I might sound slightly redundant, saying the same thing week after week, but… What a great episode! While some might argue that there are more and more plot holes, I would very kindly argue that up to now, things get (eventually) explained and that we should keep giving Heroes a chance – at least until they make an obvious and unforgivable mistake that doesn’t get explained within a couple of episodes.
There are many things I love about this show which make me willing to give it a chance even were it to make a really big mistake (in my opinion, everything seems to still make some kind of sense). In this particular episode, I like the fact that Peter is starting to understand that just maybe he can’t save the world on his own. It’s a pretty obvious thing for us ‘normal’ people to know, but maybe these powers got to Peter’s head and he needs a good dose of reality. This is partially provided by his reluctant dependence on Claire, and the fact that she refused to leave even when he told her about the future he saw and why he is trying to keep her ‘innocent’. One big mistake that Peter is making is that he is forgetting that the ends don’t justify the means. Quite the contrary; the ends are making Peter justify using means that lead to less than stellar consequences. And so, while Peter’s intentions are still good, his arrogance makes him a danger to himself and everyone else.
On the other hand, and perhaps ironically enough, Sylar’s lack of confidence and almost innocent insatiable hunger makes him less dangerous in that he listens to others – although the fact that he is so desperately seeking to belong that it makes him listen to just about anyone. When Sylar listens to people like Arthur Petrelli… It gives for terrible decisions, but for really good TV.
This entire situation makes me wonder if Peter and Gabriel are more than brothers; they almost seem like two halves of one person, two extremes that need the other to learn to attain a balanced middle. Perhaps it won’t be until the two start working together as equals that they will be able to save the world.
I don’t know if this is what the writers have in mind, but it would make sense. Peter and Gabriel (I like calling them Peter & Gabriel – makes you think of some sort of divine intervention, no?) have the same sort of power – ‘getting’ other people’s powers. Peter’s power is fuelled by extreme empathy, which makes him able to understand the power just ‘like that’, by being close to the other person. Sylar’s power is fuelled by extreme hunger, which makes him able to overcome his humanity and do something revolting – open up brains and look into them.
Arthur explained to Sylar that his “hunger is not about killing, it’s about power” – and, in a way, Peter’s empathy is also about power; Sylar hungers to understand powers because, in a way, it might give him the ‘power’ to understand the past, and Peter’s extreme empathy makes him want to have power over the future, to make sure bad things don’t happen to people. Another continuum that Peter and Sylar are both on, but on either extremes.
If this theory is right, then, perhaps ironically enough, Arthur Petrelli is the person that started the two on a path towards understanding the other.
On the one hand, Arthur is helping Sylar access his empathy, which he says is in there… Which, by the way, is quite ironic. After everything Arthur has done, he is going to teach Sylar about empathy.
On the other hand, Arthur took Peter’s abilities away. He can’t just force what he thinks is best on anyone anymore. He has to make an effort to truly understand what is going on and convince those who have power to help him. He can only hope for their help if he listens to them and all together, they reach a consensus. So, in a way, Peter needs a good dose of Sylar’s ‘hunger’ to understand – but he has to get the hunger to understand the bigger picture. Peter ‘getting’ Sylar’s hunger was too easy, a little bit of an insult to the complexities of the show. If Peter hasn’t lost his empathy, maybe he will be able to relearn how to access his powers, just like – oh, the irony – Sylar was able to find his again in season 2.
On a side note, the introduction about eclipses, their beauty and their power, and our feeling of humility following such a big event was really beautiful. Of course, people like Arthur Petrelli might not feel the same way, perhaps seeing the eclipse as an annoyance.
I also loved the whole Sylar/Elle interaction, especially when Sylar tell Elle: “We’re all at war with ourselves, that’s what it means to be human. The trick is to figure out how to be on the winning side.” I absolutely love shows what can give way to such deep discussions. And you have been warned: there is a discussion about this line coming up!