Heroes Reborn Recap: Definitely Not a LARPer

Aislinn Paul as Phoebe Frady. Photo: NBC
Heroes Reborn
Episode Title
"Game Over”
Editor’s Rating

Did ... I ... was that … am I tripping, or has Heroes Reborn suddenly redeemed itself? I mean, it certainly hasn’t reached Heroes season one status yet, not by any stretch of the imagination; no “event mini-series” could ever truly live up to its original, I think (unless you count the Sherlock Christmas specials). But given that the first half of this series has given audiences no justification whatsoever for its existence, as though a Heroes plot-generating bot had simply been switched back on after gathering dust in an NBC-owned warehouse for the past five years, suddenly, this week’s turn of events feel like the beginnings of a show with a unique personality and direction.

I guess I would be lying if I said the return of Hiro Nakamura wasn’t 90 percent responsible for this. May Masi Oka live 1,000 years.

SO, let’s go in ascending order of importance:

Luke is dead in the eyes as he proceeds with a rather dramatic plan to kill himself: leaving a message for Joanne telling her he burnt down the house, hurling his flip phone into the sea, buying a boat and literally demanding it be identical to his son’s toy version, filling a backpack with bricks and strapping it to his body, and hopping off the deck into a calm harbor and the waiting arms of sweet death. Lucky for him, Malina hopped off her truck full of logs at that exact harbor a bit ago, and thanks to a cute wordless exchange the two had earlier involving superpowered abuse of the vending machines, she recognizes him from afar when he drops into the water. Whatever energy she can control with her power — magnetic fields? gravity? the Force? — converts the harbor into a SodaStream and fizzes him back onto dry land, where, coincidentally, he quickly finds a reason to live: He knows the kid in her photo, the one in the packet Farah gave her: It’s Tommy, who is probably the Zan to her Jayna as far as world-saving responsibilities are concerned. What do we want to bet they’re siblings? Tommy, on the other hand, is busy wilding out, teleporting to Paris with Emily (who convinces him to believe in himself with 9th Wonder comics, which she suddenly knows a lot about) and finding enough of a personality (if overconfident and stupid) to rip out his tracker tag, have a normal, teenage conversation, and fiiiiiiiinally make out with this girl.

What’s an adventure to free your loved ones from kidnappers without a little torture to start you off? Noah/Quentin/Taylor dunk-tank Harris for the whereabouts of Hiro/Phoebe/Francis, while Carlos beats the location of José and CloudPriest out of James the Bad Cop. Since Harris and James are both smart dudes, they remind their captors that they’re way more valuable alive, and agree to lead the way into the belly of Renautas’s research building and a concentration-camp-style evo compound called Sunstone Manor, respectively. Carlos is an alcoholic who has been sober for an alarming amount of time, so he can’t be in his right mind when he takes James at his word that you can only enter the compound if you’re an evo, and not only uncuffs him but also, without skipping a beat, immediately swallows a tiny vial of what looks like blood when James says it’ll fool the evo swab at the approaching Manor. It’s not long before he’s coughing up his own blood and passing out, maybe on his way to becoming an evo himself? Is that how this works? Vampire-style?

Going on intel from Harris, Taylor returns to the Matrix-pod-people basement where they originally found Molly and Francis, only to find the place cleared out; she has a cry but then channels her rage into breaking into her mom’s office, copying all the security footage onto a thumb drive and stealing what appears to be a copy of Mohinder Suresh’s evo manuscript. Dibs on Erica’s beautiful office when she’s eventually stopped and/or killed.

Meanwhile, the big stuff: It turns out Miko is rescuing Hiro, not her father, Otomo — and also, there seem to be about as many Mikos as there are Harrises at this point. The Renautas inventor, whose name is Richard Schwenkman (no joke, Dick Schwenkman), and his team have been reprogramming Evernow because it’s the perfect fortress in which to trap the “Master of Space and Time” and sap his powers for their time machine. Schwenkman reveals that the “real” Miko died in a car crash and this Miko is ... a program, I think. She’s actually called “an aberration,” “a virus,” and “life taken from a dead girl,” so that’s what I’m getting. Anyway, didn’t Harris say something about having killed her before? So this “car crash” sounds very suspicious.

Schwenkman and Co. camouflage the Fortress where Hiro’s being held in the game ... which doesn’t seem to be that challenging an obstacle, given that Miko can slip between the real world and Evernow and effortlessly bypass most security systems. On her way to the Renautas research basement, a.k.a. the Fortress IRL, she runs into Noah and Quentin following Harris downstairs; they make their mutual goal and allyship clear (also determined: she’s “definitely not a LARPer,” thanks, Q), except Harris gets away (and within a few minutes makes more of himself, fetching demon child Phoebe too, but more on that in a minute). Miko and Ren video-game-fight together to defeat a boss level, the “Kaiju Bandit,” until Ren’s computer battery dies and he has to sneak into the building in a shipping box while Miko battles Dark Miko, a Zelda-esque Renautas creation meant to psych Miko out of freeing Hiro, which she must sacrifice herself to do. (I think because when Hiro is freed, the game ends, and she with it?)

Be it human bravery or programming, she clearly has no problem with this fate, at all, as she beheads Dark Miko and, without hesitation, sticks her (Hiro’s) sword into the keyhole, freeing THE BEST THING THAT THIS FRANCHISE EVER GAVE US, Hiro Nakamura. He’s grown a frankly terrifying mullet while imprisoned in a zero-dimensional world, but he arrives just in time to stop Harris’s bullet from killing Noah (again). In the meantime, Noah has been questioning and shooting Schwenkman in the foot for information when the many Harrises show up with Phoebe, a.k.a. the Shadow.

Ah, Quentin, we hardly knew ye; I’m sorry you had to die, but also not sorry at all because, thanks to your attempted heroism, we now know that your sister’s murder-tendrils are the most terrifying power in fictional existence, not to mention the most unstable. (And it turns out they’re like René’s, in that they come with a side of “your powers don’t work around me.”) The “sad, lonely goth teen girl manipulated by a beautiful, rich CEO into helping her commit genocide” story line is a pretty smart one; Aislinn Paul (who was on Degrassi!!) does a great job of eliciting sympathy already — “Erica gave me a purpose!” — and we’ve barely heard her speak. Anyway, Hiro and Noah, after some hesitance from the wisely tentative former (and an artfully subtle reference to the butterfly effect), are going back to June 13 to stop the whole attack anyway, to correct Erica and Renautas’s megalomaniacal time-meddling crimes, so it’s not like any of these people will stay dead regardless. By season three of the original series, I would have been very angry about this kind of thing, but honestly, now that we’ve got some purpose injected back into this story, everyone deserves a little redo.