Monday, September 22, 2008

Heroes 3 Begins: Best Yet, Riddled with Time Travel and Paradox

Time travel and its marvelous paradoxical complications has always been my favorite part of Heroes - my favorite part of any science fiction, actually - which is why I found the two-hour opener of Heroes, Season Three, the best in the series so far. In addition to other goodies, Episodes 1 and 2 were riddled with time travel, drenched the bone with paradox.

In two somewhat separate though no doubt ultimately intersecting stories, actually -

1. Hiro learned his lesson about the damage that traveling to the past can bring. So he travels to the future - only to see himself killed by - Ando. He travels back to the present, and finds that travel to the future is no bed of roses, either, and carries its own paradoxical wallop. We the audience also see how Hiro, in reacting in the present to what he saw in the future - Ando killing him - is actually unbeknowingly starting to turn Ando against him. (But there's a nice new speedster hero in this story - she's blond, travels at the speed of sound, and may be Hiro's nemesis.)

Meanwhile -

2. Peter has not yet learned how dangerous changing something in the past may be - but he learns tonight. Turns out he shot Nathan, in an effort to stop the awful future we saw in Season 2 from happening, since it was due to what Nathan was about to tell the world from the podium. Nathan is not killed. But Claire, seeing Nathan shot on television, calls Peter - who tells her to stay home. Not a good idea - her being home lets Sylar get to her. And in a nice unnerving twist, he takes her recuperative power but cannot kill her, because (according to Nathan) she cannot die. Does his mean she will would survive a bomb that blew her to bits? Always the question with Claire.

But Claire's the least of what Peter's intervention unleashes in the past. Probably the worst are the bad dudes set free from Level 5 - the truest villains in Heroes. But it was good to Jamie Hector - the cool killer Marlo from The Wire - amongst them, playing Benjamin "Knox" Washington.

There's also some fun stuff that (so far) apparently has nothing to do with time travel. Nikki is somehow back - but she claims to be someone else, and her claim seems sincere, even though there's no mistaking Ali Larter. Parkman is somehow in a desert - in Africa - but how knows when. Mohinder may have finally made himself a physical as well metaphorical hero. And Peter's younger self - the one who was already in the present in which Nathan was shot - has somehow been embedded by his older self in someone who looks like former NYC Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik (sorry to say he's a real person in our world - appointed by Giuliani - not a character in Heroes, I'm not kidding).

Which does bring us back to time travel. One of its exquisite problems is making sure, if you travel back to the past, that you stay the hell away from your younger self, lest you trigger a cascade of infinite regress paradoxes that will make you totally crazy.

That's why I enjoy time travel so much, why I named this blog Infinite Regress, and why I'm really looking forward to more of Heroes this season.

I want to understand, for example, if Hiro tries to change the present so the future he saw does not come into being, how he could have seen that future tonight in the first place?

Time travel never grows old.

See also Heroes 3.2: Sylar's Redemption and Further Heroes and Villains Mergers

Reviews of Season 2 Heroes: Episode 2 ... 3
... 4 ... 7. Heroes Meets 12 Monkeys ... 9. How Immutable Are Fate and Isaac's Futures? ... 10. Penultimate for the Fall ... Heroes 2 Finale: Heroes Who Didn't Survive

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