Rock Bottom: The Racialicious Review of ‘Heroes’ 4.3

By Special Correspondent Arturo R. García

“Ink”? The way this week’s episode slogged along, it was more like molasses.

The story, such as it was, mostly revolved around the Delusional Duo: Claire and Peter, who each found themselves being courted and, as usual, fell for it. In Claire’s case, not only did she tell the increasingly creepy Gretchen about her powers – not that she had much of a choice after her swandive out the window last week – but invited her to become her roommate, arguably just days after her former roommate was found dead outside her window.

A note of further explanation: the character of Gretchen has been crafted so ham-handedly it’s hard to get anything other than a Single White Female rip-off out of her interactions with Claire. If Gretchen is meant to ultimately be a villain, the surprise was lost long ago. If she turns out to be a quirky sidekick or a heroine, it’s liable to ring hollow after nuggets of dialogue like “some things are inevitable.”

Tat1As for Peter, at least his manipulation was carried out more skillfully, as The Mysterious Samuel, posing as an injured beneficiary of Pete’s Speedy Samaritan policy, ingratiated himself to Peter for reasons yet unknown. Apparently Sam wants Peter to replace his dead brother at the helm of the Mysterious Carnival. In a curious touch, Samuel follows up on Peter’s advice and visits his posh childhood home, where he’s turned away because the current tenants are having a party. You’d think that a guy as cunning as Sam would figure out that even non-carnival folk aren’t going to just let a guy in the door. But because he’s EEEVIL and Mysterious, he instead throws a sinkhole-sized hissyfit, while branding Peter with the Mysterious Compass Tattoo. At least it was on his wrist and not his lower back.

Along the way, we meet another new character – and thank goodness, because we don’t have enough people to keep track of on this show – in Emma, whose hearing impairment begins to evolve into an advanced form of synesthesia, as sound waves begin to look like waves of light to her, leading to a sweet Sprint advertisement moment where she can play the cello by following the colors in the chords.

Once again, it was up to Sylar to make the proceedings watchable, as his continued harassment of Matt Sr. during a stake-out and questioning of a suspect provided not just the episode’s only source of tension, but the unintended blessing of a perfect idea for a buddy-cop spin-off:

This detective’s new partner isn’t just in his ear – he’s in his head! Tune in for Two Of A Mind, Mondays on NBC!

C’mon, with Heroes’ ratings falling even further this week, you have to admit: that couldn’t be any worse than what we’re seeing now.

The Racialicious Scorecard
Nobody: At least not in the core cast; The Haitian got name-checked by Noah – as “The Haitian,” of course. We saw POCs as props and exposition points in the forms of Peter’s partner, the guy who served Pete his process from Samuel and Matt’s partner, but nobody of substance.

While we’re here, let’s bring in the Roundtable for their thoughts …

So, gang, just how bad was this episode? Has the shark truly been jumped?

Diana: Really bad.
Andrea: Diana, I was already a-cussing when they showed highlights from the boring-ass premiere–I really didn’t need to review my boredom. But I knew this show was aiming for the ramp when, yes, neither Samuel or his tatted synchophant, errrmm, girlfriend couldn’t tie a necktie. The show just went ::Bronx cheer:: from there.
jen*: I contemplated just cutting it off early, but instead I played games on facebook for most of the ep. After a fairly strong season opener [as compared to snoozers from most of last season], they immediately dropped back into the formula: Big Start, filler, filler, filler, Big End. Now, I only watch for the Roundtable.


As you know, I’m not a fan of how Gretchen’s character is being presented. But let’s get your thoughts on her.
Mahsino: Ugh. I’m not a fan. That is all.
Diana: She’s like every girl I tried to avoid in college.
Andrea: Ya know, I was sort of sympathetic towards Gretchen at first because she’s came off as socially awkward, even with her boundary-pushing comments about what happened to Claire in Texas. (How many of us haven’t done something similar in a social setting?) My opinion turned in this ep when Gretchen used her struggle with bulimia in order to manipulate the truth–and trust–out of Claire. That–and Gretchen–just aren’t OK with me now.
jen*: I knew she looked familiar! It’s Gracie from The Nanny. Just…not as cute anymore. And way more annoying. I feel like she’s only Claire’s friend right now so she can die in a later episode. Which I’m looking forward to. And no, I wasn’t really into her being a catastrophe-groupie of Claire-Bear’s, either. If these two end up kissing, I think it’s gonna be really skeevy.

