Two months after the events of “Villains,” Heroes is back with some serious bang.  Forget last season.  As all the TV spots proudly proclaim, this is a fresh start, and it’s a welcome one.  Nathan is setting his plan into motion to round up the heroes.  Peter’s working as a paramedic, still saving lives, Claire decides to leave her mother to go do something about what’s happening, Noah and Angela are still working together, Hiro sets up a headquarters for his and Ando’s superhero work, Sylar’s on the hunt for his dad, Mohinder’s a plain old taxi cab driver, and Parkman and Daphne are living together in an apartment when Parkman gets a visit from an old African friend.  It’s all in a supercharged Heroes, after the jump.

Episode 14: A Clear and Present Danger
Full Episode Online: TV-Dome

Nathan Petrelli, American hero
A sultry Tracy waltzes into an office and picks up a phone. “Is he on now?” she coos.  The camera pans to the television and it shows Nathan in an interview about his meteoric rise to the elite of Washington, including the president himself, with whom he is having “highly classified discussions.” While the TV is on, Tracy notices the window open.  She closes it, concern alleviated for the moment, until a bunch of guys in black outfits come in, impervious to her ice.  She refuses to beg for them, and they shoot her with a tranquilizer dart that takes her down. The dude who shot her takes off his mask and phones in a call, staring at Petrelli, a God-fearing man who only wants what’s best for America, and says, “Tell Petrelli we got the first one.” Zing. Dang, what an opener for Heroes. It’s snappy, quick, and kills powers right off the bat.  It’s definitely a nice shot in the arm, let’s see if the adrenaline lasts through the whole episode.

“Holy power booster, Bat-Hiro!”

Tokyo, Japan.  Hiro shows Ando a “lair” that he’s purchased – an old abandoned warehouse. He’s even got a silver suit with a red electric bolt on it, spandex and everything. Ando refuses to wear it, and complains about his useless power that’s only good for powering other people’s power. He’s about to walk off when Hiro unveils the Ando-cycle, a hotrod designed just for Ando and his superhero antics. He goes over into the computer and sets something up, then goes back over to Ando and implants a GPS-tracking device into his arm, without warning him, so that he track him anywhere in the world. Ando gets pissed and vrooms off on his bike, and Hiro’s able to track him to a corner where a bunch of girls are fawning over his newfound toy. “The Ando-cycle is a chick magnet,” Ando says. As he’s talking to him over the radio, though, Hiro is cut off, and we see a quick shot of him unconscious being dragged into a big black van before we flash back to Ando, who zooms off again on his bike to try to find his friend.

“I should have been stronger.”

Peter’s a paramedic, trying to pump life back into the battered body of a crash victim. “I can save him…I can save him…I can save him…..” The man dies and Peter keeps on saying, “I should have been stronger. I could have saved him.” Wow. This is the single best opening Heroes scene I’ve seen in awhile – it brings everything about Peter’s character right back to the center – he cares about saving lives, and it kills him that he can’t use his powers to save people, but he still won’t, because he wants to move on and live a normal life.

Crystal Claire
Angela walks in on Claire looking over some pamphlets and asks her if she has any favorites – she’s choosing what college she’s going to, but her mom’s only given her the options of the most uppity schools in the country. Claire says she doesn’t think she can do that, and that she feels like Sylar is still out there, even though Primatech burned to the ground, as Angela points out, and they found dental remains. Claire doesn’t believe that Primatech and Angela and Noah are fully out of business, either, despite Angela’s affirmations that they are.  She decides she’s going to go out and find out for herself. As she walks down the stairs, she overhears Angela talking on the phone, and picks up another phone to listen on a conversation she’s having with Nathan. Snap again!  Angela notices her after a short while, and Claire glares at her and heads out the door. “We may have another sort of problem,” Angela says to Nathan.

Let the shit hit the fan
Sylar walks into an old clock repair shop and looks at a few watches.  Out pops someone with a gun: Martin Gray. Oh snap, it’s his dad! Sylar tells him he’s his son, and that he has some questions for him. Finally, now we’re getting somewhere! People are going places. Let’s see, so far in this episode, Claire has finally quit her bitching and just left, secondly, Peter’s back as a paramedic, similar to his nurse job in the first season, still saving lives in every way he can, Hiro and Ando are setting up base camp as superheroes, and Sylar’s off to find the secret to his parentage, finally.

