It’s said that a writer can never go wrong borrowing from the Bard. Shakespeare makes a great coat rack to hang a story on, no matter what story you may be trying to tell.
In the world of comic books, there are a couple of guys who are also pretty safe bets to borrow from. Frank Miller, Will Eisner, and Alan Moore come to mind, but there are many more great writers in the field. Alan Moore is special though. Particularly if you’re a fan of Heroes.
I’ve always had a sneaking suspicion that Heroes had a great deal in common with The Watchmen. This week confirmed that intentional or not, the spirit of Moore’s seminal work runs through the show.
If you are a fan of Heroes and haven’t read “The Watchmen” by Moore, do yourself a favour and find a way to do so.
One of Moore’s pet plot devices is the catastrophe as a catalyst for change. V for Vendetta sees the hero blow up Parliament to unite the populace against a fascist regime. In The Watchmen, a “Hero” named Ozymandias creates a massive disaster that unites a fractured world against a non-existent foe born of a common fear. Sound familiar? Actually Moore borrowed the idea himself and even goes so far as to mention the 1963 Outer Limits episode “The Architects of Fear” that followed a similar plot on page 29 of the 12th and final issue of The Watchmen.
In both of those Moore graphic novels, one could easily view the “hero” through a different lens and brand him the villain. In fact, many characters in both books do just that. Moore is the master of the enigmatic hero as villain and vice versa.
If you’re going to borrow, it’s always a good idea to borrow from the best…
This week opened with a wonderfully creepy voice-over by Malcolm McDowell, detailing some of the motivations and dichotomies of certain of our Heroes through a tour of Linderman’s Mendez collection. He speaks of a monster’s fight for survival for the chance to kill again, a mother’s willingness to fracture her soul to save her child, the double edged lies Bennett must tell to protect his daughter, a wandering hero’s pure joy at success and his darkest hour when all seems lost.
“Alone, each tells a single story. Together, they can tell the future.”
McDowell as Linderman is, without a doubt, the best casting of the year.
Alone in a cell, Bennett is startled when Claire bursts in. Her overacted apologies soon alert him to the fact that this isn’t his daughter. Thompson shoos her out of the cell so he can have a face to face with his friend. Bennett is on “Death Row” as far as Thompson is concerned, but Bennett seems remarkably unconcerned, going so far as to suggest that he might actually be the one in control, not Thompson.
“If you were going to kill me, you’d have done it by now.”
“I’m just waiting for the order. That’s how we do it here. We follow orders.”
Makes you wonder who’s orders…
Am I the only one who would have preferred to see Candice get medieval on his ass rather a civilized chat between old friends? I’d love to know what she had in mind to make him rip out his eyes. Candice is so deliciously nasty, I’m dying for the “Cheerleader vs. Satan’s Schoolgirl” episode…
While Linderman gives Nathan Petrelli a tour of his private museum, he takes the opportunity to explain to Nathan that his true goal is to heal the world. When Nathan wonders what Linderman could possibly know about healing.
That’s right, my power is to turn any item into a moving CGI
“A few things.”
Hmm…it’s curious. Linderman’s power is really similar to Claire’s, if she could project it…
Matt Parkman is awakened by a voice in his head.
He’s got a plan to get them both out.
“If you follow everything I say, you might not die.”
Back in Linderman’s museum, Nathan sees a familiar face in one of Isaac’s paintings. Hiro.
“I know this man.”
“Oh, great. If you see him, tell him I want my sword back.”
“He said he needed it to save the world. A lot of people seem to be saying that these days…”
Linderman explains to Petrelli that his collection of paintings isn’t just a bunch of art for art’s sake. It’s a road map to peace and prosperity, visions of a better future from every era.
Pointing at the Mendez of the nuclear explosion in New York, Petrelli wonders if that too is part of a brighter future.
“What if I was to tell you that it was?”
“Then I’d say you are a lousy humanitarian.”
Linderman recounts how he learned of his powers when he was younger than Nathan and how he and others like him found each other and used their abilities to try to make a difference in the world. This intriguing past of heroic deeds was cut short as some of the group began using their abilities for personal gain.
My bet is that one of those who did use his powers to acquire wealth was Simone’s Father, Peter Petrelli’s patient from earlier in the season. Peter began having prophetic dreams when he was caring for him. I’d bet my last nickel that the old guy had the power of seeing the future in his dreams.
