With the storm now only hours away from wiping out our EVOs and villains, Heroes Reborn’s big players must face their past in order to prepare for the future.
This week’s episode, titled “Company Woman” feels far more like the eye of the storm than the storm itself, and it works well for the most part. Many of the characters find their plots refocused on their original–and most important–missions, while others deal with the theme of time and how deeply the past can effect the fate of the future.
That re-focus made the story genuinely interesting and, more importantly, cohesive. The episode’s plot rolled out in a way it should have done earlier this season, which is unfortunate for the series’ middle episodes, but great in terms of the show’s ultimate endgame and legacy.
“Company Woman” also manages to raise an eyebrow or two about a dubious character development choice. However, it’s largely successful in delivering the set up to next week’s major action, which will hopefully not end on a cliffhanger considering NBC’s recent announcement that this limited series would remain (very) limited.
Find the Cheerleader, Save the World
Claire makes her return (kind of) in this week’s episode as our world-saving EVO siblings make an attempt to connect in Odessa. Meanwhile, everyone else converges on Odessa as the storm looms and we still don’t hear from Noah.
This week picks up where last week left off as Matt makes his way to Erica with his ticket-to-the-future leverage. After breaking into Erica’s office, he forces Taylor to point a gun at her own head before Erica gives in and hands over several watches for both him and his family. His slimey reign of terror doesn’t end before he reveals Taylor’s pregnancy secret, to Erica’s horror. As he makes his way to his family, a weird bolt of lightning shoots from the sky and strikes his car. It forces Matt to swerve into a river bank where he watches his watches and his hope for the future float away.
Through Parkman’s baby revelation, the episode unearths Erica’s “evil origins” within a series of flashbacks that span the entire episode. During these scenes we learn why Erica hates EVOs: she was raped by a doctor who was one. He used his mysterious healing powers to save first her father and then their child. But totally violating her physically was apparently not enough as the doctor declared he would be taking “their” daughter to harness and foster her potential EVO powers. So Erica did what any mother would do and… murdered him. As if almost on cue, Mr. Penny-for-your-thoughts showed up to take care of the disgusting doctor, only to find that Erica had done it for him.
Meanwhile, Tommy has another change of heart (again) when it comes to helping Reborn’s main villainess after overhearing her underlings discuss plans to only save 12,000 people. He pops out of her facility, pops in to save his mother and then they both go to the location where he is set to meet Malina. Downstairs in Erica’s gateway, Ren and Emily have both acquired watches but they aren’t looking for a way to the future. They are looking for Tommy, a fact they soon realize after Ren mentions the “Master of Space and Time.” The two team up and begin to scour the facility for Tommy’s whereabouts.
The other chosen sibling is still with Luke, along with the extra baggage of Quentin and Phoebe. Realizing they don’t have much time left, Luke agrees to drop the baggage off, but it ends up with Phoebe getting away, Quentin getting in the way, and Luke never managing to take out the show’s biggest nuisances. Quentin does finally agree to give up on his horrible sister though and Malina takes her two boys to Odessa. It’s there that they execute Luke’s somewhat smart, somewhat risky, somewhat bound to ago awry plan. Malina kicks up a storm (literally) and lands herself on the news where she is able to tell Tommy where she is.
Tommy does manage to see the broadcasted call, with the help of his mother’s smart phone, but unfortunately so does everyone else. Erica sends Hiracho and Joanna, both of whom find their targets before the targets find each other. Joanna attempts to shoot Malina, but Farah comes to the invisible rescue and takes the bullets. Those are the last bullets Joanna ever shoots as Luke burns his wife alive. As for Tommy, Hiracho digitatizes him with the touch of his hands and then brings digital Tommy back to Erica where they upload him into the machine that will take everyone to the future.
The Things We Do For Love
There were several great moments in this episode, most of which were tied to bad guys getting what they deserved. Luke smoked his wife Joanna, a necessary move for a character who couldn’t develop out of a misguided and shallow backstory. Quentin finally joined the right team which was a great (but small) redemption moment after he totally messed everything up to save a girl he no longer calls sister. Better late than never, right?
Taylor also refused the love of her mother, whose background and motivations are revealed during the episode in an attempt to make her villainy more understandable to the audience. Taylor’s decision, while it may have come off as pretty childish in some ways, followed a theme of the series about the complex nature of parent/child relationships, and the heartbreaking things people sometimes do in the name of love. Taylor made the important break away though and followed my favorite TV motto courtesy of Brooklyn Nine-Nine: “Cool motive. Still murder.”
While the tides turned for many of Reborn‘s characters going into the (series) finale, the episode was not without its pitfalls. The most conflicting aspect of this week’s larger story arc was in its revelation of Erica’s origins. In an attempt to humanize the show’s ultimate baddie, they gave her a rape storyline to explain why she hates those EVOs so darn much. In the process, the series revealed a staggeringly huge lack of awareness about what made Erica–and characters like her–compelling.
Erica worked because she was mean and heartless and driven to get what she desired at all costs. What made her even more interesting and dynamic as a character was that she could do so much harm, but still be so capable of love. In her own twisted way, Erica loved humanity–even if she only chose to save a small sliver of it and demonize anything that remotely reminded her of the person who hurt her. The best part of it was, it worked because she was a woman, a mother, and a corporate shark. And all of those things can, when at their most extreme, manifest as monstrous qualities.
The choice to make rape her character turning point, instead of allowing her personality and her various roles in life to be her guiding motivation, turned Erica into a victim of poor female character development. Not to mention, the timing of the reveal was so late in the game that it felt like a half-baked effort. If you were going to use that out-dated plot device, wouldn’t you have thought to do it earlier so we might better understand your main villain’s genocidal motivations and not grind our teeth all the way through the series?
Despite this, the episode’s cliffhanger was the series’ best executed by far. The writers expertly convinced us that Tommy had woken up and used Malina to generate our impending Odessa EVO convergence. Unfortunately for the world, Haricho basically tomagotchi-d Tommy (get it?) and now the dude is stuck in a digital game with the storm of the century only hours away.
Heroes Reborn concludes Thursday Jan. 21 (08:00PM – 09:00PM) on NBC.