**SPOILERS for Heroes season 3**
Heroes season 3 has just started in the UK (3 episodes in). Purtek has written before about its issues with female characters in her articles Heroes: Do Better and Heroes Season 2: You can still do better; the third season has kicked off with a couple of half-steps forward but some big steps back.
All New New York politico looking recruit Nathan for her boss’s campaign; she seems to be good at her job (plus), but supplements it by sleeping with her boss (sigh). Her power is a niftily represented freezing ability, which first manifests by accidentally killing someone. Obviously freaked out by this (I can understand that), she is more proactive than Nikki in trying to find out what’s happening – and so far, she has continued to do her job at the same time. So despite the sleeping with her boss thing, I think she’s a step forward.: Nikki’s apparent death at the end of season 2 really was her death, but it turns out she has a twin (or possibly triplets). This twin, Tracy is a
On To Elle. Purtek asked, “See, what I would ask here is why the writers feel that a woman with an interesting power is inevitably *not* capable of taking on Sylar.” With Elle, they finally treated us to a woman who can take on (and in fact takes down) Sylar. Neat. They immediately twist it into a failure though, since the battle takes place in the Company’s holding facility, and Elle’s blast disabled the electronic security systems, freeing four other baddies who are “as bad or worse.” In the icing on the cake, Elle is fired and *Sylar* recruited to hunt the four down. Step back.
Enter Daphne. The new female character is Daphne, a speedster introduced as a foil and nemesis for Hiro. So far she’s been using her power for theft and personal gain, so she’s definitely on the villain half of the equation. It looks like she’s in it for herself rather than to impress or get over a man, and it doesn’t seem like she’s a murderer or world-threatener; plus she is in full control of her ability and quite happy to have it thankyou very much. So I think she’s a step forward; though I fear that Hiro may end up Showing Her The Error Of Her Evil Ways.
Dark Claire. Claire joins the list of female characters defeated by Sylar when he corners her in her house and takes her power. Her power being what it is, she survives (though for some reason she can’t regenerate her skullcap until Sylar replaces it). In response to this, she becomes more proactive in the use of her power, and in villain-hunting though her father cautions her not to. In the inevitable future-disaster scenes, we see that she’s turned evil, and it’s hard not to see the two connected. So because of one man, she defies another, becomes more active, and turns evil. Step back.
And The Rest.has ascended to leadership of the Company and main manipulative supervillain status; given how interesting she is, I’m prepared to call that a step forward. Monica looks to be written out, so apparently her story did indeed end with her failing the first time out as a hero, betrayed by the very comic that symbolised her power; step back. Nana looks written out too, without ever having received an interesting story or a name; step back. Maya is still around, still angsting, and while she has better control of her ability, the only active decision she’s made so far is to shag as soon as he finds a way to give himself powers; ok, I’ve seen Mohinder too, but still, step back.
So that’s 3 steps forward and 5 back.
That’s to say nothing of the shafting of the black characters. As I said, Monica and Nana are apparently gone, and Micah is reduced to a bit part in one episode. In their place we have “The African” (he doesn’t haven’t a name yet either, as far as I’ve made out) – he’s played well and gets good lines, but he really is the platonic ideal of the Magical Negro trope – it seems as if his whole life has been leading up to the point where he can givea destiny dump. And one of the four aforementioned escapees is Knox, a literal scary black man, who derives super-strength from terrorising a bank full of mostly white folks.
Last year, Purtek said “You can still do better.” And you can. So why aren’t you?