The Racialicious Roundtable For Heroes 3.9

Hosted by Arturo R. García

The word has come down from Tim Kring’s ivory tower: It’s our fault Heroes has been stinking up the joint this season.

More specifically, those of us who own and actually use our DVRs. The show’s creator bemoaned the state of serialized storytelling at a screenwriters’ gathering earlier this month, because the new technology, by his reasoning, makes us dumber. Here’s a portion of his remarks:

“The engine that drove [serialized TV] was you had to be in front of the TV [when it aired]. Now you can watch it when you want, where you want, how you want to watch it, and almost all of those ways are superior to watching it on air. So [watching it] on air is related to the saps and the dips**s who can’t figure out how to watch it in a superior way.”

Yours truly is too poor and stupid to afford DVR, so I don’t understand all that fancy talk like “dips**t.” Does his excuse hold water? That’s just one of the subjects we tackle in this week’s installment of the Roundtable. Let’s get to it!

Re: Usutu. I was about to say, let’s quit while we’re ahead (nyuk nyuk) when I read an interview with writers/producers Joe Pokaski and Aron Coliete mentioning him while discussing “The Charlie Argument.” I’ll post their words here:

“This is always a tough [argument] for us, whether or not to kill a character. It all generally reverts back into what we call ‘The Charlie Argument.’ While we often hear from fans, executives, or even actors how we shouldn’t have killed her off, most of us believe that the reason she was such a successful character is because she didn’t overstay her welcome. We miss her because she left us wanting more. The German and Stephen Canfield certainly fall into that category – as for Usutu, we haven’t seen the last of him.”

So, how do you feel about seeing Usutu playing the Ghost of, what, Plot Devices Future?

Clara: If Usutu is just a plot device, than I will be very angry. As far as I can tell, that’s what he is– he’s only there to assist the other characters in all matters plot-fully convenient. He doesn’t even have to be alive! All he has to do is hop around in their dreams! I know we talk a lot about how the writers are very willing to write in ways to bring characters (mostly the white male ones) back to life, and I’m anticipating some people pointing to Usutu as one example of a nonwhite character being brought back. I disagree with that, because Usutu wasn’t brought back to life as his own character. He’s just there to help out the characters. He still doesn’t seem to have a history or motivations of his own. Tsk tsk, Heroes writers.

I’m sick of this Usutu As A Guardian Angel business. Now, if Usutu willingly steered a character towards a bad path, if he intentionally gave them the wrong advice, that would be interesting!

Mahsino: I gotta go with Clara on this – it would be awesome if Usutu were steering characters to his whim postmortem seeing as he was basically the Guardian Angel/Haitian 2.0 when he was alive. Then again, it would be annoying if he could only get a personality after death. I dunno, I just hate ghost like characters in shows (I’m looking’ at you too, Grey’s Anatomy).

Back in the land of the living, Hiro and Ando are back to square one, it seems. But here’s a theory, as introduced in the recap thread: it’s because of Hiro’s forced juvenile attitude that he and Ando come to odds as we saw in that alternate timeline, forcing Ando to strike him down. Discuss. Otherwise, where do you think this is going?

Hexy: I really saw what they were trying to do with age-regressive Hiro. His season-one uninhibited joy at his unfolding powers was fun to watch, and his experimentations with his new talent provided some much-needed levity amongst everyone else’s angst. Spending one season-three episode re-visiting that after two seasons of character development should have been an easy win for the viewers, and should have prompted nostalgia and fondness. The problem? There hasn’t BEEN two seasons of character development. It wasn’t nostalgic, it was annoying and overdone. Ideally, this will be our last glimpse of that early, wide-eyed Hiro, presented for us to say goodbye to before he finally moves grows up and gets serious.

As for Ando: what on earth was with his “I have ninja skills” jump attack at Pa Petrelli?

Clara: I wanted to throw things when Hiro regressed into a 10 year old. He already acted much like a child, with his overly cute antics and all his ambitions to be a hero. And then he literally becomes a child. I’m sure the writers thought they were being oh so clever.

My predictions: Ando continues to teach Hiro how to use his powers. Hiro, being the 10 year old he is, brags constantly about. Okay, he bragged about it before, but this time, it is without the responsibility that Hiro took upon himself before. He brags about it because he’s a bratty 10 year old. Ando becomes jealous at having this shoved in his face, and starts wishing for powers. OH LOOK OVER THERE, it’s Pinehearst, with a formula ready! Ando seeks out Arthur Petrelli, who commands Mohinder to shoot Ando up. Ando receives his powers and decides to split from Hiro. Without Ando, Hiro is forced to grow up and live on his own. When they finally have their confrontation, Ando kills Hiro, as Hiro before had seen in the future.

Mahsino: Hiro is seeming a lot like a Japanese minstrel show. It’s really bad. I mean it’s like he’s a live-action anime character with no real depth. That’s all I have to say about that.

Sylar and Elle. Contrived romantic subplot or fan-service for the kids too old for the “Twilight” books?

