Of course, the original Heroes series also used to have potential, once upon a time. So even as I watched the reboot’s third episode, “Under the Mask,” and thought, “You know, if these mysteries actually have decent answers, Heroes Reborn will have been pretty solid!” Then I remembered that answering mysteries has always been the show’s biggest weakness.

Is there a chance Tim King and the Heroes crew has improved their storytelling game since the show went off the air five years ago? Sure, but it doesn’t seem particularly likely. Which is a shame, because the show’s overarching questions aren’t bad—very standard superhero stuff, sure, but hey, they’re classics for a reason. A mysterious doom? A disparate group of untested heroes that needs to be pulled together to stop it? Someone trying to uncover the dark conspiracy behind it all? It all works for me.


I think the reason I feel a little optimistic is that Heroes Reborn is only 13-episodes long, and at the very least the series feels much less padded out that the original show. Things aren’t moving at a blinding speed, but at least one thing happens to each of the different storylines, which is a definite improvement. Plus, I think the miniseries-ness of it make Reborn feel like more of a singular event than a collection of episodes, which makes me want to cut the show some slack, presuming that the show will tie all the storylines together eventually. (Again, this is Heroes, so there’s no guarantee of that.)

But for now, since all these storylines pretty much exist separately from each other, I thought I’d rank them in terms of interestingness.

1) HRG and Quentin

Look, I’m a sucker for any story where a guy mindwipes himself, and then tries to uncover his past. So even though this episode was all about doubling-down on the WTF, as HRG takes the injured Quentin to a hospital, gets recognized by security, realizes he was there on the fateful June 13 of last year, and watching security footage of himself standing over Claire’s body, hanging with Molly Walker, and briefly chatting with Hiro out of the timestream. Of course HR remembers none of it, nor does he remember why he had these memories erased.


2) Miko

As you’ll recall, last episode Miko entered the Yamasomething building, the Japanese HQ for the Renautes, via videogame. She’s surrounded by security guards and has a fight scene that is by no means Kill Bill but infinitely better than the CG fights last week. She kicks their asses until top-level security guy Harris (Prime) arrives and kicks her ass in seconds, confiscating her (a.k.a. Hiro’s) sword. Since Miko claims she’s the daughter of EverNow creator Otomo—who is apparently dead?—the hilariously named Renautes CEO Erica Kravid tells Harris to interrogate her in standard evil fashion. But when Ren blunders into the interrogation room (don’t ask), it’s the distraction Miko needs to grab one of Harris’ knives, cut off his arm, and the two escape to follow Kravid the Hunter and the sword to Colorado. Meanwhile, Harris’ arm grows into a whole new Harris.


As ridiculous as this all is, I won’t deny I’m very curious to know what the hell Miko’s deal is, how she can enter a video game by unsheathing Hiro’s sword, and the fact that she apparently had no life prior to the apartment Ren found her in. The answers may be awful, but—and this is blowing my mind—I’ve actually figured out an answer that would be kinda cool. Seriously! See Assorted Musings below.

3) Carlos

Basically, Carlos follows the dirty cops who are hunting EVOs in their off-hours, eventually the head dirty cop (played by Orphan Black’s Dylan Bruce) and Carlos fight, and Carlos gets his ass soundly kicked, because Head Dirty Cop also has powers. So why is he hunting EVOs, and for who? Honestly, Carlos’ storyline should be lower, but it gets bonus points for including a luchador.


4) Molly Walker and Renautes

Having captured Molly Walker and her powers to locate anybody in the world, Renautes is able to debut their new product Epic. Epic is made up of special glasses that can see anyone with EVO powers, it’s basically Cerebro, except it runs on Molly herself. That’s standard supervillain stuff, but I did find it interesting that HRG actually arrives at Renautes and finds Molly before they put her in the Epic Machine, and she’s so freaked out by seeing him that she elects to stay with Renautes even though she knows its basically going to be torture. I feel like this can’t possibly make sense in the future, but for now, I’m trying to stay optimistic.


5) Tommy

Tommy goes to a party, which is super-dull, but leads to the discovery that the fat man is watching over him because of some sort of mysterious plan. The same plan HRG formulated and forced himself to forget? Probably. But Tommy’s mom discovers the fat man, threatens him with a gun and tries to hightail it out of town with Tommy that very night—until something runs into their car.

6) Luke and Joan Collins

So Luke has started developing fire powers, which is a bit of a Sad Trombone Noise as of course he and his wife have devoted themselves to murdering every EVO they find. Their repetitious conversations about their murder quest are already rote, but Luke basically explodes in a fireball at the end of episode, so that kinda interesting. On the other hand, Joan doesn’t seem to be mourning their dead son as much as just really enjoying murdering people, which is weird.


7) The Arctic Nonsense

You know, that girl (and her new invisible Obi-Wan) mucking about the aurora borealis that seems to be involved with the aforementioned Doom. This is Reborn at its most Heroes-ish: Portentous, pretentious, and vague to the point of meaninglessness. At least the show is keeping this crap mercilessly brief for now.

I don’t think we’re going to be able to know if Heroes Reborn is truly good—well, at least improved over its predecessor—until the final episode, and we see if this show can finally stick the landing. But for now, Heroes Reborn still doesn’t make me want to toss myself off a building, and thus I am still pleasantly surprised.


Assorted Musings:

• As you can tell, I’m really trying to keep an open mind about Heroes Reborn, at least for now. So I do want to praise something that the show did objectively devastatingly well. The introduction of “Harris (Prime)” was probably obvious to nerds like me (Zor Prime in the hizzouse!) but for most I imagine it was a rather subtle twist. Heroes! Being subtle! And the joke about the watch was stellar and perfectly executed by the actor(s). I laughed out loud.


• And while we’re talking about an open mind, I actually figured out a way that Miko’s Tron ability might not be awful. What if she’s not a superhero at all? What if her dad has the superpowers, and she’s actually a manifestation of his powers? Like, he has the ability to create a virtual avatar, and was able to design the game around it/her? That would actually explain why Miko seems to have had no life (or memories) prior to Ren knocking on her door. That… that would be a pretty cool idea, Heroes Reborn.

• Should Hiro’s time-warping powers affect security camera recordings? That seems implausible, even for a show where people fly.

• Is Renautes an anagram for something ominous? It feels like it is to me.

• Next week: Hiro’s back and needs a goddamned haircut. What, you can’t pause time and hit the nearest SuperCuts, dude?


Contact the author at rob@io9.com.