The Racialicious Roundtable for Heroes 3.8

Hosted by Special Correspondent Arturo R. García

“Villains” was possibly the flattest episode yet for Heroes this season – and the 4% ratings drop from the prior episode only underscores the series’ continued collapse. But, that doesn’t mean we’ve run out of things to say!

Let’s start by discussing Usutu. If he is, in fact, dead, and this isn’t a cliffhanger, as was suggested in last week’s recap thread, what more can you say about about the way he was handled? Also, if this is just a cliffhanger, is it me or does the natural sense of trepidation as a viewer get trumped by the way the series has taken to handling its’ POC characters?

Erica: Even if this is a cliffhanger, that would mean it’s part of Hiro’s dreamwalk. If so, at some point in the future he and Ando and Usutu will be hanging out “somewhere in Africa” until Arthur shows up, and Usutu will die then. (But of course I’ve been fooled when I tried to apply logic to the show before.)

I’m not bothered by the manner of his death, but there’s a caveat with that. Violence happens to everybody in the show, and gruesome murder has been the fate of all ethnicities. (Indeed, the ONLY person who died of natural causes was Shaft Charles Devaux.) It isn’t so much a terrible death for Usutu that is problematic — I am angry about the continual decrease of plots as well as creative development for non-white characters. Even Hiro and Mohinder are far dumber this season, ignoring all their lessons learned. Heroes is a violent show, and all characters are impacted by that; however, the characters of color (COC?) aren’t getting a fair share of happy moments or personal growth. Usutu’s death is problematic because he is simply being written out and we know he won’t be back.

Mahsino: I can’t say I’m surprised that Usutu was killed- although I would like to have known where exactly he died, but I have to say I’m a little disturbed at the fact that the Petrelli men’s favorite form of homicide for most characters of color seem to be some sort of gruesome decapitation (Isaac and Maya’s brother had their heads sliced open, as Usutu was decapitated). Although, I have to agree with Erica that Heroes has a tradition of killing off their COC in the most gruesome way possible.

Hexy: Ah, Usutu. Finally named, post-mortem, but all that proved to me is that Hiro is slightly less of an asshole than the rest of the characters (and writers). His death was shocking in its gore, but not surprising in the least. Sad as it sounds, I’ve gotten to the point where I expected POC to die quickly and horrible, without even a moving death scene. The only way for Usutu to surprise me would have been for him to last the rest of the season and achieve something by and for himself. See how ludicrous that sounds?

Best case scenario suggests he’s killed “in dream” and we’ll get to see him again, however briefly, before he dies “for reals.”

So, this week we were supposed to learn about all the Villains — yet we didn’t hear jack squat about Knox. Weird, no?

Mahsino: No. not weird, expected. At this point I’m waiting to see how they marginalize and eventually kill off all of the characters of color, I’m guessing we’re supposed to forget all about Knox. This way, when (or if) we see him again, we aren’t supposed to have any emotional reaction to the fact that he’s killed. For the most part, all the characters of color in Heroes are one-dimensional: they’re usually either completely good or completely evil. yes, D.L., Isaac, and Simone had some slight shades of gray to them, but there was nowhere near the complexities that they’ve given to Flint- a character we’ve only seen for two episodes. And if you follow the pattern of the show, this makes perfect sense- why bother giving a character any depth when they’re just going to get killed or written off at a later date anyway.

Hexy: I didn’t find it weird, but then he’s been so incredibly one dimensional that I don’t think an origin story would have been all that interesting. For it to fit in with the way he’s been depicted so far, it would have been him walking around announcing that he was a perfectly normal human, then announcing that he’d discovered he got strong from fear, then continuing to announce that other people’s fear made him strong because, you know, he gets strong from fear. Repeat until present day.

The only flashback to a year ago that would have fit in with that would have been one that showed him becoming angry and vengeful as everyone in his life got the shits and left him over his constant narration and addiction to the “Are you scared yet?” game.

