Heroes: I’m eating my hat, dammit!

Heroes Season 4 Writers Surprise and Delight

OK, so I admit it: I don’t wear hats because they make me look goofy. And like hats, Heroes Season 4 is now making me look goofy. It’s doing so┬áin a very unexpected way: it’s good again. I know, I know-I’ve spent a fair amount of time giving the show shit-which it’s deserved-only to suddenly find myself nibbling at the tasty feathers of crow while the show carefully and meticulously crawls out of the hole it spent the last two seasons digging itself into.

So here’s the recap: in the three episodes since the lackluster season premiere, Heroes Season 4 has demonstrated once again that it knows how to build a careful narrative in which its characters can demonstrate a little growth, a nugget of exploration, and, as is desperately needed by a show about people with super powers, a surprising glow of humanity. In the time since the now infamously ill-received premiere, every episode has been carefully plotted to bring the show’s core characters back into the foreground. Some of its more useless or annoying characters and their shtick remain conspicuously absent.

The ever-annoying Nathan Petrelli appears to finally be permanently dead, Ando has been left behind in Japan while Hiro rejoins the New York division of Heroes, Inc. (OK, I made that part up) as he tries to make right some wrongs from his past before his tumor kills him. We’ve only had to tolerate Matt-I’m-such-a-whiny-bitch Parkman for (I think) one episode. Although his “Sylar is in my brain” storyline so far has been a little cliche (and more than a little reminiscent of Battlestar Galactica’s vision of Cylon #6 in Gaius Baltar’s head), it’s been done to surprisingly good effect as the “evil Sylar” has Parkman hard at work systematically destroying his own life. Now if they just kill Parkman, things will get even better in the Heroes-verse.

In any case, it appears that things are finally approaching a turning point as we creep toward the midway of this volume’s 12 episode story arc, “Redemption,” with all of this season’s major cast members showing what can only be described as “impressive growth.” It’s like the stock market, but with super powers! Luckily our core cast has shrunk significantly, with the ousting of such fan-non-faves as Mohinder and several of the throwaways of the last two seasons.

We’ve watched Peter both embrace his nature as a hero and yet return to a more “mundane” life as an EMT. We’ve watched Hiro continue on his hero path even as he faces the fact of his own impending death. We’ve watched Noah flounder as the older man looking back on his life to see how the choices he’s made have caused more harm than good, particularly to himself and those closest to him. And of course we’ve watched as Nathan’s past came back to bite him in the ass for the last time, causing the face and abilities of Gabriel Gray to re-emerge with a mind and personality so completely blank that even when confronted visually with the physical memories of his past as a monstrous villain, he’s refused to believe or return to that form. At least…so far. I have a feeling that the new villains, now attempting to re-awaken the old Sylar, are going to end up having that bad choice’s consequences demonstrated on their own hides.

Next week will mark the halfway point for Heroes Season 4 ‘s story arc, and if it holds up this will be the fourth consecutive good episode-something Heroes hasn’t had since the first season. They’re on a roll right now; let’s hope they can keep up the good work and, going into this season’s second act, show us something that will make us keep wanting to come back for more. If we’re very lucky, the end of this volume may just have fans asking once again, “more, please!”

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