'Heroes: Season 3' Impressions

April 17, 2009 § Leave a comment

When Heroes began its third run late last year I was quite ready to give up hope. While it never plummeted to the depths of season two’s sheer awfulness — a season of television so bad that Tim Kring felt he had to apologise for it — it never really captured my attention, either. For a while it looked like Heroes was on the ropes and nearly out of the ring, as it trudged on to its inevitable doom: cancellation.

But as the first half of season three closed, we saw the seeds of resurrection in a new storyline being introduced: Nathan Petrelli, a U.S. senator — who also, by the way, can fly — leading a government task force to round-up these people with superhuman powers, with the intention of imprisoning them in a concentration camp until such a time a ‘cure’ can be found.

It wasn’t particularly original seeing as another show — The 4400 — had made that very aspect its central premise. And the Guantanamo and Holocaust parallels were also strikingly obvious (I can imagine several television writers owing a heavy debt to the policies of the Bush administration). But a good idea is a good idea, and the series regained its pace and sense of excitement, previously thought lost at the end of season one. While some of the focus still remained on — what I’d consider — the weaker characters, such as Matt Parkman and Tracy Straus, their story-lines were actually interesting for a change and were better integrated into the main story arc. Other minor characters, which either clogged up the screen or were just so annoying that you’d wish they’d disappear, actually did just that — or rather, they were either killed off or just didn’t really feature all that much. (I think we can all be thankful for Mohinder going MIA for episodes at a time — surely one of the most pompous, hypocritical, obnoxious characters I’ve ever seen.)

Instead, the series has re-focused itself on far more compelling,  complex, charismatic characters such as Angela Petrelli, Noah Bennet, Sylar, Nathan Petrelli and Emile Danko — all of which have a streak of grey in their feathers.

This change in redirection has turned the series around, leading up to one of the best episodes of television I have seen this year in the guise of episode 21, ‘Into Asylum’. Remarkably, this is the only episode James Chory has directed in the Heroes series, but I really hope it’s not his last. In the scene below his talent shows clearly, cleverly juxtaposing the song Runaway by Del Shannon with Danko and Sylar’s tense confrontation in the car — reminiscent of some of Chris Carter’s work on the X-Files:

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