Just in case you didn't know yet, Erica Kravid is evil. Like, really evil. This week, everyone really wants to remind you that Erica is the worst of all, like a corporate Disney villain brought to life, the Maleficent of Silicon Valley. (Okay, fine. The Maleficient of Midian, Colorado.) Perhaps you didn’t catch the oh-so-subtle metaphor of her unexpectedly shooting a symbolically peaceful animal — a stag, often a stand-in for Jesus Christ himself — hacking through its corpse with a knife, and then eating it for dinner?
Yet, in this penultimate episode of ours, no one is telling us why or how. How did she found/come to run Renautas? Why does she exhibit zero hang-ups about committing genocide? And how in God's name is she, a nearly translucent, pointy-featured evil stepmother of a woman, supposed to be mother to dark-haired, dark-eyed, olive-skinned Taylor? Were she a man, I suppose no one would've given us a reason for Erica's evilness, but as it is, I don't understand anything what motivates her beyond certifiable psychopathy. Her inscrutable background — she grew up on a farm, but according to Taylor, her dad was a coal miner? — is one of the few things that still frustrate me about this show. She's basically this series's Sylar. Remember how his history was overflowing with pathos?
This episode was mildly disappointing, if only because it was a bunch of perfunctory events, unnecessary deaths, and showboating. The most exciting revelations we get this week: The Hiro Truthers (including a living René, hooray!) not only have a shapeshifter who tricks Taylor into believing he's her own mother — seriously, no mother-daughter relationship is that bad — but also their leader, Micah Sanders, yes, that Micah, is being held captive and "used" by Renautas to control computers. Is that how Erica's time machine is powered? Probably. And somehow, Matt Parkman has gone full Evil Professor Xavier to become "The Director." He's using his now-formidable telepathy to sedate and delude that entire compound's hundreds of evo prisoners.
Turns out Dearing told the truth about the blood he gave Carlos to drink. The pair safely infiltrates the compound — Dearing as a bounty hunter and Carlos as his evo captive — and everything goes well until Carlos tries to break Jose and Cloudpriest out of the compound with his brilliant plan of "just running." Director Matt is still Zen-ing everyone out with happy delusions that make them want to stay. Then, the staff announces they're doing evo swab tests on the hunters too, just in case evos are turning in other evos … which immediately leads to Dearing getting taken into custody. As "punishment," he's taken to the Director, who personally and telepathically convinces him to kill himself with his service revolver. Whether or not the gun was a delusion too is unclear, though the bloody plastic sheeting Carlos sees a staffer carry past his "cell" afterward would indicate no. This sequence was harsh, even for a supreme dick like Evil Paul.
I've been thinking about Joanne and Luke. Though their story is annoying for reasons of acting and direction, their relationship does have an interesting wrinkle: as with Erica, Joanne's bloodthirsty rage is inexplicable, but her and Luke's motives and authenticity would be questioned much less if their roles were reversed, with Joanne feeling weepy and suicidal and Luke opening fire (pun intended) on every evo in sight. The swap feels intentional and well-intended, which is a break from typically monotonous stereotypes, like the franchise's Japanese characters.
Anyway, husband and wife finally meet up again at Emily's ice cream shop in Carbondale, Illinois. Luke drives down from the docks with Malina, whose carefree-white-girl-ness is so all-powerful it convinces Luke to show her his power, talk about his son, and — gasp! — even eat candy. Joanne shows up to kill Nathan Jr. like she and Luke were planning to do before they split. She takes Emily and Pennyman Caspar as hostages. Nathan, who just got his second big-reveal speech from his mom and Noah about his and Hiro's and Claire's duty to save the world, teleports there as soon as he gets an angry call from Joanne on Emily's phone. But because teens are teens, his timing is terrible, and he torpedoes Caspar's attempt to get the heartbroken Joanne to pick up one of his pennies, sending her into an even greater rage.
One sudden move later, she shoots and kills Caspar, then threatens to shoot Emily, too, to make Nathan suffer. Luke bursts in and tries in vain to talk Joanne down, but luckily Nathan figures out how to use his time-travel power just as Luke uses his Flamin' Hot Cheetos hands to throw flames at Joanne. Everyone and everything freezes — even Malina, who refused to wait in the car and gets stuck creeping in the back door. Just like good ol' dad used to do, Nathan diverts Luke's flame trajectory, pushes the bullet away from Emily, and transports himself and Emily back to the hospital. When the cops arrive, Luke gets away, but Joanne is stopped by one of the Harrises. They'll get along well, presumably, since both of them are dead-eyed evo-murderers.
This episode nearly wrapped with a satisfying ending: Back at the hospital, Quentin finally has his Brutus moment — "You're the butterfly!" Noah realizes too late — and, with Phoebe's help and her evo-suppression power, snatches Nathan away from Noah and delivers him to Erica's mansion, where she's just sat down at a lavish, torch-lit patio table to eat the holy venison she butchered earlier. It's a little too My Young Apprentice for my taste, but if we're lucky, her triumphant arrogance will reveal some sort of human emotion before we say goodbye next week.
But then, that perfectly good ending was ruined with a 7,957-year jump into the future, where Miko/Katana Girl wakes from meditation in the middle of a desert, a half-mile from a shiny compound in the distance. The end of the world does come to pass, apparently? If only the course of time could somehow be changed …
- After all the manipulation and daddy issues Matt struggled through in the first series — after all the good he did, through the very end — are you telling me he still gave up and became a megalomaniacal "company man," controlling hundreds of his own kind for a homicidal tech CEO? Greg Grunberg can pull off bull-headed jerk well enough, but "actually evil" fits him about as well as a lumpy floral nightgown, no matter how many sandwiches he munches on while forcing a war veteran to relive the worst moments of his whole life. (I feel like an idiot for not realizing Carlos's secret hero platoon-mate was Farah last week, but now at least we know why she needed to stay covert. Regardless, Matt's onto her now.)
- As commenter thai.joeswanson points out, why was baby Nathan able to absorb Hiro's powers last week if powers aren't supposed to manifest until an evo hits puberty, like Claire's did?
- Is the Truther shapeshifter the same one who was working for Renautas and impersonating Mohinder after the June 13 attack, or do we now have two Mystiques on our hands? And will we actually get the answer to this in the finale next week, or is it too minor a detail?
- Did you know that the actor who plays Caspar, Pruitt Taylor Vince, has played a sort of evo before, in a season-four episode of The X-Files? His character was a schizophrenic serial killer whose murder visualizations showed up on any instant film exposed nearby. (Pennies seem like a more straightforward medium, don't they?)
- Malina fooling around with the rental car's music console was such an embarrassing product placement ad. Not really a question there — it's more of a rhetorical, Whyyyyy?