HEROES REBORN “11:53 to Odessa” is the Perfect Character Development Storm
BY Abbey White
Published 6 years ago
"11:53 to Odessa" serves not only as a glob of plot line glue for Heroes Reborn, but as one of the season’s best written, acted and emotionally invested episodes.
Almost every plot line gets attention this week, while characters big and small receive some much needed development. Carlos and Ferrah are allowed to be considered an item, as their storylines converge with that of Taylor and the Hero Truthers.
Tommy gets to spend some time with Erica in the future and the two appear to build a relationship of trust. But when Miko gets the chance to steal Tommy’s trust away, she literally jumps on it.
Finally, Malina and Noah begin their journey, followed closely and uncomfortably by Luke -- a character Noah wants nothing to do with. But when granddad disappears, Luke may be the only one who can help her.
The Webs Reborn Weaves
While Malina and Noah’s reunion was welcome, their instant connection and ease felt more than a little odd. I’m not sure I would be that casual with a man I barely knew, even if he is my grandfather and we are both on a mission to save the world. It’s a little bit troubling to see so little effort made by the writers to build on their relationship when Noah and Tommy’s reunion literally took half a season. Their car conversations about Claire, however, were a genuine high point in the chaotic mess our heroes now find themselves in. It’s these moments that ground the series, reminding us of the very human element of the story. Without that, saving the world doesn’t seem very arresting.
Luke’s eagerness to join Team EVO was also unexpected. The character has functioned as an antagonist and on the story’s peripheral for a large portion of the season. He has only very recently started to deal with his own powers and how they fit into his life and the greater plan. Yes, Malina saved that life, but throwing his wife under the bus and refusing to discuss his own past doesn’t exactly make him seem like a trustworthy or loyal partner, no matter how bad his wife is. And it’s those two traits that are most important in this universe.
On the other hand, Tommy’s response to Erica left me feeling conflicted. While obviously no one wants Tommy working with her on her evil schemes, he approaches what she has to show him cautiously. His reluctance to work with her earlier on in the episode — a reminder of those loyalty and trust qualities — offers some hope that he won’t entirely turn over to her side, even if he does see what she’s working on. But after being shown what the world looks like on Erica’s instance that he and Malina can’t save the world, you can feel him give way. Tommy has never come across as a character that is easily played, much like Claire.
Which is why in his final moments of the episode, his choice to unquestioningly go with Miko after she drops in from the ceiling of Erica’s future facility and professes her dedication to saving him feels both exciting and odd. Yes it was great to see that Tommy never fully trusted Erica, so much so he’d rather go with a stick wielding fighter who dropped out of the sky than stay with her. But it also makes Tommy appear as if he can be swayed by the wind — which is the last thing anyone wants in the guy who is going to save the world.
Which leads me to why Malina’s role this episode was so interesting. As she has the rest of the series, Malina plays as the mysterious cheerleader, the girl who wants to help and reunite her family. She has this cool power and she is willing to use it, but we don’t entirely know how it is going to help, so the story just keeps her on the periphery. Also, you know, Tommy is obviously the more important one. Except that Malina exhibits all the traits of a real hero — perceptive, loyal, powerful. So why is she just on the outskirts, acting as Erica’s afterthoughts? Frankly, it’s either poor writing on her character’s part or Heroes’ most famous line “Save the cheerleader, save the world” taking on a new meaning.
On the whole, this week’s episode concentrated on some less developed characters, which actually made the story more dynamic. This week also united many of our storylines, very literally. Carlos, Ferrah, Taylor and the Truthers are now all on the same page and can help each other keep two of the world’s most important EVOs safe. The story also brought Miko back into direct contact with Tommy, Erica and Otomo, while Ren will now surely be linked to the larger plot back in Odessa.
While the episode didn’t hold many “surprises” like last week, the series’ butterfly still managed to keep things interesting. Quentin, after working to get Tommy to the future, questioned what he and his sister were doing. And in this moment we further understand why he is the butterfly. Because Quentin is so close to so many storylines, he has a knowledge base the others lack. He is also emotionally close to an EVO that — if removed from the situation — severely handicaps Erica. If Quentin changes his mind about what team he’s on, he can literally shift the entire game. And in a world full of powerful EVOs it’s surprising — and exciting — to see that it’s what makes us most human that makes us most powerful.