On the bright side, as ever, is Sylar. Is it me, or is his quest for a body inadvertently turning him into a more sympathetic character?
Mahsino: Full disclosure time: Sylar, in that episode, is the same brand of asshole I am in real life, so the scenes between him and Matt warmed my cynical heart. The issue I had with the whole “kidnapper” plot was: who cuts out letters for ransom notes anymore? I mean really.
Diana: If he knew the perp was in the closet with a gun, he should know where his body is. I’m just sayin. Sylar gets no sympathy from me.
Mahsino: I think Sylar knows Matt pulled the ol’ switcheroo with his and Nate’s body, but he might not know where Nate is or necessarily how to get back to his old body.
Andrea: Hmph. The only thing I thought while watching him on-screen was, “Zachary Quinto? Don’t you have a Star Trek sequel to film or something?”
jen*: Andrea, I’m with you – Sylar’s in way more of this season than I expected…and I’m liking it way less than I expected. Maybe it’s because he’s in scenes with Parkman. I much prefer his time with/as Nathan. It was nice to see him messing with Matt, but then I felt like my time was wasted with all ‘body-in-the-closet’ business. I could’ve been watching last week’s episode of Psych that I needed to catch up on. (Dule Hill, Kenan Thompson, and Jaleel White? Hello!) However, I kinda like the moments of pure Sycrazy, like when Parkman sees Sylar’s reflection in the mirror, pulls his gun and whips around – as though he’s actually going to shoot him.

And then there’s Samuel. Who knew he was so emo?
Mahsino: Yes, that’s exactly what this show needs: another Hot Topic reject. At least he isn’t sporting the man-bangs to show how deep and complex he is.
Diana: Now, that’s how to leave a party. He may give Sylar a run for his money for the Heroes top body count.
Andrea: Emo? Really? See, what I got was an class stereotype–the embittered working-class stiff with attachment to/rebellion against the ruling class. And Samuel’s vague brogue just adds an air of “exotica” to the upstairs/downstairs/outside dynamic.
jen*: I was just getting the air of ‘spoiled-child-syndrome’. I suppose they’re going to stretch this Carnivale thing out as far as it will go – too bad they haven’t tried getting any of the writers … But carnie-tatt-girl still seems like more of a prop than a person. With such rich subject matter, so much more could be done. Instead, Sam imploded a house. Spectacular – but with no exposition? Still boring.

Open Mic!
Mahsino: I don’t get Emma’s character. Last time I checked, seeing sounds isn’t a special supernatural ability. I feel like she’s another possible love interest for Peter in which case I would tell her to ask him where Caitlin is.
Diana: Yes Emma’s character is a bit dicey. But it does look like she’s going to be Peter’s new love interest. He was quite enraptured by her fiddle playing. I was disappointed by the lack of melanin and the overall story line. FAIL.
Mahsino: I will say, there was a lot of color (albeit in the background) this episode. The extras were almost reflective of what I’ve been told New York is like.
jen*: Really? Another blonde girl? I think it’s super-cool that she can see sound – she should get her own show and forget all these crazy-Carnietrellis. Peter’s partner is probably the smartest character on the show, right now, and I hate that he realizes he’s been cast as the chauffer for Speedy Petey. But is the synesthesia supposed to be a power or not? Cuz It’d be kind of a downer to go from Speedy Petey to … musicvision. But wait – does Peter have Sam’s sinkhole ability now? They touched – right?
Andrea: My irritation with this show is how much it’s going the way of the X-Men flicks, namely the powers themselves are the stand-ins for all “difference,” including race and ethnicity. So, Kring and Co. can dismiss the actual characters of color because it’s taken care of via the abilities and the white people who have them. That’s how the behind-the scenes team think they’re getting away with this sham. As much as Kring & Co. may even feel they’re giving props to deaf communities with Emma, I wouldn’t be surprised if she suffers a mortal or vanishing fate like Mohinder, Micah, Monica, and the other CoCs because deafness may be too “real” for the Heroes creatives to handle. I echo Diana: total FAIL.

Images and character bios courtesy of HeroesWiki
Previously: Racialicious Heroes Archive

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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.

Latoya Peterson (DC) is the Owner and Editor (not the Founder!) of Racialicious, Arturo García (San Diego) is the Managing Editor, Andrea Plaid (NYC) is the Associate Editor. You can email us at

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