Monday night's Heroes, part one of a double-header called "Eclipse," called back to some great moments in the show's first season, right down to a kind of silly but charming love of comic books. In this clip, you can see the show's latest guest star, Seth "Robot Chicken" Green, playing the manager of a rural comic book store where Hiro and Ando have gone as if on a pilgrimage. This scene embodies the best of last night's episode, and calls attention to what I think the main flaw will become as the season ticks to a close: There is just too much submitting to destiny, and not enough seizing control of it. Spoilers ahead! Hiro's dependence on the comic book 9th Wonders to show himself and Ando what to do next is the most obvious example of our characters behaving as if they are just following directions rather than forging their own path of justice. Comic book characters may be preposterous but at least they know how to chew the scenery when they feel like it. The heroes in "Eclipse" do nothing but submit to a fate they never made. Hiro is frozen mentally at the age of 10 right now, so it's somewhat forgivable that he can't act without consulting a comic book. But all our other characters, robbed of their powers by the eclipse, seem like they're just coasting on some flimsy destiny trip. Elle and Gabriel/Sylar come together to shoot the powerless Claire - a scene already predicted by Papa Petrelli, who was doodling it while in his cartoon-prediction mode. It's a hopeful sign that Gabriel is glad to be rid of his powers, though his continuing obsession with pleasing Papa is starting to feel a little tired. Meanwhile, other characters locked into destiny mode include psychic cop Matt and speedy Daphne, who are linked by this dream Matt had of their future married life. Though they barely know each other, and we know Daphne has been double-agenting, Matt keeps seeking her out seemingly just to have annoying fights with her about trust and whether he really KNOWS her. Which he doesn't. But the biggest fateful clusterdestiny in this episode is the clash between Mama Petrelli and Papa, which has been pre-ordained and pre-cognitioned out the yin-yang. Now Petrelli granddaughter Claire, who is the "catalyst" for the serum that will turn the whole world into heroes, is caught up in this destiny. Which means she has to be hidden somewhere with stepdad HRG, practicing hitting people with broken boards. So her destiny is always to be protected and saved, unless she's evil future Claire who must never be allowed to exist. And the destiny bug has bitten Peter and Nathan too, who somehow turn into bickering antigeniuses the moment they lose their powers. With everyone powerless, you'd think it might be time for some serious heroism. But instead we get this feeling that we're being propelled to a conclusion that's only happening because it fits our paradigm for what a climactic moment should be: A clash between good and evil, pitting brother against brother. The clash between Peter and Nathan seemed particularly odd. The two have had their problems in the past, but they always have each other's backs. My hope is that next week we'll discover that at least some of these characters are being compelled to act this way because Papa P is mind-controlling them. Otherwise the whole setup feels just too much like a setup: Saying that something is "destined" to happen is basically code for "I couldn't figure out how to get the plot where I wanted it so I did it by fiat." On a more pragmatic level, at least we know that next week will bring more comic book store Seth Green, which is to say some humor that doesn't rely on infantilizing Hiro.
As someone with a disability, at first I was really kind of pissed at the Daphne reveal (Really? Being disabled is the worst thing ever and she'd steal to get rid of it? And that's what turned her into a morally gray character? Oh, screw. you. Kring), and to an extent I still am, partially because I don't think that the writing staff put much thought into it beyond "can't walk=bad=source of shame."
But, after reading the accompanying comic at NBC.com, I can also identify with the "I didn't want you to see me like this" pathos. A lot of people with disabilities end up spending their lives being told how wrong their disability is, how they should be ashamed of it, and how they should hide it from polite conversation if at all possible. That's how Daphne is treated in the comic story.