Of all the preposterous, half-wit, truly Gouda moments in Heroes history, a five-second scene in last night’s episode might have truly taken the taco. After Tracy/Nikki/Jessica realizes that Senator Nathan Petrelli also has superpowers (after he flies in to save her from jumping off a bridge), she kisses him. We then get a jump cut to four years in the future, where President Nathan Petrelli, married to First Lady Tracy/Nikki/Jessica, is addressing the press corps after a nuclear explosion in the fictional Costa Verde, California.
We know that media is going through an even worse downsizing than the rest of our country’s theoretically vital industries, but if this scene is right, remarks from the president of the United States, after the death of 200,000 people in a nuclear explosion, will take place in front of a nondescript corporate complex in a suburb and will be covered by the only six reporters left on earth, none of whom have cameras. (Helpfully, MSNBC still has a presence. We hope Chuck Todd survived the blast.) It’s not the first time this show has felt like a slightly more expensive version of Coven, the besotted independent film from American Movie, but it’s the first time it ever felt like someone let the ghost of Ed Wood behind the camera. You keep expecting someone offscreen to explain, “You know, in actuality, Lobo would have to struggle with this problem every day.”
This unintentionally hilarious moment was just the best of many in an episode that felt like it was directed by eight different people, like in the Woody Allen–Orson Wells–Peter Sellers version of Casino Royale. The scene in which Future Sylar accidentally blows up Costa Verde — and features the violent death of a 3-year-old boy — comes mere minutes after a “wacky” scene where Sylar is wearing an apron and making waffles. A scene where Future Peter transports Present Peter to the future is actually introduced with this dialogue:
Present Peter: Where are we?
Future Peter: More like WHEN are we.
Even longtime fans have pretty much accepted that the first season was knowingly campy. But because churning out origin stories turned out to be Tim Kring’s only real skill, it became overpopulated with underdeveloped characters. The show can still be fun, particularly when some of these people get killed off. (Brundle Mohinder, alas, remains breathing, and sporadically narrating.) But please: Just frame a damn scene correctly. And, for the last time: Please stop allowing characters to escape from the Super Secret Super Villain Super Prison merely by escaping through a vent in the ceiling. (This has now happened at least three times.) Super-villain prisoners can’t need central air