The Racialicious Roundtable for Heroes 3.12

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Hosted by Special Correspondent Arturo R. García

On the eve of the end of Volume III, Heroes managed to pull a genuinely compelling episode out of its’ space-time continuum. But even in that, there were some bad spots.

To begin this week’s Roundtable, I wanted to address two instances that recalled our discussion about the series’ penchant for violence against women.

SylarElle3The first was the description by series producer Greg Beeman of an overhead shot he had in mind for Sylar’s farewell to Elle, which he says was inspired by reading about Hindu and Buddhist priests meditating in the midst of burning bodies. Quoting from his blog:

I remember the script read: “Sylar stands [over] her burning body. A tinge of remorse. Giving Elle far more respect than any of his previous victims.” Anyway, the shot was very dramatic and I found it very haunting, almost beautiful. But the network standards and practices people and even Tim Kring thought it was too disturbing … I don’t know, maybe America’s not ready for full-on immolation.

Hexy: Well, I certainly didn’t get even “a tinge of remorse” from the close-up shot they replaced it with. With the lead up of Sylar using his Scary Voice and quite vocally affirming his return to bad-guy-dom, I think they would have had to be a lot more blatant about presenting “remorse” and “respect” to the audience if they wanted us to pick up on such nuances. My interpretation was that the close up of Sylar watching Elle burn was a non-verbal precursor to the words he used when engaged in his next murder: “I’d forgotten how good this feels.” I saw him reveling in his return to killing.

Mahsino: The Elle shot didn’t really bother me- I was just happy to see her gone, though the victimized/weak woman is way past getting old. I’m glad to see they’re doing massive housecleaning and getting rid of unnecessary characters.

Erica: They wanted Sylar’s scene to be more powerful? Come on — he kills her while kneeling on her body as she whimpers “You’re hurting me,” then we’re treated to shots of her bloody corpse, then he burns her. I didn’t get “respect” from all of that, even in Sylar’s twisted view of reality.

Also, check out this exchange writers Aron Coleite and Joe Polaski had with a viewer over at Comic Book Resources. The viewer’s question is in bold:

“Can you please explain why virtually every romantic relationship on this show ends with either the death or disappearance of the female character? Simone, Eden, Charlie, Caitlin, Yaeko, Maya, and now Elle — in fact, the only exception I can think of off the top of my head is West/Claire.

Wow. We were concerned when we read your question Amanda. To quote the philosopher Tommy DeCarlo, of Boston, “It kinda took us by surprise and made us realize,” Amanda.
But then we started to think: Yaeko? Caitlin? I don’t think we killed either of them. And you forgot to mention the deaths of Isaac and D.L,, as well as the long life of Angela,, Tracy, Kimiko, and Heidi. Now it’s our turn to put you on the couch – “Top of your head?” Can you explain that language, “Amanda?”

Is it me, or was that an extraordinarily flippant response on their part? Do these people even realize how they come off?

Clara: Sometimes, the Heroes staff needs a good slap to the face. Not only were they incredibly patronizing, they didn’t even bother to read the question. Again, common sense and logic clearly are not in their radar.

Mahsino: In my experience, people who can cram that much douchiness in a quote usually are unaware of how bad they come off- see The Hills, Katherine Heigl, Chuck Norris. Women in purely consensual relationships die. As I recall, DL and Jessica Barbara Traci Niki were manufactured, Angela was mind-raped and trapped in her own body by her hubby, as was Sandra. And abandoning women in the space-time continuum, to me, might as well be killing.

Hexy: Jeebus. Flippant is an understatement. To begin with, the questioner actually SAID “death or disappearance”. They not only come across as not giving a sh-t about the topic, but as not even having read the question properly. What a bunch of douches. And Tracy isn’t exactly “long lived”. She’s only been around for half a season.

Erica: Reading that quote was one of the rare instances in which my jaw actually drops open while I’m reading — did they ACTUALLY just SAY that?!? It shows a very casual attitude to a serious topic, it doesn’t answer the question at all, their counter-examples were laughably weak, and the final sentences were just pathetic.

They really had only two ways they could go with this: (1) examine this trend in the context of the larger picture (e.g., “Heroes is a very violent show in many ways, and both men and women bear the burden of this”), or (2) pretend there’s no problem. It’s telling that they chose the latter method.

