by guest contributor Elton
As I had hoped, several of the loose threads that had been hanging around since the Season 1 finale are resolved in this week’s episode. Matt Parkman comes to little Molly’s rescue by confronting his deadbeat dad, Maury, a.k.a. the nightmare man. Amnesiac Peter Petrelli, drawing on an ability he unwittingly absorbed from Hiro, transports Caitlin and himself to a grim version of 2008, where the Shanti virus (a virus that first killed Mohinder’s older sister, and strips Heroes of their abilities) has killed 93% of the world’s population. Peter reunites with his mother in the future and regains his memory of her. Mrs. Petrelli reminds him that he is the most powerful of the Heroes and that it’s up to him to prevent this scenario from happening.
Mohinder has reluctantly found himself working for The Company, studying the Shanti virus. He and Noah Bennet are secretly allied in an effort to bring down The Company from the inside, but The Man in Horn-Rimmed Glasses is obsessed with collecting a series of 8 paintings of the future. One painting contains an image of Mohinder firing a gun and another shows Bennet dead of a gunshot wound to the eye while his daughter Claire looks on from behind the embrace of a shadowy figure. The Mendez paintings have been misleading before (a painting that implied that Hiro would travel back in time to fight dinosaurs with a sword turned out to be Hiro practicing his moves with the newly stolen Kensei katana at the Museum of Natural History), but at first glance, I think Mohinder will find good reason to betray Mr. Bennet, and Claire will find herself on the side of her boyfriend West in his feud with her father. Already, there has been foreshadowing of their conflict – West was originally “tagged and bagged” by Mr. Bennet, and is deeply disturbed to find that his “alien abductor” is Claire’s dad. Meanwhile, Mr. Bennet reacts to his discovery that his daughter has been secretly seeing West by ordering his family to pack up and move once again. He has killed his Russian mentor in his quest to find the paintings and his obsession with his own death as depicted in them. What blunder will result in his death at the hands of Suresh?
We learn a very important fact about The Company: It was started by an Adam Monroe, who first convinced the older generation of Heroes – Nakamura, the Petrellis, Bob, Linderman, Charles Deveaux – to band together and “make the world a better place for our children.” Despite their initial altruistic philosophy, Monroe and his disciple Linderman revealed that they believed the best way to help mankind was to exterminate large numbers of the population (hence last season’s bomb). This led to The Company “locking him up and throwing away the key,” but of course Monroe was able to escape, and is now out for revenge.
Let’s leave the present day storyline for a bit and get to this episode’s clash of the titans: Hiro vs. Kensei.
A staple of time travel stories is self-fulfilling prophecy, also known as predestination paradox. Surely Hiro, being such a big fan of science fiction, should be aware that it doesn’t matter how much he tries to fix history: his presence in feudal Japan and his contact with Takezo Kensei are integral to how events actually unfolded and, through legend, affected his present-day life. Alas, Hiro has a big ol’ heart of gold, as well as undying faith in the Kensei legend, and tries his damnedest to help Mr. Asshole Englishman to fulfill the legend of the Sword Saint and save Japan from Whitebeard’s guns. Everything is going swimmingly, and he’s even managed to save the princess and get her to fall in love with Kensei. Take-san himself even seems to be turning his life around and he’s becoming a genuine hero, genuinely in love with Yaeko and genuinely grateful to his dear friend “Carp” (nicknamed thusly because he thinks Hiro looks like a fish when he talks).
Everything would have gone smoothly and Hiro could have returned to the present day, satisfied that he had mended his accidental disruption of history, if it were not for an accident that he never expected (but that we were all hoping for)…
Hiro, of course, falls in love with the princess. He makes the mistake of letting Yaeko figure out that he, not Kensei, is the dashingly handsome warrior who’s swept her off her feet. And they kiss – “the kiss that broke history.” Upon witnessing this betrayal, Kensei is incensed, spurring his transformation from Anakin Skywalker into Darth Vader. Though Hiro nevertheless manages to destroy the guns, defeat Whitebeard, salvage Japanese history, and defeat Kensei, his former hero and new arch-enemy vows, “As long as I have breath, anything you love I will lay to waste. I swear… You will suffer.” With a great bittersweetness, Hiro completes his mission and says a final sayonara to Yaeko, who swears that she will make sure that Hiro’s brave deeds will be immortalized as the legend of Takezo Kensei.
And because this is Racialicious, I know you want to read something about race. Ever since it was learned that Kensei was to be played by a white actor, there have been accusations of “yellowface,” the practice of having a white actor play an Asian stereotype. I’ve always believed that these accusations were unfounded and that there was a specific purpose for that casting decision. First of all, in the context of the story, Kensei is a white man who immigrates to Japan to find his fortune. He speaks Japanese very well, and has assimilated into the culture. Sure, he’s a mean, rude, selfish, exploitative, lying, cheating thief, but the selection of a white actor to play a white character is not racist. Kensei being a white man who takes credit for the bravery and hard work of an Asian man and steals his Asian love interest certainly is objectionable, but that’s part of the whole “Kensei is an asshole” thing. (Of course, there are real-life trends that mirror this fiction, and that’s racist.)
All is not well in 2007. Hiro suddenly appears in Ando’s cubicle, bearing a souvenir of Kensei’s burned armor, only to discover that four months have passed and that his father has been murdered. Unbeknownst to the pair (for now), Niki, in a desperate gambit to rid herself of her evil (and super-strong) split personality Jessica, has infected herself with a strain of the Shanti virus that even Mohinder’s antibodies can’t destroy. As Peter has learned in the future, the virus will soon cross over into the general population and lay waste to humanity. Perhaps this is Season 2′s great uniting threat, like last season’s NYC bomb. Bob claims that the key to saving Niki (and therefore the human race) is the regenerative powers of Claire Bennet. Save the cheerleader, save the world.
Claire has always wondered what the limits of her ability are, and has put herself through gruesome tests quite unbecoming of a young lady. She’s wondered if she can even be killed, and so far the evidence says no. Certainly Kensei, who has the same ability, has the potential to survive through the ages and exact his revenge on Hiro.
And he has. His name in 2007 is Adam Monroe.
P.S. Since y’all know I’m a big Hiro/Charlie shipper, I wanted to let everyone know about an official Heroes novel expanding on their relationship that’s being released in December. Christmas presents, hint hint!