Linderman only teases us with a brief tale of his past but if you want a bit more back story on him, I recommend the online comic at NBC.com to you. It gives a bit of the history of Mr. Linderman as well as filling in a few other bits of the plot.
As far as the explosion in New York goes, Linderman figures that it’s just what people need to unite them in a common fear, giving Nathan a chance to lead them into a glorious new age.
“This tragedy will be a catalyst for good, for change. Out of the ashes, humanity will find a common goal. A united sense of hope couched in a united sense of fear. And it is your destiny, Nathan, to be the leader who uses this event to rally a city, a nation, a world.”
Alan Moore? Here’s your royalty cheque. Oops. Never mind.
When Petrelli points out that he’s down in the polls and not likely to get elected even to congress, let alone the White House, Linderman has an answer for that too. A painting. A Mendez of Petrelli in the Oval Office. Nathan’s objections amount to very little in Linderman’s eyes. Around .07% of the world’s population, gone in an instant is an acceptable loss as far as he’s concerned. Even the fact that Nathan’s brother is the human bomb that explodes doesn’t phase him.
“So in the future I have a Frankenstein head?”
“As I said, we all have our role to play.”
Matt Parkman’s current role is that of puppet to Bennett’s puppet-master. Using his intimate knowledge of the facility, he instructs Parkman to break off the rusty pipe and use it to knock out the guard. It’s a difficult task and he barely breaks it free in time. Bennett hears a satisfying “CLANG” that tells him Parkman was successful.
I think Bennett has a power. A really subtle one. He’s a planner. Like a chess master, he sees dozens of steps ahead while building enough flexibility into his plans to allow him to correct mistakes and missteps. Exactly where he wants to be, indeed.
At Mohinder’s apartment, Peter Petrelli finds the door unlocked and the place trashed. Mohinder’s blood drips on his head and the scientist croaks a single word of warning.
Throwing Peter against the wall with his telekinetic power, Sylar pins Petrelli there with a hand on his throat.
“I remember you. You’re like me, aren’t you? Like to see how that works.”
Without further conversation, the vivisection begins. When Peter’s version of Claire’s power kicks in and heals the cut, Sylar is intrigued, his momentary distraction giving Petrelli an opening. Sylar flies across the room, his own stolen power turned against him, breaking his concentration and freeing Mohinder from the ceiling.
(*We know that Peter can absorb the powers of those close to him. He took Isaac’s power when it was inactive, and Claire’s too, so he seems to be able to absorb powers even if they’re inactive at the time. Does this mean he’s absorbed all of Sylar’s stolen abilities or is Sylar a special case where he only soaks up the ones that Sylar uses around him like the telekinesis?*)
Before Sylar can counter attack, Peter turns himself invisible.
“Interesting. I can’t wait to try that one.”
Unlike Petrelli, Sylar hasn’t had to fight his concience to learn how to use his powers. He revels in them and has had plenty of practice in using his abilities to kill.
My super power tells me this is really not good.
Telekinetically, he gathers up a heap of broken glass from the floor and mentally flings it out in an arc around the room in front of him, catching Peter with his back to him, slicing into the base of his skull.
Question. What the hell kind of move is turning your back on the villain? Peter was invisible for cryin’ out loud! Tackle the guy, drop kick him, throw Mohinder at him, something. DON’T turn your back on the bastard! I know that Claude taught him to do the unexpected, but he meant smart unexpected, not dipshit unexpected.
In an example of one of the few things he’s done right since he started, Suresh slams his Father’s map into Sylar, knocking him unconscious. Returning immediately to form, Mohinder spends the next few seconds agonizing over Peter’s dead body, rather than slitting the throat of the son of a bitch who killed him.
I think Mohinder has a subtle power too. He has the ability to put himself in the perfect position to fix everything and then blow it completely. Every time.
Grandma Petrelli regales Claire with the family history. How Nathan thought she was dead in the fire and how Mr. Petrelli Senior and she felt it best to let him think that. Grandma Petrelli wants to take Claire to Paris, where she can grow up to be her own woman.
“And then if you choose to come back and join this madness, like I once did, at least I will have given you the option.”
“So you’re like me.”
