NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of Heroes Reborn, including two major Heroes personalities being killed off, are present in this review.
Oh, Heroes. Considering your unceremonious end back in 2010, I’m disheartened to see that you still haven’t learned from a lot of your mistakes.
Granted, Heroes Reborn is at least a little better than the total bum note that the series’ fourth and final season ended up capping off the show on in its first two episodes (which aired back-to-back for the premiere of Heroes Reborn), despite plans by the showrunners for a fifth season that will now be realized in comic book form, but it’s certainly not the second coming for NBC’s once-beloved superhuman drama series. If you were expecting a more refined return to the high point sensibilities of Heroes’ first season, the show doesn’t really achieve that yet. In fact, taken by itself, this first episode is a real dud, which probably explains why NBC ultimately didn’t let it air by itself.
The first and largest problem is that the new cast is not really as interesting as the original one. Granted, it’s great to see Jack Coleman return to the role of Noah Bennet/H.R.G., the one former cast member of Heroes that seems to have a sizable role in Heroes Reborn, but the other characters range from decent to head-scratching. You definitely can’t judge a Heroes miniseries revival by the first couple of episodes, granted, but so far, a lot of these personalities are not doing enough to rope audiences in, particularly new audiences that haven’t watched and enjoyed the original Heroes before, or even those who just abandoned the series when it started to go downhill after Season One.
The Heroes Reborn miniseries attempts to hit the ground running in its first episode, “Brave New World” (which was supposed to be the first ‘Volume’ of the scrapped Season Five for Heroes), by featuring a massive terrorist attack that more or less levels Odessa, Texas, the original home of Claire and Noah Bennet from Heroes, which was meant to be the host of a peace summit between humans and ‘evos’, which is what the world is calling people that develop superhuman abilities. The show then just fast-forwards a year later, and soon reveals that Claire apparently died in the explosion that seemingly destroyed the town (if you’ve seen the original Heroes and bore witness to Claire’s ability allowing her to heal any injury, you might suspect that there is more to this than what is being said), and evos have been driven on the run and into hiding.
Heroes character, Mohinder Suresh apparently takes responsibility for the attack (off-screen), but this is where Heroes Reborn immediately runs into some credibility issues. First, Mohinder Suresh would probably be a celebrity by this point, since it wouldn’t be long after Claire revealing evos to the world in the series finale of Heroes before Mohinder’s theories would have entered the public consciousness, and made him an award-winning academic authority. Yes, Mohinder gave himself powers in Season Three of Heroes, but to think he’d go from preaching tolerance and open-mindedness of evolution to being a terrorist is something that the public really shouldn’t buy. You’d think at least one of his students would have stuck up for him! Yes, he could be taking credit under duress, but that doesn’t change the fact that blaming Mohinder of all people is a pretty stupid plan on paper!
Barring some clumsy explanation later as to why Mohinder may somehow be made an outcast, despite his myriad scientific breakthroughs related to evos during Heroes (obviously, that’s a long shot), it would have made far more sense to blame someone like Matt Parkman, or even Angela Petrelli, who have dark sides, and could theoretically be pushed to being evo extremists, from the traumatic events they suffered in Heroes. Hell, Matt Parkman was already publicly accused on national television of being a terrorist during one episode of Heroes! That story angle was on a silver platter for this miniseries, guys! Obviously, Heroes fans aren’t going to buy into the idea of Mohinder Suresh of all people becoming a bad guy, so that’s not a good way to try to bring veteran viewers into the miniseries. Maybe, the showrunners have a good idea that will spring from this, but right now, it’s just too unbelievable for anyone familiar with Heroes already.
Anyway, the event has given rise to evo support groups, which is where evos secretly meet to discuss the struggles of having powers. Here, we meet the miniseries’ best character so far, that being Tommy, a young boy who has the power to warp things away to an unknown location. Tommy barely escapes all of the evos being shot dead by a vengeful married couple who lost their son in the Odessa attack, that being Luke and Joanne Collins, played by Zachary Levi and Judith Shekoni, respectively.
Tommy, Luke and Joanne are basically the emotional cores of the show at this point, despite the series seeming to spend the most time with Noah, perhaps as a way to keep the interest of Heroes fans in the early stages of the miniseries. In Tommy’s respect, his arc is done well, where he’s driven on the run by his mother, also an evo, and naturally has trouble adjusting to his constant new lives. It echoes the struggle of Claire from the main series, and unlike Claire, Tommy is bullied by the boyfriend of a girl who likes him, and is tempted to use his abilities to just make the guy disappear. It would be very easy, and if there are no witnesses, there are no questions to be asked. Tommy is the character that gives Heroes Reborn any sense of heart at this point, with an inner struggle that makes sense, on top of mundane conflicts that are relatable. He’s bound to be an early favourite for new viewers especially, selling the emotional side of the miniseries pretty nicely.