Parkman the housewife
Parkman sits at home, staring at an empty chair across from the table, when Daphne zooms in. Matt gives her a look – they’ve decided not to use their powers, and Daphne has obviously broken that promise. She tells Parkman he could be opening his own detective agency, not working as a body guard for twelve bucks an hour, and that she can get him the money they need. Daphne hates being normal whilte Parkman longs for the quiet of a former life.  It’s a good dichotomy and the relationship between the two is actually turning out to be less and less of a gimmick as we go along.  Later on that day, weird African dude shows up again, and tells him that he is not normal, so he should not be trying to live a normal life. Parkman says, “What am I supposed to do?” He sits down at the table, and starts to draw, with white eyes.  Later, after he’s woken up, Claire comes in to warn him, and he shows her the pictures he’s been drawing, one of them of the two standing in front of what looks to be a broken glass window with one shattered hole.  Then, into the room shoots a tranquilizer dart and both Matt and Claire ar taken down.

Sylar: King of Daddy Issues
The clockmaker says he’s a different person than he was when he abandoned Sylar all those years ago. He tells Sylar to go ahead and ask him questions. Sylar says he’s sure as hell not the son of a snowglobe woman and a watchmaker, so finally Martin confesses:  Sylar was brought to him, by Martin’s brother, in exchange for some pay.. He writes down the name on a piece of paper and hands it to Sylar. “You’re not lying,” Sylar says, so he snatches up the piece of paper and looks like he’s about to kill Martin anyways, but decides against it.

Taxi: Mohinder Edition

Peter’s downtown near the accident and gets a call from Claire, warning him of Angela and Nathan rounding up people with abilities.  Claire says she’s going to warn Matt, while Peter says he’ll go see his mom. He gets into a cab and who should the driver be but Mohinder. They get to talking about Nathan, and Mohinder says he agrees with Nathan – that powers are too dangerous to be left to themselves. Peter disagrees, and they leave it at that.  He steps out and heads off, and into the car steps a man, who holds a gun to the back of Mohinder’s head and tells him to “jus drive.” They reach the destination and see a bunch of guys with machine guns waiting around a yellow van. The man tells Mohinder to get out and says, “You’re surrounded.” They start to fire and Mohinder rips the door off the taxi and blocks the bullets, then knocks back the man who had held him at gunpoint.  He manages to escape, and is picked up by Noah in large gray van, who streaks down the parking garage and asks him questions about who he’s met, and what Peter told him in the car.  Mohinder tells him what he knows, whish isn’t much.  Then Noah pulls to a stop in front of the men who tried to grab Mohinder, and knocks Mohinder unconscious with a jolt of electricity from some kind of super-charged taser to the leg.

Peter wanders into Angela’s house and sees her absent and Nathan standing at the window. “You gonna round us all up? Get rid of us?” he taunts Nathan.  Nathan says he’s only doing what’s necessary, and Peter says he’s a self-loathing hypocrite, turning his back on his own kind. Nathan says he’s asking peter for advice, and Peter says, “What advice could I give you besides kiss my ass, Nathan?”  Nathan asks him to dinner, which Peter then accepts, and he’s about to leave when Nathan asks him what he’s able to do, and Peter says, “What’s the last thing you saw me do, Nathan?” “You flew,” Nathan responds. Peter shrugs, halfway, and walks off. When he gets back to his apartment, he finds Nathan there, supposedly apologizing for what he’s done, but still saying he’s doing the right thing with the government. Nathan tells him that Peter needs to tell him he’s with him, and then he’ll leave. Peter refuses, challenges Nathan, and says he’ll fight him with every breath he has.  He gives Nathan one last hug and walks off before Noah plugs him in the back with a taser.

