Reprinted from late editions of yesterday's Globe.
"Heroes," NBC's hit freshman series, made it to the finish line Monday night in a bit of a shambles. The show's flaws -- too many characters, the obviousness of "saving the world," the very random rules governing each magical "ability" -- were easier to overlook while the season was developing so imaginatively. But they were impossible to ignore during the heavily hyped finale, when all the pieces were supposed to fit together with some kind of internal logic, and didn't.
Instead of a riveting hour of resolution, "Heroes" lurched from commercial break to commercial break -- and there were many of those -- without tension or clear sense. The plots didn't converge so much as knock against one another as the motley crew finally made it to Kirby Plaza for the much anticipated explosion.
There was action -- Claire jumped from a skyscraper to evade Nathan and his creepily be-lipsticked mother, Sylar stopped Officer Matt's bullets and sent them flying right back at him, Niki-Jessica-Candice went ballistic -- but none of it rated very high on the jaw-drop meter. Sylar's choke hold wasn't awesome the first time, and certainly not the 10th. And that was the Peter-Sylar confrontation we'd been waiting for?
And the treacle didn't help. Seriously, little Molly the tracker threatens to mash up "Heroes" with a Shirley Temple movie. "Please don't die, Officer Parkman," she whimpered. "You're my hero." The Big Sentimental Themes About Love conveyed through the characters were no more sophisticated than a Beatles song. In Peter's vision, he heard Charles Deveaux deliver his "All that really matters is love." And Mohinder's voiceover musings at the end about finding meaning in each other fell flat, despite actor Sendhil Ramamurthy's lofty philosophical tones.
Who died? Who knows. A number of characters on this crowded series seemed to meet their end, but of course the writers will always be able to resurrect whomever they like and use a superpower to explain it. Ultimately, Peter was about to explode, and so Nathan flew Peter straight up into the sky, where they blew up together and saved the world from ruin. Are they both dead? Why didn't Peter launch himself on his own? Was it because the writers wanted to create a touching moment between the brothers, and make Nathan look like a hero after all? Wasn't one of the themes of the season about Peter learning his powers?
Sylar seemed dead at one point, although he never is, and a trail of blood into a manhole indicated that he and his mother complex will be back next season. Candice? Dead? Linderman the healer? Dead? Or will he heal himself back to life? It seems almost pointless to speculate, since clearly the writers will do whatever they want. And they will make their logic clear, or not.
The finale ended with a gesture toward next season, as Hiro found himself in a battle in 1671 outside Kyoto when there is an eclipse. It wasn't a very enticing snippet, except for a glimpse of Hiro's father on a horse, but by September I'll probably be back on board the "Heroes" bus. Hope springs eternal in the heat of summer.