Erica: Knox definitely needs exploring. We know only slightly more about Knox than we know about Usutu, yet his face was included on the group portrait of villains Hiro will face, along with Arthur Petrelli, Sylar, and Flint. And this week, we learn all sorts of things about Arthur Petrelli, Sylar, and Flint. With all that time spent pointing out how stupid Flint is, one would think we could fit in a little time for Man Who Gets Strong From Fear.

Open Mic: Likes, dislikes, good chicken soup recipes …

Erica: Don’t you mean good Italian lentil soup recipes? Nana Petrelli probably regularly poisoned people with her lentil soup. On that note: Angela Petrelli portrays “vicious and calculating” quite well. “Sentimental and motherly,” not so much. It was disconcerting watching her to swing back and forth between the two this week. I’m happier when they aren’t trying to pretend she’s a sympathetic character.

Anybody else laugh at Super Emo guy? Oh, sorry, I mean Trevor. I expected his super power to be that he was very angsty, not that he could shatter things. Super Emo guy: he won’t save you, but he’ll feel really bad about it for you.

The Haitian showed up to block Arthur’s mind-control power — surprise! Half-man, half-furniture. Place it wherever creepy spousal abuse is likely and power-blocking is needed! Håïshøn: now available from IKEA.

All my physics prof husband’s physics friends (and he) thought this week was a great episode. I’m not sure what is wrong with these guys (aside from being physicists), or whether they are particularly representative of the majority of Heroes fans — but I thought this week was annoying.

Mahsino: I’m more of a stew person myself. I’ve realized that I like to play a little game called Count The Blondes while watching Heroes. This week’s count: 3 (Meredith, Elle, Claire). POC Count: 3.5 (Hiro, Ando, Usutu — the writers have made it clear that the Haitian isn’t so much of a person as a convenient companion- much as a pet would be).

I gotta say Angela Petrelli is one of the main reasons I watch the show now, so that segment of the show was interesting.

When I came in on this episode I was all: oh wow, another episode when the men either mentally or physically abuse women, and then my good ol’ standby character, Angela Petrelli came in and kicked some ass. Manipulative as she is, I have to say I love Angela’s character because she’s a woman in charge- not some helpless woman who needed to be instructed by a more powerful male. I could really go without this whole sympathy business. I mean, it was cool that Mama Petrelli metaphorically, took her power back after she learned the truth about her husband- and was unapologetic about it, but the whole thing as if it was supposed to be a new take on a domestic violence situation. It was almost as if Angela Petrelli “killed” Arthur as a result of some sort of battered-wife syndrome. I am, however, a little pissed that it she used the traditional female method of homicide: poison. I expected something a little more extraordinary from her.

And, am I the only one who thinks “cabana boy” or “house boy” whenever I see Angela with the Haitian?

Another bright spot in this episode: minimal amounts of Claire and Peter!

Hexy: I’ll chime in with the Angela Petrelli love! At first I found her attempts to portray loving and functional a little… off… but it began to make sense when the reveal about her Stepford-wife programming occured. By the time she was displaying the bitter and single-minded Angela we know and love, I was pleased at the lead up, and found her all the more appealing with a bit of backstory to her ruthlessness. Still, though, she must be getting a little impatient waiting for Peter to “become a great man” once his powers manifest.

The family powers thing is starting to shit me. It worked with the Parkmans and the Petrelli men (to a certain extent) but I preferred when we were given the impression these were the minority. That anyone who manifested powers could end up with anything. Now they’re cramming minor characters we’ve seen ONCE into the dynasty, and using their powers to reaffirm the suggestion that powers run in families. It’s got two effects for me, neither of them positive: the first, undermining the unstated idea that ANYONE could have an ability, which was part of the appeal of the first season, and then secondly, setting up these stupid families as being the centre of everything. The latter may have been deliberate, but the show suffers for it in my opinion. Now, when seeing a new character, the first thought that jumps into my head is, “Oh, his power is like Blah Bennetrellis. He must be part of that family.” And that’s crap. I really found myself without much to say this week. I was glumly expecting an episode where they retconned the hell out of the series to make it fit in with the bizarre changes they’ve made in series three, and we didn’t even really get that!

Character bios and images courtesy of HeroesWiki.

Previously:
Racialicious Heroes Archive