NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of Heroes Reborn are present in this review
The good news about “Under the Mask” is that it actually improves the overall quality of Heroes Reborn, after its two rather lacklustre premiere episodes. The bad news however is that the episode doesn’t fix all of the miniseries’ problems that have come up so far, most notably its rather shaky writing. Still, as long as we’re moving in a forward direction, that’s what counts, I suppose.
So, what are our leads up to now? Well, Noah and Quentin have decided to take a trip to the hospital where Claire was apparently found dead, after the big terrorist attack in Odessa, which also conveniently gives Quentin a chance to patch his shot arm up. After Noah learns that he’s considered a security threat at the hospital, he coerces a security guard to reveal the security footage from his last visit, and sees himself visiting Claire’s lifeless body, and talking to a mysterious stranger that is conveniently obscured by the wall. Naturally, Noah doesn’t find all of the answers he needs, but finds renewed resolve to seek out Molly Walker, since he’s clearly involved with the Odessa attack somehow. We also see hints that the time stream was manipulated when Noah visited Claire, suggesting that Heroes lead, Hiro Nakamura may have been present during this mysterious visit.
Speaking of Molly Walker, she’s taken off to an airfield to be flown to Renautas headquarters with Taylor, though Taylor’s beau is left behind and apparently killed off-screen, probably for being a dumbass that almost kills Molly in a blatant public space. The show claims that it’s over the affair he’s having with Taylor later, though common sense would dictate that his idiocy was what killed him.
By the way, let’s talk about Molly. Molly is all wrong here. This was apparent during her re-introduction in “Odessa” during the premiere event last week, but it really needs to be said. No disrespect intended to Clint Eastwood’s daughter (no, seriously, that’s who portrays her, Francesca Eastwood), but Molly has somehow completely changed her complexion to be a ginger for some reason (maybe she got hardcore cosmetic surgery to change her looks and hide, but if that’s true, how did she afford that?), and even the show seems to have no idea whether Molly has now undergone a major personality shift to suddenly be a tough, independent girl, or is still a sweet, good-natured and innocent-type girl. She’s incredibly inconsistent, and even Eastwood clearly isn’t sure how to portray her at times. Making matters worse is that Molly is kind of, well, dumb. One of the episode’s low points comes when she re-encounters Noah, then refuses to go with him for seemingly no reason, only to turn the corner and be captured by the very same people she’s been fleeing from for ages. Looks like we haven’t completely escaped the realm of lazy writing after it was all throughout the premiere episodes last week.
Oh, by the way, picking up directly after how last week’s episode second premiere episode ended, Miko is captured by an enforcer called Harris, who seems to directly confirm that Yamagato Industries is now directly working with Renautas on its mysterious project. Ren manages to free Miko (how exactly did he get to that secret room in one of the most heavily guarded buildings in Japan?), and Miko cuts off Harris’ arm with a cleaver to escape, though Harris not only heals afterward, but the arm also spawns a clone of him, confirming that Harris is an Evo, and a rather nasty one.
We also learn a bit more about what the deal was with that mysterious ending scene in “Brave New World” last week too. Apparently, the mysterious blonde woman is named Malina, and her abilities have her utilizing the Aurora Borealis to drive back some sort of mysterious cataclysmic event, alongside a mentor who has the power to become invisible. It also seems like Renautas is aware of this activity, since one of the Harris’s checks in on the Arctic Circle. This is a big plot turn that Heroes Reborn is no doubt saving for later, so we don’t get many answers here for now.
Carlos and Tommy also had fairly inconsequential plots this week. Tommy tries to attend a house party, but after his mother confronts his ‘protector’, the man with the pennies, she takes Tommy away, and deliberates leaving town again, before they end up in a car crash, which is actually where the episode ends off. As for Carlos, he dons his vigilante gear, stalks some corrupt cops, is talked down from killing them by his father, and later tips off an Evo group that the cops are coming for them, before learning the hard way that one of the cops is also an Evo, and he happens to have super-strength. Oh dear. Carlos narrowly escapes, but that’s it for him this week.
We also get a chance to catch up with Luke and Joanne, and more head-slapping stupidity in their plot. After Noah’s car mysteriously breaks down, the two have lunch in a diner, and Luke ends up somehow super-heating his knife, which Joanne (since she’s clearly dumber than a sack of bricks), takes as the diner preparing his food wrong, despite glimpsing it coming in perfectly a second earlier. Shock of shocks, Luke is an Evo, and this is why he’s predictably no longer happy with mass murdering Evo’s. You really didn’t think that one through, did you, Chief? Luke seems to have the power to somehow harness sunlight, with the show simply ending off his plot with a frustrating fade to white as he is overwhelmed by sunlight somehow. That’s annoying.
Oh, and can I emphasize again how awful Joanne is? Joanne is right up there with the ‘new’ Molly Walker as being the worst-written character in Heroes Reborn at this point. Luke has some flashbacks that try to portray Joanne as a loving and sweet mother, but it feels like a crock, since she talks about how much she’s looking forward to murdering more people all throughout the episode, at least, whenever she’s not screaming at waitresses over things she’s too stupid to notice properly. Joanne is way too over-the-top evil and heavy-handed, and pairing her with the sleepy, constantly disinterested Luke just makes everything worse. Maybe their dynamic will get better with the reveal that Luke is an Evo, but I really doubt it, frankly.
Finally, we also get introduced to another important new character this week, in Erica Kravid, Taylor’s mother, and the leader of Renautas. Erica basically shows how deep Renautas’ connections go, and towards the end of the episode, she reveals what Renautas has been behind; A technology that (somehow) wires into Molly’s brain and can identify any Evo on the planet, using a pair of convenient specs. Like a version of the X-Men mutant finder, Cerebro for evil people, I guess. How do glorified sunglasses locate Evo’s with some sort of psychic internet network that’s wired from a lone woman’s brain? Suspension of disbelief, that’s how. Anyway, Noah bears witness to the technology spawned from Molly’s suffering, and that’s where we leave him and Quentin for now.
I will say this; At least Heroes Reborn got more interesting in “Under the Mask.” Some of the pacing issues have been fixed, and now that the thankless job of establishing a new cast is mostly done, the miniseries can start finally capitalizing on its characters in some more engaging ways. I still get the sense that the miniseries is still not going to seriously kick up until towards the end, but hey, at least we’re getting somewhere now.
- Pacing is a lot smoother and more engaging
- Characters are now given better material
- We finally see what Renautas is up to
- Writing is still too sloppy and/or lazy
- Joanne is still an awful character
- Molly's heavy alterations still don't work