Heroes Reborn Recap: One of Us, One of Them

Dylan Bruce as Captain Dearing. Photo: NBC
Heroes Reborn
Episode Title
Under the Mask
Editor’s Rating

No matter how preposterous they get, one thing about superpower franchises is certain: they will never, ever stop. Not that they should; quite the opposite, actually: As any X-Men fan will tell you (okay, maybe not the purists, but certainly those whose dollars make the films a hit), even in an age of posthumanism, there’s something completely transfixing, not to mention timeless, about the concept of normal people suddenly being able to do things that, formally speaking, were supposedly relegated only to those who come from another planet or have been bitten by a radioactive spider. When ordinary people become extraordinary — preferably a lot of them, in different ways, all at once, for no reason — there’s an inexorable thrill, a kid-in-a-candy-store vibe that gives your story an excitement handicap, a real head start that a storyteller has to struggle to ruin.

I didn’t think it was possible for me, as an unrepentant fan even of X-Men: The Last Stand, to have my confectionary excitement deflated, but Heroes did its damnedest and won that battle in a landslide. Heroes Reborn hasn’t won yet, thankfully, but it’s largely because we haven’t seen much power-peacocking out of our characters just yet. Right now it’s more about corporations and civil rights, which are of course important, but which other shows have done far better (see: Orphan Black). But if the flashy stuff — Claire getting impaled and thrown from windows, Nathan flying, Elle electrocuting everything in sight, and of course, Sylar and Peter doing all of the above — doesn’t show up soon, it just might win again.

We open this week with that lily-white Anthropologie model in the massive coat who can control the Aurora Borealis. (Hmm, it’s almost like these writers read Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy.) This time we learn her name is Malina, and she’s joined by a mostly invisible Pakistani woman who seems to be her mentor, because she’s coaching her, saying her powers will soon be needed.

Left by Luke and Joanne without a ride, Noah and Quentin steal a car, and after much pleading, Noah agrees to take Quentin, who was shot in the chaos last week, to the hospital in Odessa. Turns out this is a very bad idea because — as Noah does not remember thanks to René’s help — the last time he was here, on the day of the bombing, he hurt a bunch of people and kidnapped Molly Walker! Also, according to security footage he forces a guard to show him at gunpoint, he saw Claire’s body in the morgue, which would explain why he was so sure she had died, except for the fact that she literally survived an autopsy in the first season of Heroes, and I’m pretty sure he knows that. Just to reiterate: CLAIRE BENNET IS IMMORTAL. WHY IS THIS A PLOTLINE.

Anyway, a freshly slinged Quentin finds Noah in the security bay and they escape. Back in the car, Noah seems convinced that a timestamp glitch in the footage he saw means that Hiro Nakamura had something to do with it, which is hilarious, because it implies he has never seen a digital recording glitch without the help of time-travelers, for the sole reason that technology sucks.

All you need to know about Luke and Joanne this week is that (a) Luke is inexplicably feeling worse and worse about their vigilantism all of a sudden, and thinking a lot about the past wherein he and Joanne and their son were happy (and alive together), and (b) suddenly Luke has powers, and they look quite similar to Ted Sprague’s uncontrollable radioactivity, which almost destroyed New York City in the original series’s first season. Seems a little lazy to reuse all these powers over and over again, especially for the sake of plot urgency, but I’ll allow it if we finally get to meet Quentin’s sister and see her umbrakinesis (god I love that word) in action.

Back in the lobby of Yamagato Tower where we left Miko, a bunch of guards try to capture her to no avail, but then we meet Harris (Harris Prime, to be precise — but more on that in a minute), a serious-looking black dude in an impossibly well-tailored suit who decks her in, like, two hits and takes her sword, claiming it’s not hers — it’s Hiro Nakamura’s. If Masi Oka doesn’t show up soon, I’m going to be really mad.

Upstairs in a conference room ripped from the set of Inception, Harris’ boss, the CEO of Renautas Erica Kravid, is giving a little speech to her board members about how E.P.I.C., the evo-powered system that’s supposed to “save the world,” is definitely on track for launch. Afterward, Harris brings her the Hiro sword and they talk about Miko and how for some reason it’s impossible that she’s her father’s daughter.

