Okay, I can’t be the only one who immediately googled “can the aurora borealis / the sun set the earth on fire and wipe out all living things” tonight, right? Because that revelation at the end of last night’s episode sounded a lot like some grade-A Heroes-season-three baloney to me. But surprise! It’s actually a real thing. The Earth can actually go up in flames like that, kinda. It’s called a solar storm, and it’s happened before, actually.
That aside, only three other things happened in “The Lion’s Den,” which features the evos’ fragmented (and pretty boring) story lines finally beginning to intertwine.
The first: Erica Kravid and Noah Bennet worked together until well after the June 13 bombing, and she has whatever information he made René help him forget.
While “good-guy amnesiac finds out he was really a bad guy all along” is a silly trope at this point, it doesn’t quite apply since Noah has been complicated his whole damn career, and we’ve all known it, including him. What is interesting is that now we know whatever information he wanted to forget was evil enough that only a genocidal psychopath (Erica) would want to remember it.
Here’s how that went: Erica sends Harris/his finger-clone out to the Renautas gates to scan the Evernow cosplay crowd for Miko and Ren using one of their fancy new evo-detecting E.P.I.C. visors (which look pretty familiar if you ask me). Meanwhile, she goes down to a bunker where a stoner-cool-professor-genius-type guy and his team are hard at work on what looks like a doomsday machine, which can zap large objects out of existence (or perhaps, like Tommy’s power, to a different location). Honestly, every aspect of this show is so heavy-handed that even the Once Upon a Time writers room would be like, “Chill out, guys.” Erica is a straight-up eugenicist, so unless she’s Sylar in disguise, I’m frustrated that we haven’t gotten any insight into her motives so far beyond garden-variety extreme megalomania and having had a few too many sips of the Lean In Kool-Aid.
Erica’s daughter Taylor (who is the father, do you think we’ll find out?) calls her from their multi-million-dollar tech-CEO house “crying,” apologizing profusely for acting out, and asking her to come home so they can talk about it. She obliges ... and walks right into an armed-Bennet-and-Quentin shaped trap. They just watched Molly shoot herself in the head, and thanks to some Noah’s Ark–like storage they discover afterward, are pretty sure Molly was serious about Erica “killing 7 billion people,” so they want answers. Unfortunately, all they really get is the above revelation — as well as a few claims that I don’t believe for a second, like “Hiro Nakamura died in the bombing,” “Molly Walker was a selfish crybaby who couldn’t take the heat,” and “I didn’t have anything to do with Claire’s death” — before another of the Harrises, arriving to deliver Hiro’s/Miko’s katana sword, rounds the corner with a second gun. At that very moment, Miko and Ren, who have successfully avoided the other Harris at Renautas despite coming into his E.P.I.C. line of vision several times (I think this proves that the clones don’t actually share short-term memories, since Harris Prime would definitely have recognized Miko in that crowd), literally jump right through the glass door, shattering it (like in a video game!), grab the katana sword, and distract Harris and Co. with their swift exit just long enough for Noah and Quentin and Taylor to bail as well. (Miko goes back into the video game, and Ren has a handheld version of the game all of a sudden to assist on the outside. Is it just me, or is anyone else getting sick of the Japanese characters being written as such literal cartoon characters?)
Second, Tommy is adopted! Plus, his dad is an important evo and is locked up somewhere!
Okay, I suppose this didn’t come as a total shock, but at least we’ve been assured that Pennyman is not his father. When we loop back around with him this week, he’s being bagged and tagged by whatever government agency it is that rounds up evos like cattle (or the Jews, if we’re gonna be honest with ourselves about the metaphor here). That involves lots of samples and a subcutaneous tracking device, which apparently becomes very dangerous if you go outside your designated zone. Tommy gets interrogated by a smarmy G-man (evo-Nazi, basically) who sets up the perfect expositional conversation about how laws protect norms from evos,and keep evos like Tommy (and his norm mom) on the run and living in fear. But theeeeeennnn Tommy gets bested — he doesn’t know his real last name, and biologically speaking, he can’t be his mom’s kid: Her blood type is O-negative, his is AB-positive.
