Heroes recap of episode 211: Powerless

by guest contributor Elton

Heroes Volume 2, “Generations,” is over.

The season began with an exciting change of scenery, as Hiro Nakamura accidentally teleported to feudal Japan and met the legendary Sword Saint, Takezo Kensei, who turned out to be a lying, cheating, spiteful scoundrel of an Englishman named Adam Monroe. As Hiro tried to repair history and turn Adam into the heroic Kensei of legend, his brave deeds won the heart of their mutual love interest, the swordsmith’s daughter Yaeko, and Hiro himself became immortalized (figuratively speaking) as Kensei. Hiro and Yaeko’s love incurred the wrath of the jealous Adam, who swore on his life that he would bring misery and suffering to Hiro and all that he held dear.

Adam, the first man to discover his special ability, has survived through the ages because of it, and four hundred years later, he has founded a Company dedicated to finding and tracking others with special abilities. But Adam has a hidden agenda – fueled by his desire for revenge on Hiro and his bitter cynicism as a result of living through four centuries of human suffering, Adam plans to use the vast talents and resources of the Company to destroy most of humanity and “wipe the slate clean.” When the Company realizes this, they lock up Adam and throw away the key. Thirty years later, Adam recruits Peter, a son of Company founders Angela and Arthur Petrelli, in his quest to escape and release the deadly Shanti virus.

The season finale begins with the other bad guy’s quest to regain his powers. Sylar has recruited Maya Herrera, an irritatingly naive Dominican who has journeyed with him to Dr. Suresh’s apartment in Brooklyn to ask the good doctor for a cure to her cursed powers. Maya feels a kinship with (and attraction to) Sylar because they have both killed people with their powers, but she does not realize that Sylar is only using her to get to Dr. Suresh so that his powers, neutralized by the Shanti virus, can be restored.

Mohinder knows full well that Sylar killed his father, and having battled Sylar before, wants to be sure that Maya understands exactly what Sylar wants. Ever faithful, she believes that Sylar only wants to be cured of his sickness and lets slip that his powers are gone. Upon hearing this, Mohinder tries to attack Sylar with a knife, only to be met with a Company gun. Sylar reveals his true intention of regaining his abilities so that he can continue his power-hungry murder spree, and forces Mohinder, Maya, and Molly to Mohinder’s lab, formerly the apartment of precognitive artist Issac Mendez, one of Sylar’s many victims.

Maya is furious with Sylar, and she finally realizes, upon asking Molly to find her brother, that he killed Alejandro. Sylar shoots Maya and makes Suresh prove the effectiveness of his cure by using it on her. It works. Just when it seems that all hope is lost, Elle, having noticed the situation on the Company surveillance monitor, comes to their rescue, but loses track of Sylar, who escapes with the cure.

Meanwhile, in Odessa, Texas, at Company front Primatech Paper, where the Shanti virus is stored, Adam has Peter use his telekinetic ability to force open the Company vault. Peter believes that Adam wants to destroy it before the Company can unleash it on the world. Hiro and Matt try (unsuccessfully) to stop Peter, but ultimately, Nathan convinces his brother to see the truth – that Adam is a dangerous murderer who manipulated him into opening the vault for him so that he could wipe the world clean. Peter realizes this just as Adam enters the vault and finds the virus. Just in the nick of time, Hiro teleports inside to confront Adam, and once again defeats the villain. He buries Adam alive in a casket in the cemetery where his parents are buried. Peter has learned to control the radioactive power that almost destroyed New York last time, and uses it to destroy the virus. Hiro, having put an end to his father’s killer, seems to have taken an important step towards becoming the gravely serious Future Hiro we’ve looked forward to since the beginning. Peter, having redeemed himself and regained his memory and control of his abilities, also seems to be turning into the scarred hero that Future Hiro foretold.

In New Orleans, Monica has been captured by a nameless thug while attempting to retrieve Micah’s stolen backpack, and the thug has left her for dead in a building he’s been hired to burn down (for some reason). Even though she’s lost her super-strength, Niki beats up the thug and rescues Monica, but doesn’t make it out of the exploding building in time. I was disappointed that both Monica and Niki turned out to be so helpless. But perhaps there is still hope for Monica – the cover of prophetic comic book 9th Wonders! appears to feature her as St. Joan the muscle mimic, holding a crossbow and a distinctly-shaped dagger that was among the collection of strange items in the Company vault.

Throughout the show, there has been an important conflict in the minds of people with special abilities – what should one do about being special? Claire and Nathan want to show everyone what they can do, so that they no longer have to hide. West believes it’s not in their best interest to reveal their powers except to each other. Adam wants to use his powers to “play God.” Micah and Hiro want to emulate comic book heroes and fight for justice. All around, there is plenty of moral ambiguity – Suresh began trying to bring down the Company and found himself fighting on their behalf. Noah Bennet lied and murdered in order to protect his daughter Claire, even if she didn’t want to be protected.

Like our Heroes, I think minorities often feel conflicted about what it means to be different. We cherish our specialness at times, and curse being different at other times, and often want nothing more than to be like everyone else and fit in. Heroes is the latest in a long line of stories that are concerned with the struggle to find peace and acceptance within society and with oneself when one is different.

To what extent are people of color, or people with disability, or gifted people, special, and to what extent are they ordinary? Is it possible or desirable to live an ordinary life and blend in completely? Or does one have a responsibility to be an activist and to do more and accomplish more than other people, even at personal risk?

We all have different sets of privileges that come from our race, nationality, skin color, gender, language, family background, etc. I think it’s important to be mindful of these “powers” and how we use them. On Heroes, each character tries to do what he or she believes is right. It’s fun to think of Sylar and Adam as “evil” and root against them, but we should remember that they’re not the only ones with power, and they’re not the only ones who have done “bad things” in service of what they believe.

At the end of Volume 2, Nathan Petrelli gives a speech to the press in Odessa, Texas. He is about to reveal his ability to the world, when he is shot several times in the chest by a mysterious gunman. Nathan is dead.

Angela Petrelli is on the phone, apparently with someone responsible for her son’s death. She acknowledges that it was “unavoidable,” but warns them that they’ve “opened Pandora’s box…”

Volume 3, “Villains,” begins with a shot of Sylar in an alley injecting himself with a mixture of Claire’s blood and Mohinder’s antibodies – the cure for the Shanti virus. His wounds heal and he stretches out his hand. A discarded can of spinach wobbles slightly, then flies into his grasp.

“I’m back.”

None of us can be sure when Heroes will return, so I will say goodbye for now and thank you for reading. If everything goes well, I will be graduating from college very soon, and would I would appreciate it very much if y’all would let me know of any positions where I could continue exploring issues of race, pop culture, and identity. I hope that when the show starts back up again I’ll be able to write recaps for you once again, but who can say what the future will bring?

To read past Heroes recaps, click here.

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Racialicious is a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture. Check out our daily updates on the latest celebrity gaffes, our no-holds-barred critique of questionable media representations, and of course, the inevitable Keanu Reeves John Cho newsflashes.

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