Dec 01 2009

Heroes Review: “The Fifth Stage”

Published by at 10:00 am under Reviews,Television

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For the first time in a long time, there’s been some buzz about last night’s episode of Heroes, “The Fifth Stage.”  The reason, of course, is that the death of a major character was supposed to not only occur, but actually stick.  With no Claire’s blood or time-traveling to reset the death, it seems as though Heroes may be starting to trim the fat.

Last week, Samuel continued to manipulate Hiro, Sylar emerged before Nathan could subdue him, and we witnessed a very awkward Thanksgiving for the Bennett family.  I think before even watching last night’s episode, you would have been able to figure out who died, but what are the implications for the rest of the season?  Keep reading for the full review of “The Fifth Stage.”  As always, there will be spoilers.

You can read last week’s review HERE.

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“The Fifth Stage” undoubtedly is a reference to the fifth stage of the Kubler-Ross model of grief, acceptance.  And it’s an appropriate title for last night’s episode, as Angela, Peter, and Nathan himself finally come to terms with Nathan’s death at the hands of Sylar.  In the beginning of this episode, Peter briefly meets with the Haitian and “borrows” his powers of ability-blocking and mind-wiping in preparation for his showdown with Sylar.  I suppose the best offense against someone like Sylar is a good defense, so good job by Peter for thinking ahead.  Later, in a very cool scene that reminded me of Prototype, Sylar – in the form of a black woman thanks to his shapeshifting ability – ambushes Peter in a hospital elevator and mocks him for his plan to use tranquilizers again.

I suppose this clears up some debate over the Haitian’s ability, in that it’s clearly a voluntary ability.  To put it another way, the ability-blocking ability doesn’t automatically block abilities; the user of the power has to intentionally block abilities.  Anyhow, Peter beats Sylar to a pulp and then goes to town with a nail gun, since Sylar can’t use his ability to heal (or any abilities for that matter).  Peter then uses the Haitian’s mind-wiping power to somehow bring out Nathan, and the two brothers go to the roof to discuss just what the hell is going on.

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Once on the roof, Nathan reveals that he’s growing tired of fighting Sylar and concedes that Sylar is killing him.  It seems as though Sylar may emerge again (how great was the line about crucifying Peter in Times Square?  I would have loved to have seen that!), and so Nathan, having already accepted his own death, leaps from the building in a suicide attempt.  Peter catches Nathan, but also accepts his brother’s death.  After a somewhat touching moment, Peter lets Nathan fall to his death below.  And then, in the coolest scene of the episode, Sylar picks himself up, brushes himself off, gives Peter a little nod and then heads off intot he world, hopefully to collect more abilities.

Why was Sylar able to heal if Peter had the Haitian’s power?  I’m guessing the ability-blocker has to be close to his target.  Otherwise, that’s kind of a big goof.

Meanwhile, Noah and Lauren cancel a date so that they can look for Claire, who Noah realizes stole his compass.  I wonder just what is going to become of Lauren because as of now, she doesn’t bring much to the show – she’s essentially a female Noah.  Anyhow, Noah and Lauren are visited by a “multiplier,” a person who can create duplicates of himself.  Another X-Men (or in this case, X-Factor) ripoff?  Multiple Man says hello.  The multiplier – who was sent by Samuel – terrorizes Noah and Lauren until they retreat into the bathroom.  When they come back out, he and his duplicates are gone, along with the Primatech files for which the multiplier was sent.

By the way, did anyone else find it a little out of character for Noah to suggest that sex was an option during his date?  Not that there’s anything wrong with that; I’m glad he ;s approaching single life with some aggression.

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The rest of this episode focused on Claire and her trip to Samuel’s carnival, where she met freaks people like her who were living their lives without hiding.  Normally I rip on Claire for being so dumb, but I can see why the carnival would be so appealing.  Claire’s tired of hiding her ability, and Samuel is the father figure that she needs – a father with an ability who understands what she’s going through.  In the end, Claire ditches Gretchen and sticks with the carnies.

