Monday, February 26, 2007

Heroes—Company Man

Tonight's Heroes really surprised me. While the show has been good, tonight's episode was outstanding. Holding a tight focus on a group of core characters allowed the writers to build more than the usual momentum within the course of the episode, and they worked the atypical story structure to its maximum effect.

The story revolved around the hostage situation at the Bennet home, framed by flashbacks which provided backstory about Bennet, and why he did what he did concerning his family. After weeks of being a shadowy, enigmatic, possibly bad-guy figure, Bennet finally emerged as a fully developed character, a man doing the best he could to protect his family from an organization he's worked for for years, but can no longer trust. Tautly written, strongly emotional, and with a killer of a heartbreak ending, this was the best Heroes episode of the season so far.

We open at the Bennet home, backtracking a bit from last week's episode, as Ted and Matt poke around the house. Bennet shows up, and they confront him. Matt and Ted both are convinced Bennet and his cronies gave them their powers. Bitter about the death of his wife, Ted threatens to kill Mrs. Bennet in revenge. Urged by both Bennet and Claire, Matt shoots Claire to defuse the situation, told she can heal but obviously not completely trusting this. Claire, presumed dead, is taken upstairs to her bedroom.

Layered through this is our flashback sequence, filmed in black and white (to good effect, I thought, though sometimes this can be hokey). 15 years ago, Bennet first joined the "paper company" as a cover for his actual activities (we still don't know how he got involved in the shadow organization in the first place. He's to be partnered with one of "them"--who turns out to be Claude. In another interesting guest spot, Bennet's boss is played by Eric Roberts. Also present in the organization are Hiro's father and Hiro himself (one would think Hiro would have some memory of this--he looked old enough). Mr. Nakamura turns a baby over to Bennet, saying that if she manifests, she will belong to the organization. Bennet doesn't really want to raise a child. A few years later, Bennet's wife begins to suspect something is wrong. The Haitian, as a boy, makes his first appearance to wipe Mrs. Bennet's memory. He's shown wearing a necklace with the ubiquitous symbol.

Back at the present-day Bennet home, Bennet explains that he's been hiding Claire's powers so the organization won't take her away from him. Matt convinces Ted they need to go to the paper factory to get more evidence, but Ted wants to stay at the house. Ted's a little psychotic. He's promised to nuke the house if Matt isn't back in an hour. At the paper factory, Matt and Bennet reach a shaky truce. The Haitian joins them. Bennet confronts him, angry because he knows about Claire. The Haitian says he answers to someone whose orders supersede Bennet's regarding Claire.

In flashback, Bennet has been ordered to kill Claude, because Claude has been hiding a special abilities person and is now considered a security breach. Claude knows this, but has gone with him anyway. Bennet shoots him, but Claude goes invisible.

Back at the house, Claire frees her mom and brother while Ted's distracted by Mr. Muggles. He realizes Claire's not dead. Lyle makes it out but Mrs. Bennet goes back to try to save Claire. Matt and Bennet return with files to placate Ted. Ted finally simmers down a bit. The Haitian takes Claire and Mrs. Bennet out of the house. Bennet tries to explain Ted's situation--he can't be cured and his only way out of his power is to die. (This reminded me of an Ultimate X-Men issue, where Wolverine was sent to kill a teenaged mutant whose powers were completely deadly and completely uncontrollable.) Eric Roberts (did they ever give his character's name?) shows up and shoots Ted. Wounded, Ted goes kaboom. Matt runs. Bennet stays behind, trying to sedate Ted. Claire runs in after him and tells him to give her the drugs so she can do it. He agrees. The radiation burns her badly. The house explodes. Claire emerges, horribly burned, healing as she walks. Her powers are witnessed by the boss man, who looks uncomfortably smug.

Back at the Institute, the boss man has assumed that the Haitian, not Bennet, was hiding Claire. They have Ted in a cell, sedated to control his powers so they can study him. Matt's there, as well, unconscious. Boss Guy has plans for him. Bennet is now expected to turn Claire over. But on the way to drop Claire off, Bennet meets the Haitian on the same bridge where he shot Claude. They've got a plan. Bennet has the Haitian shoot, then mindwipe him so they won't be able to track Claire. And thus we end, with Claire weeping over her wounded father, while the Haitian removes all memory of her escape.