Mouse trap
Sylar walks into an old deserted taxidermy house, populated by dozens of stuffed animals (not the cuddly kind), from deer, to foxes, to skunks. Sylar walks around, calling out to see if anybody’s home, but nobody responds. He finds a snowglobe on the table and examines it, and suddenly he’s surrounded by the dudes in the black suits, wrapping wires around his body and injecting him with at least three different tranquilizer darts. Sylar starts to go under, but it’s not enough, so he breaks free of his bonds and jolts everyone with blue electric sparks, keeping one alive, demanding to know who sent them.  The man refuses and Sylar merely smiles and says that he guesses they’ll have to do it the hard way.

Heroes on a Plane
Back at the Hiro-Cave, Ando finds that Hiro’s tracking device is working too, so he can find out where he is. Then we flash to Nathan standing in front of a row of people, all wearing orange jumpsuits, black faceless masks, and huge red headphones.  They bring in another one as Nathan watches, after he’s just heard news about the failure to capture Sylar. They take off the black mask and it’s Claire, with tubes in her nostrils and barely conscious. Nathan takes her away and puts her in his limo despite her feeble protests, and they cart off the rest of the drugged heroes onto a plane as Nathan watches and the limo drives away. In the limo, Claire wakes up from her drugged state and knocks the driver out, then manages to hop aboard the plane as it’s stopped, waiting for permission to takeoff. On the plane, Claire sneaks aboard, discreetly taking off their masks and nose-tubes one-by-one so that they can wake up, revealing Hiro, Peter, Mohinder. Claire urges them to wake up. Peter does and absorbs Mohinder’s super strong power, breaks free, and knocks out a couple of guards. A taser rolls over next to Claire. Peter shouts at her to go to the cockpit, and Claire obliges, knocking out a couple people along the way and announcing dramatically to the pilots that this, “plane is about to make an unexpected landing!” “Claire?” shouts Noah, the co-pilot.  Samuel L. Jackson then pops in and says something about having enough with these motherfuckin’ heroes on this motherfuckin’ plane, and in the back, Peter absorbs Tracy’s ice power and accidentally freezes the side of the plane, which soon breaks open into a hole that starts to suck all the unattached passengers out.   The disposable bodyguards fly away, and the plane comes closer and closer to crashing, wind rushing through it, as Peter grabs onto a harness, which slowly breaks apart. Mohinder grabs his hand, and the plane is almost crashed (You can fly, Peter! You can fly!) – when “To be continued” flashes across the screen.

I’m still waiting till next week to completely let loose my sigh of relief that Heroes may very well finally have found its way back.  Though I found the “Villains” volume to be an entertainingly comic-book fun romp, obviously a lot of people didn’t, and by the time that volume was over, even I was getting tired of keeping track of how many times Sylar changes sides. Now, with this new installment, they’re not wasting any time getting straight to the chase.  Everything in this episode happens pretty fast, from the introductory character scenes to show us how life is two months after “Villains” took place, to the plot intros that show us where the rest of the season is going to go.  It’s done pretty concisely, and at least they don’t beat around the bush with rounding up the heroes, dragging it out over a few episodes. This introductory episode does exactly what it needs to: establishes the heroes in this different kind of world and sets in motion what they’ll go through over the next few episodes. It also does something else, though, something we haven’t felt in awhile: puts the heroes in actual danger – true, they haven’t killed anybody off yet like so many fans are demanding – but one of the weaknesses of the last volume was how everything under the sun seemed to happen to the heroes without anybody getting seriously hurt or dying.  Now, though, our heroes are vulnerable, chained together, faces covered with humiliating, incapacitating masks, and having no clue where they’re headed or what’s going to happen to them. And this time, since we’re grounded in a more real world setting, the heroes seem human again, it seems like they can hurt and bleed and maybe even die.  Next week’s episode will determine whether or not this season can keep the promise this opener made. One thing’s for sure:  if a hero doesn’t die in the next few episodes, or at least have something horrible happen to them, it’ll be hard to believe anything can touch these heroes. And untouchable heroes (Superman, anyone?) never make that great protagonists. So, nice intro, Heroes, but we shall see.  We shall see.

-Thomas Anderson
aka Movie Buzz Review Dude. Check out his movie/media/pop culture blog here.