Tonight is the last episode of this chapter of HEROES. "Villains" has been in many ways a relaunch of the series, fixing points where the series had gone astray in Season 2 (and boy, had it gone astray). Whether it worked is debatable: fan reaction is mixed; ratings have declined; and two executive producers have been let go.
So what's my take on the whole thing? Cover your eyes, kids, 'cause there are spoilers below.
- Bromance is dead. Peter and Nathan are ending up enemies after this chapter; it's pretty clear that Nathan has drunk the Petrelli Kool-Aid and is going to further his dad's scheme to distribute powers to "the worthy." The fact that he thinks he can judge who's worthy and who isn't is a stamp of villainy in the making.
- On the other hand, Isaac Mendez just won't die. It's not Santiago Cabrera's fault; hell, I'd love him to be back on the show again. A junkie painter-prophet? Gold! But his damnable "missing issue" is a cheap McGuffin.
- And Arthur Petrelli might not be dead. Okay, Sylar allowed Peter's bullet to pass through Papa P's cranium. Is he dead? Well... Claire bounced back after a chunk of wood was lodged in her brain stem for awhile, so I'm not counting Papa P out just yet.
- Matt Parkman finds love. I'm thinking Matt and Daphne might have something that lasts (until next year, anyway). Unfortunately, Elle and Sylar... not so much.
- No love for time travel. This is one comic book cliche that needs to be buried once again. Honestly, every last friggin' thing is about saving the world from some future disaster. I'm pretty damned sick of it. How about saving your job from a bad evaluation? Sure, you can fly... so what? You'll be the flyingest guy in the unemployment line. More slice of life stories, less cataclysm-of-the-season please.
- HRG is back. Jack Coleman acts his ass off in that scene last week with Claire, where she tries to convince him NOT to let the Company experiment on baby Claire. "Claire bear, huh?" is a great new quotable for the show.
- Thinning the herd. About frickin' time. Maya's gone (for good?), Elle is gone (kind of a shame, 'cause I like Kristen Bell a lot), Arthur Petrelli may be gone (see above), and y'know, it's a good thing. We only have so much time and attention to give, so a sprawling cast is not helpful.
- Predictions. It looks like PrimaTech drafts puppetmaster Doyle to take on Sylar, though I'm guessing this is only the overt move; odds are good Angela has another trick up her sleeve and is ready for her not-really-son. I'm also betting Peter gets his powers back and we see a powerhouse knockdown fight in tonight's ep.
That's where I am, folks. I'd grade this season as a C+ with moments of pure A. Far better than the D+ of last season, but it has a ways to go before it recaptures its lost glories. Will the show be renewed? NBC needs hits desperately, so if pilot season produces something phenomenal, HEROES may be the victim. Then again, Bryan Fuller is coming back on board, so the next arc ("Fugitives") might be the shot of pure awesome the show needs right now.