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TV REVIEW: The Heroes Reborn Premiere Is A Second Chance to Do It Right

BY Abbey White

Published 6 years ago

In a media culture saturated with world savers, NBC’s return to the Heroes universe might seem like bad-timing at least, and overkill at most. Better yet, it might seem futile.

Heroes helped pave the way for a new golden age of story, but it never quite cemented itself as the standard. An amazing premise coupled with some shaky development turned much of the series into an afterthought, if not a bad memory for some of its fans.

Which is why returning to that world -- while stacked against shows like The Flash and Agent Carter -- might not seem like the best idea.

Luckily for Heroes Reborn, it -- like fine wine -- has gotten better with age.  

Whether it’s an understanding of its predecessor's missteps, an appreciation of its competitors right ones, a cast of fresh faces breathing new life into the mythology, or a renewed commitment to the narrative by those writing it, the two-hour premiere of Heroes Reborn has rebirthed all the action, mystery  excitement, and hope of the series that came before it.

The Rebirth

Heroes Reborn has retained all of the style and tone of its predecessor, in addition to casting a gripping hook. The mini-series is clearly a continuation, but not quite a sequel. It works in that way, relying on the strengths of Heroes’ five seasons, while expanding its already massive universe and — if you can imagine it — upping the stakes.

Not much has changed about the story, but that works to the series’ advantage. The narrative structure still relies on its old algorithm, offering information and development through loosely woven story threads that will eventually form a tightly twisted rope of action. Following a handful of characters, we navigate the post-Claire world through them. Their threats and challenges act as both a summation and gateway to the world-at-large. Their struggles are unique to them, but universal to viewers which makes even their most distasteful qualities bearable. 

HEROES REBORN -- Pictured: Jack Coleman as HRG -- (Photo by: NBCUniversal)

HEROES REBORN — Pictured: Jack Coleman as HRG — (Photo by: NBCUniversal)

The show successfully pulls us into the lives of its main EVOs through a series of scenes that set the stage for their victimization. We are lulled into caring because in a strange and uncomfortable way, their reality feels like ours. We fear systematic identification and overextended government control. We even fear the fears of our neighbors, for they too have a societal power of their own. But most of all, we fear what we cannot trust and in this world we can trust nothing.

While the show’s themes are well executed, so is the series balance of new and old characters. The appearance of fan favorites is surely what brought many back to the story, but the new kids aren’t so bad themselves.

Post-premiere, Tommy’s storyline is most investing considering his direct connection to the main villains and his new relationship his classmates. Not to mention he has the trench-coated penny-for-your-thoughts EVO following him everywhere for who knows what reason. Tommy feels oddly reminiscent of Claire, though that may only be a parallel of convenience rather than one of actuality.

While his story is the most fleshed out, Miko has the most interesting. It feels disconnected from the larger narrative, but offers viewers one of the greatest perks of storytelling in a world like Heroes. Miko and Ren exist like a Russian doll, disconnected (for now) from the other characters, with the purpose of their plot nestled deeply within the larger story. In the meantime, through them we are allowed to play in a universe within a universe, and watch regular people become actual heroes.

There is great potential for Heroes Reborn to achieve the same level of success as Heroes’ first season, but it needs to know exactly what its endgame is and execute that  — and that alone. The stories at least feel equally weighted (even if they aren’t) and the 13 episode format is the perfect fit for this type of complicated serialized storytelling. If it can continue to tell the story of these characters and their challenges — without thinking about expanding the universe beyond this — the mini-series might be enough to redeem a once great series.

Heroes Reborn continues Thursdays on NBC.

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