Heroes' latest installment, Redemption didn't exactly connect with its two-hour season premiere, pulling in just 6 million viewers. Even though a lot of our readers found the opening chapters to Redemption to be interesting and full of potential, the Nielsen figures seemed to dictate that Heroes' was trying to dust it self off too late, considering the show once pulled in 16 million viewers weekly.
After seeing last night's episode, "Ink" (which was one the better episodes I'VE seen in the show's four-year run), I found myself back on the fence, wondering if Heroes truly needs to be "rebooted" next season, or if the show simply needs more episodes like "Ink," consistently, to lure viewers back into the fold.
In last night's episode we saw Carnival ringmaster Samuel (Robert Knepper) head out on a mysterious mission to test Peter, bringing with him an equally mysterious blend of "magic ink." Meanwhile, Claire tried to figure out how to handle exposing her powers to new girlfriend, Gretchen (Madeline Zima), while Parkman had an interesting tug-of-war for control of his mind with the psychic "ghost" of Sylar. Finally, Peter learned that there can be a downside to saving lives in this litigious society we live in, and we were introduced to a new hero, Emma, a deaf woman who can "see" sound as colored auras.
What I loved about "Ink" is that it was a timely example of Heroes at its best. The show is always operating at top form when it finds ways to shine an original and interesting light on tried and tested superhero conventions. The Claire storyline showed the young whiny girl we're annoyed with actually growing up and becoming her own woman (thank god); the Parkman sequence with Sylar and that suspected drug dealer was probably the best Parkman storyline I've seen to date (no doubt in large part to Zachary Quinto); and the Peter crossing paths with Samuel storyline set up some major intrigue about who Samuel is (Good guy? Bad Guy? Bad guy with a twisted moral code?) and what role his Carnival will play.
And I don't think I'm being sappy by saying that the scene with deaf hero Emma creating glorious music in the park using her "sight-sound" power was not only beautiful, but inspirational as well (ok, maybe I am being a bit sappy).
"Ink" had me feeling like I was back watching Season 1 of Heroes again. Every commercial break was like torture; I didn't want that good feeling to be interrupted, and I certainly did not want the end credits to roll.
When we get episodes like this, it's hard for me to argue that Heroes needs a fresh start.
REBOOT WITH BENEFITS
...On the other hand, that scene with Emma in the park does lend some strong credit to the claim that Heroes would benefit from a "start from scratch" reboot approach next season. Emma discovering her power and the possibilities it opened up for her was the EXACT emotional bait that had us holding our collective breaths the first time Peter stepped off the edge of that roof believing he could fly - or clapping our hands like trained seals the first time Hiro successfully stopped time. Heroes made us believe that we too might one day discover that we are greater than the boundaries of our everyday lives - only that promise somehow got buried under the same geektastic cliches and conventions that've kept comic books regulated to fanboy circles.
One obvious benefit of starting Heroes over with a (largely) new cast of yet-undiscovered powers is that viewers (beyond the fanboy nation) could once again connect with these everyday people (like Emma), who discover something extraordinary about themselves. After introducing us to new possibilities, the showrunners could make the corrective step of wrapping the storylines for each character much sooner (discover their powers and decide what to do with them), freeing the show up to explore all over again with new characters, powers, perspectives and possibilities.
For those who are partial to certain characters, no worry: a reboot each season or two doesn't mean the fan-favorites would have to be thrown out with the extraneous bits - just keep a few (2-3) familiar faces around as through-lines, and now and again (preferably during sweeps week) you could bring the whole gang (or most of them) back for a super-showdown climax. And, of course, cameos and guest-appearances by old friends would not only be welcome, but arguably a strong draw for the audience.
I'm still not sure, though... under the right creative direction (read: Bryan Fuller), even some tasty juice can get squeezed out of Parkman. That's big, but how often will an episode like "Ink" come along this season?
Oh Heroes, I don't yet know WHAT to think... How about you guys reading this? Should Heroes be rebooted or was last night's episode a prime example of everything that can go right with this show?
Tune in to Heroes: Redemption Mondays @ 8/7c on NBC to get in on this debate. Check out Hulu or NBC.com to catch up on the episodes already shown this season.
Peter/Sylar Image Source: TV Sky