Masi Oka as Hiro Nakamura, James Kyson Lee as Ando Masahashi - thanks to NBC Universal
Masi Oka as Hiro Nakamura, James Kyson Lee as Ando Masahashi - thanks to NBC Universal

Series 3 of Heroes, the second part of which is called Volume 4 – Confused yet? (ed)
Heroes is a frustrating show to watch at times. For a programme with such a strong, exciting premise, it has made more than its fair share of fumbles. Truth be told, I stopped watching religiously at the end of the first season ? I could see the potential, but never truly got hooked in the way I did with Lost, the grim reviews of Heroes second year convincing me I had seen the best the show had to offer. Indeed, since then, the programme has hit trouble, with sliding ratings, confused plots and a sense of growing apathy in the viewers who bothered to stick around.

So, does A Clear and Present Danger, the first episode of Volume Four (entitled ?Fugitives?), mark a sea change for the show? Well, broadly speaking, no. Anyone expecting Heroes to have undergone a major reinvention will be disappointed. There is little in this opening episode to really grab the lapsed viewer ? the script still feels clunky, passages of dialogue are truly dire, and characters like Peter and Matt are still dull, no matter how many super powers they develop. The real issue with this opener however, is the sense of deja-vu it fosters in the long(ish) term viewer. Whilst there are moments here designed to hark back to the first season ? Peter and Mohinder share another cab, Matt can paint the future ala Isaac ? overall there is nothing here that feels particularly fresh. Hiro and Ando are still knocking around in a mildly amusing side story, Claire is still concerned about Sylar and Noah has apparently gone bad (again). The issue is that whilst all this seems to suggest a desire by the writers to hark back to the ?glory? days of the show, all that is actually achieved is leaving the viewer becoming aware that, on a fundamental level, things have barely moved on since season one.

But it isn?t all bad news. Despite A Clear and Present Danger?s flaws, there are hints at a better tomorrow for Heroes. The ?Fugitives? plot kicked into gear from the off, efficiently, and crucially for a show with so many characters, quickly, reuniting many of the principle stars of the show by the end of the episode. After so many convoluted plots involving time travel and who knows what else, a more straightforward approach to plotting would be welcome in ?Fugitives?. The episode did get better as it went on, leading to a climax that was undoubtedly the finest moment in the whole thing, giving proceedings a much needed kick up the backside and a sense, if only for a moment, that Heroes could still be wildly exciting and impressively inventive. Character wise, Sylar is still as compelling as ever, with his story strand offering some of the most satisfying scenes in the episode. But overall, Heroes is going to have to try harder and fight off the sense that things have gone a little stale if there is going to be anybody left in the audience who cares anymore.

By Liam O?Brien

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