[This is a review of Heroes Reborn season 1, episode 7. There will be SPOILERS.]
Heroes Reborn, the continuation of Tim Kring's mid-2000s sci-fi series Heroes, has largely revolved around two events: the attack on Evolved humans in Odessa, Texas on June 13th, and the future cataclysmic event for which Erica Kravid and others are preparing. Last week's episode, 'Game Over,' managed to somewhat conclude a number of multiple-episode arcs kicked off by the June 13th attack in the series premiere, while introducing more connections to characters and events first established in Heroes. The episode ended with Noah Bennet and Hiro Nakamura going back in time more than a year to the site of the June 13th attack in Odessa, in order to try to prevent it from happening and attempt to save Noah's daughter Claire (played in Heroes by Hayden Panettiere).
'June 13th - Part One' offers a semi-restart on Heroes Reborn, for now abandoning the majority of the story threads established in the first six episodes, including Carlos' vigilante antics, Tommy's struggle with his destiny and Taylor's betrayal of her mother by reaching out the HeroTruther. Instead, 'Part One' takes viewers back in time to illustrate how certain characters found themselves on their paths, such as solving the mystery of Noah's missing memories, why he chose to wipe his mind and what happened to Claire. Additionally, the episode introduces -- or, reintroduces, for fans of Heroes -- Angela Petrelli and Mohinder Suresh, who have their own hands in the events of June 13th and the foretold apocalyptic event.
Throughout the first half of its season, Heroes Reborn has had a number of balls up in the air, often attempting to stretch too many plot threads across its 44-minute episodes. Last week's 'Game Over' managed to finally find a way to bring most of the stories together by way of saving Hiro from the Evernow video game in which he was trapped. However, with 'Part One's partial restart of the season, the episode suffers from similarly disjointed storylines that have the single loose central point of the June 13th attack. As a result, ' the episode has much the same feel as many of the episodes this season: a mechanism for moving pieces into place for use later on. In some cases in this episode, that includes moving pieces into place to explain certain events that have already happened, like how Hiro became trapped in Evernow.
Noah again acts as the central character for the episode and the viewer follows both the future and present versions of him throughout the events of the day. Additionally, Angela, Hiro, and Mohinder play larger roles in the episode, allowing 'Part One' to work more within the established Heroes universe than any other episode this season. Given these characters' history on Heroes, and their ties to Heroes Reborn through Noah, they fit seamlessly into the storyline of the episode, offering a much more cohesive cast than previous efforts.
That being said, the plotline of these four characters, as they learn about Angela's vision of the future cataclysmic event and the Evos who are meant to save the world, gives the episode the feeling of an exposition pitstop, following the action of 'Game Over.' Certainly, the revelation that Claire died giving birth to the children that were foretold to save the world -- and that those children are Malina and Nathan (a.k.a. Tommy) sent back in time with Hiro and Angela -- will have a major impact on the rest of the season. However, while these explanations to Malina and Tommy's destiny are a major focus of the episode, the major question of how Claire can die despite her regeneration power is glossed over with a single line about cardiac arrest. For those fans who wondered how the show's writers found a way to kill the seemingly indestructible character, this will likely come as a disappointment.
Additionally feeding into the expository nature of the episode, Molly Walker is included in 'Part One' as a means to explain how Mohinder's manuscript, Escalating Evolution, made it out of Odessa intact. Her other scenes with present-Noah re-establish what we learned earlier in the season about being at the hospital with him when he learned of Claire's death. Meanwhile, Erica is shown holding Phoebe captive and forcing the Evo to use her powers to cast a net of darkness over the summit to prevent any Evos in attendance from using their powers while the bombs go off. Though this further plays on the idea established in 'Game Over' that Erica has been manipulating Phoebe with the threat of her brother's death, the short scenes don't allow for much emotional depth.
While setting up many of the character's trajectories toward the paths on which viewers saw them earlier in the season, 'Part One' acts as a kind of origin story for the Evo-hunters Luke and Joanne were portrayed as in the series premiere. The couple had been attending the summit with their son, Dennis, who has a similar power to the one Luke develops in the future. However, instead of simply absorbing sunlight, Dennis' is burned easily by it, causing Luke and Joanne to argue about whether other Evos can help their son -- or somehow vaccinate him against his powers.
Although this origin story follows a typical structure, the subtle revelation that Dennis possessed a power that Luke later developed adds the type of insight to Luke's storyline that prequels/origin stories should strive for. As such, Luke and Joanne's storyline, depicting them as troubled parents whose son is their whole world, is the strongest of the episode. Though, with the performances of Zachary Levi and Judith Shekoni acting as the more grounded emotional thread earlier in the season, this comes as little surprise, as they continue to portray these characters with complexity.
Since 'Part One' is simply the first half of Noah and Hiro's trip back in time, the episode may largely suffer from setting up exposition that will pay off in 'Part Two.' But, with such fast pacing in 'Game Over,' the lack of forward movement in 'Part One' feels more like a step backward for the series. Though there's certainly plenty of time for Heroes Reborn to recapture the momentum established last week, the slow pace of earlier episodes may indicate 'Game Over' was a fluke rather than the beginning of a well-paced second half to the season.
That being said, Heroes Reborn has a number of balls in the air, and it's difficult to tell at this point whether the show will be able to keep up with all the story threads that have been established -- especially given the added element of time travel and Hiro's butterfly effect. Of course, Heroes Reborn has proven that it’s capable of tying a number of its threads together for a cohesive storyline, so it's likely the series will do it again once the heroes are forced to prevent the foretold human extinction-level event -- let's just hope it's sooner rather than later.
Heroes Reborn continues next Thursday with ‘June 13th – Part Two’ at 8pm on NBC. Check out a preview below: