Not all bad TV is created equal, and the follow-up to last week’s Reborn cliff-hanger was a great reminder of this fact. Consider the sheer volume of ridiculous information that has been thrown at us over the past three episodes, especially last night’s. If this were a bad bad show — like, say, the backend of the original Heroes (should we just give up and call it Heroes: TOS now, Star Trek–style?) — we would have called b.s. on nearly all of it by now. Sorry, Hiro raised Nathan Petrelli’s grandson, you said? And taught him Japanese? And, wait, Angela has been raising her great-granddaughter? In ... a convent? But ... she has a brand-new rose-gold iPhone 6S? Yeah, okay, this has been great, but I gotta run. Talk to ya never!
And yet, it’s actually amazing watching this miniseries tie all its weird loose ends together, simply because it’s given us reason to trust its madness. There’s just enough sense tied in there – a straightforward consistency; a basic grip on theoretical physics; rules about dying and staying dead (and the consequences when it doesn’t stick) – that the crazy, when it pops up, is mostly forgiven. At any rate, it makes for a lot more yelling at the screen.
And yes, those things mentioned above actually happened this week. Everything is happening almost exactly as it did before, only now we’re getting the details: the bomb went off, and it’s being pinned on Mohinder, who is dead but apparently has a Mystique-like impostor making videos on his behalf. Future Noah does indeed shoot Erica Kravid, but Past/Present Noah knocks him(self) down, which sends the bullet into her thigh instead of a vital organ (though that did get awfully close to the femoral artery). The universe doesn’t implode when the two Noahs see each other, but it does get more annoying, because they immediately start yelling at ... each ... other? At himself? This is why time travel is dangerous, kids. The minutia alone. Anyway, they go into an unused operating room and yell at each other some more while Molly Walker and Caspar/Pennyman, both of whom have caught up with them by now, look on anxiously. Ultimately, the Noahs split up, one with Molly to find Hiro, and the other with Pennyman to get his memory wiped and return to the rubble, where he began the series.
The latter pair are briefly waylaid by Harris and – surprise, another guest-starring return – Matt Parkman! He’s a “company man” for Renautas, but has only just enough time to pull the “Claire died in childbirth” information out before Caspar rolls Noah a penny, thus erasing the rest of the information – that there are two infants, and they’ve been sent back in time – inaccessible by Matt’s mind-reading powers. Alas, it’s a quick cameo; Caspar takes out the armed Harris clone and suddenly Matt feels bad enough about Claire dying and all that he just ... lets Noah go. Easy!
Erica doesn’t bleed out in the stairwell, unfortunately, thanks to Quentin, who thinks he can blackmail her into telling him where Phoebe is. Bless him, he doesn’t yet know he’s essentially talking to Baby Hitler meets Emma Frost; she blackmails him right back to carry her into the hospital. She actually follows through on her side of the bargain and brings him to meet with the now-super-goth (read: vitamin-D-deficient, underslept, forced-to-create-huge-clouds-of-darkness-in-a-basement-all-day) version of his sister. She does the whole “Erica gave me a purpose!” thing again, which is apparently enough to convince him that Renautas is doing good for the world, because once Future Noah returns to the future (er, the present), Quentin is (a) not dead, murdered by his own sister, and (b) working undercover for Erica and ratting out Noah and the revelation that they should be looking for teenage twins, not one infant. Still, I’m guessing Erica will try to kill Phoebe and he’ll redeem himself in the end.
Speaking of twins! Future Noah and a very dark-sounding Molly head to the house where her powers say they’ll find Hiro’s powers, but not Hiro. Luckily Hiro is also at the house, but that’s a fortunate byproduct of the events of 1999. Here’s what ended up happening: The power-absorbing powers the Petrelli brothers had in TOS seem to have been handed down to Nathan Jr. (though why they immediately assumed it was a male trait passed to Nathan and not Malina is a question for the patriarchy, and maybe a geneticist). That’s why Claire died: He sucked up her powers in childbirth and couldn’t return them. Apparently he can also only suck up one power at a time, though, so when Hiro and Angela Petrelli jump back in time with the babies, Nathan dropped his mom’s ability and picked up Hiro’s space-and-time-hopping ability. These people seem to be doing a lot of rapid jumping to conclusions regarding powers, but whatever.