Ok, from the bad, we go to the very good — the Nakamura family. Is it too cynical to wonder whether these scenes were an apology for Tim Kring’s Benetrelli nonsense earlier this year? And where does Hiro go from here?

HiroIshi2Mahsino: I really hope everyone’s powers were given back to them after Arthur died and Peter was just a little slow on the uptake. If not, since Hiro was stuck in the past, shouldn’t he still be walking around in the present only aged 16+ years? I realize logic shouldn’t really be applied to the show, but still I’m trying to throw out ideas to help them end the year strong. But seriously, what makes Ando think they’ll give him powers? Clearly, he isn’t “All American.”

And, this has been bugging me for awhile: what exactly were Hiro’s dad’s powers? Also, where is his sister? Since now every family seems to be SUPER, shouldn’t she be showing up with some awesome power, just to round out the awesomeness that is the Nakamura family. I guess I should shut up and enjoy the fact that I actually got to care about 2 storylines this episode, but it’s just been nagging me.

Erica: There are really only two directions Hiro can go, up or down. Hopefully, he goes up — both back onto the roof, and to further character development. I’d like to see him gain maturity by interacting with Kimiko in the business world for a while, but I’m also not sure what will happen with Ando (Hiro’s better half) next week. Given the blatant “HMMM, somebody needs time travel power to save Hiro” moment, there’s an obvious guess to make.

Clara: I wouldn’t give Kring that much credit. I feel like he just wanted to get George Takei on air again and Tamlyn Tomita to guest star. That in itself is pretty cool though — both are superstars in Asian American popular culture. It was definitely very refreshing to depart from the Benetrellis, and to a family of color too!

Oh, and when Ando was all, “Maybe I will somehow gain time traveling abilities! It’s a big stretch, but maybe it will happen!” I kind of face palmed. It reminded me of the moment when Claire suddenly decided that she was the catalyst. Doesn’t matter that she apparently really was, but the leaps in logic these characters make really astound me.

In any case, my predictions are that Usutu will suddenly appear to Hiro and tell him to go on a spirit walk. And then this spirit walk will magically take him off the top of the building and back to the future. Because Usutu is just that majikul! (The Heroes strategy: when in doubt, just get the majikul black guy to make it all go away!)

Hexy: I honestly teared up a little during Masi Oka’s delivery of those lines to Hiro’s mother. It has been a long time since this show managed to affect me in such a positive, powerful way, and I was really glad to feel it. I missed you, emotional scenes featuring characters I’m actually compelled to care about!

I was really amped to see what Hiro did next and what he’d learned … and then they ruined it. He loses the “light” within minutes of gaining it, sh-ts on his promise to his dying mother, and is thrown back into slapstick buffoonery. I was bitterly, bitterly disappointed.

Sylar: Not only is he back, but he’s apparently a SUPER-ninja. Dude kills four people in an office and just pops up at Pinehearst without even a change of clothes?

Erica: There’s something delightful about an over-the-top psychopath, which we didn’t get when Sylar was all angsty and remorseful. The one constant in his character is that he’s intelligent and resourceful; it’s nice to have “evil and unrepentant” back, because now he truly is the villain the other
characters can all love to hate. Can the show can be saved only with an amusing serial killer, though?

Mahsino: It weirded me out when I read the Welcome Back Sylar song, because I was humming Eminem’s Without Me while he was killing the lady in the office. It’s like Christmas came early and Kring and Co decided to gift me awesome Sylar. Welcome back, Original Sylar, how I’ve missed thee.

Clara: His return to TEH EBIL was really contrived, in my opinion, but on the other hand, I’m happy to see crazy Sylar back instead of “I just want to be a good son” Gabriel. Psycho Sylar had a certain humor about him that got lost to sappiness this season.

elevatorguySidenote: There’s a lot of annoyance that the guy Sylar terrified in the elevator was Asian, perpetuating the weak Asian male stereotype. I’m actually not very bothered by this, mostly because anyone would be terrified if a guy with blood all over his shirt and arms came into the elevator with me. The casting isn’t scotch free, since they didn’t have to pick an Asian actor, but I don’t think that scene was big enough for it to be disastrously offensive. (I’m Chinese American, by the way.)

Hexy: But on the upside … cake!

