This Week on Heroes – Building 26

For the first time in my life, I’m actually watching current television shows and keeping up with storylines and such, instead of catching up once everything is in reruns or on DVD. So I thought it might be fun to do some quick reaction and discussion posts here every week, and invite those of you who are watching along to share your thoughts.

The two shows I’m watching right now are Chuck and Heroes, neither of which really impress me with any kind of unusual attention to gender dynamics, but which I enjoy nonetheless. Of course, just because I’m interested in the characters and caught up in the stories doesn’t mean I don’t have plenty of snarking to do. So expect at least as much analysis and annoyance in these posts as fannish enthusiasm.

First up, last night’s Heroes: “Building 26” – from this point on, there be spoilers for this episode!

I don’t really have anything substantial to say about the overall storyline of this volume, yet. The parallels between the events in the show and the events in real life make me kinda twitchy, but I can’t really articulate why. I guess it feels kind’ve appropriative? I dunno.

Anyway, this week I’ll focus on my thoughts about some of the characters and their interactions with each other in this episode. Let’s start with the folks in Costa Verde:

I like seeing Claire taking a slightly more active role in things, and I appreciate that her behavior is both impulsive and kinda stupid a lot of the time, but also shows that she is a clever young woman. It reads as believably teenagerish to me. I am really, really hoping that her new involvement with REBEL will usher in a phase where Claire spends a lot more time actively doing stuff and a lot less time alternately being protected, being captured and being injured.

My first impression of Alex was one of overwhelming UGH, despite him being a cute, dorky dude with glasses (kinda my type). I was not impressed with the oh-so-funny “girls don’t read comics!” moment, and the follow up where he is particularly convinced that Claire isn’t a comics fan because she’s a “hot blonde” and then is anticipating a lap dance made me gag a little bit. Are we meant to sympathize with this guy, who can’t see (attractive) women as people who might share his interests, but only as potential dispensers of sexual gratification? EW. Epic fail, writers.

Sandra Bennet calling Noah on his lies (once she found out. Why is she not more suspicious to begin with? Consultant? Really?) was a good move, I thought. I like Sandra. She seems like a good mom. I hate to see her constantly deceived, and I’m glad that she stood up for herself. I’m also a little bummed, though, because I do like the Bennets as a family unit. Families in general are so totally dysfunctional on Heroes that the Bennets have started to look sort’ve comfortable and awfully loving in contrast.

Okay! Enough Costa Verde. On to Ando and Hiro in New Delhi!

I always love to see Hiro and Ando fighting crime doing their thing together, but their actual involvement in this week’s plot kinda left me cold. The “oh noes arranged wedding puts woman in danger and she needs male rescuer!” bit was pretty ehn, and the actual rescuing was kinda sub-par. On the other hand, I really liked Annapurna and her partner, Shayla (I think? Shayla was what I was hearing, but I’m not sure if that’s right and/or if I’m spelling it correctly), not least because I felt like there was some indication that they might be romantic as well as business partners (the way the camera cuts to Shayla when Annapurna is saying that the marriage would make her lose “everything that matters most to me,” for example). There have been lots of romance plots in Heroes, but we don’t see a lot of evidence that queer people exist, and I think that’s a serious lack. If these two women are recurring characters (which would surprise me, but one can hope), I would be pleased.

Now, Building 26.

Man, I don’t even know. My feelings about this subplot and the characters involved are so nebulous that I’m just gonna go with a no comment for now. Except that I do want to note that I was initially really interested in the character of Abby Collins. I liked that she was a woman with authority and a very firm ethical stance – something that so many of the powerful characters on Heroes are missing. And then she flipped completely, after saying that nothing justifies torture and even superpowered humans have rights, after seeing Tracy kill a guy while trying to escape from a torture facility. Damn.

Finally, the roadtrip of destruction!

I am so, so tired of Sylar’s daddy issues. I am tired of everyone’s daddy issues. I would like some new drama, pls! However, I am really interested in the interactions between Luke and Sylar. Hearing Sylar angsting about not knowing his father is boring, but seeing him try to deal with a teenager is pretty entertaining. I think the writers could do some interesting things with this, especially if Sylar starts to notice the ways he contradicts himself as he interacts with Luke. And the conversation about whether or not he’s a serial killer was pretty hilarious.

I don’t really have anything to say about Mohinder, Peter and Matt drugging Noah and carting him off.

Things I would dearly love to see in the next episode(s):

I would really like REBEL to be Micah. Wireless would be okay, too!

MORE FEMALE HEROES. We’ve had two new heroes introduced in the past two episodes, both dudes. And one superpowered woman taken out of the action in a final sort of way (probably), and another in captivity. Not cool, show. That leaves us with only two female heroes that we know to be alive free to move about, and neither of them has an offensive power. Can we get Monica back??

That’s all I’ve got for now. How about you? What did you think about this episode, and what are you hoping for (or dreading)?


