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Heroes

Heroes is a drama about individuals across the globe suddenly discovering that they have super powers. NBC 2006-2010

78
/100

Episode 17 - Company Man

30 March 2012

Synopsis: Sprague’s desire for revenge conflicts with Parkman’s desire to not hurt anyone. Mr Bennet and Parkman work together to try and avoid anyone dying but Thompson shoots Sprague causing him to go into meltdown. Claire tranquilises him, thus revealing her powers to Thompson. Mr Bennet pretends that the Haitian kept her powers from him and is left for dead with no memory of what happened.

In flashback we see Bennet joining the company with Thompson as his boss and Claude as his partner. He is asked to adopt Claire by Hiro’s father on the understanding that he will bring her in to the company if she develops abilities. He tries to kill Claude when the company discovers he has been keeping someone from them. The Haitian takes Mrs Bennet’s memories in order to save her from being killed by the company when she becomes suspicious. Finally Mr Bennet tells Claire that she is adopted.

The Good: This is the first episode of Heroes which focuses on one set of characters only. In contrast to the frantic, busy style of the show we are rewarded with great focus, a boat load of questions answered a great dollop of drama.

The flashbacks are an excellent device for focussing on Mr Bennet’s character and revealing a load of information in a short space of time. The use of black and white to distinguish it from the present is a very nice touch. Through these scenes we get a larger sense of the company who he works for, who they are connected to and the morality involved in their decision making. All these are good to see.

The connection to Hiro and his father is of course intriguing and opens up questions for the future. But the discussions between Bennet and both Claude and Thompson reassure us that there is, ironically, no black and white when it comes to their work. For despite the harshness of asking Bennet to give up his daughter, we also see the danger of allowing someone like Sprague loose on the world.

Claude and the Haitian both turn on the company when they see too many people like them be mistreated. This opens up limitless stories which could be told about the companies work. We also get a hugely satisfying explanation for Mr Bennet’s behaviour throughout the season. He had to lie to everyone about Claire, not to protect her from the truth but to prevent her from being taken away. Similarly he is in a very sympathetic position over his wife’s memory loss when we discover that the company would have killed her otherwise.

Back in the present it’s enjoyable to see Parkman put the pieces together even though we already knew the truth. The scene where he shoots Claire is very dramatic. The whole show works dramatically because Ted Sprague is so justified in his anger. The loss of his wife has led him to look for someone else to blame. It would clearly be too painful to admit that he poisoned her, so his desire for revenge drives the plot forward.

The Bad: It is impossible not to see this episode as an imitation of Lost where flashbacks are used so effectively to give us more understanding of each character. There is nothing wrong with imitating what works, but the similarities between the two shows inevitably lead to the sense that this is slightly derivative.

One flashback scene which doesn’t quite work is when Bennet tells Claire that she was adopted. He tells her far too suddenly and she accepts it far too quickly. Clearly there was no time to handle this scene as it would have been handled in real life, but as it is presented it is implausibly brief.

There are also aspects of this episode which don’t address the real world consequences. We can see neighbours witness Claire healing from the burns but see no fallout from that. And of course the emergency services would doubtless have a thousand questions about the house which looks like a bombsite. We know that the Haitian made a run for it so how on earth could they have explained it away?

Where is Hana Gitelman during all this? She appeared as if by magic to tell Parkman and Sprague where to go and now she is gone. If there is no explanation of that, then she is one of the worst plot devices I have ever seen.

The Unknown: Who was Claude hiding? Why did the Haitian claim to be mute all this time? Who told him not to take Claire’s memory? What connection does Hiro’s father have with the company?

Best Moment: Ted Sprague points a gun at Mrs Bennet and is thirsty for revenge. Mr Bennet thinks that Parkman should shoot Claire and he hears him. Claire is also thinking “shoot me” and as the tension mounts Parkman shoots her. The look on Parkman’s face is great.

Epilogue: An excellent episode from start to finish. The answers flow out of the flashbacks and into the present as we finally understand why Mr Bennet has done everything which he has. By changing their approach for one episode, the producers create a really memorable, dramatic and satisfying show.

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