Heroes' season finale slunk over the airwaves last night, bringing with it mindless platitudes from Suresh, the defeat of one enemy, and Sylar-related plotholes so gigantic they could fight Godzilla and win. Spoilers ahead!
Last night's epidose, "An Invisible Thread," was aptly named. There was indeed an invisible thread bringing together all the plot lines in this episode, as well as invisible motivations for all the characters and an invisible justification for the climactic final scene when Sylar is "defeated" but only invisibly.
Though there were some cool moments in this episode - pretty much any scene with HRG comes to mind - mostly it was disappointingly simple for Hiro and Ando to take down mutant holding facility Building 26. And it was far too easy for the Petrelli Bros to take down Sylar. Meanwhile Suresh's voiceovers were even more treacly and vapid than ever before, which I guess makes sense in a season finale, where you always want to do everything but amped up to 11. There is literally a voiceover moment at the end where Suresh says, "Without these, can I be me? Can you be you?" And the referent for the "these" is completely lost, so you're just left feeling like somebody is having a lame LSD trip and has invited your sober ass along to babysit them while they talk about tasting colors and being you.
So we began last night's episode with pretty much the same damn pickle we've had at the beginning of every episode. The Hunter's Building 26 shock troops are rounding up the mutants for like the 400 millionth time, Nathan can't reach President Worf to stop him, and Sylar is a roving evil force who kills people for reasons that vacillate between working for The Hunter and dealing with PTSD from his sad wittle childhood.
Seriously, at this point I really want to know: What the fuck is Sylar's deal? In the first season he was a watch geek who wants to be something special and hates his whiny mom. So he discovers his powers, kills his mom, and starts eating mutants while wearing indie rock t-shirts. His quest is to become "special," and he's hunting Suresh because Suresh has a list of all the mutants that Sylar wants to eat. OK, makes sense: He's your basic serial killer whose appetite is for mutants. And he has to be stopped before he can steal Claire's superpower of undeath.
As far as I'm concerned, the Sylar plot should have ended there. Once the serial killer is captured, you can turn him to good or give him a new set of creepy desires or something. But don't just let him remain a glorified serial killer. But that's exactly what happened. In season two, Sylar has hooked up with super-death dealer Maya and his motivations get even more murky. Mostly he just wants to kill everybody again. Seriously, give the guy a cause celebre, and let him do something other than grinning creepily as he makes hand motions.
And then came the light at the end of the Sylar tunnel in season 3, or so we all thought. First of all, he gets involved with The Company and Mama Petrelli becomes his new fixation. He hooks up with electrical Elle, and suddenly turns back into a good nerdy guy. This was exactly the kind of thing the show needed to do with him. Turn him into something else, give him more depth, make him fascinating again. I think some of the best Heroes episodes since season 1 were during the Sylar-goes-good arc, when he's bonding with Elle and goes on to secretly help the Petrelli Bros by pretending to help Papa Petrelli. The guy had resolved his issues, figured out that he didn't want to give into his desire to eat brains, and had even learned how to absorb people's powers without killing them.
Then came season 3, book two (AKA post-writers strike). And so began the long, dark path of "what the hell." Instead of continuing with Sylar along his new trajectory, giving him depth by having him struggle with his dark side, he went right back to being the same boring, aimless serial killer guy from season 2. He could have sided with the mutants in the War Against The Evil Government, and been a truly interesting character. Instead, he becomes the same rogue who lives only to eat mutant brains and try to work out his mommy and daddy and step mommy and step daddy issues. Who the hell cares that he had a nasty childhood? So did Elle! So did the Petrelli Bros! And their mother! So did practically everybody on this damn show! You can't tell me that it's character development when we learn more about Sylar's sad childhood being sold by his psycho, mother-murdering dad to a nice suburban couple. Hello!!! We already knew his parents were psycho!!!
