Everything looks horrible for people with superpowers by the end of the ‘Under The Mask’ episode of Heroes Reborn on NBC. Erica Kravid, the head of Renautas, has put on the freakiest shades that science fiction can imagine and she’s using it to hunt down gifted humans and register them. Or cook them up into a nice lasagna. It’s not clear. In fact, the episode closes with her showing off a giant tracking system that can see every single evolved human in the entire world, it can even zoom in to show little 3D models of them, like the figures TSA scanners see when they x-ray airline passengers.
If that plot sounds familiar to you, you saw it in X-Men 2. Which, honestly, was probably the best X-movie so far, so that’s not so bad. What Tim Kring adds to X-Men though are the funky glasses that allow Renautas operatives to see evos in the wild. In other words, it’s like a They Live mash up with X-Men 2 (God rest Rowdy Roddy Piper’s soul). Yet, I don’t think that’s what the writers want us to think of when we see those goggles. They want us to think of Google Glass. Mr. Kring is telling viewers that this is a show about the tech economy.
In fact, if the hardware doesn’t make it obvious enough, the good guy kook of the show, Quentin Phrady, who asks HRG if Renautas might not have found ways to turn all evos’ powers into technology.
The show opens with “Malena” playing with the northern lights and fretting to an invisible woman that she may not be ready when she’s needed. The invisible lady isn’t having it, saying, “Malena, the storms will only get worse. The world will need your powers soon.”
END OPENING CALL TO ACTION.
HRG breaks into a truck because Zachary Levi’s Luke Collins stole his car, and his road trip buddy convinces Noah to take him to a hospital. You can see that Bennett wouldn’t mind if he bled to death, but they head that way. As they drive, the familiar Heroes text melts over the roadway’s heat as they go, but we learned something new this week: that text is by Paul Pope, the series new art consultant.
On Heroes, legendary comic book artist Tim Sale provided much of the art seen in the show, including providing letters that appeared throughout the series as chapter titles and such. For Heroes Reborn, that role is held by another much loved comic book draughtsman, Paul Pope. Check out his book Battling Boy. You’ll love it. Unless you aren’t a person, and if you aren’t a person then this guy would love to talk to you.
You know who’s also on the road? Luke Collins and Judith Shekoni’s Joanne Collins. The husband and wife that believe the family that slays together stays together, but it’s looking bad. Luke doesn’t want to talk about who to kill next. It makes Joanne very mad. Luke fronts like it bothers him that they aren’t being as careful as they used to, but something deeper is chewing at him (remember who said he’d be the moral core of the show?) Meanwhile, Ms. Shekoni is doing a great job with the whole megalomaniacal bereaved mommy thing.
Until the car breaks down and the two realize they have to walk. Queue foreshadowing:
“You know how hot it’s going to get out here?” Joanne asks.
“Yeah, I’m burning up already,” Luke answers.
You know the show has fully begun because Katana Girl is kicking people. That is, until Clé Bennett shows up as Harris. Actually, this time the show indicates him as “Harris (Prime),” which will make sense in a couple scenes. He kind of has the powers of the leader of the best era of the comic book X-Factor, Jamie Madrox, except more gross.
After Harris beats Katana Girl like heavy weight fighting a golfer, he takes her sheathed sword away from her and says it’s not her sword. Shortly thereafter, he finds the Renautas CEO at the end of a meeting and we learn that the sword had belonged to Hiro Nakamura, the sunniest time traveler on the original show.
That’s not the only big reveal in this scene, though. When Harris tells Erica who Katana Girl believes sired her, the CEO says that he couldn’t have possibly done so. What does that mean? Could Katana Girl be not exactly human? She has one of the least plausible powers we’ve seen so far (the ability to move into and out of a video game). Could it be that she’s not an evo but something else?
This show is bringing in new elements long familiar to fans of comic books. Like, for example, costumed crimefighters.
In East Los Angeles, Carlos Gutierrez is deeply contemplating putting on his dead brother’s El Vingador mask again. He’s looking at pictures pinned to walls. The pictures are making him angry. He’s contemplating doing things he may regret, but he doesn’t put on the mask.
The most important scene of the show takes place back at the hospital, where a doctor recognizes HRG and he, of course, realizes something isn’t right. So what does Noah Bennett do when he needs answers? He finds someone alone with some authority, shoves them against a wall and puts a gun to their head. He does this with a security guard in the hospital and the security guard tells him that that was pretty much what he did the last time he was at the hospital. Which was on June 13th, the day somewhat blew up a load of evos in Odessa, Texas.
“You put a guard in the hospital last year. This hospital,” the guard tells him.
“I don’t remember any of that,” he says.
