Monday, September 24, 2007

We can be Heroes

(programming note - there is a three-spot of Spider posts just below this, so keep reading... we're making up for our slacker weekend habits.)

Part of me wishes I'd been writing posts day by day about season one of Heroes, now that season two is launching tonight.

There was a lot to digest, and writing it out would have helped me. I think Tim Kring has done a wonderful job bringing this vision to life, and the cast and crew all deserve major credit as well. It's hard to make Sylar sympathetic, for example, but Zachary Quinto pulls it off; and the rest of the cast hits the mark - even to the point where they will annoy me with their sudden reversals (Mohinder is the worst), but never give the impression that it's the wrong mark. Mohinder is just that way, and it's not a fault in writing or acting, but in his own personality, and it's brought out very well in the show. (Sendhil Ramamurthy is the actor, and yes I had to look up the spelling.)

The best part of the show is in all the moral struggles of the characters to either rise or fall to the occasion. They all get the freedom to be what they wish, unhindered by the writers - a difficult job but it works here. It adds up to an engrossing show. I knew I was involved when I actually started to worry that Sylar was going to win, that he'd kill every one of the gifted and rule everything. (In fact, I kind of wonder if he's intended to be the anti-christ; especially in the "Five Years Gone" chapter, he says: "The world will be united in fear; and then, they'll just be united." The willingness of some to actively work towards calamity "for the greater good" is also a sign of the heavy questions the show poses. And people say that we don't want to think when we watch tv!)

And there are still unanswered questions - why Sylar and Peter will sometimes collapse, what a time-space rift is (we haven't seen one yet, remember), what Mrs. Petrelli's gift is, where Janice and Matt Jr. are hiding... and of course, the one who can see Molly when she thinks about him. I have a theory on that, actually... in Spoiler Vision, of course. (My bet is that it's future Sylar, the bugger. I know the "Five Years Gone" chapter was there for more than one reason.)

It got to the point where the show was beginning to leach into my dreams. It turned out that I'd approached Mr. Bennet and found him not ready to cooperate. Got my brain wiped by the Haitian, and my research snitched. (Of course, that was the plan all along... I had info to share, didn't think that I would be believed if I just handed it over, so I let them "find" it after a diligent search.)

Well, that meant that I'd have to return the favor, so I snuck into Primatech one evening, moused around, and found Sylar. We talked.


-My name is Sylar,- he said, not bothering to sit up.

"Glad to meet you. I'm Mike."

That seemed to get his attention. He looked over his shoulder, through the triple-thick window, and saw somebody new... somebody he didn't recognize from the lists or the searches.

-Go away,- he said, and lay back down.

The new man shrugged. "Of course, but I think I can spare five minutes first. You seem free right now."

-Is that your power?- he sneered. -You tell bad jokes?-

"Oh, if that was my power, you'd think people would laugh at them. No," he sighed, "I'm just some guy."

Sylar rose and stared. After his failed attempt to escape, he'd been exhausted, and knew that a second attempt would be futile... unless he could get something out of it - perhaps the only thing that kept him from crushing the idiot against the far wall and letting him die. He didn't want to waste whatever gift he used to come in undetected. That wasn't right. He would have to wait for an advantage.

The visitor found a chair and sat where he could to face with the prisoner. He smiled. "I've been doing some research. Facts, dates, that sort of thing. But files tend to be a little short on motivation."

-Is that it? You want to see what makes me tick?-

"Quite the reverse. I don't think that something makes you tick... it's the other way around. A watch has no choice but to count time until it winds down or breaks. You aren't a watch, but a watchmaker; one who builds rather than the one who merely operates." And even as he spoke, he saw Sylar titling his head, listening for the inevitable clicking of his works.

-I'm doing more with my gifts now,- he replied.

"Yes," Mike said. "But it is essentially the same gift, applied differently."

-Yes.- Syler grinned, almost excited in spite of himself. It would make it more believable that way, so he didn't try to hide it. -It's just a more complex design, harder to fix, harder to master.-

"Is that the idea behind what you do?"

Sylar seemed to take offense at the question. -What else is there?-

Mike shrugged. "It seems an admirable goal. If you'll forgive me, though, I think you could choose a better method."

-Ah.- Syler turned aside. -For a moment I thought you were approaching my level.-

"I daresay I've seen it," he said. "All the ├╝bermensch crap you get in school, you know... How life evolves ruthlessly from form to form, extinguishing lesser species. Being special is its own justification."

Sylar crossed his arms and smirked back at the glass. -You have no point, do you? Are you going to try to talk me out of being what I am?-

"Heavens no, Gabriel. I am trying to talk you out of what you're doing." Mike stood and began to pace as he talked. "If you were really different, you'd act differently, wouldn't you? But how is this anything new or evolutionary? People are always using their talents to exploit others, to take their wealth and destroy their careers and families, ruin them, kill them. The tycoons did it, the conquerors and emperors did it, all the way back to the beginning. It's hardly original."

Sylar did not change his posture, but his smirk faded in an instant. He recognized the look on the man's face as he talked... the same look he got when he listened to the workings of the gifts he so treasured, but he seemed not to be hearing so much as gazing into it, trying to explain something he saw rather than knew.

"Anyone with a gun and a grudge can do what you're doing and wind up in a prison like you have; it doesn't take any training or any particular craft. To have power or talent, and to use it wisely, is very rare."

-You think I'm just a criminal?- Sylar said, coldly. -I have a mission to bring things to order.- He was pacing to match the stranger now.

"Like I said, admirable. What does everyone else get out of it? You don't exactly put them in order." He stopped abruptly. "I mean, aren't you bored?"

Sylar shook his head, not a No but a total question mark. This was the strangest conversation he'd ever had.

"Really - it's not dull to you, just wandering around, offing people's heads, learning a new trick, repeat until... when? When you're all that's left? When there isn't anyone who can understand how separated you feel?"

-You expect me to set myself against destiny because you made a speech. Now who's wasting their time?-

"Well, it would have been nice. 'Sylar sees the light!' No, I feared it wouldn't be that simple. If you couldn't convince yourself, it's unlikely I could."

Sylar froze.

"I saw the files, remember?" the visitor continued. "You wrote it all over your closet."

Sylar reeled. The ghost of Gabriel Grey, the small watchmaker, the man stuck in his track, a clockwork fixing his broken-down cousins... Was he no more than that now?

"You see the design. You used to repair things, not take them to pieces."

-Shut up!- he snarled, and struck out; the chair shot off to the far wall and crumpled, but the visitor, startled, did not move. Sylar was equally astonished. He hadn't heard that as he listened to the faint echoes of the visitor.

"I've overstayed my welcome," he said simply.

-Come back,- Sylar said; his voice sounded more like a thing of water than air, the currents pulling the visitor back and around to face him. -I haven't figured out how you work yet.-

"There's no trick to it," the visitor said.

-Come in here,- Sylar said, the words flowing out, creating an undertow. But again, the visitor didn't move.

"You can't expect to catch me off guard twice in a row, Gabriel. The next time we meet, I hope we can continue the conversation instead of fighting it out."

-It won't be a fight!- Sylar was practically spitting now. -You're weak. You have to hide behind logic; it can't fight for you.-

There was no good answer to that. The visitor just left him to fume.

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