Problems with Heroes

December 21st, 2008

I’ve been a big fan of comic books since I was a kid, and most make little sense when viewed from a scientific perspective.   That’s fine.   I let that axe rest years ago.   They’re a particular type of modern, urban fantasy and I can happily enjoy them as such, as long as they enjoy some form of self-consistency.

I just got caught up watching the new Heroes season, and I must say that it is full of fail on this last point.


I’m probably way behind on the bitching about this given that I’ve only recently been catching up, but I’ve avoided reading about this season online to avoid spoilers since I wanted to watch the show fresh.

Let me point out a slew of problems, from minor inconsistencies to gaping plot holes, with Heroes this season.   I’ll try to find excuses for some of them, but a lot of the problems have to do with stupid writing I’m afraid.

OK, let’s start with the episode with the vortex or black hole man.   I won’t even go into anything about his powers or how that all worked.   That’s part of the fantasy.   But when Noah is urging the guy to kill Sylar, why can’t Sylar hear him?   Sylar stole super-hearing from that woman in season one.   Is that power gone?   The woman couldn’t turn it off, but Sylar does seem to be able to control powers very well, so maybe he can turn it off, but in the scene he was obviously interested in what everyone was saying.   So, he didn’t listen in?

Dumb.   This is one example of painting yourself into a corner.   With power parasites like Sylar and Peter, the writers need to remember what it is they are capable of doing and imagine themselves as their characters.   Sylar’s most powerful power, in my opinion, was the one he stole from the Texas waitress: effortless, fast learning.   He should be the most educated man on the planet, speak a zillion languages, know how to do almost everything and understand things.   Yet he gets tricked with lame lies all the time.   Can’t he learn faster?

With characters who can acquire large numbers of powers, this show becomes almost impossible to write intelligently.

OK, let’s talk about Adam Munroe getting dusted.   The healing power constantly repairs damage.   That’s the fantasy.   Take it away, and he should then just age normally.   Maybe Arthur Petrelli did something more with his power-sucking power, but the implication seemed more like the Portrait of Dorian Gray.   Take away his powers and he ages in a second.   This is about as dumb as the kid in the third X-men movie making the Beast’s hair vanish inside his sphere of influence, which then magically reappared outside the field.   And Heroes has a ripoff of this kid, too, with a similar problem.   Was there never a time when the Haitian blocked his powers?   Would he have been dusted during the dumb power-sucking eclipse?

And let’s talk about that dumb eclipse.   The powers are supposed to be genetically based, so “science fantasy” in my book.   The only effect an eclipse has here on Earth is to change the amount of light and its quality here.   You get a stronger effect every night.   No one loses their powers at night, or they could just keep the super-powered criminals in the dark.   This is some dumb magic thing which is inconsistent with the rules for the powers.   Make it magic, or science, but please, let’s not pick and choose which as convenient.

The catalyst — magic infusion for chemistry?     The powers thing gets weirder and more magic-like.   Fine then, I wish they’d go all the way.   It was always ridiculous with Mohinder going on seriously about how the next clear step in human evolution was people flying, healing super fast, etc.   In what fantasy world?

And that damn eclipse seemed to last forever, all over the Earth.   Total eclipses last for at most less than ten minutes in one location, and cut a particularly narrow swath across the planet that is not simultaneous.   The timing of the events in the eclipse episodes had absolutely no resemblance to any such thing as real eclipses, although it is supposed to be Earth and the Moon.   It’s hard enough to maintain the suspension of disbelief with the show sometimes, but when it makes this sort of mistake, it’s impossible.

Then there’s the mess with the time lines and how they handle time travel on the show.   This is one of my issues, so forgive a mini-rant.   Apparently every time someone goes back in time they rewrite history, which ought to screw up the precogs much more than it seems to.   I mean, I don’t know why they aren’t totally worthless.   And poor Hiro, it seems his time stop is only moving really fast like Daphne.   Or is it?   He isn’t a blur like she is, and she was caught mid-stride before she suddenly walked around and talked at normal speed.   Just not consistent, damn it.

And why is it hard to sneak up on a precog, as Daphne claims.   These precogs are painters.   The dude paints scenes and there’s no clock in sight as to when these things will actually happen.   He even tells Parkman he just paints what he sees and doesn’t know anything more than that.   But, moreover, Hiro can freeze time!   He can freeze time and search the whole damn place.   Why is he wandering around getting smacked by shovels?   Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Maybe I missed it, but how did the mental projection of Linderman provide Daphne the file for Parkman?   It was just sitting out there?   Ah, hell, not going to watch again for this one point.

OK, I was pleasantly surprised that the Heroes writers realized that faster-than-light travel meant travel backwards in time, but that was about the only pleasant thing about it.   Now we have someone else who can muck up time in an inconsistent fashion and create paradoxes.   The only way to avoid paradoxes is to have a single self-consistent timeline, which Heroes doesn’t have.   Anwyay…I still don’t see a logical way to get her to go past light-speed, but I’ll go with it.   Off she goes back in time…and then returns in an instant?   The only way for her to do this would be to travel at exactly light-speed, which would let her travel into the future, but it was clear that she didn’t have such precise control.   Well, maybe she found the time to develop it.   But it annoyed me, especially without explaination (e.g., “Wait!   How are you going to get back?   Hiro doesn’t have his powers!”   Answer: “She just travels at near light-speed and she can travel back into the future.”)

Well, that’s the stuff that was bugging me when I finally got all caught up.   I did notice that people were complaining about this season sucking, and I see why.   There are other story issues that annoyed me, too, but these types of things are foundational for me.   I lose my suspension of disbelief and I don’t care about an instance of bad acting, a bad line, or obscure character motivations.   Hell, I’m still waiting for Peter to remember that the love of his life is lost in a future timeline that no longer exists and at least cry about it, or go back in time to save her.


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