Super Troopers! What’s your take on Nathan & Tracy’s “All-American” Brigade?

arthursarmyHexy: My initial take was “Wow. That’s a big bunch of white guys. What, not ONE non-white marine measured up to your standards of having a really big desire for revenge?”

I found 4400 guy’s story hit completely the wrong notes for me to believe it won Nathan over. I wish they’d given some sort of signal that Nathan started to have doubts then and there, because I’m sure it’s not going to be long before he has his “Uh oh, bad plan” moment.

Clara: Sign on with the “are there no POC in the military?” disgust. But as a concept, I actually thought the idea of giving abilities to the military was a clever move. This part actually made sense to me.

Mahsino: First thing I thought was, it’s nice to see young Kyle Baldwin reclaiming his role- wait, what? This isn’t The 4400? Didn’t he get his abilities the exact same way (via shot)? I smell some litigation in the future. I really thought his ability was going to be an imaginary friend sent from the future. Also, it was my impression that many of the new recruits in the military were minorities- I guess these were the real American soldiers.

What, exactly, is Tracy’s job description? I thought she was originally a damn lobbyist, she has no authority with the pentagon – neither does Nathan, the Senator from New York. It’s not like he’s attended enough sessions of congress to be on any committees that would have any pull with the DOD -and I was under the impression that the military was controlled by the Executive branch- not the Legislative branch. Methinks the Heroes writers need to retake middle-school social studies. By the way, giving a soldier with obvious PTSD abilites- EXCELLENT idea. Because after all, wasn’t your whole goal to give powers to rational, stable people, Nathan?

Erica: Bah. I was hoping for a power more interesting than simply “I’m really strong, watch me rivet a chair to the wall”, but oh well. I suppose it’s a step up from Pinehearst’s previous policy of recruiting criminals from The Company’s Level 5 cells. I agree with Mahsino — super strength and PTSD (or really any mental issues) are not an ideal combination. Niki was better at it.

Open Mic!

Clara: Having interned in a Congressional office before, I got to ask: As a member of the Senate, how the hell does Nathan have all this free time? How come he doesn’t have staffers floating around him at all times? Shouldn’t he be out and about with meeting with his constituency? Attending sessions in the Senate, at the very least?

Plus, it’s not like he has power over the military. I mean, he’s a junior senator for pete’s sake! If anybody found out his little army, nobody would be happy.

Hexy: I’m just going to start by saying ARG! I was loving this episode, absolutely loving it… until Arthur appeared on the rooftop. That was frickin’ ludicrous. They better reveal that he sucked the “Arriving Places Just At The Right Moment” power from someone a while back, because this is the second time he’s just popped into a scene with no explanation and ruined shit. Come to think of it, they were both Hiro scenes …

Is it just me, or did they completely retcon what The Haitian’s powers are? We’ve always been shown, up ’til now, that the “squishing other people’s powers” thing is unconscious, I.e. it just happens to people around him. Now apparently it’s something he does on purpose, that can be blocked? Rubbish.

Erica: Am I the only one relieved to know this farce chapter is drawing to a close next week? Here’s hoping Volume 4 doesn’t suck this bad. And also hoping that Takei has a large role in the finale :D

Tracy’s accomplishments seem to be far greater than a person in her position ought to be able to accomplish, leading one to wonder whether it’s simply bad writing, or whether she is part of some greater conspiracy. You know — first The Company, then The Other Company, now The More Secret
Company? Conspiracy theories are typically crap, though, so I bet it’s just the omnipresent Bad Writing to blame.

Sylar’s eyebrows bothered me in a few closeups — too tidy. They looked pretty fake; I guess that’s because he’s had to get rid of his real ones for Vulcan makeup. Between that and Claire’s hair, it just feels like they’re not trying anymore.

HirohangingMahsino: So it took a pile of sh-t to get here, but the writers finally managed to put out the one good episode of the 1/2 season. I sincerely believe Arthur’s entire role this season was not to give abilities to the masses, but to f-ck with Hiro Nakamura and prevent him from reaching his potential as future bad-ass. And how did Claire not get shot by NRG? I thought he was supposed to be cool. A real Company Man would have tagged and bagged her and her distracting wig.

Images and Character Bios Courtesy Of HeroesWiki.
Previously: Racialicious Heroes Archive