We don’t find out what Grandma Petrelli’s power is yet, but I’m willing to bet my second last nickel that it has something to do with ice. As in “Heart of…” I’m also halfway convinced that she and Linderman had an affair resulting in one or both of the super siblings. It would certainly explain Claire…
Sylar regains consciousness only to find that Mohinder has smashed the computer and taken the list with him. Like any addict, the second he realizes that he can’t easily get a fix, he desperately needs one.
Speaking of addicts, Isaac has finished the final issue of “9th Wonders” and called his best courier to pick up the pages and get them to the publisher.
Is this a message to the future?
He even gives his sketch book to the fanboy courier.
“Hold on to it. It might be worth something someday.”
In Vegas, Jessica and D.L. argue about the merits of the services she’s rendered for Linderman as D.L. packs his car. Jessica feels that she’s been justified in doing Linderman’s bidding, since it’s kept them safe and a roof over their heads.
“Everywhere you go, people die. Cash, cars, hurtin’ people for the fun of it. Hell, you didn’t turn into Jessica, you turned into your old man.”
“Don’t you dare…”
“I’ll die before I’ll let you do to Micah what he did to you.”
One of Linderman’s boys interrupts and summons “Ms. Sanders” to a meeting with the man himself.
Back at the paper factory, Parkman takes his cues from Bennett, seeking out Ted Sprague and freeing the man with the radiation powers before Thompson has a chance to sound the alarm and lock down the facility.
Mohinder shows up at Mrs. Petrelli’s door, bearing the body of her youngest son.
(*I presume that was his cab in the background. I’d imagine that even in New York a cabbie would notice a bloody corpse wasn’t a regular fare…*)
After asking Suresh to leave, Mrs. Petrelli’s trademark control slips and she breaks down.
Back in Vegas, Jessica is surprised to meet the reclusive Mr. Linderman face to face. She figures the favour he’s going to ask is off the charts. The favour turns out to be the use of Micah and his particular abilities.
“I had a plan in place that until recently began to unravel. I need your son to help me repair it.”
Ms. Sanders draws the line at allowing her son into Linderman’s world.
“We’d better take out an insurance policy on Ms. Sanders.”
Parkman and Sprague are still in the facility and alarms are going off all around them. Bennett calmly relays instructions for Sprague to radiate an electromagnetic pulse to knock out the power in the building.
“He says ‘Don’t burn hot, burn bright.’ Does that make any sense?”
“Did he say anything else?”
“He said I shouldn’t stand next to you.”
(*EMPs are a natural by-product of a nuclear detonation. It’s interesting that Sprague can control his power that precisely. More interesting is that Bennett knew he could before he did.*)
Remarkably, Sprague is able to do exactly as Bennett instructed and knock out the facility’s power completely. Parkman convinces Sprague that their former tormentor is the one person who can help them take down The Company. The two men find and free Bennett.
“Better than I expected.”
Nathan Petrelli arrives home to find his Mother mourning over his brother. Mrs. Petrelli’s control has snapped back into place and she wants them to hide Peter’s murder until after the election. Nathan is too distraught to care.
Claire asks for a moment alone with the man who saved her life. As she strokes Peter’s hair, her fingers find the shard of glass at the base of his skull. Remembering that he had abilities like hers and perhaps recalling how it took the coroner removing the piece of wood from her body before she could regenerate, she pulls the fragment free and in seconds, Peter returns from the dead.
“You saved my life.”
“Guess we’re even, now.”
After cleaning up, Peter and Nathan take a moment to talk about what happened. Given the regeneration power that he’s absorbed from Claire, Peter is reasonably sure that nothing can kill him. Nathan isn’t so sure. Surviving what Isaac’s painting of the exploding man foretells would be almost unthinkable. Peter is more concerned with all the other people who will die, not his own chances of survival.
Sometimes the only difference between the hero and the villain is the depth of self-sacrifice they’re willing to make. At least, that’s what years of reading comic books has taught me.
Peter changes the subject from himself to Claire.
“Claire is the girl that I saved. In Texas. …and she turns out to be your daughter…YOUR daughter. Look around. Everything I said is happening, is happening now. It’s real. Now, maybe if Claire’s here…I don’t blow up. Maybe she’s here to save us. Talk to her Nathan. We need her.”
When Mrs. Petrelli walks in, she lets the boys know that she knew about them and their powers long before they did.
Ice. Cold. Definitely.