There were two things that struck me as pretty odd during Claire’s carnival visit, though.  One, she sees Doyle and gives him a hug?  A big, “Hello, how do you do?”  The guy kidnapped her and her mother and tried to have at least one of them killed.  I’m not one to hold grudges, but I don’t think you let stuff like that go.  And wasn’t Doyle killed by Sylar?  Or at least captured by Sylar and then turned over to Danko?  Well, he seems to be doing a lot better now.

The other occurrence was the minor league pitcher (or so the dude claimed) who was pounding Samuel after losing at a carnival game.  It was just a few of bucks and we didn’t see the guy drinking, so his willingness to start throwing fists seemed pretty ridiculous.  And when young, little Claire gets in his way to try and stop him from beating up Samuel, the dude breaks a glass and slices her face?  Really?  What kind of carnival is this?

That aside, I thought the episode was pretty decent, especially the way Nathan was killed off for good.  Sylar is back and badder than ever, and it looks as though Samuel’s plan for a home is coming to fruition.  Samuel wants to keep recruiting people with abilities, but Claire isn’t the one he’s after.  Who is?  He already had Sylar, so my guess is Peter.  Heroes is off until Januray, so we’ll have to wait a few weeks to find out.  What did you guys think?





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17 responses so far

  • MrFire

    Hmmm….

    I have Sylar on the brain (no pun intended). I’m trying to figure out what I would like to happen to him. On the one hand, his character is a front-and-center highlight of heroes: charismatic, ingenious, and ruthless, and Zach Quinto just radiates presence. The show would be completely flat without him around in some form.

    And yet, his combination of omnipotence and nihilism is starting to grate on me. He’s a character set up so brilliantly to be brought crashing down – but he never does get brought down, at least in any satisfying way. There’s no catharsis. He’s the schoolyard bully who always gets away with it, taunting and tormenting his peers, and no-one seems to be capable of challenging him. He has no discernible weak spots, nothing to be afraid of. People get the upper hand temporarily, such as Matt earlier, or Peter in this episode, but by the end Sylar has turned the tables and gets his way, and the heroes are back to square one, or worse. I somehow suspect they are setting up a confrontation between Sylar and Samuel, but I don’t see Samuel lasting very long. And then what? More of Sylar going around, being an ass, effortlessly swatting away all-comers with his little pinky (think of an evil version of Neo from The Matrix!)? That can’t stay interesting for very long.

    Either Sylar needs to be disabled, or someone convincing needs to step up and take him on. Currently my main hope is Peter – I don’t want to think they would have put so much emotional investment into the final scene between him and Nathan, if wasn’t a build-up to some later, awesome confrontation between him and Sylar. Kind of like the end of The Empire Strikes Back? There absolutely has to be a satisfying resolution there, or pffft…Heroes will lose me forever.

  • Josh

    I think he is actually after Claire’s (girl)friend, to be honest. I get the feeling she has an ability and that by luring Claire away from her, Samuel will make the ability surface and bring her to Claire because, well I really got the feeling they were going to say they loved each other when they said goodbye.

  • http://paul@unrealitymag.com Paul Tassi

    That was a shit way for them to finally kill Nathan once and for all, but oh well. I thought they were going to pull something and have him throw non-flying Peter off the edge.

    For all my Heroes hate, I really think Robert Knepper has done an excellent job this season as Samuel. I also like Claire in the carnival because she’s not whining about anything for a change.

  • Josh

    @Paul Tassi: I have to agree. Robert Knepper has been absolutely wonderful as Samuel. I’ve always thought he was an underrated actor, but I definitely think it now.

  • Kevin

    The dialogue in this episode was atrocious. Claire, and I’m sad to say Noah since he has been one of my favorite characters for a while, need to just go away for a long time.

  • Madison

    @ MrFire

    Peter should be the one to take down Sylar, since he’s essentially his polar opposite. Peter can empathize with people better than anyone, whereas Sylar – despite the dumb retconning they tried to do making him a Petrelli – is unable to empathize, is a total sociopath, and sees only systems and structrues. It’s part of what made Season 1 so great, and only now are they starting to get back to that dynamic.

