I am a comic book/super-hero guy. I have loved superheroes since I was a kid. As a child I watched Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman, I watched the (really awful) made-for-TV Capt. America movie, I watched the Incredible Hulk, old reruns of Superman from the 1950s, Batman from the 1960s, Saturday morning cartoons like Super Friends, and Spider-man and his amazing friends, just to name a few. Before we had the Marvel Movieverse, Heroes, which ran from 2006 -2010, was one of the best that we had had yet. Well, at least the first couple seasons. I loved that show, I loved some of the characters, and several of its stars became household names because of it. It eventually crashed and burned, but it always felt like there was more story to be told. That brings us to last night and the return of our heroes.
The first episode, of the two part series premiere, of Heroes Reborn, which airs Thursday nights at 9 PM on NBC, opens “One year ago, June 13th”, with a hopeful, If regretful, voicemail voice-over from a father to a daughter. But it’s not just any father and it’s certainly not to just any daughter. Here we are again with Noah Bennett AKA HRG (Jack Coleman), father of Claire Bennett (the Cheerleader as in “Save the cheerleader, save the world”), no longer wearing his trademark Horned Rim Glasses. Back in Odessa Texas, at PrimaTech, where it all started, and we follow Noah walking into the Odessa Unity Summit, organized by Evos & Humans United, for what looks to be the beginning of a new era for those with powers, now referred to in the common nomenclature as “Evos”, short for evolution. It is a beautiful day. Families mill about, Evos and humans of all ages and ethnicity smile, dance, and celebrate this brave new world of peace and togetherness. Of course this cannot last. A darkness, a malevolent shadow, moves across the sky, and the revelers, and we see the pavilion from a distance. There is a massive explosion and, as we survey the ruins of what was just such a happy celebration, we hear voice overs with the recognizable voices of various presidents, world leaders, and the news personalities, talking vaguely about terrorism, this new threat, how we will go to the ends of the earth to fight it, and we learn that one of the “Heroes” from the original series, Mohinder Suresh (Sendhil Ramamurthy), is allegedly now an Evo terrorist and has claimed responsibility for what happened in Odessa. Then we are back to Noah, alive in the rubble now littered with bodies and a few stragglers who have survived, and he stands with his nice new glasses now cracked. He screams his daughter’s name, and our journey has begun.
From there we bounce forward through time and place. Nine months ago, four months ago, seven weeks ago, as we are introduced to other Evos including teenager Tommy Clark (Robbie Kay). All of them are running, escaping, clearly being hunted, as the events in Odessa have created massive, worldwide, anti—Evo sentiment. This brings us to now, June 13th, one year after. All of the Evos we have just seen, and a couple others including Luke Collins (Zachary Levi) meet in a Church Basement in Chicago, like some kind of support group. They are afraid, they are tired of running and hiding and having to try and hide who they are. And they may be the lucky ones. I won’t spoil it for you but let’s just say it doesn’t end well and Tommy, who received the text and left early, is one of the only ones to make it out alive. One of the others was a coach from his high school, and this is how he finds out what happened at the church.
The show jumps around a lot, as it cuts from place to place and character to character, in these first two episodes. We jump back-and-forth from, Chicago to Los Angeles to Tokyo, and elsewhere, meeting other seemingly unconnected Evos and possible Evos, like Miko Otomo (Kiki Sukezane), Carlos Gutierrez (Ryan Guzman), and others, and of course we are back with Noah, the sole principal character to return from the original “Heroes”. We are given a sense of this changed world, where many Evos are disappearing or dying. Some others are in hiding, some have become Street level vigilantes working to protect their own, and others are just working the angles to their advantage. Noah, who is now living under an assumed identity as “Ted”, just wants to put it all behind him and move on with his life. He’s working at a Cadillac dealership (Cadillac was a sponsor of these first two episodes being shown with “limited commercial interruption”), is engaged to a lovely new woman, and seems to have settled down into a quiet, normal, life in the suburbs and planning for a big wedding. Over the course of a couple of his segments he notices a Crown Vic that is seemingly casing him at a distance. When he finally confronts the occupant, it is the frumpy Quentin Frady (Henry Zebrowski), who is apparently part of the “Evo Truthist” conspiracy movement and knows who he is. There’s multiple subplots in these first episodes. There is a mysterious man with a suitcase full of pennies (Pruitt Taylor Vince) who seems to be watching over Tommy for some as of yet unrevealed reason, and then there is one of the more interesting pairings of the show, Ren Shimosawa (Toru Uchikado), who is overflowing with charisma, a serious, and apparently quite famous, gamer in Tokyo who is lead by a secret within the video game “Evernow” to the front door of Miko. She does not seem to do much of anything except sit in her apartment and stare blankly, listening to bad J Pop, until he arrives and, in speaking with her, becomes convinced that she is a character, “Katana Girl” from a Manga and from “Evernow”. This leads her into her fathers study where she finds a magic sword that takes her inside a video game and on to a quest to save her father. That’s not a joke or a typo. That happened.
I’m not going to go any further into the plot of the show, as I could write another thousand words and it’s still might not make a lot of sense written out on the page. I’m not entirely sure that it made a lot of sense on the screen either. Secret mega-corporations, secret plots, secret secrets, there’s a whole lot of (sometimes confusing) stuff going on here, a lot for a viewer to take it. That’s not necessarily all bad, as I kind of expected that these first three or four episodes are going to be a lot of character development and exposition as we are reintroduced to this universe, the characters that inhabit it, and the rules that govern it. In talking to some of my friends who watched, many of them found the show somewhat confusing, even “incomprehensible” as one friend put it. Not to say that they didn’t like it, just a they found it confusing. Perhaps it is my ADHD but I was able to follow things for the most part. As the majority of the original cast members are apparently not returning in major ongoing roles (there were a couple surprising cameos, one of which may have involved an original “Hero” being killed off), there is the necessity to introduce all of these new players. There are a lot of references and “Easter eggs” thrown in for people who watched the original series but I would think that much of that would be above the heads of many new viewers. I’m willing to give the writers the benefit of the doubt for the time being, but there are a lot of nits to pick with the show and I am already concerned that they are going to fall back into some of the writing habits that killed the show in its later seasons. One detailed that bothered me was that Noah, who is in the process of planning this big wedding, or at least half ignoring his fiance as she prattles on about it, seemingly abandons said fiancé, without a second thought or even a goodbye, to go off on an adventure after an attempt on his life convinces him that there is something more going on. There’re other plot holes that may or may not end up getting filled in later, but with show-runner Tim Kring you just don’t know. I’m hoping that as the show progresses we will come to understand more of what progressed leading up to, and following, Odessa. There is a web series, A prequel, called “Dark Matters“, available to watch now at the link, prominently featuring Quentin that is worth watching if you want some more background of this new world leading into the series premiere. If you never watch the original series, I would definitely say give this show the three episodes to see if it grows on you. As someone who did watch the original series, and loved most of it, I will try to stick around through at least the first season, but honestly if the storytelling does not settle down some it may make the show very hard for some people to watch.
I give the Season Premiere 3 out of 5 Evos.