[This is a review of Heroes Reborn season 1, episode 11. There will be SPOILERS.]
The various ongoing story lines of Heroes Reborn didn’t come to any kind of conclusion in the show’s midseason finale, which seems to be because the season was not planned with a break in mind and was simply scheduled that way by NBC. As a result, it’s difficult for the viewer to jump back into Heroes Reborn with this week’s episode, ‘Send in the Clones’, despite the show’s continuing story lines. This leaves the viewer feeling as though the writers planned Heroes Reborn to pick up a week later, rather than seven weeks later. So, the cliffhangers of the previous episode fall much flatter than they likely would have since viewers may have been too caught up in trying to remember what was happening to appreciate the danger the characters are in.
Last we left Heroes Reborn, those attempting to free the Evos in Sunstone Manor – Carlos, Farah, Taylor, The Haitian, and other members of the hacktivist/Evo group HeroTruther – were trapped by an army of Harris clones. Meanwhile, Tommy/Nathan was rescued by Miko a.k.a. Katana Girl from assisting in Erica Kravid’s plan to save humanity by sending a select group of people to the future. In ‘Send in the Clones’ – written by Peter Elkoff and directed by Larysa Kondracki – Tommy convinces Miko to leave him with Erica while she goes on her final mission to save the Evos at Sunstone Manor by defeating Harris. Elsewhere in the episode, Malina and Luke face off against Quentin and Phoebe, Taylor and The Haitian confront Matt Parkman (guest star Greg Grunberg), and Carlos saves his nephew Jose, as well as HeroTruther leader Micah Sanders (guest star Noah Gray-Cabey).
One of the major themes of Heroes Reborn has been the transformation of many characters either from their previous selves into heroes or from heroes into antagonists. Many of those transformations come to a head in ‘Send in the Clones’ with certain characters accepting their destinies as heroes while others offer insight into their fall from being heroes. Specifically, viewers find out what happened to Matt to make him join up with Erica: his family walked out on him and dealing with the thoughts of everyone else inside his head has been too much for him. Taylor and The Haitian attempt to win Matt back to their side, but in the end aren’t able to. As a result, he shows his full transformation into villain, bending people to his will in order to get what he wants rather than do the right thing. This character transformation might have been a more effective character beat had it not be explained through overly-explanatory dialogue though.
Luke also faces a crossroads moment between choosing to move forward with the path he’s chosen as a hero or return to his Evo-killing ways when he confronts Phoebe, who had a hand in the Odessa attack that killed Luke’s son. This moment is played like it should hold a lot of weight for Luke, but viewers aren’t given much time to question which path Luke will take before they’re given an answer and the episode moves on to the next character beat. Carlos, on the other hand, receives his moments of glory as he has fully transformed from the guilt-ridden war veteran into a hero that stands up against the odds for something bigger than himself. He dons his improved El Vengador armor and frees Micah, acting more courageously than we’ve seen before in the season. Despite some less than stellar action choreography, Carlos’ transformation is perhaps the best pulled off of the episode.
Elsewhere, Miko has accepted her impermanence as a video game creation made real by her father, Hachiro. She faces off with the prime Harris clone (a call back to their fight in an earlier episode before she recognized her destiny as Katana Girl) and, of course, wins the day. Though Miko’s storyline has taken her to many different places, her battle with Harris – again, despite poor fight choreography and direction of the majority of this scene – is a satisfactory end to her transition into Katana Girl helped along by the exciting conclusion to the fight, with Miko stabbing Harris through herself and then beheading him.
As for Tommy and Erica, the two characters are caught in a very subtle struggle for power since both are attempting to manipulate the other and they need each other in order to achieve their own ends; for Erica, that means completing her plan to save the human race, and for Tommy it means saving his family and fulfilling his destiny. While many of the other characters on Heroes Reborn have much more overt conflicts with their enemies, Tommy and Erica’s battle of wills is more subtle. But, rather than coming off as a refreshing approach, it’s simply rushed as the characters move from one story beat to the next in order to get to where they need to be for the final episodes.
As with much of the season, ‘Send in the Clones’ seems to suffer from Heroes Reborn attempting to accomplish too much within an episode. In addition to showcasing the subtle struggle of power between Erica and Tommy, the episode features a showdown between Miko and Harris, Malina and Luke’s confrontation with Quentin and Phoebe, and Carlos’ final transformation into El Vengador. Even still, other story and character beats are addressed quickly and then fall by the wayside, like Taylor’s pregnancy, Micah informing the entire world of Erica’s plans, the disappearance of Noah, and Erica sending Joanne to kill her ex-husband Luke and Malina – though that last development is used more as a cliffhanger than anything else.
Each of the major story beats could have sustained an episode in their own rights, or perhaps only shared an episode with one other plot. However, as we’ve seen with previous episodes this season, Heroes Reborn attempts to maintain and continue each of its ongoing character and story beats, largely to their detriment. But the effect creates an hour of television that comes off poorly paced without effectively tying everything together despite the overarching problem of the cataclysmic event.
Now, with all the characters headed to Odessa, and the entire world privy to Erica’s plans for the survival of humanity – in that, she plans to sacrifice the majority of the human population – perhaps Heroes Reborn will be able to bring its many parts together to form satisfactory penultimate and concluding episodes. As with Heroes, Heroes Reborn has attempted a number of interesting themes that could potentially lead to an exciting season finale, but it remains to be seen if the series will capitalize on these themes, and successfully includes its action beats, for the finale fans hope to see.
Heroes Reborn returns next Thursday January 14h with ‘Company Woman’ at 8pm on NBC. Check out a preview below: