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Heroes and the hype

xmas me
So NBC is trying to hype up next week’s episode of Heroes by assuring us that next week, two Heroes will die. Really, really.

I wish they wouldn’t.

In part because Heroes has already lost all credibility on this issue – at the end of last season, several characters seemed Utterly Doomed and Blown Up, only to return safe and sound. It wasn’t quite as bad as the season finale over at Smallville, which wins hands down as the Least Convincing Threat To All of the Characters Ever, but it was a close runner up. And this trick isn’t confined to just the season finale, either – it’s been an ongoing theme: look, character is dead, no, whoops, character isn’t dead. Sure, minor characters have fallen by the wayside all over the place, but for the most part Our Heroes are safe.

And I don’t have a problem with that.

Which brings us to the next part of why I wish NBC would drop the hype:

Why are we assuming that death could or would be the worst possible thing to happen to a character? (Especially since so many of us were hoping, not so long ago, that a certain character on 24 would jump off a cliff…I wasn’t even watching the show, and I was well aware of the pleas for her complete and utter annihilation, and even I started hoping she would die if only to spare me from the pleas for her death). True, death is a kinda final thing – but the far more interesting stories, in my mind, are the ones that truly drag their characters through emotional hell in one way or another, not necessarily risking their lives, but definitely risking their assumptions, their beliefs, their souls. And in these sorts of dramas, those sorts of risks can be equally as devastating as death – and put other people in as much danger.

(To drag in the comparison to that other superhero show, for instance, Martha Kent has (somewhat inexplicably, really) been trotted off to DC to be immersed in the slime of politics with the ability to completely screw up environmental and agricultural policy for generations, which is the sort of thing that could really leave a person severely messed up. Check out any of our current members of Congress for details. But moving on.)

I’m not just watching these shows to find out whether the characters live or die: I’m watching to find out how they react to adventures and dramas and sudden plummets from the sky and finding that they’re indestructible, and how these change their characters. That’s what I want to see. The twist with Parkman over the last few episodes; Hiro’s ongoing study of honor, Hamburger Girl going, “Ooooh, this is so cool –“ That’s what’s kept Heroes alive this season, not any, “Gee, is Peter still going to be alive at the end of the season?”. After all, unless their contracts are broken, the main characters will be back.

Sometimes, sure, the death of a major character, when done well, can have a serious and good effect on a show (think of Cordelia’s last episode on Angel). And in a show like Heroes, the constant survival, for years, of every single one of the major characters is fairly unrealistic (assuming that we’re overly worried about realism on a superhero show, but never mind), and I expect a few people will drop by the wayside. But I’m not watching the show to see who dies.

So bring on the pain and the drama. But stop teasing me into believing that any of these characters are really going to die, or that I need to watch the next episode because that’s the only part that matters.

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xmas me
mariness
Mari Ness

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