Monday, October 29, 2007

Can Kristen Bell save Heroes?

The eagerly-anticipated arrival of Kristen Bell (of Veronica Mars fame) to Heroes this episode seems to herald a brighter day for the show, which has squandered an amazing first year.

Kristen's character Elle is called "the little blonde" and "a little girl" but then she up and electrocutes someone. She's not allowed to continue in this bad-ass vein though. Oddly, she calls her dad and he yells at her for killing the guy, so she has to come home before she can finish her assignment. Who's her daddy? I'm guessing the new head of The Company, Bob.

Another new potential SFL is Monica, Micah's cousin. She's just finding her powers, which are apparently the ability to do anything herself once she's seen someone else do it.

She works in a fast food restaurant, but wants more from life. She says, "I've been praying to God to give me a sign, to show me what to do with my life." She's wary of her powers, but her confidence is growing. I was dissapointed that after kicking the ass of a bad guy in the last ep, this ep she declines to try out her skills on the basketball court and chooses instead to... jump rope.

I'm curious why Monica has only developed her powers in the last few days. Was it Mika who turns on her powers? Given the family powers, I'm guessing the grandmother has some mad skillz that she's keeping secret for now.

The biggest bad-ass of them all, Nikki/Jessica, showed up finally after being MIA the first few episodes. She's always been an interesting character. The trying-to-be-Good Girl, Nikki (who was working for an erotic internet site, so maybe not soooo good!) has an alternate personality, Jessica (the name of her dead sister), who comes out to do the things Nikki can't, like beat people to a pulp, sleep with people to get what she wants, and even kill.

Last episode, Nikki only dropped off her son Micah with her grandmother, and then went in to ask the Company to "cure" her. Jessica gets out this episode and lashes out, but she is quickly put down.

Bob tells her "You have a terrible affliction. But we're going to get you well."

Hearing this, Suresh tries to rescue her: "Nikki you're a prisoner."

"No," she replies. "I'm sick... what I've done, what I'm capable of. These are the only people who can help me."

Now Multiple Personality Disorder in real life is serious business, but within the context of the show, I find it a great metaphor for a Strong Female Lead. Jessica is physically stronger, and more successful at getting what she wants, but Nikki's strength is her morals and her attachment to her son, which Jessica doesn't share. But the idea that she has to be "cured" of the side of her that actually gets things done, and has saved her life and Micah's several times, is troubling. (though of course the murderous tendencies of Jessica are also troubling...) So once again we're back to a false choice between physical strength/life competency and emotional competency.

Maybe I'll just watch every other week - cuz Claire's big story line is sneaking around with a boy behind her dad's back, and the new Honduran hero, Maya, just confuses me. She kills people by crying blood tears, then she feels sorry and cries real tears and they come back to life. More of a curse than a power. And if they'd they'd move the fast-forward-triggering Hiro story line to the other week, that would suit me just fine.


Chemical Robotiks said...

I cant stand either of those shows. she is cute but nothing could save either of them

Shannon said...

I loved the first season of Heroes, but the second hasn't not been as exciting.

In watching the Kristen Bell episode (whom I loved in Veronica Mars - how dare they finish the show!), I was shocked at how many parellels there were to ideas in films with strong women:

Niki breaking out scene - Hello, Sarah Conner in Terminator 2

The cousin who can learn quickly - Trinity, or anyone, in the Matrix.

I had a different take on Niki, I understand the not wanting to be her alter ego, but I think it's sad that she'd rather be 'cured' than learn how to control her physcially strong side. Instead she wants that part to be gone from her, by being cured by 'The Man'/Company. Even worse, she buys into that she needs to be 'cured' like there is something 'wrong' with being strong.