[This is a review of Heroes Reborn season 1, episode 5. There will be SPOILERS.]
The attack on Odessa, Texas, in the series premiere of Heroes Reborn helped to establish a world in which evolved humans are not only known to the human population, but feared and hunted. However, a turning point came in last week's episode when Molly Walker informed Noah Bennet that he must "forget the past, save the future," despite his quest to uncover his stolen memories and learn what happened to his daughter, Claire. Meanwhile, many of the other heroes were faced with decisions that set them on new paths, as Heroes Reborn seemed to finally launch into the thick of its storyline.
In 'The Lion's Den,' certain story threads manage to capitalize on the turning point of 'The Needs of Many,' while others feel more stagnant than even earlier in the season. The episode picks up where last week left off with Noah, Taylor, and Quentin, after learning from Molly that Erica planned to kill seven billion people -- which just so happens to be the roughly-estimated population of Earth -- and discover a seed bank full of plants from all over the world. However, when Noah convinces Taylor to use her relationship with Erica to get answers about Renautas' plans, they end up with more questions.
But, by following Erica, the viewer sees Renautas has been using Evos to develop teleportation technology that very closely resembles the powers possessed by Tommy. Additionally, the audience learns there is a solar storm headed toward Earth that will destroy 96 percent of all species in just a few days. It seems as though this storm, and its vast destruction, is the oncoming apocalyptic event that Malina was using her powers to slow down. It's also clear that this will be the event that will force the heroes to unite, so they may save the world. Still, how Renautas' plans, including the Epic glasses, pertain to this storm remain frustratingly unclear.
As for the Epic glasses, they were first truly used in action in 'The Lion's Den,' to various degrees of success story-wise. Malina has made her way down from the Arctic Circle to Canada along with her guide and mentor Farah. But, when Farah's contact fails to meet her and she's tailed by one of Harris' clones back to Malina, the two attempt to use their powers to escape. However, since Farah's power is invisibility and the Epic glasses allow Harris to see her heat signature, her ability is useless. Additionally, Harris has brought The Shadow (mentioned in 'The Needs of Many'), which prevents Malina from using her powers and inevitably Farah is wounded and forces Malina to go on alone. In this instance, the Epic technology largely feels like a means to an end: forcing Malina to continue on with her mission to save the world on her own.
That being said, the Epic glasses prove to be the catalyst to a much more interesting turn of events in Los Angeles when Carlos goes to the police precinct to confront James Dearing about the disappearance of his nephew as well as Father Mauricio. While at the precinct, two officers receive the Epic glasses and test them out, only to learn that Dearing is an Evo. As a result he's taken into custody, with some sort of device strapped to his chest, and put into a transport van. However, Carlos sees an opportunity to find answers and uses his new and improved robotically-enhanced El Vengador (read: Iron Man) suit to break Dearing out. Though that's the extent of this story thread in the episode, it offers more insight into the LAPD conspiracy teased by earlier episodes of the series that could develop into an exciting storyline.
Elsewhere, it seems Heroes Reborn is still moving certain players into their necessary places for the oncoming apocalyptic event. As such, Luke returns to the home he shared with his wife Joanne and their son who died in the Odessa attack. The viewer watches Luke as he revisits his life before it all changed -- where nothing has been disturbed, including the mail inside the slot and his son's spotless room. Finally, Luke makes arrangements for his practice to go to his partner and he uses his newly-developed powers to set the house on fire, effectively closing the door on his previous life. As has been the case for much of the season, Levi's performance as Luke is a compelling character study and that especially shines in 'The Lion's Den'.
The viewer also learned much more about Tommy in this episode as he's taken into custody, his powers documented, and a tracking device inserted in his arm. However, while being questioned about his past and his real name, the agent lets slip that Tommy is adopted, throwing the teenager's whole worldview off kilter. He goes to his mother for answers (though not before checking in with the girl of his dreams, of course) and is a predictably angry teenager about being lied to. It turns out that Tommy's mother wasn't running from law enforcement, but from the nice old man who controls the minds of others by asking "Penny for your thoughts?" As the man explains to Tommy, the teenager is expected to help save the world, but instead of accepting his destiny, Tommy teleports out of the room. Largely ruined by the advertising for Heroes Reborn, which used the "You're going to help save the world" line repeatedly over the past few weeks, the moment falls flat. Additionally, given the trajectory of the season, there's little doubt Tommy will come around and take up the mantle of the hero he's meant to be.
The last of our heroes, Miko (Kiki Sukezane), spends much of 'The Lion's Den' sneaking around Renautas' headquarters looking for her katana, which she finally finds at Erica's home. Conveniently, she breaks up a tense situation between Noah, Erica, Harris, Quentin, and Taylor; she takes the sword into the video game world in order to escape the house and return to Ren (Toru Uchikado). While their part of the episode didn't take up much time, it certainly could have been tighter, with many of the scenes between Miko and Ren seeming to be filler in an otherwise more fast-paced episode.
With most, if not all, of the characters and story threads getting closer to a singular event -- the solar storm -- and a singular enemy in Renautas, Heroes Reborn has certainly hit its stride in last week's episode and 'The Lion's Den'. While many of the story threads are interesting on their own, they struggle from needing to share a 40-minute episode with a number of other ongoing plots, so that 'The Lion's Den' not only has an A and B plot, but a C, D, and E plot as well. As all the separate aspects of the season come together toward a central storyline, Heroes Reborn becomes tighter, better paced, and more compelling, while still allowing for those intriguing character moments.
Of course, Heroes Reborn isn't perfect, and it stumbles through certain characters' stories, such as Miko's. But others, such as the conspiracy that Carlos and Dearing are involved in, show promise to develop into a story thread that is both compelling and feeds into the larger threat posed by Renautas. Perhaps next week's episode will make further strides in bringing the story and characters together, so as to eliminate the aspects of the series that don't work quite as well, but it remains to be seen.
Heroes Reborn continues next Thursday with 'Game Over' at 8pm on NBC. Check out a preview below:
Photos: John Medland & Christos Kalohoridis/NBC