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Recap: the first two seasons of “Heroes”

Caitlin Ferraro | Monday, September 22, 2008

“Heroes” is a complex science fiction series that incorporates an abundance of unique characters. When “Heroes” premiered in the fall of 2006, ordinary characters were first discovering that they had extraordinary powers.

Some of these ordinary people chose to ignore their abilities, like Nathan Petrelli (Adrian Pasdar), a politician running for office who can fly. Others embraced their abilities and sought understanding, like Nathan’s younger brother Peter Petrelli (Milo Ventimiglia). Peter is like a sponge, absorbing the powers of those around him.

Then, there are heroes like Hiro Nakamura (Masi Oka), once a bored office worker who now knows he was meant for something greater. To fulfill his destiny as a hero, he uses his ability to bend space and time. Still others were trying to be normal, like teenage cheerleader Claire Bennet (Hayden Panettiere), who can heal herself even after ‘death.’

This premise soon expanded to present an intricate mythology surrounding the genetic mutations that give these individuals superhuman abilities. As “Volume 1: Genesis” began, random people across the world were discovering that they had secret abilities. Dr. Mohinder Suresh (Sendil Ramamurthy) searched for truth in the scientific work of his father, a geneticist who mapped the superhuman gene. After his father was killed, Mohinder struggled to understand the secrets he left behind.

A greater mystery surrounded the characters’ lives in the form of Linderman (Malcolm McDowell), the leader of a seemingly evil corporation known to the public as the Primatech Paper Company.

The first season centered on the infamous tagline “Save the cheerleader. Save the world.” Several characters worked to prevent Sylar (Zachary Quinto), an evil villain who slices open people’s heads in order to steal their powers, from killing Claire. Much of this plotline was fueled by paintings that depicted the future, including one image of the destruction of New York City by bomb. Presumably, if the heroes could save Claire, then they would prevent New York from certain doom.

Episode 20 in season one was exceptionally brilliant. Titled “Five Years Gone,” it sent Hiro and his best friend Ando (James Kyson Lee) five years into a future in which they failed to stop the bomb. The ramifications of their failure were widespread – Nathan, now President of the United States, was persecuting people with powers as “terrorists.”

When Claire finally confronted Nathan, he was revealed to be Sylar masquerading as the eldest Petrelli brother. When Peter discovered the deception, an epic confrontation followed, and the episode concluded with Hiro returning to the past and vowing to kill Sylar.

In the season one finale, the heroes banded together against Sylar, who was presumed to be the “bomb” that would blow up New York City. In an uncharacteristic plot twist, Peter, not Sylar, was discovered to be the bomb. When he lost control of his abilities, Nathan flew him into space to save New York, saying, “You saved the cheerleader, so that we could save the world.” This caused Peter’s subsequent amnesia in Season Two, as well as Nathan’s depression and alcoholism over the possible death of his brother.

“Volume Two: Generations” began four months after Peter and Sylar’s confrontation in New York. Viewers knew that the heroes were plotting to defeat Sylar and save the world, but the second season quickly became more complicated. A new villain entered the picture, Adam Monroe (David Anders), an immortal man first introduced to viewers in an earlier time-traveling episode.

In the second season finale, Monroe tried to get his hands on the dangerous “Shanti virus,” which was being held at Primatech Paper. Through an episode foretelling the future, viewers learned that the virus would kill 93 percent of the world’s population. Monroe tried to convince the amnesiac Peter to help him gain the virus, but Nathan and another hero, Parkman (Greg Gunberg), foiled his plan.

Using his powers of teleportation, Hiro buries Monroe alive in a Japanese cemetery – the perfect punishment for the immortal villain. Peter, finally regaining his senses, destroyed the killer virus strain.

There were various other plotlines in the second season, but few reached their full potential due to the writer’s strike last year.

“Heroes” weaves a complex web of mysteries and surprises, more of which are expected in season three. Before the third season premieres tonight at 9 p.m., a brief recap of seasons one and two, including interviews with the cast, will air on NBC.