Let me be the first one to admit when I was wrong. Last week, after several story-less, entertainment-less episodes in a row, I assumed that like its forebear, Heroes Reborn was just making shit up as it went along. But “July 12: Part II” actually gave us some answers, and impressively, many of them are actually decently thought-out.

To be clear: Heroes Reborn has not suddenly revealed a masterfully crafted narrative in which all the pieces come together like clockwork, but it did manage to at least reasonably fuse the “past” with the “present” shown to us when the series began, and for the most part a decent amount of it made sense. Certainly more than I was expecting!

Advertisement

Let’s begin with the episode’s most interesting reveal, which is that the invincible Claire died because baby Nathan/Tommy/Teleporting Boy absorbed her power during childbirth. This makes a decent amount of sense, being that Claire was a Petrelli (Nathan was her dad, remember?), and uncle Peter also had the ability to absorb superpowers. I’ll buy that superpowers can resurface in the same bloodline—why not? Moreover, the idea of a baby accidentally, unknowingly killing his mother is impressively dark for the usually wafer-thin Heroes. Of course, the main reason Claire is dead is really because NBC couldn’t afford Hayden Panetierre to make an appearance, but that doesn’t mean this still isn’t an unexpected and emotionally compelling way to handle her absence.

Teleporting Boy’s absorption powers also manage to tie together a few other loose ends, too. When Hiro takes Grandma Petrelli and the twins 15 years into the past, little Tommy absorbs his powers… meaning Hiro can’t return to the present. It also means that Tommy and Malina need to be kept apart from each other, because otherwise Tommy might steal her power, which is needed to save the world. So Hiro raises Tommy (and marries the nurse, which, fine) in Texas while Grandma Petrelli takes Malina to some kind of magic nun convent in Europe.

This also manages to explain a great many other things, too, starting with why past-HRG gets his mind-wiped—he’s afraid of having his thoughts read by Renautes people and revealing the existence of the kids, but also because he needs to forget what happened. That way, he can go searching for answers again to make sure he gets to this point, and the kids get safely sent back to the past. It explains why Tommy and his mom begin the series Hiro-less and on the run; some of the Harrises manage to follow future-HRG’s visit to the older Hiro and 15-year-old Tommy a year ago (but after future-HRG is returned to the future, which is technically now [goddamn time travel])—Tommy teleports him, his mom, and the fat dude, who instantly wipes Tommy’s mind, because Tommy wants to go back and save Hiro. Basically, Tommy gets mindwiped so he doesn’t do something stupid for the next year.

Advertisement

To be honest, the past lines up with the series’ beginning so well and so reasonably that you can pretty much ignore most of the nagging time travel questions… except for one, and that’s only because the show makes such a big deal out of it. See, the reason Hiro hasn’t done anything drastic with his time travel—like stop the Summit tragedy—is because he’s afraid of altering the future, butterfly effect-style. For that same reason, everyone’s pissed at current-HRG for shooting Erica in the leg; they’re all certain it has definitely changed the timeline. Hell, even past HRG gives current HRG crap for it, which is very strange when you think about it.

But as the episode proceeds and everything seems to connect, it’s clear that future HRG didn’t alter the timeline—he always shot Erica and always had to have his mindwiped and everyone else had to do exactly what they’ve done in order to get to where they are now. It doesn’t appear as if HRG has messed up anything at all. So it’s weird for the show to keep mentioning the butterfly effect to explain why they can’t do certain things, and then seemingly prove the butterfly effect doesn’t exist.

As pleasantly surprised as I was with this episode, I’m not going to pretend that “June 13: Part II” has answered all the questions, not do I think the show has answers for everything it’s shown us so far. For instance, I still can’t imagine that the show has a reason for why HRG told the Haitian to murder him if he started searching for the truth, or why Molly was allowed to remember everything, or especially why Molly would rather kill herself than tell HRG what happened, especially when she should know that he’s about to learn the truth in a few days anyways. And please, let’s not pretend that Hiro’s “noble sacrifice” is anything but nonsense, because Tommy could have easily teleported Hiro with the rest of them. How does Hiro whacking them with a sword gain them any additional time when everyone’s already across town—and can go anywhere else instantaneously? Also, if time actually needed to be bought, maybe the kid who can stop time should have used that power instead of Hiro needlessly sacrificing himself for no reason or benefit whatsoever?

But all that said, some things were answered, and some of those answers were actually solid. I have to give credit where credit’s due. Now the next question is, as we move into the second half of the miniseries, does Heroes Reborn actually have more story to tell, or is it just going to make its characters run in circles until the final act?

Last week I would have told you that the show is absolutely going to spin its wheels until the last episode or two. After “June 13: Part II,” I can say in absolute truthfulness that Heroes Reborn is only probably going to spin its wheels until the last episode or two. That’s definitely an improvement!

Assorted Musings:

• This episode featured the triumphant return of original Heroes character Matt Parkman! He showed up as a bad guy, then inexplicably turned into a good guy less than a minute later, and then disappeared, having affected nothing. That is almost exactly how I remember all of scenes in the original series, too.

Advertisement

• Something else I was wrong about: the Collins’ kid being alive. He’s quite dead, and the show was totally cool about showing his little corpse so there was no mistaking it. That’s a little too dark, Heroes Reborn.

• So when HRG is sent back into the future, Quentin is alive! But? Whaaaaaaaat? We saw him die! Did HRG actually change the timeline? Nope, it’s obviously the shapeshifter that pretended to be Mohinder in the video taking responsibility for the Summit bombing, which we will refer as “pulling a Magneto” from this point forth.

• The episode also shows Miko’s dad leaving her behind, why Carlos got a medal, and the Collins’ family’s first EVO murder, but these weren’t explanations as much as things we already knew that were filmed anyways in order to fill screen time.

Advertisement

• Grandma Petrelli wants to keep the twins apart until the last possible moment because something horrible is going to happen, and she doesn’t want Malina to have to deal with it. The obvious answer here is that Malina’s going to die saving the world, but god help me I don’t actually think Reborn is going to throw us a bit of a curveball here.

• It turns out that the Tommy who knows what’s going on and wants to save the world is even more obnoxious than ignorant, confused Tommy. I did not see that coming.

Contact the author at rob@io9.com.