So here we are, as season 3, book 2 concludes, with an extremely boring, uncomplicated bad guy who has now suddenly grown a new motive. He wants to be president. Why? No reason. Just because. OK, great - so he's a serial killer who gained the power to shape-shift and now he's going to be president in order to - what? Kill more mutants? Does he have a grand scheme? Does he have an army of minions? Any sort of mastermindy moment? No, no, no.
Maybe that's why, in the end, it's so easy for the Petrelli Bros to take Sylar down. There is literally a scene where they run into Nathan's office, slam the door, and we hear "biff bang boom!" and see some light shoot out from under the door, and then it's over. Sure Nathan is dead, but Peter has stolen Sylar's power of shape shifting, and is able to take Sylar down by pretending to be President Worf. (Oh Michael Dorn, how I wish you'd actually been in this season - it would have brought a touch of class to this mess.) When Sylar-as-Nathan shakes Worf's hand, Peter-as-Worf stabs him in the neck with a tranq. So even though Sylar's been able to use his shape-shiftiness to MOVE THE SPOT IN HIS BRAIN that is his one vulnerability (hence Hunter being unable to kill him with a knife to the head), he can't I dunno move the tranq out of his blood?
Anyway, with Nathan dead, the Petrellis, HRG, and Parkman come up with the STUPIDEST PLAN EVER. One that will reinstate Sylar as the boring bad guy yet again next season (and WHY is there a next season?). They decide - get this - that the most LOGICAL thing to do is to use Parkman's brainwashing powers to turn Sylar into Nathan permanently. That way, they have access to political power via Nathan, and they can cover up the fact that a major politician was killed by a mutant and avoid further crackdowns. Plus, as Mama P argues totally incoherently, she wants her son back. But even if Sylar absorbs Nathan's memories, he won't be her son! He'll be a brainwashed serial killer with boring motivations playing her son really badly! Plus, when did Parkman's powers become so strong that he could literally brainwash one person into being another person? Why didn't he just do this before? Couldn't he have brainwashed the Hunter into being Holly Hobby or something?
So as you can see from this clip, it was super easy to turn Sylar into Nathan. And there was so little money in the effects budget that we didn't have to see yet another one of those awful CGI bumpy-face morphs. Sylar just turns over, and poof he's Nathan! He even hugs his mom at a bonfire where all the mutants burn Sylar's fake body. So only HRG, Parkman, and Mama P know about the Nathan/Sylar merger. And as Nathan hugs mom, she and HRG plan with him a way to restart The Company together to protect mutantkind. WHAT? Are you serious? How could these seasoned mutant-wranglers ever think this would work? Did it work to wipe Sylar's brain in South America? Did it work to make him thing Mama P was his real mommy? More importantly: Do we even care at this point now that our credulity has been stretched so thin that you could fold it over ten times and make a croissant out of it?
I'll tell you one thing we really don't care about: Hiro and Ando taking down Building 26 by freezing time, putting all the agents in the drug-induced coma room, and shooting Hunter full of tranqs. So all the mutants get away, and Hiro is getting brain explodey when he stops time. Boo hoo.
The episode ends with the beginning of Volume Whatever, called Redemption. As you might guess, Nathan/Sylar is already having glitches, staring moodily at clocks and getting hungry for brains and useless plot developments. Meanwhile (yay!) Tracy is back and now she has the power to turn into water and drown people. She's slowly picking off all the former Building 26 guys.
What will happen in the thrilling season 4, book 200 billion? Wait, let me guess: Sylar will become a brain-eating serial killer again, whose motivations have something to do with wanting power for no reason and being obsessed with flashbacks that we've already seen! There will be a Nathan/Sylar struggle for control of the Nathan/Sylar entity! Hiro will have to deal with his headaches! Ando will have a baby! Claire will start shaving her head and get married and do a reality show about having mutant babies who have the special powers of turning into fishnet stockings and pasties and gluing themselves to Claire's naked body!
And of course, Suresh will keep voiceovering, "Can I be me? Can you be you? I'm OK - you're OK!"