Oh, how long was the summer of our geeky discontent, making do with dribs and drabs of news about casting on Heroes and little, disconnected spoilers from Comic-Con. No more, for season two began Monday night.
(Spoilers, and lots of ’em, coming right up.)
The show had a lot of ground to cover, introducing a whopping nine new characters (and giving a glimpse of a tenth) who will be around for a while and catching us up on most of the surviving regulars from last season. That’s a tall order, but the show handled the sprawl quite nicely, pinging between scene-setting, exposition and a couple of big reveals with a commendable efficiency.
And, aside from a brief bit of Suresh voiceover at the beginning, next to no mention of last season’s shrug of a finale. I was somewhat enthusiastic about it on first blush last May, but as I thought more about it my opinion settled into the "Eh" range. As we pick up four months into the future (or in Hiro’s case, 336 years in the past), though, the places our characters have come to feel pretty honest and right. So let’s do a quick rundown:
Hiro: As we saw at the end of last season, Hiro landed in feudal Japan, circa 1671, after blinking away from the final battle with Sylar. There he meets up with the legendary samurai Takezo Kensei (more on him below), and as is often the case when you meet your hero, is bitterly disappointed. Masi Oka has not lost his gift for comedy; among the night’s best shots was his reaction to seeing Kensei’s face, mutely putting back on the glasses he’d taken off moments before.
Ando: Hanging around New York, sharply dressed in a dark suit, and assisting Hiro’s dad (see below) in whatever way he can.
The Bennets: HRG and family have moved to Costa Verde, Calif., where he’s assistant manager at a Copy Kingdom — for a mini-Dwight Schrute — and Claire is just starting at a new high school, where her dad instructs her to be "entirely unextraordinary." Claire being Claire, she doesn’t entirely succeed, catching the eye of a bitchy cheerleader and a cute boy who goes on about aliens and robots. HRG gets maybe the second-best laugh of the night when he takes down the petty tyrant. And he’s also got something cooking with …
Suresh: Lecturing in Cairo, he makes an impassioned plea for help in stopping the virus that killed his sister, and which he now believes threatens everyone with a genetic advantage. He catches the eye of the Company, just as he and HRG had planned.
Nathan: Now we know why Adrian Pasdar was sporting such a luxurious beard over the summer. Nathan is still broken up about the loss of his brother, and thus has taken to drinking, not shaving, seeing visions of a disfigured Peter in barroom mirrors and lashing out at his mom.
Parkman: Now with the NYPD, Parkman uses his abilities to ace a training exercise and earn his badge. He’s also caring for Molly, the "security system," who’s drawing a pair of evil eyes with the Godsend symbol and having some terrible nightmares, including one in which Parkman hears a male voice say "I can see you."
Peter: This probably won’t surprise you, but the younger Petrelli is not dead. No, he’s inside a shipping container in Cork, Ireland, with no memory of how he got there. This was intended as the night’s big reveal, but to me the more interesting information came from …
The elders: RIP, Kaito Nakamura (and darn if I won’t miss George Takei, assuming Kaito really is dead). Both he and Angela Petrelli received pictures of themselves (two halves of the same photo, actually) with the Godsend mark across their faces. This, apparently, means they’re marked for death. Kaito mentions that with the deaths of Linderman, Deveaux and Angela’s husband, "now there are nine" — i.e., nine founders of the Company still alive. Now it’s eight, as a hooded assailant sent him tumbling off the roof of the Deveaux building. I was prepared to theorize that it was Peter, off his rails after nearly destroying New York, until he showed up in the next scene in that shipping container. The next logical guess is Sylar, who we didn’t see tonight, but whoever sent Kaito to his death looked a little stockier to me.
The elders also tie into one of the most intriguing newcomers, an as yet unnamed character played by the always good Stephen Tobolowsky — we’ll call him Ned Ryerson for now. He provides a good bit of exposition on the Company — it was founded 30 years ago by a group of "like-minded individuals" with powers, for the purpose of "finding and protecting" others with abilities. The Company would prefer to help folks realize their abilities and help train them to do good. Of course, that doesn’t always work, so sometimes people have to be taken out. Oh, and Ned can turn things into gold. Sweet.
Your other newbies are: Maya (new regular Dania Ramirez), who has a lethal power she can’t really control and is headed to New York with her brother Alejandro (Shalim Ortiz) in search of Suresh; Kensei (former Alias bad guy David Anders, trotting out his English accent again), an Englishman looking to make a fast buck in Japan; the sword-maker’s daughter (Eriko Tamura); Wes (Nicholas D’Agosto), the aliens-and-robots kid from Claire’s new high school, who can fly (it seemed pretty obvious he’d have some kind of power, didn’t it?); Parkman’s boss at the NYPD, played by Michael Mann regular Barry Shabaka Henley; the aforementioned bitchy cheerleader (Dianna Agron); and the gangster (Holt McCallany) who was looking for a stash of iPods and found Peter instead. We also saw a brief glimpse of new regular Dana Davis during the opening voiceover.
Where’s it all going? Tough to say, although the teaser for later this season showed us a very alive Sylar (on a beach, apparently) and Niki, who was missing from tonight’s festivities. The overarching theme for the season is "Generations," so we can probably expect a lot more information about the Company and whatever sins it’s visited on this new generation of supers. I do know that the bad taste from the finale is out of my mouth, and I’m ready for the ride again.
Your thoughts on the season premiere?