Obviously, this gets him all teenagered up, enough to impulsively decide to teleport himself home, where he finds his bigot landlord taping an eviction notice to their front door. Even more furious, he goes instead to Emily’s, where she tries to tell him that, just like being a weirdo, it’s perfectly fine to be adopted. They stand in each other’s breathing space again, but Tommy’s still pissy and suddenly decides it’s best for him to teleport right back to his mom in the hospital instead of kiss this girl who is beginning to look and sound a lot more like a Pleasantville prop than an actual character.
Tommy Mommy is awake! How convenient! They have a tearful argument about the whole adoption thing, then — surprise! Pennyman shows up, and tells him about his surveillance mission — as well as the fact that Tommy is going to have to help save the world. Not really a crazy revelation, given that’s literally all anybody in this franchise does, but it’s pretty crazy to Tommy, who just says, “Nah.” Teenagers!
And third, we finally met the ombrekinetic we’ve all been waiting for! It’s Phoebe, a.k.a. the Nightmare Queen, a.k.a. One Goth to Rule Them All, (but really) a.k.a. the Shadow!
It all starts with Malina and Farah, who are still heading south; they make a pit stop in logging country at a construction site, where Farah says she’s supposed to meet somebody ... who never comes. The guy she called to report this, “Casper,” is totally our heretofore nameless friend Pennyman (initially I only had a hunch, but then it was confirmed by IMDb. It seemed a prudent spoiler to spoil), but even he didn’t pick up, leaving them to fight another E.P.I.C. visor’d Harris clone and a couple of seemingly norm cronies, who have tracked them down with the intention of obtaining a “baby” from Farah. Malina might be that baby, but the Renautas folks don’t seem to know that. They corner the two in an abandoned warehouse, and while Malina is able to ward them off with a bizarre, invisible, sonic-boom-y attack the first time, she can’t fight Phoebe, who shows up out of nowhere with her tentacular shadow tendrils and helps Harris finally shoot Farah in the back. They try to run, but only make it as far as a storage room before she collapses, unable to go any further. She gives Malina a blood-soaked manila envelope and tells her to leave and stay hidden. Malina gets away by hiding on a logging truck. Where she’ll end up, who knows, but I’m guessing it’s somewhere Renautas doesn’t want her to be.
By the end, Erica and Harris have made their way back to Renautas, where the Death Star engineer tells them that the event — which is the “aurora” Malina has been trying to control — is approaching more quickly than they had anticipated. So it turns out a solar-radiation storm is going to engulf the Earth and kill every living thing on it. And for some reason, Erica believes this is a “fresh start” scenario. Looking forward to that explanation.
Two other things of note, but not really that interesting yet: Carlos thought it best to confront Evil Paul (whose actual character name is Captain James Dearing, FYI) about the kidnapping of Jose and Cloudpriest at his own police station ... but a box of E.P.I.C. goggles arrives minutes after him, and Dearing’s fellow officers immediately detect his superpower and catch him, hooking him up to one of those sedation-pack things (the Guantánamo-looking ones from late-series Heroes) and loading him into a van to be taken (probably) to Renautas. Dressed in his El Vengador: Medieval Knight Edition™ costume, though, Carlos kidnaps him right back, on the condition that he brings him to his family.
Also, Luke spent the entire episode crying in his and Joanne’s old house, mourning his son and even calling up his business partner — turns out he’s a dentist! Though I don’t believe a hottie like Zachary Levi would, in any universe, ever be uncool enough to become a dentist — and offering to hand over his half of their practice. Then he uses his conduction power (which is what it is, it seems) to burn down the house and walk away, leaving his wedding ring behind. What are the odds that his son is actually an evo/is alive somewhere? My money’s on “highly likely.” Nobody ever actually dies in this show. Even Jimmy Jean-Louis, who plays the Haitian, is listed as appearing in six episodes, which means he’s coming back, too! What’s reality, I guess, when everyone’s got superpowers and is about to be deep-fried by the sun?