Heroes: Rewatch or Reborn?

Originally published on LondonFUSE

In the name of full disclosure, I was a big Heroes fan. I started with the DVD boxset for Season 1 and by the time the second season rolled around, I was hooked. I had a Heroes poster, I was up-to-date on the online graphic novel, I had friends who were only my friends so that we could talk about Heroes. One of the first things I ever discussed with my future wife was how attractive Peter Petrelli was.


Dylan, on the right, at a party celebrating the second season finale

I only recently saw the trailer for the new Heroes reborquel, titled Heroes Reborn. The 13-episode series, which debuts this Thursday, will pick up after the 4-season, 77-episode run that ended in 2010. Has it really only been five years since Heroes wrapped up? Granted, part of the uniqueness of the series is how quickly nostalgia overtook fanaticism as the primary reaction by the audience. The transition happened after the still-magical second season was crippled by the Writer’s Guild Strike. It would be 10 months before the third season and by then we had already learned a valuable lesson – Heroes could be disappointing but the pain was lessened if you focused on the good old days.

When I discovered that there was a trailer for the series reboot, those nostalgic feelings started to well up. The new series, or at least its trailer, knows exactly how I, and the other 12 million people who stopped watching between Seasons 1 and 4, feel about the show. The opening lines of the trailer, spoken by an obscured Noah Bennet (who has been out of the shadows since the first season) are an apology to the lost audience, encouraging them in their nostalgia and imploring for a second chance.

Memories are funny things. The good ones fill our lives with meaning, with context and clarity; while other memories can deceive, the ones that make you believe you know the truth. Those are the dangerous ones […] The one thing you don’t want to feel is regret.

The trailer hits so many of the right beats and isn’t afraid to let you know what it’s trying to accomplish. Familiar characters show up and are named out loud in case you missed the point. Lines are repeated from the first season by new characters, and man-oh-man, that score. Plus, it’s all modernized and space agey with a sexy, shiny, skinny new font for the logo. Of course I’m on board for this. How could I not be? I can look past the uninteresting-looking new characters and X-Men-did-it storyline because the trailer promised to go back and get it all right.

So what’s a formerly die-hard fan to do when faced with a looming sequel to a favourite series? I’m sure I’m not the first one to consider binge-watching the series on Netflix as an excessive foreplay to the new season’s premiere. Sure, the idea of watching 77 episodes in just a week would be absolute insanity. That doesn’t mean I didn’t start.

It didn’t take long at all to realize that all of the forgiving that I was doing for the trailer was a habit I had learned early on in the series. The first season is still great, I’m not here to dispute that. But, when you remember something being incredible, flaws stand in stark contrast when you try to go back. Narrative shortcuts (like Mohinder Suresh literally stumbling his way into clues about his father’s research in two concurrent episodes) are less forgivable and characters you glossed over (looking at you, Niki Sanders) seem to take up half of each episode.

The really incredible thing that the Heroes Reborn trailer manages to do is make you feel nostalgic about those less-than-favourite elements. When Mohinder showed up, it didn’t occur to me that I hadn’t enjoyed his story arcs. He was just one of the most familiar faces of the whole series, so the giddiness overrode my actual memories. The most incredible example of this unfounded nostalgia is near the end when a chunk of the trailer is narrated by an unfamiliar voice. Even when the character’s face is revealed, he’s still unknown, until he announces “… but you can call me Micah.” I lost my mind at the reveal that this grown man was once the show’s child prodigy character. Although, like with Mohinder, once I was actually watching the show again, that glee dissolved as I was reminded that Micah had been a pouting supporting character in one of the weaker threads of the Heroes narrative.

It’s brilliant and insane what Heroes Reborn expects from its audience. It knows your relationship to the original series and plays your emotions like a piano. On the other hand, it’s also asking you to ignore all the warning signs that come from the same people doing the same thing and expecting different results. The trailer acknowledges that things went bad there for awhile but it also promises that things can be like they were in the beginning. Heroes Reborn wants you to remember the great times you’ve had but it needs to stand on its own legs. After all, if it’s just a rehash of the sights and sounds of the first season, I’ve got Netflix for that.

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