Episode Title: Genesis
Original Airdate: 9-25-06
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Heroes, even though I own the first season on DVD, I never did re-watch it after seeing it on September 25th nine years ago. It has a diminished reputation as the later seasons continued to decline in quality, and there are some reveals that don’t really feel like reveals anymore. There were so many different connections between all of the characters, but it managed to never feel overly convoluted, at least not in the beginning. There was also a notable lack of special effects for the most part, the pilot was more about the characters than the spectacle, something that I also remember would be the first step in its downfall at the end of the first season, but we’ll get there in time. For now, let’s take a look at how the show started all those years ago.
One of the first things I noticed when I was watching this show was how much I started to remember about the characters as I started seeing them on screen. I remembered how Claire was HRG’s adoptive daughter, but she was actually Nathan Patrelli’s biological daughter, though I don’t think that comes out until a later season. I surprisingly didn’t remember the actual name of Horn Rimmed Glasses, though I think he’s also connected to Linderman who is after Nikki. I also remember that Nikki’s alter ego is named Jessica, though I don’t think I was ever clear on what her “power” actually was. I also remember that the painter Isaac will be one of the first to die.
There were a few things that did impress me still to this day, one of them is the entire concept and character of Hiro. Something that is still lacking in television today is diversity, and yet one of the breakout characters of this show is an average looking Japanese character who only speaks a couple words of English in this episode. I can see how he was made to be more relatable than the average Asian. For starters, he has a very Anglo-centric geek mentality, while he and Ando speak entirely in Japanese to each other, they bring up many references to Star Trek and the X-Men. It also helps that he is just so enthusiastic and optimistic about everything. If there’s anything someone would remember about the first episode of Heroes, it’s Hiro yelling out “Yatta!” after moving his clock back a single second.
Another detail that I noticed was the general lack of extensive special effects. There were a few instances of disaster set pieces, like the train derailment and fire, but the actual special effects were limited to essentially Claire’s broken arm near the beginning, which is also partially obscured due to the fact that it’s seen through the home video camera. The other two are brief, but they also don’t hold up all that well, as Claire puts her hand in the garbage disposal and we see her battered fingers begin to reshape themselves. And finally, when Peter finally gives into his dreams where he believes he can fly, he finds out that he really can’t, but his brother Nathan can, and they float around in between a couple buildings for a while in a rather dodgy looking effect unfortunately.
But what does still come through is a surprising underlying theme of the absent father figure. The episode starts off with Mohinder who finds out that his father has died. The next character we go to is Peter Patrelli whose father has also passed away, and he is caring for the very ill father of Isaac’s girlfriend. And while we initially don’t understand why Claire has what seems to be a deathwish as she tests out her Wolverine powers, we come to find out that she also doesn’t know who her real father is since she was adopted. And yet another character Nikki is a single mother caring for her son Micah whose father isn’t in the picture. It’s tough for me to go into a deep analysis after only watching it the one time, but it’s something that is so everpresent in the episode that it’s hard to ignore. Mohinder is even called out at one point for his hero worship of his father’s legacy. It is something that I will keep in mind as I continue to go through this first season while I await the arrival of Heroes Reborn.