  1. SunlessNick says

    I would really like REBEL to be Micah. Wireless would be okay, too!

    No reason Rebel has to be only one person. And I can’t think of two heroes who would be more likely to find each other in the net. Though Micah allows:
    Can we get Monica back?

    And all three would be cool.

    (Besides I’d love to know what would happen if Ando supercharged Monica).

  2. says

    That’s a good point, SunlessNick. REBEL could totally be two or more people. I guess there’s some activity in the online comics that’s tied in with the REBEL character(s) right now which might have some clues about what’s going on there, too, but I haven’t had a chance to really start reading those things.

    I would totally watch The Monica and Micah Show. And I can always use more Ando.

  3. says

    No kidding! I was so annoyed that they pulled that out.

    I was totally multitasking, too, but I watched the episode again on Hulu while I was writing up my notes on it. 😉

  4. Aiden says

    Great post! I wrote a blog after last week’s episode complaining about the lack of female heroes in the show, so I’m hearing you five by five. Building 26 is the first episode so far where I’ve started to feel like I just can’t keep watching the show, unless they suddenly do a lot better with the gender roles. If it isn’t bad enough that they’re writing out all the female characters, they have to have the ‘girl in a comic store’ moment as well.

    I think the producers really need to take heed of the fact that there are a lot of women who like comics, sci-fi, and this show, and that what they’re doing is just not good enough. Bring back Monica!

  5. says

    I feel like the creative team keeps almost getting it. Like, there was that period when Claire was really vocal about how it was awesome that she could heal and all, but she kept ending up as a victim and wanted to learn to fight and so on. A nice sort of metatextual nod to the reality of Claire’s eternal victimhood on the show, which then… went nowhere, really. Her dad spent an hour or two coaching her through hitting-him-with-a-floorboard techniques, and that was the end of that.

    I think Claire as a character could still go some really interesting places, but it’s annoying that so many of the female heroes who were already well on the way towards fully exploiting their powers (Meredith, Eden, etc.) have either been killed off or vanished. Some of them might come back (I think Meredith reappearing is only a matter of time, since it seems to be pretty well established that she doesn’t die in fires), but it’s frustrating that they’re not part of the main, central cast to begin with.

  6. Aiden says

    I totally agree with you about Claire’s character having almost gone somewhere really interesting, and especially after the latest episode I keep wondering why she doesn’t learn to fight and look after herself as a matter of priority now that she has a shady government organisation after her. It seems like that storyline tied directly into the future scenario to explain evil, dark-haired Claire, and now that that’s been averted (I think?), she doesn’t need to bother with all that. I seem to remember Peter telling her something about ‘if you continue down this path, you’ll inevitably become evil’, but correct me if I’m wrong. Which has a dangerous message really – you can either learn to defend yourself and inevitably become evil, or you can remain a victim.

    It seems that every time a female character starts really utilising her power, she’s cut short.

  7. gategrrl says

    This is partly why I stopped watching Heroes after the first two episodes of the previous season–that, and the plots that go nowhere, or repeat ad nauseum.

    These writers seem stuck on parent issues: Claire and HRG (or Noah). Noah’s obsession with Claire that’s starting to be acknowledged as edging on this side of creepy. Sylar’s never ending quest to find his father (“I am your Father, Luke!”) And of course the Mother Control issues with Angela Petrelli and sons.

    It’s not just that women’s roles are reduced this year so drastically: it’s also that the writing is so monumentally *bad*, too.

  8. Robin says

    I would love it if Rebel turned out to be Micah. It certainly makes sense given his power, and it would explain why we haven’t seen him for so long. He’s been hiding. With Monica and Nana Nichelle. They should totally come back too.

    (For a second my brain got confused between Monica and Maya, and I was sad that you were scraping the bottom of that barrel for any female character you could get. But then I remembered. Phew. No offense, but I just can’t stand Maya.)

    You’re right that there haven’t been any overly queer characters (at least, none that I recall), so it would be kinda cool if Anapurna and her partner were girlfriends. Of course, that raises the issue of exoticizing gays. One issue at a time, I guess. Be better if they’d just acknowledge Matt and Mohinder’s relationship and move on, but maybe that’s just the Torchwood fangirl in me speaking.

    I think the best part of this episode was the “random” music on the car radio during the Sylar / Luke road trip. Yay for Talking Heads. ::snerk::

  9. says

    Aiden: Yeah, the victim-or-evil thing that all of the characters seem to believe about Claire is totally creepy.

    gategrrl: I’m not sure if I’d still be watching if I had been with the show since the first season. I ended up watching the whole thing within a two-week span on our Xbox through Netflix’s streaming thing, mostly because it was there and it kept me company while I was knitting. And because I could just keep watching on to the next episode right away, I think I was slightly more forgiving of some of the cheap suspense-building tricks and plot holes and so on than I might have been. I guess it’ll be interesting to see if I stick with it… 😉

    Robin: Hee! Agreed on all points.

  10. SunlessNick says

    I feel like the creative team keeps almost getting it. – Revena

    Exactly this. I was about ready to quit on Heroes when they killed off Usutu, but I wanted to see how things played out with Daphne (and she ended up rocking).

    But I have no faith that they’ll keep that up with her – and what I understand of what’s coming with Tracy (I’ve only seen up the end of the Villains arc) – those two were the main steps forward in my last Heroes post. One I upon a time I kept episodes, then I stopped; sooner or later, “only just” and “almost” won’t be enough to keep watching.

    Though making it routine to give their black characters names would be a start.

  11. says

    Eleniel: I know, right???


    Though making it routine to give their black characters names would be a start.

    Good lord, yes. And also, Usutu is from “Africa”? That’s like being from “Europe.” Ick, and I just realized that Maya was from “South America,” although in that case it was something Sylar said rather than the way she identified her own place of origin, but still. Would it really be so hard for the writers to name individual countries, at least?

  12. says

    SunlessNick, MaggieCat: Thanks for the elaborations on where Usutu and Maya were from! I’m embarrassed that I missed the Dominican Republic tell in the chyron. Woops.

    MaggieCat: Hee. I find yelling at the screen kinda cathartic, sometimes, but there’s definitely a limit that we all reach eventually.

  13. MaggieCat says

    Usutu’s location was only found out from the location tracker on the website, IIRC. (Although I did enjoy the cell phone joke, that does not make up for implying that Africa’s a country, main-on-screen-aspect of the show!)

    and I just realized that Maya was from “South America,” although in that case it was something Sylar said rather than the way she identified her own place of origin, but still.

    Maya was from the Dominican Republic, which was mentioned in the location chyrons on a couple of occasions. It’s not much considering the other issues with the character, but it is something that they took the time to specify. (I think I remember an interview with Dania Ramirez where she said it was the first time she’d played a character with the same background she has.)

    I’ve kind of given up expecting much from the show at this point. I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt for a very long time, because this show hits one of my weaknesses — the “I can see a really interesting storyline in there if they just _____” setup, I’m a born fixer. But there comes a point at which I have to cut my losses and make something one of those shows I watch because there’s a least a couple of cast members I like, but watch with my brain switched off to make the yelling at the television stop. For Heroes that point occurred around Arthur Petrelli’s entrance.

  14. MaggieCat says

    Throwing things at the television is also soothing, but you have to stick to non-breakable items. This is where having made approximately 739 squishy cat toys comes in handy, although the leaping through the air that follows can be somewhat distracting. Not that that’s always a bad thing.

  15. Jacob says

    I’d like to see Micah as Rebel, as he is the most likely. But, if there’s one thing about this genre (sci-fi), particularly since Tim Kring (creator) talks a lot with the Lost creators/producers, I’m thinking this is not going to be the case.

    My guess, simply because her introduction really hasn’t served any purpose yet, Abby Collins. She’s the boss, so she could be tapped by the president (or handlers) to watch/listen to what the Hunters are doing. I think the president’s “handlers” are/is Ma [Angela] Petrelli.

    Abby, she probably has abilities, probably known to Angela Petrelli, so she’ll have a recurring role… just my guess as Moira Kelly has some star-caliber and a helluvah slap shot (TOE-PICK!)

  16. says

    Jacob: I’d definitely like to see more of Abby Collins, but I’d be really surprised if she turns out to have super abilities after her dialogues with Nathan in this episode. I guess we’ll find out!

  17. Legible Susan says

    I’ve just got to this episode, being in Britain where we’re a few weeks behind.

    Yes to pretty much everything you said. I heard the bride’s partner’s name as Shaila – I used to know somebody with that name. That part was interesting. Otherwise in that plot strand: arranged wedding – oh, that old cliche – now they’re equating arranged wedding with forced wedding, that’s so-o-o wrong … If it was a real forced wedding it wouldn’t be that easy to fix, I’d have thought.

    Since I didn’t spot an entry on the previous episode, I guess this is the place to say: Grrrr, to them putting Daphne in a refrigerator. Daphne (and particularly the way she developed from somebody who was only in it for the money to an actual hero) was one of the few good points of Volume 3.

    YES, bring back Micah and Monica!

  18. SunlessNick says

    Grrrr, to them putting Daphne in a refrigerator. Daphne (and particularly the way she developed from somebody who was only in it for the money to an actual hero) was one of the few good points of Volume 3.

    The only female hero so far to have played a major role in end-of-series worldsaving. And they had to shoot her (despite the fact that she actually [i]is[/i] faster than a speeding bullet).

  19. says

    And as if Daphne would just stand there while being shot? Seriously?

    I agree that Monica should come back and Micah should be rebel.

    Who is ‘Wireless’ that a few people mentioned as a candidate for Rebel?

  20. Legible Susan says

    Wireless is the woman who can send and receive email without hardware, like the internet is in her head. I think she only appeared once, in season one? Apparently she’s also in the comic.

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