This review contains MAJOR SPOILERS for “Cautionary Tales,” the ninth episode of Season 2 of “Heroes.”
Holy ….! “Heroes” is back, revived from what many feared was a premature death.
This week’s installment, “Cautionary Tales,” was the “Company Man” of Season 2. Is it just a coincidence that the best episodes of “Heroes” seem to revolve around Claire and HRG?
Let’s start at the beginning. Matt Parkman is getting scary!
Now that he knows he can control people with his mind, Parkman (Greg Grunberg) doesn’t seem to be holding back. Could this be a glimpse of what happened to his father and the older generation of super-powered beings?
Matt starts off by manipulating Molly with his mind, even as he pulls the HRG line of wanting her to be a normal girl. Then, he manipulates his boss to allow him to pursue the Kaito Nakamura case and talk to Angela Petrelli (Cristine Rose). When he meets with Mama P, again he uses his mind-bending power to get answers from her about who could be after the remaining elders.
Hiro (Masi Oka) goes back in time to try to save Kaito (George Takei) from his bloody death. Hiro brings Kaito to his mother’s funeral 17 years earlier, to show him why it is important for him to save his father’s life.
He meets himself as a child and in talking to his younger self, he realizes the importance of not changing to sequence of events, but in allowing them to find out who is responsible for his father’s death and why it happened.
When he returns Kaito to meet his fate, Hiro learns it was Kensei (David Anders) who killed his father.
The real backbone of the episode is the story of Claire (Hayden Panettiere) and Noah Bennet (Jack Coleman). Just as we, and Claire, start thinking HRG is at his evilest bad, with Claire declaring that “Dad is a bad guy, Lyle” and telling her father “I hate you” as he’s demanding her obedience, the worst thing that could happen to the family happens. Once again, HRG makes the ultimate sacrifice to save his daughter.
Claire defies her father’s orders to stay home from school and finds West (Nicholas D’Agosto) to plead with him to trust her. West, now knowing the guy with the horn-rimmed glasses who abducted him when he was 12-years old was Claire’s father, isn’t sure she isn’t there to abduct or hurt him.
In the meantime, Bennet shows his wife (Ashley Crowe) the images of Isaac Mendez’s paintings that have him spooked, including the one where he is killed, with Claire and West in the background. He is convinced that he has to find West, and leaves the house, only to have West find him — and fly him away.
As he and West come to a truce, he is summoned by Mohinder (Sendhil Ramamurthy), the new Company Man, who tells Bennet he’s found West. Knowing something was wrong, Bennet enlists West’s help to find and save Claire.
At the same time Bennet and West meet Mohinder and his new partner, Elle (Kristen Bell), Claire is abducted by Bob. In turn Bennet abducts Bobs daughter Elle, and holds her hostage in Mr. Muggle’s doggy bath.
Bennet knows Elle. Elle, raised by Bob (Stephen Tobolowsky) as a child of The Company, has grown up to be a super-powered psychopath. Bennet has struggled all of Claire’s life to make sure she doesn’t end up like Elle. Elle becomes quiet and sobered as she learns that her father experimented on her endlessly, and then had the Haitian wipe her memories of the torture to which she was subjected.
Claire, held hostage by Bob, agrees to give her blood as long as her father not harmed. Despite her earlier conflict with him, she is as protective of her father as he is of her.
The final showdown between fathers and their hostage daughters takes place at a beach. West accompanies Bennet and Elle, as Mohinder accompanies Bob and Claire.
The trade of blondes is made, and West flies Claire off to safety. Unfortunately, Elle zaps the two, forcing them to fall from the sky. Claire breaks the fall for West, but her father has gone into full protective mode.
Bennet shoots Elle in the arm, and threatens to kill Bob, reasoning that once Bob dies, so does the Company. HRG is shot by Mohinder, the one man he trusted, through the horn-rimmed glasses and is killed, with Claire being held back by West. Painting number eight is now complete.
The final scene with Hiro, shows him giving the eulogy for his father. In it he says “My father is not dead.”
Cut to the final scene. An IV drip is in the arm of the dead Noah Bennet. His eye repairs itself and he is revived from death, echoing Claire’s words when she found herself on the autopsy table: “Holy … .”
Most of this episode worked on many levels. There were trust issues everywhere. Aside from Noah Bennet making the ultimate sacrifice to save his daughter, we see West earning her family’s trust, Mohinder betraying HRG’s trust, Sandra’s trust in her husband getting shaky, and Elle’s trust in her father being destroyed.
Matt Parkman now seems to be a person who cannot be trusted to use his powers wisely. Angela Petrelli begs him to trust her when she implores him to leave Victoria Pratt, the last remaining unidentified person in the photo of the superpower elite, alone.
Hiro learns to trust his father’s judgment, and that his childhood idol, Takeso Kensei, has betrayed him as his father’s killer.
Despite the very dramatic nature of the episode, there is also a good measure of humor in it. The reference to “The Office” when Bob was introduced as regional manager for Primatech Paper had me giggling. Bennet’s “You’ve gone native” line to Mohinder was priceless. I also got a kick out of Noah going after Claire with duct tape. That’s the dream of parents of teenagers everywhere!
The final scene of Noah Bennet’s resurrection was not originally going to be in this episode, but was to be saved for a later date. This was one of the last-minute changes made before the writers’ strike, and I think it was a wise decision.
HRG is a fan favorite, and leaving his death in limbo for the duration on the strike could potentially have alienated more fans. Now we know we have something to look forward to, including finding out who revived him.
Kristen Bell as Elle was leaps and bounds better this week than last. Her character was no longer cartoonish, and her performance is what a Veronica Mars fan would expect of her — perfect.
What Didn’t Work
I miss comic-relief Hiro. As much as I am anticipating the impending conflict between Hiro and Adam/Kensei, the magic of the Hiro/Ando chemistry is missing. I hope the show, whenever it returns, brings us back to that at some point.
The scene where Noah Bennet is killed should not have been ended as abruptly as it did. The music and the image of West flying away with Claire should have lingered a bit longer, instead of being cut off abruptly for commercials. Honestly, I wasn’t in a big hurry to be sold mouthwash or a car at that point.
This episode left me with some big questions — which I see as a positive thing as I love to be intrigued by a good mystery or three. Was it Claire’s blood that was used to revive Noah, or was it someone else’s? Adam’s? Was Mohinder responsible, or the Haitian, or Elle or ?
Another question I have is about Adam. He killed Kaito Nakamura, but was he motivated by revenge and evil, or was he one of the honest and well-meaning heroes who tried to stop the excesses of the older generation? Key among the clues that make me think he may not be so evil is Kaito’s last line when he sees him. “Of all of them, I never expected it would be you.”
As the show continues, the abilities that people have seem to be repeated, or to overlap. Adam and Claire can regenerate, and their blood has healing power. Was Linderman part of the same continuum of abilities? Matt, Maury, Eden, and Candice all have/had the ability to manipulate or persuade people with their minds. It’s not clear, but Angela Petrelli may have similar abilities. Nathan and West can fly. Are we seeing the emergence of certain bloodlines of heroes, or is it all just coincidence?
Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due
“Cautionary Tales” was written by Joe Pokaski and directed by Greg Yaitanes.
“Heroes” airs on NBC, Mondays at 9 p.m. ET.