ego is ultra-powerful, claiming exactly what she wants through threats of violence. It's a great reveal, particularly the idea that this Niki considers herself a seperate entity, allied with the regular Niki. I'm not sure which Niki went into the room with Nathan at the end, that's unclear.

That scene, combined with the borderline gratuitous Six getting dressed scene in that last Galactica, prompted me to think about how these actresses feel about being asked to appear in near nude scenes on a semi-weekly basis. In a movie, you get the script, see what it consists of, and have full knowledge of the role. But, how do you feel about getting a script and seeing it consists of a scene with you undressing, knowing this is something that the writers made up this week, knowing that you would be the one to act it out? There's got to be some weird dynamics on set, and I could easily see some showrunners deliberately putting their actors in weird situations to satisfy their own fantasies. In the case of Buffy, people certainly accuse Marti Noxon of doing that with Spike, and both Marsters and Sarah Michelle Gellar expressed unease with all the sex scenes they were asked to do. I guess as an actor on a series, you're placing your trust in the creators, and if you don't believe they're going to be responsible show runners, you shouldn't sign on.

Anyway, this was a really strong sideplot for Nathan as well. He acknowledges his powers, at least to himself, for the first time we've seen. And I'm assuming that his new scandal will in some way tie in to the stuff with Sylar and Claire's dad.

While they're struggling to deal with their powers, Claire and Hiro are enjoying theirs a bit too much. Ando makes reference to Spider-Man, and this is clearly the with great power comes great responsibility episode, where their reckless use of his talents leads to chaos. It's fun, and establishes the visual representation of Hiro's powers as a set convention, something that's essential to setting up the end of the episode. And, I do like the suit as superhero costume, a bit reminiscent of late Invisibles King Mob.

Claire's irresponsibility is a bit more damaging. I think the "Waffles!" scene is very effective in showing her trying to hide her trauma, amidst the constant chattering of her family. She can't tell them what happened, for a variety of reasons, and having to keep that pain inside is difficult. At times, the actress really conveys this, other times she's not quite up to it. Hopefully she'll grow into the role as the show progresses.

The final car scene is great, the show's first real demonstration of the dangers that these powers pose. I suppose you could read her powers as a metaphor for teenagers' feelings of indestructibility, however that doesn't quite work because she actually is indestructible. Claire has a lot in common with a Whedon heroine, being pulled away from the concerns of teenage life by her special powers. However, she's a bit more morally ambiguous than Buffy was at this point in her development, what with her attempt to murder Brody. Another really strong cliffhanger there, I'm guessing her dad won't be too happy with what she's done. The question is when he will step in to control her.

But, he's pretty busy experimenting on Greg Grunberg, in an exceedingly blue scene. I always love this kind of secret medical facility stuff, and this scene certainly recalls some good times on The X-Files. I'm guessing that his mission is to try to track down and experiment on all the Heroes. The question now is whether Greg will spend the whole season trapped, or if he'll escape, and try to build up a team of people to oppose him. Will Clea Duvall be a part of this team? I hope so.

I'm a little unclear on why Mohinder is so skeptical when he's going around with Peter, considering he pulled a crazy person in his approach to Nathan earlier in the episode. I'm guessing it's a feint, but I'm not sure why. I did really like the depiction of Isaac's visions, very impressionistic.

And the final train scene raised this episode to another level. I liked the way we started outside the train, no sound, just taking a visual moment. Then, it's inside, where time stops. I was guessing that this was the moment when Hiro had previously teleported to New York, but it turns out that it's something cooler, future Hiro has returned with a message for Peter. On the one hand, isn't it a bit early for Days of Future Past stuff? However, I'm going to forgive it because it's just such a cool idea, and indicates that the creators do have an idea of where things are going. Hiro has apparently lost the Japanese accent and become some kind dystopian ninja. Fantastic stuff, I've never seen another series doing something like this.

When I watched the first episode, I saw a lot of potential, and each subsequent episode has introduced interesting concepts and further developed the characters. And, it's gotten better with each episode, I'm really excited to see what we get next week.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Another great recap, thank you.