[This is a review of Heroes Reborn season 1, episode 4. There will be SPOILERS.]
Last week's episode of Heroes Reborn revealed (at least one of) the larger threats facing evolved humans, taking the form of shady tech conglomerate Renautas' new product, Epic. The mass-produced glasses utilize a tracking system that allows its users to find Evos nearby as well as worldwide. With this reveal, Heroes Reborn turned a corner on its season, moving on from the introductions (and re-introductions) to the world built by creator Tim Kring's Heroes. Now that each member of the show's extensive cast has been established in their own pocket of the world, their forward trajectory to saving the world can begin.
The fourth episode of the miniseries, 'The Needs of Many,' has a similar pacing to the previous episodes of Heroes Reborn, in that it quickly jumps around the world between characters, but this time, it manages to make up for it since each part does more to propel the story forward. While the previous episodes seemed to be laying the groundwork for the season to come, in terms of characters and powers, establishing the importance of the June 13th terrorist attack on Odessa, Texas, and revealing Rentautas' plans for Evos, 'The Needs of Many' has begun to capitalize on that story and world building.
The tone of this week's episode is set by a voiceover from Mohinder Suresh (Sendhil Ramamurthy) by talking about how outside influences inform the people we become. Indeed, many of the heroes are faced with making decisions in this episode, their hands often forced by others. Tommy (Robbie Kay), on which the episode opens, uses his powers to save his mother and chooses to run the risk of exposing his status as an Evo, following the car accident that acted as last week's cliffhanger. Unsurprisingly, he's fine, but his mother is in critical condition. While Tommy struggled to use his powers when tasked with sending away a classmate's abusive stepfather, the teenager gives little thought to risking his safety for his mother. Along with words of encouragement from his friend Emily (Gatlin Green), this seems to be a step forward for Tommy in terms of becoming one of the heroes set to save the world by the end of the season -- oh, and it's definitely a step toward Tommy getting the girl.
In St. Louis, the disconnect continues to grow between married couple Luke (Zachary Levi) and Joanne (Judith Shekoni), whose child died in the attack on June 13th. Though the pair quickly and efficiently murdered a room-full of Evos in the season premiere of Heroes Reborn, it has since become clear that Luke wishes to give up their mission of hunting down the evolved humans and slaughtering them as some sort of vengeance for their son's death. This is illustrated in their opening scene, in which Joanne shows nothing but joy when she kills an Evo in the doorway of his home. Meanwhile, Luke analyzes the life she has taken from man. If the rift between these two wasn't already blatant enough, the family's dog comes down the stairs and lays down with its deceased owner.
Further complicating the relationship, Luke began to demonstrate powers on last week's episode and now attempts to hide them from Joanne. However, when his frustration with their quest reaches its peak, he reveals his powers and forces her to chose between him and the mission. The tension of this moment has been earned by the couple’s story up until this point and as a result makes the viewer question what Joanne will choose. In the end, she chooses to not kill Luke, but does leave him. Their ongoing story continues to prove that the crumbling relationship between Luke and Joanne seems to be the most grounded aspect of Heroes Reborn.
However, while Levi and Shekoni manage to make something out of the little time they’re given in the 40-minute episode, others in 'The Needs of Many' struggle with sharing the screen with so many characters. Malina (Danika Yarosh), an Evo that was raised away from civilization in order to hide her power and prepare her for her destiny, remains a mystery, with much of her character established more by dialogue than actual development. In fact, the line that was surely meant to establish Malina as a tough, no-nonsense hero -- said in response to a comment about grown men fearing having control over the fate of the world: "Good thing I'm not a grown man" -- falls flat with a sub-par delivery. Though, in Yarosh's defense, the line feels far too reminiscent of dialogue from other Strong Female Characters to allow for much originality.
As for the other heroes that took a back seat this week, Carlos (Ryan Guzman) upgraded his brother's El Vengador suit to include mechanical elements that give him more strength. Additionally, he continues to predictably flounder with his newfound hero-status, leaving his mentor and nephew in danger from those he's trying to bring to justice. Miko (Kiki Sukezane) and Ren (Toru Uchikado), meanwhile, enlist the help of social media and the gamer's following in order to get closer to finding Miko's sword. Though their plan is successful, and acts as a direct appeal to fans of the series and games like Reborn's Evernow, their part of the episode ends with little progress made.
Lastly, Noah (Jack Coleman) continues his search for answers with Quentin (Henry Zebrowski) by recruiting Taylor Kravid (Eve Harlow) the daughter of the head of Renautas. Noah causes Taylor to question her mother, Erica (Rya Kihlstedt), who deliberately dodges and tells a story of how aluminum was coveted until it became abundant; also, Erica claims she is trying to save the human species. Later, Taylor helps Noah find Molly Walker (Francesca Eastwood), who says she won't help Erica "kill seven billion people" and she kills herself. This seems to indicate that Renautas' plans involve mass murder using the help of the dozens of Evos hooked into the corporation's super-machine as Molly was. As seems to be par for the course with Heroes Reborn, Noah's search for answers concerning June 13th has mostly led him to more questions -- and an insistent Molly telling him to "forget the past, save the future."
With 'The Needs of Many' Heroes Reborn is finally kicking the story into gear and offering answers to certain questions. However, with so many more questions popping up faster than they're being answered, it's becoming doubtful, even now, that the show will be able to pull all the story threads together by the end of its run. Of course, there's still plenty more time to explore June 13th, Renautas' plans for the Evos and the impending event tied into the Northern Lights that appeared to all the heroes. But, as the mystery of the series continues to deepen, that only provides more questions that will need to be answered down the line.
The episode further proved that once Heroes Reborn hit its stride by delving into the action rather than setting up what's to come, it's an entertaining and engaging continuation of the series that came before. Indeed, if Heroes Reborn continues to push forward rather than spend too much time setting up or introducing new characters, the series could continue to improve and capitalize not only on the groundwork laid by the previous three episodes, but Heroes as well.
Heroes Reborn continues next Thursday with ‘The Lions Den’ @8pm on NBC. Check out a preview below: