Heroes starts tonight! This comes as unexpected news to me, as I was expecting the wait to feel a lot longer than it did. Will Volume 4 be better than all the other Volumes combined? Of course not! Heroes fans will be disappointed if they push expectations of this season beyond what is reasonable. Still, there is some hope.
Episodes centering around one core set of characters – Heroes tries to showcase a large collection of characters. The best episodes of the show do NOT feature an ensemble cast. “Company Man” focused solely on the Bennett family, and included other characters only when relevant to the Bennett’s family turmoil. Contrast this with Volume 2, which featured every character in every episode.
One-off characters quickly faded into the background – Tedd Sprague made it into maybe 4-5 episodes. His character was a catalyst for much of the story, yet he wasn’t kept around when the plot didn’t require it. Charlie Andrews was used in 2 episodes, yet she has remained the fan-favorite of the show. Contrast these characters with Alejandro and Caitlin, two characters who were featured in every episode from their introduction to their respective deaths.
Volume 3 was a fun ride in my opinion. The writers kept a tighter focus in their episodes, taking them back to the original quality that got fans talking in the first place. Viewers complaints about the last episode set from Heroes were fairly unintelligible and mostly unwarrented. The only real complaint you could make out above the din was “the storyline was less compelling than the first season”. Granted, this statement is not incorrect. Volume 1 featured a definitive event that the characters were able to fight and stop. Uncertainty existed, but the explosion was the known cost of failure. Volume 3 featured an event of uncertain “badness” – heroes mass-produced by Artur Petrelli and subsequently rounded up by the government. The definition of failure was questioned throughout the season, making the Petrelli threat too vague to be truly threatening.
Hopefully, Volume 4 will bring the stories and themes from the start of this season to their dramatic conclusion…without falling into familiar storytelling pitfalls.