(Alternate title: TV's Heroes, and why you should still care.)
Like everyone else, I've been less than excited about the current season of this show, even before the Hollywood writers' strike drew it to a merciful close. While its early problems had to do with slow pacing and an anticlimactic finale, now the problems run deeper: too many satellite characters, too many storylines stretched thin, no real sense of cohesion.
But I'm not writing this to complain. I've been playing around with a theory about the show for a few months now, and the more I think about it, the more I feel that I'm right. For a TV series that has relied heavily on advertising taglines, I have this distinct notion that they will eventually borrow a page from Highlander and commit to the phrase "There can be only two!"
This is my theory: for whatever genetic and geographic reasons, the development of unique abilities will manifest in exactly two people in the world, giving each hero a doppelgänger. So far we know of the following pairs. (For a show that works in elements of time travel, power transfer, and resurrection, I'm not ready to accept that any of these people listed are necessarily dead.)
1. Adam Monroe (David Anders) and Claire Bennet (Hayden Panettiere) are indestructible, and each have shown that their blood holds curative properties.
2. Nathan Petrelli (Adrian Pasdar, pictured above, right) and West Rosen (Nicholas D'Agosto) each make you believe a man can fly.
3. Matt Parkman (Greg Grunberg) and his father Maury (Alan Blumenfield) can read and manipulate the minds of others.
4. Even the much-maligned twins Alejandro and Maya Herrera (Shalim Ortiz and Dania Ramirez) -- she of the virus and he of the antidote -- have previous generation equivalents in Mohinder Suresh (Sendhil Ramamurthy, pictured below, left) and his late sister Shanti. Does anyone else think that the planned biological fallout is due to an active Maya, rather than some decades-old Shanti virus samples from a company lab?
This theory of course suggests that the showrunners have yet to introduce the doubles for any of the other heroes (alive or dead, of the older generation or current) and will have to do so soon or in the upcoming seasons. That last night's Volume 2 finale episode ended with a few minutes of Volume 3 -- entitled "Villains" -- may bear this out.
I feel my theory is validated by the fact that not a single power was repeated until the beginning of this second season. I believe this was intentional, as the first season was designed to introduce the people that will have to fight their counterparts by the show's endgame, and future volumes will shape this central conflict.
Final note: despite the potential excitement about what the showrunners could do in future seasons -- a live-action Superfriends and Legion of Doom holds great appeal -- it's a little sad that any hope I have for the show right now seems to be more my own creation than theirs.