Sunday, September 27, 2015

Heroes Reborn 1x01/1x02 "Brave New World" & "Odessa" (Everything and Everyone is Crazy and Nobody Knows What's Going On) [Contributor: Meredith]

"Brave New World" & "Odessa"
Original Airdate: September 24, 2015

Well. That was certainly a premiere of a show. When I decided to do recaps/reviews of Heroes Reborn, I was excited. Admittedly, I stopped watching the original series, Heroes, a couple seasons in, but I was hopeful that the miniseries sequel would be quality television that I could enjoy. (Especially with the addition of Zachary Levi to the cast, because everyone knows Zachary Levi is awesome.)

Unfortunately, my hopes were not exceeded or even met. I’m glad I DVR’d the two hour premiere and didn’t watch it live, because fast-forwarding through the commercials and cutting down on the amount of time I had to invest definitely helped me get through the entire premiere. Now, this is not to suggest that absolutely everything about the show is awful; it’s not, and I’m still holding out hope that now that some of the confusing and convoluted groundwork has been laid, the show will find its footing and become a tighter, cleaner, more enjoyable viewing experience. But the premiere… well, it was the opposite of those things.

I was honestly tempted to simply submit the notes I took while I was watching, similar to a live-tweet, because I firmly believe that they say everything that needs to be said about the two-hour premiere. But, alas, here I am, investing even more time into this show in order to review it/warn all of you.

Let’s start with the biggest problem with the show at this point: there is way too much going on. There are six -- yes six -- storylines happening simultaneously. And quite honestly, sometimes the show would cut back to one of those stories and it would take me a good 30 seconds to remember that I had already seen these characters before. I understand, and the show started to hint, that these storylines are all going to intersect at some point. At least, I hope that’s the goal. But right now? It’s confusing, convoluted, disjointed, and the show doesn’t really spend enough time on any character or storyline to actually make me invest in any of them. In fact, as I write this, I keep having to refer to my notes to even remember any of the characters’ names (save for Noah Bennet, who I remember from the original series.)

There are two characters who I found engaging, and whose storylines I am at least somewhat invested in: Zachary Levi’s Luke, an “Evo”-hunting vigilante who believes people with powers need to be killed off and gotten rid of -- or at least, that’s what he thinks initially.But Levi plays Luke as someone internally conflicted on that notion. Mostly because he’s ZACHARY LEVI (Literally, that is what I wrote in my notes when he appeared on screen.)

(I mean, look at him, all dark and brooding and attractive.)

The other character I found myself interested in is Tommy, played by Robbie Kay. Tommy is a teenager who can make other people disappear (or, as we learn later, teleport to a location he is thinking about as he uses his powers.) In my notes, I wondered if Tommy is going to be this incarnation of the series’ cheerleader. You know, “save the cheerleader, save the world”? As in: I think Tommy may be the key to the stuff. Whatever “the stuff” is (because you know there’s stuff). Also, it appears Tommy has a guardian angel in the form of a sharply dressed fat guy with a hat, who, unbeknownst to Tommy, follows him around and tidies up his messes.

My rundown of what I think happened during the premiere: The show opens at a major “Evo” support rally in Odessa, Texas. “Evo” is the commonly used term for evolved people -- people with powers, we learn. There has been some strife between normal people and Evos, and this rally is supposed to help bridge the gap. … I think?

But before the rally can transpire, a bomb goes off. People die, Mohinder Suresh (from the original series) claims responsibility for the attack (on behalf of Evos or something), and Evos are driven underground. The show then jumps forward a year, to a new world order where Evos are hunted and rounded up, so they live in fear and in the shadows. Luke (Levi) and his wife travel the country, infiltrating secret Evo gatherings and killing everyone there, because their son died during the attack in Odessa.

Noah Bennet has changed his name and is trying to live a quiet life away from all the Evo business. He believes his daughter Claire, the aforementioned cheerleader from the original series, died during the attack as well. But we learn later, when Noah obviously gets dragged back into all the shenanigans, she probably didn’t, giving him a reason to become/stay involved in figuring out whatever is “coming” (a thing that people keep ominously referring to).

Tommy and his mom, meanwhile, use fake names and move from place to place to avoid Tommy being caught. But now, they are settled somewhere in Illinois. Tommy likes a girl there, and it’s all very sweet. That is, until Luke and his wife catch up to him. Tommy narrowly escapes and saves his crush by teleporting the nefarious duo to some secret location… which ends up being a holding facility for Evos. I think. It was confusing.

There is also a kid whose dad is an Evo-supporting vigilante, but the dad gets shot and dies, and so his drunk veteran brother decides to take up the mantle.

Also, something is happening in Japan but I don’t really understand it and I kept forgetting it was happening, so that tells you all you need to know about that particular storyline.

And then there is Molly, the Evo who can locate all other Evos, and stuff happens with her, too, but it’s also super confusing and disjointed. Have you noticed a theme? Hint: it’s all confusing.

Overall, I found the episode extremely difficult to follow. That might have been the point, but instead of feeling like a purposeful storytelling device, it just felt sloppy and convoluted. I also felt like much of the storyline (the conflict between normal people and Evos, the existence of one Evo who can locate all the others, to the degree that a device was created using her/her power) was ripped straight from X-Men. I found much of the glaring, in your face, “Evos are being discriminated against” parallels to racial inequality heavy-handed and stereotypical.

I mean, they literally have an underground railroad to get Evos to safety in Canada. And when I say literally, I mean literally… they have Evos crawling through a tunnel. But… like...
they live in the world, they don’t look any different until they use their powers. Why can’t they just take a taxi to the harbor where the smuggling boat is waiting for them, instead of actually crawling through a sewer tunnel? They access the tunnel by walking into a building and going downstairs. Yet for some reason they need the tunnel to get from the building to the harbor? Just… no.

The redeeming qualities of Heroes Reborn pretty much center around solid acting and characterization by Levi and a few others. I think the idea for the show is a good one, but the execution of the two-hour premiere failed to deliver. I’ll stick with the series though, and keep my fingers crossed that it gets better. If not, well... prepare for 11 more reviews that look a lot like this one.

But hey, at least there will be lots of Zac Levi pictures and GIFs.

(Like this one.)

WTF Lines/Moments:
  • “You’ll be fine; Canadians are nice.” - Tommy’s mom to Tommy, as they wait in line to (unsuccessfully) cross the border. As a Canadian, I don’t know whether to be proud or take offense. So I’ll just roll my eyes.
  • Carlos hooks up with a teacher in a supply closet and then drinks on stage while giving an inspiring address to his nephew’s school. Oh, such an underdog, this guy.
  • Also, Carlos really needs to wash his hair.
  • Fat Hat guy looks like my boss. 
  • The female Japanese character is called Katana. Aren’t there any other superhero names for female Japanese characters?
  • Carlos’ brother’s Bat/Arrow cave is in desperate need of a Felicity Smoak makeover.
  • Literally none of the “surprises” were surprises. None. Claire being alive was so predictable I didn’t even need them to confirm it. 
  • “Something is coming…” I mean, did everyone else think “Winter?” or just me?
  • There were at least 6 instances in my notes where all it says is some version of “NO ACTUALLY THIS MAKES NO SENSE GUYS.” 
  • I may need a drink next time I watch. 

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