Heroes 4.17: The Wall

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Broadcast Date: 1 February 2010
Director: Allan Arkush
Writer: Adam Armus and Kay Foster
Cast: Jack Coleman, Greg Grunberg, Robert Knepper, Ali Larter, James Kyson Lee, Oka Masi, Hayden Panettiere, Adrian Pasdar, Zachary Quinto, Sendhil Ramamurthy, Cristine Rose, and Milo Ventimiglia


© Copyright Universal Pictures

© Copyright Universal Pictures

Lauren: “What did the world ever do to you?”
Samuel: “It should have treated me better.”

What the devil happened? The last two chapters, flawed as they were, had such a strong sense of purpose I was actually excited again about where the series might be heading. Unfortunately, the Heroes Powers That Be chose to squander what little momentum they’d garnered with this gem here, in which Peter and Sylar hug out their differences and a young Noah sells used cars and tries to become the next great American playwright. Oh, brother.

As you might have guessed, “The wall” is about… Actually, I don’t have a clue what statement this episode is trying to make. I suppose one could argue the characters in focus have all built walls around their souls, ones they must tear down in order to move forward, but it seems more likely the title refers to the proverbial wall at which the writers keep throwing random ideas to see what sticks.

Sylar a.k.a. Funshine Bear

Aah! Cuddly Sylar! Make it stop! Make it stop! All right, it turns out the premonition showed Sylar behaving like Peter because the two spent the last psychic decade trapped in their collective subconscious (no body switch, I guess). It isn’t until Sylar offers to help Peter that a brick wall appears, symbolizing their way out, and it isn’t until Peter forgives Sylar that the barrier can finally be broken down. Wow, sappy.

Admittedly, the turn of event is consistent with the volume’s overall message, dismissing Sylar’s quick-fix solution and providing enough time, albeit artificially, to justify the character’s redemption. The problem is we aren’t given a story so much as its Cliffs Notes. You know, if Cliffs Notes comprised awful dialogue and stilted acting. Besides, call me old-fashioned, but, after years of buildup, I really wanted Peter and Sylar to trade punches, not gooey feelings. Oh, well. The shots of the deserted city are pretty cool.

Noah a.k.a. Fozzie Bear

Noah’s subplot this week reminds me of a comic book series called Wolverine: Origins, in which the creators took a character’s already convoluted history and added new layers of gibberish for no other reason than, hey, people loved it the first time, not so much the second and third, but whatever. I mean, what does Noah’s new origin story add to the current arc? In what way does it improve the character? More importantly, how do these revelations make any sense?

Here’s what we learn:

  • Noah used to be an honest car salesman and a struggling writer because, you know, there is nothing more pure and innocent on this earth than a writer. We are angels among worms, you see, and the very notion that our immaculate souls could somehow be corrupted over time is a tragedy like no other. Get over yourselves, Heroes writers.
  • Noah’s first wife was the sort of moron who asks questions like, “What are you?” to a super-powered mugger when she should just give him the money and pray for the whole thing to be over soon. Because the hero losing the love of his life is not heavy-handed enough, she was pregnant when she was killed.
  • Consumed by grief, Noah killed an innocent “special”, drawing the attention of the Company and Julia Robert’s brother.
  • The Company arranged Noah’s marriage to Sandra. I imagine the purpose of this tidbit is to discredit the union, making divorce okay (what, are we in the fifties?), but really it just makes Noah a hallow Muppet who’s had his strings pulled so many times it’s hard to imagine the man ever having made a decision on his own.

Samuel a.k.a. The One I Can Still Bear

Samuel’s plot thread is brief and all over the place, but it’s still the most entertaining, owing to Robert Knepper’s ability to redeem mustache-twirling lines with his inappropriately casual delivery. The mad carnie has a busy day: he gets Damien the Human Projector to dig inside Noah’s memories, has a threatening heart-to-heart with Lauren, and then buries Claire and her dad under a pile of dirt because she was being her usual snotty self.

Wait a minute. Didn’t Samuel promise Becky she’d get to kill Noah herself? Does he expect her to dig? Never mind. The most important development, I suppose, is the villain finally revealing his master plan: he’s going to use his powers to blow up New York City. Now, where have I seen this before, every volume, four years in a row? I sometimes despair.

© Copyright Universal Pictures

© Copyright Universal Pictures

Bits and Pieces

  • I love how Matt just left Peter’s unconscious body lying there on the ground after completing his brick wall. He could at least have brought the man a pillow.
  • Apparently, there was no color in 1985. That’s why eighties fashion was so fond of electric pink and neon yellow. We just didn’t know.
  • There are hints of Sylar having a bit of Nathan left in him, so his sudden redemption may be a red herring. After all, it’s easy not to hurt anyone when there’s nobody around, not so much when confronted with a super-powered carnie buffet.
  • One psychic year equals one hour. In dog years, that makes 0.00079… Oh, forget it.

Quotes

Not too many worthwhile lines, I’m afraid:

Gretchen: “I want her to be happy.”
Noah: “She is happy, here with you, in college, living a normal life.”
Credit where credit is due: Heroes is one of the first American shows I’ve seen to treat homosexual relationships as part of normal life without getting on a soap box about it.

Samuel: “I need you to stop them. Permanently.”
I hate clichéd dialogue. Vehemently.

Sylar: “I can’t bring Nathan back, Peter, but I can sure as hell sling a sledgehammer.”
Uh… Okay. And I like mittens?

This is a special kind of awful.

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Category: Heroes, Verdict: 1.0 | Tags:

          
Editor in Chief / Movie Critic: When he started this site, Dimitri never thought he'd be writing blurbs about himself in the third person. In his other life, he works as a writer, translator, and editor for various publications in print and online. His motto is, "Have pen, will travel."