So Noah makes the guard show him some security tape and two things happen: first, in one scene, time keeps skipping. Is it Hiro? Who knows. Second, Noah sees himself looking at a blonde girl on a hospital table and getting very sad. We never see her face and neither does HRG. But, nevertheless, he’s sure it’s his daughter. His daughter who basically can’t die is somehow dead in Odessa, Texas, despite the fact that Sylar said during Heroes that she can’t die and that on the prior show he’d seen a document that said she’d never shown up and THAT WE NEVER SEE HER FACE.
What I’m saying is that some blonde girl that Noah thought was pretty great died. I don’t know who, but (we’ve covered this) he has a soft spot for blonde girls, but it’s not Claire Bennett. STFU.
He saw something else in the security tape: Molly Walker walking out of the building with him. Once again, it convinces him that he has to find her. He says, “If Renautas has digitized her power, they may be after the same answers. That can’t happen.”
Again: digitization, turning powers into technology. Scaling them. Look for lots of ham-fisted references to the tech economy in this mini-series because that is what’s on Tim Kring’s mind.
What was I talking about? Powers! Right, so Luke Collins, the guy who kills people with powers, parts ways with his wife outside a motel on the way to L.A. and turns into a ball of fire. Cool. Yes, you definitely saw that coming, but he may not have fire power. He may have power copying power, like Peter Petrelli and Sylar had, because one of the people he killed in the first show also had fire powers.
Back in Japan, Katana Girl escapes Harris and cuts off one of his hands as she does it. He’s totally chill, though. Not only does his hand grow back with Claire Bennett-like aplomb, but his OTHER HAND does him a solid and grows into a whole other Harris. That’s why Harris is able to show up basically every where Renautas is kicking it. Nice work if you can get it.
There’s a lot of just moving people around in this episode. Getting Molly to Colorado. Katana Girl deciding to go to America. The Collins deciding to go to L.A. Blah Blah blah.
One character who has moved too much and doesn’t want to move anymore is Robbie Kay’s Tommy Clarke. He wants to stay in the town he’s in, because he thinks a girl might like him. He wants to see her so bad that he manages to use his power on himself for the first time and teleport past his mom so he can go to a kegger. A kegger which, we learn, he pretty much paid for with his power, stealing beer for Brad, his former bully.
Just as he’s about to get to walk his crush home, though, his mom shows up and puts a gun to the head of Mr. Pennies, who’s watching him. That’s when Mr. Pennies says, “Follow the plan,” to her, as if she should know what she’s talking about. She huffs away from Mr. Pennies, snags Tommy and embarrasses the crap out of him in front of the girl.
Back in LA, Gutierrez has finally put on the El Vingador mask to rescue a bunch of Evos from evil cops. Only one of the cops shows up to get them, though, so it should be an easy match for the masked man, right? Wrong. It turns out the evil cop is super strong and he just beats the bejeezus out of El Vingador. We’ve all seen Kick Ass though. A hero has to start that way.
Back in Colorado, Renautas is getting set to show off Epic, their Cerebro/Google Glass combo. As Erica Kravid talks about how great it’s going to be to a full theater, we watch Molly Walker getting painfully strapped to a table and electronics shoved into the back of her head.
“Epic, with its incredible technology, can locate every advanced human on this planet,” Erica says. “With Epic we will be able to scan anyone anywhere at any time.” Which is kind of what Google is able to do right now, right? And we love what they do for us for it. And that’s exactly what Renautas plans to do with Epic, too. They think we’ll love it.
“They cannot run. They cannot hide,” Erica says. Okay, okay, we get it.
You know who else gets it, HRG, who not only somehow figured out exactly where to go, though it’s not clear how he should have known, and got there roughly as fast as a private jet in a hurry, but has also managed to watch from the VIP seats behind glass. “We’ve got to get to Molly. Free her and destroy this technology,” HRG says.
How’s he going to do it? My guess would be looking for security people walking alone, shoving them against a wall and putting a gun to their head, but I can’t be sure. That’s up next.
The mom and son get t-boned mid-meaningful bonding moment of indecision. Roll credits!
The show up to this point has been all about establishing the crisis and what’s changed about the world since season four. It doesn’t really have a heart yet, but I think that’s going to come as we start to see the gifted individuals on the good side coalesce.
Its humanity against evil technology, in the form of Renautas. Renautas who, like Primatech on Heroes, seems so big and powerful that one friend of mine remembered it as just “the government.” It isn’t the government, though. The government doesn’t factor that much in these shows. It’s all hugely powerful private interests, which must be intentional on the writers’ part. Big companies, in Mr. Kring’s narratives, are scary.
There is a counter narrative that is hinted at twice in this episode, “the plan.” It’s a plan referred to by two anti-Renautas people with powers: the invisible woman hanging out with the blonde girl, Malena, somewhere with lots of snow, and the character with the pennies, played by Pruitt Taylor Vince.
What’s ironic here is one fellow always had the plan in prior seasons, HRG. He seems to be the closest this series has to a main character, though, and he hasn’t a clue.