Thursday, December 07, 2006

NBC's Heroes: What's the Appeal?

People who know me are surprised by my love for NBC's show "Heroes." This comic book show isn't supposed to appeal to an educated adult, is it?

To which I simply say: yes. You just have to listen to what the characters' say to see why.

The questions "Heroes" poses: what is my destiny? am I special? are ones that many people grapple with.

I won't be so presumptuous as to say that everyone around the planet asks these questions, but I certainly think people growing up in the US do.

When I was doing clinical training as a therapist in a college student counseling center, this was the question of many a confused and eager undergraduate.

For some people, this question goes away as they get older. They start worrying about how to pay the bills, get married, have children, and rarely have time to think about tomorrow, forget such an existentialistic question as what they are supposed to be doing with their lives.

Yet I find myself still grappling with it, which is why "Heroes" appeals to me so much. Recently, I met with a minister who asked me about my "faith journey." He's in the opening stages of trying to persuade me to join his church. Since I haven't even been baptized, he has a long way to go, but he cleverly caught my attention with a telling summation of where I'm at in my life.

He pointed out that, with my formal education completed, it was time to determine where my calling (or, as he put it, God's calling for me) and the greatest human need combined.

In other words, it's time for me to find my destiny. And the underlying question to that (although most of us would cut out our tongues before we asked it aloud): how am I special? What is my special ability that can serve others?

Now, in real life, we can't fly or heal ourselves or read minds or travel through time and space (dammit!) Nor will we be called on to save the world, or even a city, from massive destruction. It's that fantasy scale of "Heroes" that makes the show fun.

Yet make no mistake- we all ask ourselves the exact same questions that those characters ask.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Heroes: Fallout

This episode was aptly titled; there was plenty of fallout following Sylar’s attempt on Claire’s life. So much happened, I could sympathize with Ando: “I wish destiny would lose our number.”

HRG has developed into an amazing character. On one hand, he’s completely believable as a loving, concerned father who’s trying to protect his daughter (Claire). On the other hand, watching him and Sylar face off, it was hard to determine which one would win the “Most Creepy” award. Smart money says it’s Sylar, but HRG’s mannerisms, facial expressions, and memory-wipes give Sylar a run for his money.

A subtle, but extraordinary, moment was HRG pouring glasses of chocolate milk for Claire and himself as they discussed the importance of keeping her special abilities secret. How’s that for grounding fantasy in a realistic setting?

And when Claire asked what her father had done to protect her that he wasn’t proud of myself, my first thought was: Some questions are better left unanswered. She doesn’t know the answer, but instead she’ll be in a much worse predicament: keeping her knowledge secret from her father. I don’t envy her trying to keep a secret from that guy.

Hopefully there will be more of Peter and Claire together. Nathan was the perfect character to personify Peter’s doubts in his dreams. Nathan’s nurturing tone when he told Peter “The world is bigger than you” was a chilling juxtaposition. I almost jumped myself when Nathan morphed into Sylar right before Peter woke up! I was glad Claire told Peter he was her hero; he obviously needed to hear it.

Watching Matt try to read Peter's thoughts as Peter absorbed his ability and began to read Matt's thoughts was pretty amusing.

It’s not just Peter’s self-confidence that needs strengthening; his ability to take on other people’s power seems to need a little fine-tuning as well. Initially he looked completely healthy, but by the end of the episode he resembled a walking corpse. Did his self-healing come undone?

Niki finally realized she need some serious strength herself; Jessica is out of control. I’ve read a lot of debate about who/what Jessica is. I thought of Jessica as a part of Niki’s self that Niki finds unacceptable- the side of herself that ruthlessly protects Niki and Micah. I’m leaning towards thinking Niki uses her dead sister, Jessica, to personify this part of herself (rather than the ghost of Jessica returning); I think Niki’s assertion of “You’re part of me” is accurate. I wouldn’t bet my life on it, though. It’ll be fascinating to see what’s really going on!

I could’ve sworn I saw a bullet pierce D.L.’s head and hit the tire. Did D.L. somehow manipulate matter so the bullet hit the tire instead? And if D.L. did somehow spare his head, why didn’t he spare his shoulder, too? Bullet holes are especially detrimental when you’re on the run, regardless of where they are in your body.

Rumor has it Eden was killed off about six episodes early due to a salary dispute. I wonder if Sylar can still use her brain when it’s been blown apart by a bullet? I have confidence in the writers’ ability to adjust the storyline, but poor Mohinder- who does he have now? Isaac at least has Hiro and Ando for inspiration.

Guess we’ll have to wait until January 22, 2007 to find out. Curse these mid-season breaks!

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