[This is a review of Heroes Reborn season 1, episode 6. There will be SPOILERS.]
Throughout the first half of Heroes Reborn, the continuation of Tim Kring's Heroes, the show has primarily focused on its central characters, most of which are new to viewers of the mid-2000s series. However, Heroes Reborn has struggled under the weight of dealing with the aftermath of the June 13th terrorist attack on evolved humans, setting up a cataclysmic event, establishing a whole host of new heroes and tying everything together to form cohesive, but standalone, episodes each week. In the most recent episodes, Heroes Reborn began bringing disparate plot threads together and this week, in 'Game Over,' the series continues to join everything together, while also doubling down on its connections to the larger Heroes universe.
Not only does 'Game Over' see the return of fan-favorite character, Hiro Nakamura (Masi Oka), the episode includes an issue of Isaac Mendez's 9th Wonders! comics that foretold the future, as well as a copy of Mohinder Suresh's (Sendhil Ramamurthy) unpublished manuscript Escalating Evolution -- introduced in the Heroes Reborn web series, Dark Matters. Even so, 'Game Over,' doesn't neglect the series' other characters, but does offer a kind of conclusion to many of the story threads established within the first half of the season, indicating the show will have more ties to Heroes as Heroes Reborn progresses.
During the episode, it's revealed that Miko's quest to save her father from The Eternal Fortress in the Evernow video game and Noah's search for Hiro are one in the same mission -- well, sort of. It turns out Miko is simply a character of Evernow created by her father, the developer, as the only key to unlock the Master of Time and Space from where he is imprisoned in the game, and Hiro is the Master of Time and Space imprisoned within Evernow by Erica (Rya Kihlstedt) and Dr. Schwenkman (Michael Therriault), so that they could harness his powers. Since Miko is the only person able to beat the game, she enters Evernow, faces off with a dark version of herself, and must sacrifice herself in order to free Hiro, which she does.
In terms of pacing, 'Game Over' had the best of any episode of Heroes Reborn yet, with Miko's mission into Evernow acting as a central thread. However, the episode fails in regard to the stakes of Miko's sacrifice, as well as the question of whether she succeeds in her quest since any viewer that has seen a promo for the series is already aware of Hiro's return. It's revealed in quick succession that Miko is a game character made real -- rather than an Evo with the ability to enter video games -- and that she will need to die in order to free Hiro, with only a brief moment to pause and respond when Ren (Toru Uchikado) tells her he loves her with a simple, "I know." The breakneck pace of this sequence doesn't allow the viewer time to digest all the information being thrown their way, let alone process any emotional response.
However, while Miko's sacrifice wasn't the emotional heart of this story thread, Quentin's (Henry Zebrowski) reunion with his sister Phoebe (Aislinn Paul) offered slightly more. Phoebe has been working as The Shadow for Erica and using her powers to prevent other Evos from accessing their own, and helps Harris fight Miko. Quentin attempts to reason with her, but Phoebe is too far gone in believing in the work that she has been doing for Erica and uses her powers on Quentin. The more emotional moment came in the aftermath, though, when Quentin asks Noah if he saved his sister and Noah lies to his dying friend. However, with Hiro and Noah traveling back in time to June 13th, Quentin and Phoebe may be able to have a different kind of reunion.
Elsewhere in the episode, Tommy is still reeling from the news that he's destined to save the world and in an attempt to escape such a path, he teleports himself and his friend/one true love Emily to Paris to see the Eiffel Tower. However, when police stop him from touring the tower because he's an Evo, he comes clean to Emily about his destiny. She shows him a French copy of a 9th Wonders! comic and explains that a hero must accept their destiny. Although the references to superheroes, and especially the inclusion of 9th Wonders!, gives this story thread a lighter and more fun tone, the still-cliché nature of Tommy and Emily's relationship, their clunky dialogue and performances, as well as his overwrought struggle with his destiny, bring it down. Plus, they're so far removed from Miko's sacrifice in order to save Hiro that it nearly feels like an entirely different series.
Still, Tommy's struggle retroactively ties into Malina's search for the person she's meant to find in order to save the world, since it's him she’s looking for. Here, Malina stumbles across Luke, who has decided to kill himself after losing his son, his wife and his mission of killing Evos. When Malina saves him and shows him a picture of Tommy, the person with which she's going to save the world, he takes it as a sign of a new mission. Though this story thread is a bit rushed in the episode -- and Malina's miraculous save of Luke suffers from incredibly sub-par visual effects -- it gives both characters direction, which will hopefully pay off in the upcoming episodes.
Lastly, 'Game Over' revisits Carlos, who in the previous episode saved Captain Dearing from police custody after they found out he was an Evo. This week, when Carlos questions Dearing about the location of his nephew, Dearing leads Carlos to a place called Sunstone Manor where they're housing Evos. Dearing explains that only Evos are allowed in, and convinces Carlos to take a vial of liquid that will give him a false positive test result as an Evo, but it only knocks him out. Though not much progress is made in this story thread since it's only visited three times throughout the episode, it does set up some interesting mysteries, such as what exactly Sunstone Manor is since Dearing claims the Evos who go there never want to leave.
All in all, despite the weaker aspects of 'Game Over,' this is the first episode that had a self-contained storyline, decent pacing, and certain interesting visuals -- such as the opening sequence of Noah's interrogation of Harris spliced with Carlos' questioning of Dearing. As a result, this week's Heroes Reborn certainly stands out from the rest of the season so far. Of course, providing answers to some mysteries while establishing new ones gives 'Game Over' the tone of an episode leading up to a midseason finale. But, with Hiro and Noah going back in time a year to the day of the June 13th attack, it stands to reason that the show will take a sharp turn over the next two episodes.
Whether the two-part 'June 13' manages to continue to improve upon the positive upswing Heroes Reborn has seen in the last few weeks remains to be seen. But, that being said, the inclusion of more world building in 'Game Over' certainly helped to elevate the episode and Heroes Reborn's connections to Heroes. So, if the series continues to include more of the bigger picture, while allowing its new characters to flourish, it could finally deliver the continuation of Heroes that fans were hoping to see.
Heroes Reborn continues next Thursday with ‘June 13 – Part One’ at 8pm on NBC. Check out a preview below:
Photos: Christos Kalohoridis & Roger Do Minh/NBC