Newly free, Bennett, Sprague and Parkman sit down to a bite in a diner. Bennett reassures the two that The Company won’t come after them in such a public venue, so for the moment they’re safe. Their next move is to shut down the tracking system in New York that allows The Company to find them.
Parkman wonders if Linderman is in New York and Bennett is surprised to hear the name from the former cop. Parkman heard it from Thompson and as he explains this, he realizes that Bennett had no idea that Linderman was the one pulling the strings.
“You’re middle management!”
Now, that’s just not nice.
Parkman wants to go after Linderman in Vegas, but Bennett convinces them that they need to shut down the tracking system before they make any direct moves against the mobster.
Speaking of Linderman, Ms. Sanders seems to have had a change of heart. She delivers Micah to Linderman’s waiting limo. Only it’s not Nikki, not even Jessica who hands him over. It’s Candice. Not only is she an evil bitch (God, I love her!) but she’s got a mean streak a mile wide. When the real Nikki pulls up, Candice even takes a second out of her busy day of tormenting Company employees and kidnapping superpowered children, to leave a verbal calling card with the bifurcated assassin.
I’m guessing she knows all about Jessica’s little run in with Linderman’s collection agency…
As a last resort, Suresh has called the number Bennett left with him the day they met face to face in his apartment. Only it’s Thompson who shows up, offering help with Mohinder’s research.
“I didn’t call about my research. The man who murdered my Father and Peter Petrelli? He’s still out there. That takes precedence over any academics. A person that dangerous must be stopped.”
“I can assure you we have similar priorities. The best way to stop Sylar is for us to work together.”
When Sylar finds his way to Isaac Mendez, the painter is finishing his last work. A study of his own death.
“You really can paint the future, just like the professor said. Fantastic.”
At this point, Isaac says something very significant.
This implies that he foresaw Sylar arriving in one of his paintings, but between the time he painted it and now, something happened that changed the circumstances that put the villain there at a certain time. The future that Isaac paints isn’t set in stone. It can be changed.
“I guess you know why I’m here.”
“You’re the one who’s going to kill me.”
“That’s true. This is usually the part when people start screaming.”
In a final act of defiance, Mendez tells Sylar that he will be stopped and that the art work that foretells this has already gone. With his own brushes, the artist is pinned to the floor, impaled spread eagle on the mural of the explosion in New York.
“Why don’t you tell me all about it then?”
“I’ve wasted my life, destroyed everything good that ever came to me. At least I did one good thing before I died. You can’t fight the future.”
“Neither can you.”
“It’s alright. I finally know my part in all this. To die, here, with you. But not before I show them how to kill you and stop the bomb. I finally get to be a hero.”
Just not for very long. Ouch.
Back at the Petrelli house, Nathan uses the glass shard that did/didn’t kill his brother to open the painting of him in the Oval Office. I doubt the symbolism was lost on him.
Claire interrupts his contemplation of the picture and the two finally have a Father/Daughter chat. In order to save his election, Claire needs to take that trip to Paris with her grandmother. Having his Mother tuck his illegitimate daughter away for a week is imperative to his victory.
“She warms up. Sort of.”
I seriously doubt that.
“And then what?”
“Then you come home to your family.” The camera follows an ominous path from Claire to the glass shard to the picture of Nathan in the Oval Office.
At Isaac’s studio, Sylar has wasted no time in putting his newly acquired power to work for him. He has painted a crude but recognizable version of the same painting Nathan was just looking at.
Flash forward five years to Hiro and Ando on the roof top.
It is obvious that they were unsuccessful at stopping the bomb, but Ando figures that now that Hiro has his sword, they can go back and fix everything.
Hiro isn’t so sure. He realizes that he needs to know what mistakes they made so he can fix them. To that end, he wants to go see Isaac.
Hiro only knows that Sylar has been caught. He’s unaware that the bastard escaped and fulfilled Hiro’s vision of Isaac’s death at his hands. In his ignorance, he reasons that since Sylar has been caught, there’s a chance that Mendez is still alive and will be able to help them.
Poor Ando is left as confused as I was when I first tried to follow Hiro’s line of reasoning.
At Isaac’s studio the two men find a bizarre three dimensional sculpture that seems to be a timeline, with various newspaper clippings strung together in intersecting lines.
A noise tells Hiro that they aren’t alone. He draws his sword and watches as a figure emerges from the shadows.
STOP PLAYING WITH YOURSELF!
Right on both counts.