I thought Episode 4 of HEROES REBORN was awful. One of the most unsatisfying and empty episodes of HEROES ever made.
It drove me crazy that there was no real progress most of the plots, just delaying and stalling. Carlos makes some noise about committing to the vigilante life and puts together some equipment, but the episode ends before it goes anywhere. Katana Girl and Ren make it to the States but don't learn anything new. Noah and Quintin make it to Molly Walker but learn nothing new. And then there's Malina and Farah -- the show explains nothing of who they are or what they're doing.
I felt like nothing really happened aside from Tommy and Luke getting exposed as EVOs. But there was no weight to any of it. Tommy's plot was too short and quick to sell his desperation and grief. And Luke. His plot is very badly handled.
For Luke, there was no sense of how he went from eagerly murdering EVOs to becoming disenchanted with it. In his first scene, he kills EVOs because they're dangerous and he sees no alternative. But then, it's established that he wants to be selective in his targets; he doesn't want to pursue Tommy. In which case -- what is he trying to accomplish? Is he trying to rid the world of EVOs one by one? If so, why does he want to let Tommy go? Is he trying to salve his grief by taking out his rage on a race he's dehumanized? Then again, why does he want to spare Tommy?
Without a clear sense of where Luke started, there's no sense of where he's gone or how he's changed. And Joanne. Her character is played as a goofy, comedic, cartoonish serial killer. It's completely at odds with Luke's anger and hatred; it's like the two actors are in completely different productions and it undermines Luke's arc completely.
There were two scenes in Episode Four that were just a train wreck of Tim Kring's poorly considered writing. The first scene was Erica, the head of Renautas, dealing with her daughter, Taylor. Taylor asks about the whereabouts of Francis, her EVO lover, and she asks her mother why Renautas wants with EVOs. Erica dodges every question, refuses to offer a single concrete response to Taylor's queries -- and then she acts astonished and hurt when Taylor betrays her! Incredulous that leaders who are vague and evasive don't inspire trust.
To me, this scene exemplifies everything wrong with Tim Kring's writing. Characters inexplicably acting against their own interests because the writer has decided where the story will go -- Taylor betraying her mother -- rather than letting the characters and situations decide. Scripts and scenes that offer meaningless dialogue with no clear information and no sense of what is happening or why the viewer should be emotionally invested.
And then there's the scene where Noah confronts Taylor. For the first time ever, actor Jack Coleman is completely defeated by the script. It starts with Noah holding Taylor at gunpoint, demanding Molly Walker's location. Threatening her. But within a few lines of dialogue, Noah is suddenly trying to convince Taylor to switch sides! With no previous relationship between the two characters having been established, the entire scene becomes incoherent, jumping between hostility to emotional appeals. And Coleman completely fails to sell the transition or find any way to play this scene convincingly. After four years of HEROES, Tim Kring finally broke Jack Coleman with Season 5.
And then Molly Walker dies. We never got to know this adult Molly on HEROES REBORN. We had no sense of what she wanted, what she was looking for her, what she loved, hated or feared or what she stood for or believed. She may as well have been a cardboard cutout. At the very least, she should have been used to give a clear example of how this 'digitizing EVO powers' concept works and how it could be used -- but Episode 4 is vague and unclear about how the tech works or will be applied outside of the Renautas compound, and then it's taken off the board anyway.
Digitizing powers seems to be HEROES REBORN's new concept and it has been almost totally unexplored.
HEROES in Season 1 wasn't perfect and almost all of the above flaws were present. But Season 1 had Bryan Fuller smoothing out awkward character actions and decisions in the dialogue, making sure every scene was about the relationship between the people in the scene as opposed to the plot devices. There was also a sense of incremental progress. There was one episode where Hiro and Ando spent the whole episode wandering around a parking lot -- but it ended with Hiro confronting his father and realizing his dad was part of the metahuman plot. Every episode ended with some sense of what was coming. Episode 4 doesn't even try for that.
... I think it's time Tim Kring reconsidered his day job. He's not a good writer. He can't execute character arcs. He can't build mysteries. He can't create a sense of advancement. He can't write plots where characters act in accordance with their goals or natures. He can't exploit his assets for maximum impact. He can't communicate information clearly. This is evident in Seasons 2 - 4 of HEROES, shockingly present in nearly every episode of TOUCH.
He's a great producer. Every Tim Kring production has lavish location shooting, beautiful photography, stirring music and amazing actors. Maybe he should stick to budgets and logistics and let somebody else lead his writers' rooms. Megan Ganz. Tim Minear. Michael Taylor. Ronald D. Moore. Somebody else.
But of course I'll watch the rest of REBORN. I'm a superhero fan; I'm always eager to see how the genre turns out even if it's a catastrophe.
Here's hoping Episode 5 makes me eat my words!