Less effective are Luke and Joanne, who are laughably heavy-handed characters at this point, especially since Zachary Levi acts Luke like he downed half a bottle of extra-strength sleeping pills before showing up on set. Their itchy trigger fingers are unintentionally hilarious, and the show never stops to consider that, when their legions of victims are dead, there’s no evidence whatsoever that they’re evos! They just look like two morons on a killing spree! Even if there was evidence that their victims are evos, murder is still murder, and these two never seem to have any semblance of a plan, beyond going somewhere where evos gather, and shooting absolutely everyone dead, presumably leaving a ton of evidence all over the place, and hoping there’s a way that they can burn down the room. Yes, Suresh is presumably blamed for all of their attacks, as he is with this one, but as I already established, making Suresh take the fall for evo-related attacks is just dumb, and it shouldn’t add up in the eyes of the public, not to mention that it wouldn’t immediately take all suspicion away from Luke and Joanne!
Frankly, Luke and Joanne don’t work as would-be villains at this point. Joanne in particular is comically bloodthirsty, almost to the point where she comes off as a comic book villain, and not in a good way. These two are not trained killers, and they’re especially not trained evidence scrubbers. They’re just angry parents with a hate-boner for evos, with no special abilities, beyond having guns at this point. Putting aside the fact that the ‘dead child’ motivation is cliched as hell, they should have been caught and thrown in jail almost immediately, even if someone is pinning their attacks on Mohinder Suresh somehow! How the hell have the police not captured these idiots in the span of an entire year?! Yes, they move between towns, but if you’re on a killing spree, police in separate regions do talk to each other, you realize!
Anyway, from here we meet another character, whose nephew idolizes a vigilante in a luchador mask that operates in Los Angeles. This is Carlos. He doesn’t do much of anything for now, beyond imply a dark past, have sex with teachers and forget their names even during the sex (class act), and argue with his brother over the vigilante. He’s the very definition of a benchwarmer character, and in the first episode, he just takes up runtime, that is, until the very end of the episode. Surprise, his brother is the vigilante, and, after being mortally wounded in a fight, now he wants Carlos to take up the mantle. How predictable.
Over in Japan, we don’t reunite with Hiro and Ando, but instead, meet some new characters, Ren and Miko. This is where Heroes Reborn descends into full-blown ludicrousness. Apparently, Ren is an expert at a fictional online video game called Evernow, finding a hidden message that leads him to Miko’s address in the game, and Miko learns she can warp into the game when she touches a katana, and she’s modeled after the game’s mascot, and… She Fights samurai, and… Yeah. I swear I’m not making this up! Ren and Miko are at least tolerable because their blatantly absurd story arc is infectious in all of its weirdness, but for now, they make the least amount of sense (with Luke and Joanne kicking around, that’s a feat!), and feel like they’re merely present to inject some faster pacing into what’s otherwise a slog of a premiere.
The central arc, like I said, seems to come from Noah, who teams up with a conspiracy theorist named Quentin Frady who claims to have dirt on Primatech. Apparently, Primatech isn’t as dead as Heroes claimed, and someone is operating out of the company to a mysterious and sinister end, related to the evos. After Noah has to disguise Quentin actually knowing something to his new fiancee (yes, he has a new fiancee. How can this go wrong?), he sneaks off to find out what’s going on. Eventually, the trail takes him to a front office, where he re-encounters Rene the Haitian, complete with Jimmy Jean-Louis reprising the role. Rene tries to garrotte Noah to death, only for Noah to accidentally shoot him in the struggle. As he dies, Rene reveals that Noah intentionally had his memory wiped, and ordered Rene to kill him if he ever came back. Pending this plan potentially being ridiculous itself when we see what it amounts to later, Rene didn’t just shoot Noah from behind instead, because…?
Honestly, killing off Rene just feels like a cheap way to try and raise the stakes in the miniseries. It’s a thankless bit appearance by Jimmy Jean-Louis, and veteran Heroes fans may find this murder of a fan-favourite character to be kind of insulting. Also, what the hell was the point of Rene putting on Noah’s horn-rimmed glasses before he tries to murder him? Yes, it’s probably a nod for fans of Heroes, but from a logical standpoint, it makes no sense whatsoever!
Finally, the only things of note that happen beyond this questionable moment are Tommy getting cornered by Luke and Joanne and using his powers to make them go away, an act witnessed by his crush, Emily, who chases him home in her car, and tries to console him. We then see a mysterious blonde woman in a parka summon the Aurora Borealis, say that disaster is coming, and this is where the episode ends, predictably with a bunch of questions, and no answers.
This is not a very good start for Heroes Reborn. Far too little happens in this premiere episode after the Odessa attack, and that’s probably why NBC (and thus, Global for us Canadians) decided to stick the second episode on top of it for the premiere night not long beforehand. This entire first episode is nothing but basic establishment of a cast that mostly fails to resonate at this point, and that’s before delivering a story that’s riddled with plot holes, and one that doesn’t provide any real hooks to get viewers interested, regardless of whether they’ve watched Heroes or not before.
Like I said, it just seems like Heroes Reborn isn’t learning from the main series’ former mistakes for now, and that’s not a good way to jumpstart a miniseries based off of a disgraced drama that, frankly, ended up being cancelled for a reason.
- Good to see Noah Bennet again
- Tommy is a highlight amongst the new cast
- The ludicrous Ren/Miko arc can be enjoyed ironically
- Most of the new leads are dull
- Lots of plot holes, particularly regarding Luke, Joanne and Mohinder
- Story is way too uneventful, and doesn't draw the viewer in