Clara: I thought the whole empathy thing was interesting, and I do like that the writers harnessed it for Sylar’s character development. And Sylar did grow from learning how to take powers not by slicing heads open, but by empathizing. However, mixing it with sexual tension really cheapens the growth Sylar achieved. I guess framing empathy in a romantic context makes it more appealing, but come on, wouldn’t it still be meaningful if Sylar had been able to empathize with a stranger? Like, a little kid? Or someone he didn’t know with a tragic past?

But ugh, I saw the Sylar/Elle romance plotline coming even before I started watching the episode. Heroes is practically becoming a soap opera now. Everyone’s hooking up with or having sexual tension everyone else!

Also, did anyone else roll their eyes when only Sylar’s shirt got zapped off, and not his pants? Uh huh, right…

Mahsino: Yeah, that. They can stop with the forced romance- and while we’re on the topic this pseudo-incestuous relationship between Claire and Peter can stop any time now. I’m waiting for them to find out Peter was adopted or something just so the producers can have a reason for them to have a love scene. Back to Sylar and Elle, on the plus side, at least we know who is future baby-mama was. On one of the many minus sides: logic (which I know I shouldn’t apply to this show) tells me you can’t cure a psychopath, which Elle supposedly was. I’m not really into her as this damsel in distress who needs a man to bring her back to sanity. Plus she was already a meh character to me, so hookin’ her up with a character who I used to like, but who has since been reduced to a whiny emo kid with mommy and daddy issues, isn’t helping the show any.

And yeah, it would have been meaningful if Sylar had been able to empathize with a stranger, but that would’ve made sense, which clearly the writers are developing an allergic reaction to.

Hexy: I hate what they’ve done to Elle. I really, really, really hate it. She was one of the few female characters who was unabashedly villainous and fucked up. Her issues made perfect sense in the context of the back story they gave her, and I don’t see that in this new retconned version. In a way, I like that Sylar is the one she’s latched onto, because it’s nice and twisted that her love interest should be her father’s murderer, and it would have been too easy to give Ms Daddy Issues a Daddy substitute… but it still feels contrived.

Looking ahead a bit to the next volume, “Fugitives”: in that appearance at the Screenwriters’ Expo , Tim Kring said we can expect see characters “returning to civilian lives.” Assuming this damn show isn’t canceled by then, forcing *everyone* to return to civilian life, what jobs would you like to see these folks settle into?

Mahsino: I’d like to see Claire go back to school- seriously, how have they not sent a truancy officer after her? I’d like to know how, or if, Matt is still a cop- if so I’m gonna need serious explanation. I’d like to know where Molly is if Mohinder is at Pinehearst and Matt has been “somewhere in Africa”. In this economy, shouldn’t the employees of Hiro’s company be wondering where the CEO is, or is his sister holdin’ down the fort? It’s not what jobs I’d like to see them settle into, I’d like to know what kind of magical careers these “everyday people” have so I can switch majors.

Clara: Claire should get back to earning her damn high school diploma, for one. Parkman will work at a tortoise wildlife reserve. Hiro can be a CEO again. I’d like to see Elle as an artist for some reason; I guess her craziness would probably make for interesting artist expressions. I feel like the Petrelli’s will turn into the mafia. They kind of already are a mafia-like organization though…

Hexy: Going back to the days before we all got jaded and cranky about the future of Heroes, I thought DL becoming a firefighter was a stroke of genius. Unrealistic genius, as he really didn’t have time to become a firefighter by any legitimate means, but a good flash of what “ordinary people with extraordinary powers” could look like.

Open mic! Share your predictions regarding next week’s Eclipse (btw, looks like we’ve got a two-parter coming up. SRS BZNS, as the kids say.)

Mahsino: Sooooo, the only people watching a show — “Heroes” perhaps — at the time it’s being broadcast by a network — say NBC — are the “saps and [expletives] who can’t figure out how to watch it in a superior way.” You hear that? The reason the show has been sucking these past few seasons is because people don’t watch them at original air time. But wait a second, Mr. Kring- I’ve been watching it at original 9pm est (the superior way). I’m gonna need a better excuse than that.

Clara: I’ll be honest, I didn’t like this episode at all. Maybe I’m just cynical, but it was one huge eyeroll from beginning to end.

And next, WARNING, SPOILERS FROM 3X10 PREVIEW: I feel like the “taking away the heroes’ powers” plot line was something scraped from the bottom of the ideas bag. I don’t know, it seems like a gimmick that the show would feature sooner or later. It’s just not very original to me. I imagine that the behind the scenes planning went something like, “Oh look the heroes are taking their powers for granted! Let’s see what happens when they don’t have them and are forced to learn to appreciate what they had! Brilliant!”

At the same time, I think this plot has the potential to take the show in interesting directions, and I’m looking forward to watching it!

Previously: Racialicious Heroes Archive.

Images & Character bios courtesy of HeroesWiki

Editor’s Note:
The discussion of last night’s heroes will be posted first thing tomorrow morning.