Meanwhile, Ren has snuck into the lobby and takes a picture of Erica and her posse as they’re leaving, conveniently talking about torturing Miko for information riiiiight as they pass him. He steals a badge and makes his way upstairs just in time to miss Harris talking to Miko about a mysterious “accident” that he claims resulted in her death ... in the past? Then Ren rolls in and distracts him from chopping her up with a bunch of knives long enough for Miko to use the cleaver to chop off his hand ... which immediately grows back after the kids skedaddle, off to America to retrieve the sword from Erica at Midian. (P.S. Can anyone please explain the difference between Renautas and Midian? Is Renautas Midian’s parent company, or what?) Then suddenly for no reason Harris (Clone) appears, thus revealing his talent to basically be Claire’s healing power on steroids.

Carlos follows one of Oscar’s dirty cops — who, oh happy day, is played by Dylan Bruce, a.k.a. our beloved Paul Dierden (RIP) from Orphan Black — to a warehouse where he and two other dirty cops are unsuccessfully torturing a woman for the whereabouts of Oscar’s underground railroad. (This show really loves its race allegories, huh?) Dirty Cop Paul gives up and throws the woman out the window, which seems excessive, except she can fly, and also he secretly put a tracking device on her. Then he sees Carlos lurkin’ and gives chase, but Cloud Priest saves him by turning him into a cloud, too. (Honestly, I would watch an Odd Couple–esque spinoff starring Cloud Priest and MRA Pennyman — the latter of whom we’ll check in on in a minute.) Carlos is mad that Cloud Priest saved him, so he dresses up in Oscar’s Vengador costume and follows the rebel woman to her club’s secret hideout to warn her about the tracker. They get away just in time, but then Paul, who we find out has superstrength (finally, an awesome new power!), shows up and kicks the everloving bejesus out of Carlos, whom he thinks is Vengador back from the dead. Carlos can’t be dead, of course, but I’ll be really pissed if he’s not on crutches next week, because damn, that was a beating.

Cool Girlfriend Taylor delivers Molly via private jet to Midian, whatever the hell that is, but her telekinetic grifter boyfriend Francis is told to wait behind, which definitely means they’re going to kill him or something, notes Molly, who cleverly begins chipping away at her confidence and conscience on the flight. She’s starting to get somewhere with Taylor just as they’re about to take her to E.P.I.C. when out of nowhere Noah and Quentin bust in to save her. Of course, Noah terrifies her, and she says she’d rather take her chances with the evil corporation planning to use her like a Minority Report precog than go with him. He must’ve done some terrifying stuff he doesn’t remember! Anyway, then Harris shows up — or Harris’s clone? It’s unclear, but one of them is up in the Arctic to hunt down Malina or find the storm she’s trying to control in the Northern Lights — and hooks her up to the E.P.I.C. machine, which is made to “digitize” her power to locate people. Meanwhile, Erica — who slut-shames Taylor, her daughter, for sleeping with Francis, who apparently was her evo partner, à la Primatech’s old strategy — reveals E.P.I.C. at a very Apple-y press event: it’s basically Cerebro if Cerebro were an app for Oculus Rift. She uses a pair of E.P.I.C. goggles to identify an evo in the audience, who is immediately carried away by security. The theme of this fall’s television season, if you hadn’t noticed, is “surveillance is terrifying.”

Finally, the teens. Oh, teens. You are all so cute, teening all over the place. When we meet up with Tommy he is teening in his room, doing pushups for exercise like he always does naturally. Tommy’s mom is brilliant, which means she probably has a latent power also, and can tell he’s fixing to go to a party, because he’s wearing his favorite shirt for a night in. He mentions he’s been getting creepy texts and she loses it, forbidding him to leave the house. But oh no, Tommy is a teen, and he teleports himself out the door, looking like a toddler who just discovered that tantrums lead to getting his way. He goes to the party, which he has supplied with (teleport-stolen) beer, which makes him very popular with the popular kids. Of course, Emily is sad about this, because stealing is wrong and maybe she liked him for being himself, yet she’s still dating Chad and oh my godddd I feel like this plotline was written by aliens trying to recreate the American teen experience. Anyway, he gets a little drunk and offers to walk Emily home, but the pair doesn’t get very far before they run into Tommy’s mom. (Who has been furiously growling at none other than MRA Pennyman, whom she finds lurking outside the house party and who claims to be fulfilling a promise to protect Tommy? They definitely know each other, and Pennyman is probably the one sending those creepy texts.) She scoops him up and whisks him away, telling him they need to leave town again. Tommy tries to protest, but stops when they realize suddenly that all the streetlights in view have turned red simultaneously, even though the roads are all empty. His mom speeds away, but suddenly, enacting my least-favorite disaster trope, they’re (definitely purposely) T-boned on the driver’s side by an unidentified car. Who is trying to nab Tommy? What is his mom’s power?!

All right, fine. I’ll bite.