    You are right about Quinto though; his presence is huge.

  • Madison

    @ Josh

    If Gretchen has an ability, that will be the worst thing the show can do.

  • Madison

    @ Kevin

    Noah’s fine if he has a mission or a purpose; right now he’s just Claire’s dad. And Claire, as I’ve stated in the past, is the worst.

  • Josh

    @Madison: MAybe so. But it makes sense. Samuel’s ability is enhanced by other abilities being near him. I’m betting he can sense abilities when he is near them.

  • http://edopeno.com Ed Penano

    On a sidenote: Did you know Noah has an ability as well? It was leaked at this year’s San Diego Comic Con. Want to know what it is?

    Impaired Vision.

    Let’s hope Sylar doesn’t get a hold of that one! ;D

  • Alex

    I found the Peter Sylar scene a bit silly to be honest. I mean come on Sylar just stands there and waits while Peter is nailing him. It’s bad enough that they can’t do super powered fights but the very least they could have managed a more convincing hand to hand fight

    I wonder if the one they are trying to lure is actually Angela. Peter seems unlikely for a variety of reasons but Angela despite her meager powers is one of the originals and might have a few tricks up her sleeves that Samuel knows about.

  • BanditOne

    Gretchen will have a power. Mark it down. She isn’t on to be regular old human.

    What is the dealo on the ability to see pretty colors instead of sound. That has to come up and make sense as a defense or offensive weapon soon right? Right? Anyone?

    I loved the scene when Nathan sacraficed himself. Both my gf and I both knew that when he jumped the fall would take him to far from Peter and thus he would get his powers back. Brilliant writing.

  • BanditOne

    ^^^ excuse my spelling… let’s just say it isn’t my “power”.

  • Munky

    The only power Gretchen will have is the power to be a lesbian. They made it way too obvious at the end of this episode if Samuel was talking about her. It would fit however, and everyone likes lesbians. I can totally see Noah ending up with a power, he does have an uncanny way of not dying. They did have that magical potion that could bring out your untapped power Mohinder made, and they just brought him back into existence. I don’t remember how he got rid of his Jeff Goldblum disease, but I’m glad he’s back. Too bad he left his wife, she was bangin. I also feel like Hurley from Lost should pop up somewhere and not care about anything that’s going on.
    I’m glad Nathan is dead, he was bringing me down.
    I agree with Kevin, everything was just awkward.

    Also, in the previous episodes…when Sylar got transfered to Nathan, I think he transfered to some other people as well. He might of found a way to leave bits of himself in people, or just travel in and out of people’s minds without them knowing. Having said that, he could be in Peter, the Haitian, and Angela. Just putting that out there.

  • Erik

    The Nathan/Peter goodbye scene was fantastic. Some of the best writing on Heroes in a while. And I didn’t think it was possible, but the writers made Claire likeable again! If this show is cancelled this season, after they’ve come so far I will probably like, cry. It’s pretty clear Samuel needs to strengthen his family, and then maybe he wants Peter’s help (by absorbing Samuel’s ability) to move the continents and form an island of sorts isolated from the humans, where the people with abilities can live freely. I know Tracy got Eli (GN…if only she were as bad ass in the show as she is in the graphic novels….actually if only she were actually IN the show with good writing :/), but now what the hell is she doing? And why was that clip of her at the end randomly even there? Same with the one of Mohinder, Ando, and Hiro. Were those past episodes or present-time? If so, that’s cool because it means Hiro and Ando freed Mohinder from his asylum prison.

    The best part of tonight’s episode : Nathan’s final quote basically garunteed that Peter will get his original ability back! :D

    I REALLY hope this season ends with a bang, and if worst comes to worst, I want NBC to cancel the show but I PRAY that another network with a better writer and producer (TIM KRING SUCKS) picks it up and does some miracles with it. PLEASE DON’T CANCEL MY HEROES! :'(

  • Fher

    Munky….

    That sound a little harry potter ish to me….

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