To make sure Nathan doesn’t take Malina’s powers, too, they separate them — Angela takes Malina to the aforementioned convent, and Hiro is left by the side of the road holding Nathan, who immediately poops. I guess over the next 15 years Hiro meets Nathan’s “mom,” marries her, and raises Nathan with her as his own son. (And yet when he gives his son a comic book and an inspirational speech and chooses to stay behind to fight and die for them, he and his wife just ... hug?) When Noah and Molly show up, he’s got a bunch of gray hair, and he and Nathan have whole urgent conversations in Japanese, which culminate in Nathan successfully teleporting a Harris clone into Noah’s line of fire and saying, “Yatta!”
I think we just jumped the shark on that one. Pity. Lucky for us, Caspar wiped all his memories.
How has Angela Petrelli not just lost her damn mind and set everything on fire by now? This woman has by now had to deal with a scary, homicidal megalomaniac for a husband; two mutant sons, one a narcissist and the other an angsty sad boy; and an indestructible granddaughter everybody wanted to kidnap — and that’s just immediate family. Now she’s been forced to raise yet another generation of Petrellis, in secret, while still having these horrific blood-rain dreams about apocalypse after apocalypse (luckily also with a never-ending money supply that seems impervious to time travel)? Thank god for Farrah, who shows up right on time to take Malina far away, up into the Arctic, so great-grandma can freaking retire already.
Oh, and one last thing: This whole video-game plotline is without a doubt the silliest thing about this show, but somehow Otomo’s way of coping with his daughter’s death was vastly more convincing emotionally than Luke and Joanne’s. The guy literally creates a digital version of his dead kid, spruces her up into a katana-wielding hero, and then brings her into the real world and teaches her how to be a person (specifically, how to be Miko). It’s like that episode of Black Mirror where the widow is so distraught she buys a lifelike robot version of her dead husband — except I suppose Katana Girl has a higher purpose, which is to sneak into Evernow to rescue Hiro after Erica and Renautas try to lock him out of his own damn game and then take him away (and probably kill him). Adding video games to the mix might seem absurd and ancillary when time travel and superpowers and nonstop apocalypses are happening in the show’s IRL world, but it had a subtle, unrelated message to offer about love, loss, and creativity, which, in my opinion, has as much a right to be here as any of this nonsense.
- Blaming Claire’s death on Nathan Jr.’s powers and not Phoebe’s was a close shave; that seemed like the route we were taking at one point, and it would have been nonsense (even when she’s died in the past with her powers nullified, she’s been able to immediately heal herself back to life when they returned).
- The way Erica and Renautas (does anyone at this company realize that they’re working for the devil incarnate?) pinned the bombing on Mohinder and his “12 brothers and sisters” is puzzling.
- We finally find out why Joanne is a bloodthirsty psychopath: After the bombing, she and Luke find their son’s body – a trauma in itself. Back at their motel, an Iceman-esque evo Luke saved from the rubble while searching for their kid comes to thank him. She flips, convinced Luke saved one of them instead of saving his son, and goes after Iceman; there’s a chilly scuffle that ends in Joanne repeatedly stabbing the dude in the neck with a pair of scissors. Instead of being horrified, she smiles evilly. This whole story might have been interesting, but the “losing your child, descending instantly into darkness” thing was paced and acted so terribly that I did not believe a single shred of it.
- Oh, Carlos! This poor guy’s vignettes are like unrelated little intermission superhero cartoons peppered throughout the larger End of the World story: totally inconsequential. I only mention him because we find out why he’s a moody alcoholic: When he was in the army, his fellow soldier, an evo, saved a whole bunch of people in an attack with her powers, but wants to remain under the radar, so she made him take the credit – and the award – as his own. He’s a dirt bag, so he doesn’t want the award, but she says, “If you’re uncomfortable with honor you don’t deserve, live up to it.” Which is actually a great strategy for impostor syndrome in general!
- If Caspar erased Noah’s memory this time around, does that mean René gets to live after all? And if so, does that mean he’s on deck to save the day somehow??