When I lived with Mighty in the flat, every Tuesday night, was lads night. And lads night, generally meant US television night. We would have friends round and watch as much US television as we could find. I think it had started with us just watching 24, and then moved on from there.
One of our favourites was a program about a group of ordinary people who discovered they had superhuman abilities. It was actually Mighty who came across Heroes first, coming into my room one evening after work and saying that I should watch it. By the end of the first episode you could tell why Mighty would go onto love the series. If Mighty had a dream, he would be flying. Standard. From Superman flying, to swim-flying, and anything in between. He would talk about this a lot, and even joked that he expected to wake up on his 25th birthday and be able to fly. His dreams were just training. So when Peter Petrelli jumps off a building wrongly believing he can fly, only to then be saved by his brother Nathan who can actually fly, I knew that this series would be the first program we would watch every Tuesday.
However, whilst Mighty had his focus firmly set of the Petrelli brothers, Hiro Nakamura was a firm favourite for all of us. For Hiro appeared to be the only one of these ordinary people who appeared to want his superhuman abilities, and to want to become a hero. Personally Hiro was my favourite as he could manipulate time and space, which he deftly showed in the first episode by teleporting himself into a ladies restroom and then later from a subway train in Tokyo to Times Square in New York. And it is on another subway train that Hiro ends up on, that the story really ramps up and that everyone’s focus was suddenly on Hiro. The lights go out on the subway train that Peter Petrelli is riding on in New York and he very quickly becomes aware that he is the only one not frozen in time… at least, he is in the subway car. Someone lands on the roof, and then walks to the end of the car and joins Peter. The figure is dressed in black, and clearly has a sword on his back. He then speaks with a Japanese accent, but in perfect English.
“My name is Hiro Nakamura, and I am from the future.”
I’m not certain who was more surprised. Peter, or us. This was the fist time Hiro wasn’t speaking in Japanese. Gone were the glasses, blue jacket, and satchel. Gone too, was his usual bumbling, excited, nerdish mannerisms. We were looking at a warrior, a hero, and he had a message for Peter.
“The girl, you have to save her.”
He goes onto to say that my saving the girl, the cheerleader, he will prevent everything. She must live. He also tells Peter than when he calls, he must tell him where they meet. And then as he walks off towards the end of the car, the lights come back on and time starts running freely again.
Meanwhile Present Hiro is in Nevada, where upon he happens to meet Peters brother Nathan. After seeing him land outside a diner Hiro tells him, in very broken English, that they are both special, and that he can bend time and space and that he’s has teleported into the future and seen New York destroyed by an explosion, which is what the characters all end up working towards for the rest of the season. The episode ends with Peter giving Present Hiro a message Future Hiro asked him to, thus creating an Ontological paradox. This was a huge episode. It seemed to set up not only the rest of the season, but character arcs that would run the course of the series.
Except that, that didn’t happen. The rest of the season built to a superb climax. But the following season started with a huge misstep, which it never recovered from. Don’t get me wrong there were some great ideas, new characters (Adam in particular), and stories (the one that showed what happened to Nathan when he was getting rid of the explosion at the end of the first season). But all of these opportunities seemed to be squandered by the show runners, and the series just kind of fizzled out.
As much as I’m loathed to quote a fictional character to back up a point. Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory once stated that;
“Heroes gradually lowered the quality season by season till we were grateful it ended.”
Grateful it ended? No. But didn’t care? Almost certainly. I wouldn’t bet money on it, but if Hiro did ever became that version of him we saw on that subway train the series had become that dire that I then didn’t notice. Likewise, if circumstances ended up meaning that we were watching a different time-line to the one Future Hiro came back from then that plot point totally passed me by.
It is such a shame as the series and characters showed so much promise, and the first season in particular was brilliant.
To be continued…