Heroes second season is shortened to 11 episodes due to the writers strike; the strike effectively crippled much of the television industry and Heroes fell foul like many shows this year to its influence. The strikes influence was felt in the writing, plotting and general pace of the season -- most significantly the ending of the finale was re-shot to accommodate a more definitive ending for the season until season three. The second Volume focuses upon the past Heroes like father Hiro and mother Petrelli, with their dark pasts coming back to haunt them. The very basic plot of season two is a debilitating virus festering among our interbreeding modern heroes is beginning to spread, and it will have far reaching consequences. Some latter revelations in the season also sheds light upon the possible origins of the heroes genes. I thought this to be a very interesting plot development -- it's not spelled out to the audience but is very subtly touched upon.
Season two was not generally well received with complaints of too many characters, ill plotting, lack of a central cohesive story, asinine storyarcs and various other foibles. I have to fully agree with these assertions as the overall cohesiveness of season two is disjointed, awkward and the introduction of too many new characters often takes away screentime from those we learned to love in the first. As a viewer I'm just not plain interested in new characters; I want to watch the ones that I saw struggle through last year. So I was definately exasperated with the amount of valuable screentime lost to introducing newbies; screentime which could have been better spent relating the story and actually having it make some relative sense. In fact, the sheer amount of new characters (there are at least seven introduced) resulted in the relegation of characters like Nikki and Ando to all but backdrop cameos!
There was a great deal of ridiculousness about Volume Two and I found myself slowly beginning to detest some characters. Claire became a whining irritating teenager, her romance with creepy West was beyond moronic; Peter and Hiro's story arcs quickly became too drawn out and purposeless in the context of the entire season. One of the main problems with season two is that it's very slow going and I think the whole thing would have benefited from axing around 4 episodes just for the sake of pacing. However, there are certain new characters I did love. Namely the electrifying Elle played to perfection by Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars
) whose character introduction coincided with the plot actually getting into gear, which I'm sure helped endear her to me. Bell successfully straddles a chasm of dark sadistic character-traits mixed with a sad childish innocence that presents Elle as completely involving. It seems to me that Elle was the only new character whom I felt the writers were actually invested in. I also adored two other new characters; the charismatic Kensei and Adam. The latter character comes off a little badly written in the final few episodes but I think the actor saves him from becoming cartoonish.
The best episode of the season was 'Four Months Ago' which occurs around halfway through the Volume, and quite honestly, it could have done with being the first episode of the season. The pacing was absolutely dreadful this year and part of this was contributed to by the inane idea that what happened over the summer had to be hidden from the audience for such a prolonged period of time, it was really rather unnecessary. 'Four Months Ago' predominantly focuses on Elle, Adam and Peter. It benefits from focusing upon intriguing characters and allows Peter to interact with people who respectively, make him interesting! On another positive note there are some great plot twists throughout the episodes and fantastic acting as per usual. Watching unspoiled is the key to enjoyment methinks! The finale 'Powerless' is pretty underwhelming and rather sloppy at certain points, what with the changes demanded by the strike... although it wasn't horrendous by any means. I would venture to hope that Volume three is not as haphazard and ultimately slow moving as this one has been. Really, I think watching this season on DVD will not be as tiresome as watching it week to week was.
Highlight episodes include: Four Months Ago, Out of Time and Powerless.